Relational Marketing and a Lesson from YouTubers

At Red Mallard, we’re encouraging our clients to get on camera. Video content is easy to produce (far simpler than most assume.)

When we rattle off video marketing purposes, we often talk about how it builds relationships. Images, color, and sound play upon emotions in ways that written words cannot. Look into the camera, and you’ve made eye-to-eye contact with every viewer—at once!

Get parasocial!

YouTube demonstrates how far the relational power of video can go. A small but growing number of people are financially secure by creating content for YouTube. “YouTubers” get paid a small share of the platform’s advertising revenue based on the number of views they attract. Except for the most prominent channels, the ad revenue is tiny. Many YouTubers also rely on tips through funding platforms like Patreon, and a few sell merchandise.

YouTubers trade on the parasocial relationships with their audience.

A parasocial relationship is radically one-sided. A media figure, such as a celebrity or YouTuber, rarely has any connection to individual members of the audience. In the relationship, they are mere persona. On the other hand, the audience member may invest time, energy, and emotion into what they experience as a close connection with the persona. 

This is nothing new. Beatles fans screaming at the sight of John Lennon, crowds hoping for an actor’s autograph, the excitement upon seeing a sports hero on the street—these relationships predate the Internet.

Look to YouTube

But while the Beatles made their fame and their living selling records and tickets, a YouTuber relies almost entirely on organic growth and asking screaming fans to click like, leave a comment, and click through to Patreon. This lets us see just how valuable a parasocial relationship can be.

PewDiePie runs YouTube’s most successful channel (by subscribers). With 111 million subscribers, Mr. Kjellberg reportedly makes over $3 million per year from his content.

PewDiePie is an excellent case study for parasocial relationships. His content is often nothing more than a stream of him sitting at his desk talking or playing a video game. He speaks, and his audience of millions listens. For the viewer, watching this content can feel like sitting around with a talkative friend.

Psychologists studying this topic have found ways in which parasocial relationships can go wrong. But like so much, a minor celebrity worship isn’t going to hurt us.

Become the star 

What does a guy hosting a 12-hour Minecraft stream have to do with your business?

One goal of creating video content should be to cultivate parasocial relationships with your audience. A prospect who already feels a connection with your business will be 

Imagine if a celebrity you appreciate called you to talk about their craft. Lindsey Vonn is interested in your skiing tips. LeBron James asks to meet to talk about the triangle offense. 

Now reverse the picture. You are the celebrity, and you’re talking to your viewer for the first time.

We’re not expecting anyone to be star-struck upon meeting us in content marketing. But on a smaller scale, the excitement of meeting “that person from the video” is significant.

Set em up, knock em down

The idea of stirring excitement from video content brings up an important topic in content marketing: closing the deal. You can produce all the videos in the world and never sell a thing. Video’s role is to break down barriers and facilitate connections, so the sales pitch finds a willing ear.

Every business has its style of increasing revenue: cold calling by sales reps, targeted email campaigns, attending networking events, and so on. In early conversations, the brand familiarity fostered through video content pays for itself. 

Video isn’t the only way to foster a parasocial relationship. Check out our new podcast for other ideas!

How is your business fostering new relationships? When you’re ready to take your growth strategy to the next level, reach out to Red Mallard. We’re here to answer your questions and get you rolling.

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