When Common Craft pivoted their business into a educational video subscription service, a bit of a void was left in the universe. You see, Common Craft made the absolute best "explanation videos" around--their "Twitter In Plain English" was featured on Twitter's home page for ages as the service was growing in its early days. But now that they work directly with businesses and nonprofits, where are we going to go to get great informative explanation videos? Answer: CGP Grey.

Explanation Videos From Rising YouTube Star, CGP Grey

I've featured a few of CGP Grey's videos in the Friday viral video round ups before. Here's their most recent video to go viral, about the 2012 apocalypse prediction:

CGP Grey's YouTube channel was created in August of 2010, but it wasn't until 2011 that they began to get consistent viral traction on their videos. These days, they're nearly batting a thousand.

There are a lot of things CGP Grey is doing right.

Using Video

According to their website, the main business of CGP Grey is Time Management Consulting and Public Speaking. These guys aren't in the business of selling videos... or even "explaining" things. They're in the business of consulting. They're just using these videos to boost their profile with consumers online. And I bet you a million dollars it's working.

Variety of Topics

While Common Craft tended to stick to technology topics (though they certainly branched out), CGP Grey seems to cast a much wider net in terms of the topics they're willing to explain.

Here's a video that grabbed nearly a million views this summer by simply explaining (and celebrating) the greatest addiction ever, coffee:

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They've also explained Daylight Savings Time:

And copyright law:

Not Mimicking Common Craft

They do their own thing. They have their own style. Common Craft's appeal was wrapped up nicely in founder Lee Lefever's charming tone of voice and hand-drawn animation style. CGP Grey uses a mix of animation, still photos, live video, and motion graphics to educate.

Using YouTube Tools

They're making excellent use of both the YouTube Captions system and the Annotations, which they use to drive traffic to their other videos. They're also pretty savvy about the video titles they choose and the descriptions they write--its almost like they've been faithful readers of ReelSEO for years. :)

Update: For clarification purposes, as Lee pointed out below, Common Craft still makes great explanation videos, they're just not putting them all on YouTube anymore. Apologies for any confusion I caused on that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002445410076 Ryan Pitcheralle

    well done Jeremy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001980816372 Usman Kodo

    trimah kasih

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100361750022323 Video Leads Online

    Thanks for introducing me to CPG Grey - I'll have to park in front of some of there other entertaining educational videos sometime.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605247255 Lee LeFever

    Thanks for mentioning Common Craft, Jeremy. The CGP videos are great - we love to see more people venture into the video explanation biz.

    In terms of our transition in 2010, we haven't changed anything about the kinds of videos we make. We're still focused on topics like Twitter, etc. I think the big point for this example is that we stopped using YouTube and made our website the home of our work. Our complete library (75% of which is not on YouTube) is currently on our website for your viewing pleasure - and this has been true through the recent change to becoming a subscription service. Just a bit of clarification. :)

    • Jeremy Scott

      Thanks, Lee. Guess it's been long enough since we talked about it that I got fuzzy on some of the details. Appreciate the clarification!