Last week, my wife and I saw the Boston premiere of Disney’s Newsies. This smash hit musical was inspired by the newsboys’ strike of 1899 in New York City. And the show offers video marketers several strategic insights about key influencers, and influencer marketing.

Here's the quick backstory: Newsies is set in an era when Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s Journal were using banner headlines and large pictures to tell dramatic stories while more conservative newspapers like the New York Times, Sun, Herald, and Tribune were imparting information. Among Pulitzer and Hearst’s innovations in the 1880s and 1890s were sports pages, women’s sections, advice columns, and comic strips.

Using Key Influencers to Amplify Video Content

Nevertheless, the musical isn’t about creating great content. It’s about amplifying that content with a small army of key influencers. Or, as Jack Kelly, the leader of the newsboys, says, “Headlines don’t sell papes. Newsies sell papes.” And this is the show’s first important lesson for video marketers, who have at least three types of key influencers who can amplify their content.

#1 Influencer Marketing Wins: Top Fans

The first group is made up of influential members of the YouTube Community. These are people who not only watch your videos, but also like and/or favorite them, make comments frequently, as well as subscribe to your channel. YouTube recommends that you develop a relationship with your key influencers. YouTube has also created a tool for channels with more than 1,000 subscribers called “Top Fans.” If you merge your YouTube channel with your Google+ page, then you can learn more about your Top Fans and connect with them.

For example, you can see the demographics of your Top Fans, the date they subscribed to your channel, the number of subscribers they have to their channel, any recent comments they’ve made, as well as an “engagement score” which measures the number of interactions (comments, favorites, likes, or new subscriptions) per views. Here's a quick snapshot of the Top Fans for ReelSEO's YouTube channel:

youtube top fans reelseo channel

Top Fans for ReelSEO's YouTube Channel - July 2015

After identifying your Top Fans, you can message them and/or add them to a circle on Google+ as long as both your channel and theirs are connected to a Google+ page. In addition, you can:

  • Upload videos privately to ensure that only your circle of Top Fans sees these videos a day or two before they are released.
  • Solicit advice from your Top Fans. Their comments will be private.
  • Promote and host private Hangouts with your Top Fans. Let them know what you’re up to in a face-to-face chat.

Now, I realize that most video marketers haven’t invested a lot of time and effort trying to leverage Google+, even though The YouTube Creator Playbook for Brands told them to “Leverage Google+”. That’s because TechCrunch told them in April 2014, “Google+ Is Walking Dead.” But whether you use Top Fans or the Creator Profiles of over 2 million video influencers from Tubular Labs, it’s clear that you need to develop a strong connection with some of your most engaged and most influential fans, based on their public interaction with your YouTube channel.

#2 Influencer Marketing Wins: Social Media Users

The second group of key influencers is made up of people who often visit YouTube, but make their home on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, or another social medium. Their primary motivation for visiting YouTube is to finding something worth sharing with their followers in one or more of these other social media. Now, even YouTube’s Creator Academy encourages you to “Reach beyond your channel to foster relationships on social media.” It adds:

“While YouTube is an incredible platform to reach a large audience, the power of other social media platforms cannot be underestimated. 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos are watched on Facebook every day; on Twitter, 700 YouTube videos are shared per minute.”

However, Facebook has been telling its users how to upload “native” videos since last summer. And Twitter rolled out its “native” video tools earlier this year. So, video marketers may need help discovering key influencers and building an influencer network on these platforms. One of the tools that I’ve used to identify top influencers in any niche conversation, manage key relationships, and measure their impact on my client’s business is Traackr. In addition, Tubular software now tracks more than 1.2 billion videos across over 30 video platforms, including: YouTube, Facebook, Vine, and Instagram.

Whichever tool they use, video marketers need to find some ways to tap into this valuable group. According to YouTube’s Creator Academy, “This audience shares videos on an additional social network after watching on YouTube. That activity is multiplied out to their groups of friends – in fact, more than half are connected to 100 or more people on social networks.”

#3 Influencer Marketing Wins: Bloggers and Online Journalists

The third group of key influencers is made up of the top bloggers and online journalists who cover the world of online video. They can embed YouTube videos and playlists in their stories. In fact, YouTube’s Creator Playbook, which will be redirected to the Academy after July 30, 2015, has a section on “Blog Outreach.” It says, “Share your content with relevant blogs, sites, and online communities.” It adds, “Blogs and other sites are always looking for great, relevant content to feature.” So, keep an eye on the websites that have featured your video content in the past and reach out to them whenever you have something new to publish. YouTube also advises to "be sure to pitch the right videos to them, and let them know they’re getting an inside scoop. Keep in mind that topical or trending content is usually most valuable to these sites. If you have a few videos, create a playlist about a relevant trending topic that would appeal to blogs.”

Well, that was great advice … a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But it’s getting harder and harder to find blogs and news sites that are still looking for great, relevant content to feature. Back in June 2011, YouTube announced the launch of “As Seen On” YouTube pages to highlight the blogs and sites that had embedded videos. But “As Seen On” links on YouTube’s video pages haven’t been seen since the Cosmic Panda redesign rolled out later that year.

From August 2006 until May 2014, I used Technorati to identify relevant blogs that might embed a client’s new video. However, the Technorati blog index was quietly killed in May 2014. And, just in case you haven’t checked out the HuffPost Video page lately, the videos come from AOL On. And the Times Video page on NYTimes.com features content produced by New York Times video journalists. So, if you’re pitching them topical or trending content, then you need to double-check that they haven’t already produced their own videos about the story. Nevertheless, it’s still worthwhile pitching the right videos to the top bloggers and online journalists who cover the world of online video. These key influencers can embed YouTube videos and playlists in their stories if and when their editors want them.

Who knew a Disney musical about the 19th Century newspaper industry could teach us so much.