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Brands need to take greater advantage of the desire for how-to content says Google

How-to content on YouTube is increasingly in demand, according to new research from Google. Searches for topics ranging from the practical (how-to tie a tie), to the creative (how to draw), from style (how to curl your hair with a hair straightener) to cuisine (how to make a cake), are growing 70% year over year, with 100m hours of how-to videos viewed in North America so far in 2015.

The growth is being attributed to mobile technology, with 91% of smartphone users saying they now turn to their phones for ideas while doing a task. Categories trending the most include beauty, home improvement and cooking.


“Being constantly connected has trained us to expect immediacy and relevance in moments of intent—the I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy moments. These micro-moments are the new battlegrounds for people’s hearts, minds, and dollars,” writes David Mogensen on the Think with Google site.

The team is pushing the idea that marketers are too heavily focused on one-way traditional media planned against brand moments and anchored to campaign flights, rather than thinking about and preparing for these personal moments. In doing so they’re missing out on potential for conversion too – data shows with millennials specifically, one in three say they’ve purchased a product as a result of watching a how-to video.

MAC Cosmetics has particularly focused on this how-to content as a means of driving sales in local markets. It partnered with Google on a YouTube gadget in 2014 to allow viewers to shop directly from its “Instant Artistry” video series on its local e-commerce sites. “A user watching our videos in Brazil will engage with a version of the gadget that is entirely in Portuguese and will be driven directly to the Brazilian MAC Cosmetics site to purchase. We have seen fantastic engagement as well as incremental sales on e-commerce that far exceeded our expectations,” says Noelle Sadler, VP of global consumer engagement at the company.

Google’s how-to for marketers

Here are some of the best practices Google suggests in approaching a content strategy built around ‘I-want-to-do moments’:

  • Identify the I-want-to-do moments in which consumers have a need and your brand can play a role. Find these moments across the entire consumer journey and put them at the center of your strategy.
  • What are the questions and concerns people have related to the types of products you sell or the types of projects they are used for? What do people want to learn about them? (Tools such as Google Trends and Google Consumer Surveys can help answer these questions.) Create I-want-to-do content for your website and YouTube channel to serve as resources for them.
  • Look at when how-to searches occur. Are there particular times of day, week, or year when some topics are more popular?
  • Make your videos easy to find by adding descriptive titles, details, and relevant tags to each video. You can also promote your content by TrueView in-stream and in-display, and you can reach the right viewers through affinity, in-market, and topic targeting.
  • Did you reach your audiences? Did they pay attention? What implications did it have on their perceptions and actions? Measurement solutions, such as Google’s Brand Lift, can help answer these questions.
Editor's pick mobile social media

Are fashion brands prepped to forego quality in order to fulfill the wants of Snapchat?

Image via Stolnik magazine

Something is happening with social media content. Where once highly pristine images made all the more perfect with an Instagram filter were a sure-fire strategic win, what’s beginning to take over with younger generations and the early adopter set is a much more candid approach to documenting a moment in time.

From Snapchat to Periscope (and all the other live streaming apps in between), there’s much more of a raw aesthetic filling our content feeds. It’s unedited, unscripted, totally of the moment, and more authentic as a result. As Lucie Greene, worldwide director at J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, explains, it’s part of a consumer shift in terms of what is deemed acceptable with visual language.

“We’re seeing intimate, real, and even amateur style photography becoming aspirational. And consumers, meanwhile, becoming active creators of content. They’re even starting to see themselves increasingly as their own brand. What’s interesting is that traditional entertainers and fashion brands are embracing this — they’re moving from slick, glossy, synthesised content to more ‘real’ looking imagery,” she says.

Inevitably it’s a big shift for the majority of brands however. In the fashion industry particularly, this more organic form of content is at odds with the increasingly strict controls in place around social media output. For many brands, content is created months in advance. For the giants in the space able to be more flexible, there are large teams and significant creative budgets in order to produce such flawless assets.

Those doing a really nice job of it however (on Snapchat check out Burberry, Valentino and Everlane), are still remaining ‘on brand’ with their output, just with a slightly more lighthearted view. If you’re a subscriber, check out the full report on WGSN to read all about what they’re doing to achieve it, and how true interaction will be the next leap forward in this space.

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