The power of You - YouTube

Dane Golden [entretien]

Par Ken Tan

Le 16 juin 2017

Entretien avec Dane Golden : Harnessing the power of « YOU »

ou comment booster prodigieusement et simplement les vues et performances de vos vidéos (de marque).

On s’en doutait. Le “You” de YouTube est hyper puissant. Pour la première fois, une étude sérieuse et reconnue par les experts YouTube aux Etats-Unis, a quantifié le pouvoir du mot You.

Utiliser le mot “You” dans les 5 premières secondes d’une vidéo YouTube augmente les vues de 66%. L’utiliser 2 fois dans ces 5 premières secondes génère plus de 97% de vues supplémentaires !

De quoi faire rêver les Youtubeurs mais surtout les marketeurs pour adopter un discours #YouTubeFriendly dans leurs vidéos de marque, qu’elles soient destinées à leur contenu de chaîne ou leurs campagnes Trueview.

Dans notre volonté de conseiller les #SmartBrands à générer davantage de contenu #YouTubeFriendly, nous avons rencontré Dane Golden, l’auteur de l’étude HARNESSING THE POWER OF  » YOU » IN YouTube, pour approfondir ses conclusions au regard des chaînes de marques et éventuellement au marché français. Nous en avons extrait les “Golden rules” ;-) (à lire ci-dessous).

Mais avant tout, retour sur l’étude en un coup d’oeil en guise de préambule.

Pourquoi certaines vidéos d’une chaîne YouTube rencontrent davantage de succès en générant plus de vues, d’engagement ou de performance… ?

C’est en voulant répondre à cette question, devant le succès de certaines vidéos de ses clients, que Dane Golden(1) (président de Hey.com) s’est associé à Phil Starkovich (fondateur de TubeBuddy) pour analyser pas moins de 30,000 vidéos YouTube.

Pour chaque vidéo ils ont recherché comment le mot “you” (et toutes ses variations) était utilisé dans les 5 à 30 premières secondes, vs les vidéos qui ne l’utilisaient pas. Une méthodologie inédite reliant pour une fois les KPI des vidéos à leur contenu.

Des résultats manifestes : pratiquement le double de vues pour les vidéos qui utilisent 2 fois le mot “you” dans les 5 premières secondes. 

Utiliser le mot “You” augmente les vues. Mais ce n’est pas tout. Il impacte également l’engagement (commentaires) de +68% et les likes (+66%).

Harnessing the power of you

Les 6 “Golden Rules” à retenir pour les marketeurs/marques :

– Ne pas confondre YouTube et TV : même si l’on parle, à tort, d’audience sur YouTube, celle-ci ne représente pas une foule mais 1 unique personne, le “viewer”, qui regarde une vidéo, quand _ et seulement quand_ elle le décide.
– Ce qui est vrai pour une vidéo à vocation de contenu de chaîne, vaut pour une vidéo de promotion.
– Regarder la caméra en s’adressant à son interlocuteur serait, d’après l’expérience de Dane, aussi puissant qu’utiliser le mot ‘you’ _ même si l’étude ne peut le confirmer par les chiffres.
– Maximiser l’engagement dans les 5 premières secondes pour impacter au maximum les vues, likes et commentaires.
– Considérer son “viewer” comme un client : imaginer son interlocuteur comme un client permet de créer le ton adéquat et le plus naturel possible pour engager sur YouTube.
– Faire le choix du “Tu” ou “Vous” qu’importe. L’important est de l’utiliser en début de vidéo pour changer toute son orientation.

Dane_Golden Portrait(1) Dane Golden est président de HEY.com, qui accompagne les entreprises B2B et B2C dans leur stratégie marketing sur YouTube. Animé par la même philosophie que TubeReach, il milite pour une approche basée sur la performance, en utilisant la vidéo comme levier de croissance pour son business. Comme cette étude le montre, Dane est un partisan de l’analyse des data quand il s’agit de monter des stratégies marketing sur YouTube. Vous pouvez le suivre via LinkedIn ou Twitter.

Pour plus d’insights, lire l’entretien de Dane et Ken.

What prompted you to conduct the study and were you surprised by the results?

Dane : YouTubers, without really knowing it, often say you or at least address the audience, but I found that working with brands, they are often coming from a whole different viewpoint and it tends to be something that starts from a T.V. reference, where it’s one to many.

I found over time anecdotally when I’m helping optimize YouTube channels for brands, the videos frequently don’t do very well unless they have huge paid media behind them because they often entirely ignore the audience.

I found and I was finding anecdotally, that when people said the word you and looked at the camera immediately the videos were doing better, they were getting more likes, more views, etcetera.

The A.P.I. only allows you to do certain things and we certainly didn’t want to run afoul of those and so I wanted to do this for a long time but I couldn’t really figure out how to do it, until I talked to Phil Stark and I somehow convinced him to go on this crazy journey with me, to find a single word and its synonyms.

Phil was able to create this database that only got this data but also, we wanted to use the captions files because that was really the only way to quantify the word ‘you’.

Using the word ‘you’ but not looking at the camera… is it as effective?

