In 2017, we are starting to see clear divisions between what is successful, and isn’t. Big companies can create interesting channels just as individuals can, like Pewdiepie. An individual’s growth isn’t dependent on having the right intro, or the resolution of their camera, they only assist in the growth of the channel.
A great yard stick to gauge if a personality is going to grow an audience is if the targeted audience feels, “I wish I could spend time with them” or, “I wish I could help.”
What makes a successful video is someone (or even “something”) experiencing, or learning something. Whether it’s the characters experiencing something new, like a let’s player, or someone learning something, like “BBC Earth Lab.” The video could be informational, like Bill Nye, where the audience are the ones experiencing/learning something new.
Just having experiences in the video doesn’t guarantee a quality product. Everyone is not entirely unique, but finding what content works with the personality traits of the on screen presence/personalities (including audio only presences/personalities too) can take trial, and error in conjunction with YouTube’s analytics. There are many varying factors that bring views to videos that change with different algorithms, but viewing the second by second readout of “audience retention,” can reveal exactly where the audience begins to lose interest. Distinguishing whether they stopped the video because they suddenly didn’t like something, or they stuck it out until they realised that the video was not engaging enough, is something that the individual person reviewing will have to judge.
If the stoppage is due to something immediate, it is usually noticeable, and can be language, disagreeable opinions/people, the video moves to a new segment, or dissatisfaction of a missed (or lack luster) pay off of a narrative. Visual representations of a story’s intensity in graph form, can be used to understand why climaxes, and mini climaxes are important. Missing a climax, miss timed, or a lackluster pay off in any storytelling is typically instantly recognizable, and gives an immediate feeling of dissatisfaction.
In terms of an instructional video ( ie makeup tutorials, game walkthroughs, or building instructions) with narrative aspects, must start by laying out the premise, build expectations, and show how one experiences the results. This can range from an honest/scripted reaction from an on screen personality, or to elicit a specific/tailored reaction from the audience. Whether it be natural or not, having a clear goal for what the “experience” should be, whilst making the video should be clear before production. Having the video go in a different direction than desired is also not a bad thing if executed properly. This is known as a subversion of expectations, and can be a very powerful tool that is quite engaging.
Not all reactions to an experience will work, such as Matt Leblanc using Jeremy Clarkson’s very proven formula towards car reviews in Top Gear. Due to these tactics not being entirely compatible with Matt’s personally, and mannerisms, the viewing numbers halved quickly after the first episodes aired, despite his obvious star power, and a genuine interest in cars. This miss-utilisation of Matt’s “star power”, dropped the viewing numbers as low as their 2nd season in 2003, out of 24 total seasons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Top_Gear_episodes). This could be due to an audience’s resistance to change, but Top Gear’s re-invention with Jeremy Clarkson leading it in 2002 was a major departure from their old format, but quickly grew due to the well matched storytelling characteristics that Jeremy had developed for himself over the years. Other cast members from the old Top Gear formed Fifth Gear that performed poorly in comparison, due to a lack of engagement.
Having good reactions generally creates the biggest channels, ie, Pewdiepie yelling at games, Ray William Johnson reacting to videos daily, or the Fine Brothers having groups of people reacting to videos.
Makeup, and successful news channels are similar in how they present facts, mixed with impressions (ie. https://youtu.be/PNidbHZBPxU), where they present everything from their point of view, particularly using words like “I” a lot. Or impressions/reactions after each piece of information (ie. https://youtu.be/vgi9-POJKKM and https://youtu.be/ySTQk6updjQ), or keeping the facts grammatically away from their point of view, but made poignant through inflection.
For the expressed opinions to have any effect, they must be valued by the target audience. To add value to opinions, being strong, not condescending to the preferred/target audience, and be presented in an interesting/engaging manner. This brings the topic back to matching the right techniques matched with the right personalities.
Jeremy Clarkson has said a few times that nobody cares about facts. Too many facts gets in the way of the human interest aspect, CNN knows this too, as explained here https://youtu.be/4pS4x8hXQ5c . If there is no humans, like an animal documentary, then the animals must be humanised, like is explained here https://vimeo.com/214023666#t=73s . due to this disconnect, viewing sessions for review don’t need to doesn’t need to fully consist of people that are entirely interested in the subject, because the personality combined with the appropriate reactions/impressions are much more engaging.
Having conveyed all of this, it is still important that good content can be overlooked, because the opinions/reactions aren’t valued to new viewers. One way to get viewers to value an opinion/reaction, is if it is endorsed by an opinion/reaction that’s valued by the target audience of a pre-existing personality.
NB, “The Social Network” was predicted to be a boring, and uninteresting movie when it was announced, but changed most people’s opinions when they found that it was focused on the people, and not on the facts.