We got the chance to talk to Brendan Gahan, VP of Brand Strategy at Fullscreen, which is the #1 independent multi-channel network going right now. Our founder, Mark Robertson, talked to him during his days at Mekanism. He'll be at the Reel Summit taking place on July 25-26 in San Francisco, where he will be talking with Hermione Way from Newspepper, Jonathan Hunt from VICE, YouTube's Bing Chen, and Ryan Lee from Twitter on a panel called, "Content Vs. Communtiy: Which Is King?" That panel will discuss what creates a "hit" on YouTube: is it production value or savvy media skills?
Content vs. Community with Fullscreen's Brendan Gahan
ReelSEO: Your panel at the 2013 Video Marketing Summit is "Content Vs. Community: Which Is King?" Is this a debate about what creates a "hit" on YouTube? Great content alone versus an inspired community willing to share the video? These things aren't mutually exclusive, are they?
Brendan Gahan: It's not so much a debate about what creates a hit, so much as a conversation around the role that social media plays in driving viewership to content and the approaches one can take. Individuals with large social media followings/built-in followings has upended the traditional model, as a result the what's historically been classified as 'great content' i.e. highly produced videos, has often been left in the dust when it comes to generating viewership online. More and more we're seeing media companies start to play in the space and utilize a lot of the same tactics made popular by individual content creators.
RSEO: Does that mean that no one really cares about highly produced content? What's really the driving force behind generating engagement and viewership online and where's it all headed?
Gahan: We're seeing very different approaches being taken by individuals, brands, and media companies. Individuals on the whole, are cultivating communities. We're seeing the trend of individuals create commmunities, while many media companies are leveraging technology (Content ID) to claim their content which is being distributed by pockets of people who rip and repost.
RSEO: What is the responsibility of a network when it comes to a video, or a channel's, success?
Gahan: The responsibility of the network varies drastically. More and more, networks are leveraging their expertise to support not only creators, but brands and media companies. For creators - everyone has different needs and goals. My recommendation to creators who are interested in joining a network is to have a very clear understanding of what it is that they want and get as much of that as possible when joining. A network won't necessarily make you rich and famous, its going to take hard work, however there are a lot of services networks can provide - brand deals, management, collaborations, etc. No one knows what you want better than you do, so its best to identify the best way to accomplish your goals, in many cases that will be a network, but not always.
RSEO: Networks have been under fire lately for a variety of reasons. Would you care to discuss what networks are doing well, what they aren't, what Fullscreen is doing that others aren't, etc.?
Gahan: At Fullscreen we're really focused on empowering creators through technology, facilitating collaborations, and monetization. These vary drastically based on the creators needs, however we provide a number of services that creators just can't get elsewhere. We've got an exclusive partnership with Warner Music which allows creators to monetize their covers, there's an amazing analytics platform to help provide insights into how to improve your channel's performance, we have dedicated partner managers to help drive collaborations within the network, and we've got numerous brand opportunities for both large and small creators.
RSEO: What role does production value play in a video's success?
Gahan: In cultivating communities Youtube is about the emotional connection. Viewers get invested in YouTube creators and the stories they have to tell - their lives, and their trial and tribulations. More and more you're seeing YouTuber's 'Vlog' channels growing to surpass what's historically been their 'main' channel. I think this is very telling of what matters most - which the authentic connection.
RSEO: How important is social media? Is it absolutely required for a video to be a hit? What social media outlets are particularly good at helping a video's success and why?
Gahan: You can get a few million viewers by throwing a film or show in a primetime, time slot. Whether or not this is considered a 'hit' is in the eye of the beholder. However, with social media anyone has the option to get eyeballs on their content. This is a groundbreaking time we're living in. You no longer need to go through a gate keeper to get viewers.
Within social media, we often see brands and media companies leverage twitter and facebook as hubs, whereas youtube is just a place to host content. That's evolving drastically. YouTube is its own social media platform/ecosystem. A subscribe helps build your commnity in a very similar way to a Facebook like (and is arguably more powerful).
We'd like to thank Brendan Gahan for his time!