Dane : there was no way within the technology we had, to find out if the person was looking at the camera and that’s really the key. Is that you’re really addressing the audience, you don’t have to say the word ‘you’?

All we know is what the data says and the data doesn’t make a distinction. Because I can’t make a distinction, there’s no way of me knowing. My opinion is that, if I had my choice, I would rather address the camera rather than say the word ‘you’, but I can’t study that with the data.

What you’re saying is that the word ‘you’ is just one of the ways the creator can address the audience, right?

Dane : That’s right and I also want to address one of the other problems that I was trying to sulfa but I couldn’t measure, which was to what degree you’re looking directly into the eye of the camera.

One of the problems with brands is that they often have a producer, an editor, a host and an interviewer and it’s not very comfortable for an amateur to look at the camera. An amateur in video but a professional in their fields or vice president of a company for instance. Then they end up looking off camera to the interviewer.

But today the YouTube video is the proxy for the salesperson. When you put somebody on video for your brand they are representing it and acting as a proxy for a salesperson.

Dollar Shave ClubNow, when has any sales person ever walked into a room with a client and looked over their shoulder when they’re talking to them?!

You would never do that, you’d look at them and say; here’s what we’re doing and here’s how it can help you.

But we, in the name of seeming professional, are totally ignoring the viewer and by extension the customer.

So, I included in the study a couple of tools that are quite easy to come by now, one that’s very professional called the indirect and one that sort of a hack, so that people can look at the camera and address the camera and still be all comfortable. But that is not something I can measure in the study, it’s just connected to it.

So, as far as the word ‘you’, what we found is very simple: if you can say the word ‘you’ once in the first five seconds of a YouTube video, the overall views will be sixty-six percent higher.

And if you say it twice, it’s ninety-seven percent higher, that’s essentially double and we measured across thirty thousand videos and this is not necessarily exactly the word ‘you’, it can be any variation and we had ten variations of the word.

How do you think French people should use the “you” word as we have “tu”(singular, informal) and “vous”(plurial, formal)?

Dane : In English, you know of course we don’t have a plural for ‘you’ or ‘we’. So, I don’t know if it in French, it should be single or plural but I am guessing that it should be singular informal.

Let me ask this question; you know I watched some comedy with Gad Elmaleh. I’ve seen a few shows with him in French and English and when he does French comedy, because I know he’s popular in French comedy and maybe you see it on T.V. When he says ‘you’, which form does he use?

The regular forms by default people would say ‘you’ [vous] , because it’s addressing a person, and the many people that are watching T.V

Dane : That’s formal. I’m not sensitive enough to know, but my senses go personal and go informal as much as possible.

Yeah, more and more YouTubers are saying “tu”. They used “tu” because it’s different and there is kind of a fresh style to it.

Dane : Singular?

Singular. Because it is informal, it’s just younger, fresher or simply different. But this is difficult to use for a brand. Then they would look like they’re eager to please a younger audience, trying to be cool but doing it the wrong way.

Dane : Well, they can start by saying the word ‘you’, regardless of what form they use…if you’re saying it in the first few seconds of a video it actually changes the entire orientation of the video. It actually will change the whole theme.

Because most brand videos entirely ignore the audience, they ignore the viewer. I should always say viewer instead of audience, because it’s a single person watching, there’s no two people watching at the same time, it’s always one person on their computer or on their laptop.

So, if you think of it as one person and you start the word by saying: today I am going to show you how to fix your computer, let’s say. You’ve actually said the word ‘you’ twice, ‘you’ and ‘your’ is twice.

You’ve said this is important to them and you show them, by arranging the video that way, that makes the viewer the important part of it and not the subject.

You insisted on the fact that it’s better to talk about “the viewer” rather than “the audience”. Could you explain what this difference really means in terms of medium usage?

Dane : From an English explanation, “audience” is like a crowd at a theatre or a movie. And what a lot of people do in advertising when they try to get reach, is to get a piece of content in front of as many people as possible. But in my opinion, that’s not the right way to do it.

They should think of each customer as an individual, each viewer as an individual and then, think of their individual needs instead of just trying to get a lot of attention.

Nobody has to watch anything they don’t want to watch anymore. We skip things on T.V. and we skip things on video all the time, even the non skippable, there’s ad blocking. If people don’t like the ad, even if it’s non skippable, they would leave the entire video.

So, you have to win over your viewers one at a time and you do that by calling, by making it relevant at the very beginning and saying: I’m here to solve your problem if it’s a B to C product, then you’re sort of there to make their life better.

If it’s a B to B product, you’re there to make their job easier and if you haven’t made that relevant connection at the beginning, the YouTube algorithm doesn’t send as many views to your video.

I want to emphasize that we use, for the people who care, median and not an average.

Lot of people don’t actually know the difference, but it’s important. Median is the middle number. And that for the views, we did not use a ratio, we just compared all videos in our study and took the middle number but we also studied likes per view and overall engagements per view and that’s a little bit more complicated number, but I think it’s important, it didn’t go up as high and have as many variance…but it was very significantly higher for videos that said ‘you’ at different intervals in the first thirty seconds, versus videos that did not, they always did better.

