Social Media Secrets of Big Brands: YouTube

It’s no secret. Today’s best marketing practices are increasingly social.

As social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter continue to gain momentum as primary places for people to connect, share information and be entertained, a company’s brand is shaped more by the way people are talking about it than any clever ad campaign or company proffered messages.

But just because consumers are shaping the overall message of a brand doesn’t mean companies should roll over and let the conversation happen without them. No. Companies should engage and shape the conversation by providing a great social experience for consumers—a platform where consumers spread a company’s message in their own words, based on their own experience.

According to a recent eMarketer report, the top three companies with the largest number of Facebook fans are YouTube, Coca-Cola and Starbucks Coffee Company. Let’s take a look at what these three brands are doing…and how local businesses can implement similar strategies to increase their social media success.


What’s interesting about YouTube is that they’re not only a company offering a social media platform, but they engage in a variety of other social media platforms—with great success. So, let’s take a quick look at their Facebook page.

The first thing you will notice is that you are taken directly to their Wall, not a welcome page with a compelling design or description of what they’re all about; it enables interested people to dive right into the conversation. Also, YouTube doesn’t post a status update every day. And when they do post, they seldom post more than one update a day.

Also interesting, they do not have a link to their Facebook page from their homepage. Clearly, their plan is to promote interaction with their website through Facebook—not the other way around.

As of the writing of this blog, YouTube had over 26 million fans. While their fan base has been growing steadily, they saw a 24% increase from October 2010 to November 2010.

What did they do to experience such results?

A lot.

Here are some of the things YouTube is doing on their Facebook page to promote engagement with their brand and growth of their fan base:

  • The focus isn’t on them. I know it sounds strange, but YouTube does a great job of keeping their posts focused on their fans’ likes and interests. While they do ask for “likes” and thank people for helping them reach milestones in their fan growth, they do so in a way that makes their fans feel great about interacting with the brand through Facebook. A prime example is when YouTube asked fans to “Click ‘like’ for YouTubers makin’ it in the offline world! Greyson Chance perform [sic]  his debut single on The Ellen Show.” This was a great way to show that they care about what their brand is doing for real people in real life, while also providing an opportunity to ask for likes in a non-self-serving way.

  • They offer contests—lots of them. YouTube does a great job harnessing the power of contests through their Facebook page. They offer a variety of contests with prizes ranging from signed CDs to a Sony Internet television powered by Google TV. The variety and frequency of their contests are a great way to keep fans engaged with their page over time.

  • They give fans a voice. YouTube enables Facebook fans to play a role in how their homepage appears and who gets featured there. In this way, users aren’t just interacting with the brand’s Facebook page, but they see that they can influence the brand’s image with their creative thoughts, ideas and opinions. What’s really great about this is that it not only promotes interaction with the brand’s Facebook page, but the brand’s webpage.

  • They offer exclusive information, humbly. YouTube is able to get the word out about exclusive content fans have access to on their website. For example: on November 10, they posted, “Madonna on bullying – Ellen couldn’t air the whole interview, so she put it on YouTube.” Again, they’re getting people to not only interact with the Facebook page, but their website. And they do it humbly. They don’t come out and say that they’re the best because they have exclusive content you can’t get anywhere else. They allude to that by sharing how YouTube is helping get important information out that otherwise wouldn’t be heard.


Clearly, YouTube has got some things figured out about what people are looking for in their social media interactions with large brands.

Stay tuned for analyses of Coca-Cola’s and Starbucks’ Facebook campaigns for ideas on creating a dynamic Facebook presence for your business.

If you liked this post, you may also be interested in: Recognizing the Value of Social Media: Barack Obama’s State of the Union Embraces Technology, Social Media Isn’t Just Chatter—it’s an SEO Booster!, Overcoming Obstacles to Using Social Media for Your Business and Social Media: Right Ways and Wrong Ways to Use It.