They always got more likes per view as a ratio and they always got more overall likes and comments per view.

Why do you think people are so receptive to the word “you”?

Dane : I think it’s a proxy for a name. It’s common knowledge that it’s commonly accepted that someone’s name is their favorite word. But in a video, unless you’re doing live video or Skype video or Face Time, you don’t know their name. If you’re doing live video, you can see people in the chat room and respond to them.

But if it’s YouTube, you can’t know their name, so ‘you’ is the substitute. And that’s it. So, we just light up when we hear the word ‘you’, because it’s information that’s relevant to us.

What does it mean from a content production perspective?

Dane : As I said before, it changes the orientation of the video.

If you take it for granted that you’re going to have to say the word ‘you’ at the very beginning of a video, as opposed to having a series of interviews and a video where you talk to executives and they are all facing off camera.


If you say the word ‘you’ at the beginning, that becomes impossible, because now you’ve placed the importance on the viewer, as opposed to on the company or the subject. So, you’ve made the message to address what is interesting to the viewer, not what’s interesting to the subject.

Any idea if this also applies to video titles?

Dane : Well, we didn’t study it. But my belief (and not according to the study) in studying titles in various ways is that, it’s not the most important word.

What is important in titles is often the very searchable keywords. ‘How to’ is very important or the word ‘how’, but that again is anecdotal and just sort of accepted industry wisdom and I didn’t study it.

Titles have different rules, so it’s not, certainly not bad, but I don’t think it’s the most important thing…

I would be curious to see a study about ‘you’ as a title, because _especially in France, but I know it’s a case in English as well_ we think of websites in what you would call click bait titles. Most of the time, they would use the word in excess, like “8 things you didn’t know about the bathroom”…

Dane : Well that’s certainly important but if you also think about it, a lot of the videos that we see on YouTube have no titles because they’re served as prerolls.

They of course technically have titles, but we don’t know it. We’re not watching because it has a title, but we’re deciding whether we want to watch it or not, because we have five seconds to watch. I believe that this study applies to all sorts of videos including ads that are on YouTube.

And because the same principle applies, what happens in the first five seconds, “have you made it relevant to them?” Well, if you haven’t, they’re going to move on.

What if your brand doesn’t want to have a unique icon/brand face on a channel? How would you address that concern?

Dane : Well, I’m not an advertising expert, I’m a marketing specialist but ads and videos have people in them all the time.

And they’re telling a story of some sort. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same personality throughout but we do see ads all the time. If you look on television someone selling toothpaste, the first words might be: “do you have bad breath”, right?

Well, that’s a person, they’re not associated with a personality nor do they have to be on every week or anything like that. It certainly is something that is doable but again, I’m not an expert on television in any way, I’m just an observer but I do know that there is a very different approach in what works on YouTube than what works on television.

You could find a way as we’ve outlined in the study, using these tools to make it very comfortable for nonprofessional video people to look into the camera.

It could be the C.E.O: “hi, my name is Jim, I’m the C.E.O. of a company X.Y.Z. and today we’re going to feature for you some interviews with our executives, so here it is …” The whole C.E.O. is talking to me, he’s a voice of authority, he has shown himself to be approachable and interested in what I want to find out, in what I want to learn about and then you moved on and even that part, even if all the people are ignoring, the viewer in their interviews, it still makes it relevant at the beginning and PIQUES my interest.

There are ways of getting around using the word ‘you’ but it’s not easy.

What’s up with the ‘we’ word? Do you think it is as important? Most YouTubers, at some point have an engaged community and using “we” is a way to make the viewer feel part of the community.

Dane : Well, I don’t have an answer as far as the data goes… But I think it’s different depending on if you’re a company or a YouTuber.

Based on my experience and observation, but not on the study, I think that the best, if you can, is to use ‘I’ and ‘you’ instead of ‘we’ you’ve done a better job, because you’ve created a one to one relationship.

When you use the word, ‘we’, you’re certainly including people but you’re not identifying their individual quite as much.

If you use ‘we’ and ‘you’, like as a company, “we”, the company, are going to show you the viewer how to do this… I think it’s better than not addressing them at all. But if you’re a YouTuber, ‘I’ is definitely better than ‘we’, but I don’t think ‘we’ is bad.

What’s the most creative use of the ‘you’ word that you have seen?

Dane : Well, let me go… I had a list of different ways people were using it.
I don’t really have a great answer for that, I think they’re really quite simple. It’s so natural, one, Americans as you know have a verbal tic, that is among our verbal text, is the phrase ‘you know’.

I think it is important for people to know that one word we did not include in the study, that we executed was the word YouTube.
And I think it’s also important to just know that I believe that the ‘you’ in YouTube is not the subject, it’s the viewer.

What do you mean?

Dane : Well, the word YouTube is really, I mean the name is very obvious, it refers to the person creating the video. But I believe the emphasis of the ‘you’ is the opposite. I think the emphasis should be and real actually is the viewer, that’s what makes the success, not the subject.


Thank you Dane!