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With more than 7.9 billion drinks sold in 2020 and a market share of 43%, Red Bull is the biggest energy drink brand in the world. But Red Bull isn’t only known for selling its energizing drinks. Besides being a market leader, this popular energy drink producer also dominates the YouTube charts. Despite comparable strategies of competitors like Monster Energy, Red Bull still remains first on YouTube with five times as many views. What is the secret behind Red Bull’s YouTube success?
As the largest energy drink brand in the world with huge investments in extreme sports and also its own media production, it seems obvious that Red Bull is also at the top of the YouTube rankings. However, the number two, Monster Energy, also has a 39% market share (4% less than Red Bull) and a similar focus on media production and action sports. Still, Red Bull manages to achieve five times as many views on their YouTube channel. An important reason for this, is that Red Bull realized and exploited YouTube’s potential at an early stage. Twelve years ago, Red Bull published their first video, where Monster Energy started uploading only seven years ago. Meanwhile, Red Bull has significantly more videos (6021) on their channel than Monster Energy (1585).
Red Bull’s YouTube strategy seems simple: publish spectacular action sports videos. In addition, the energy drink brand successfully manages multiple channels across which their audience (87% male, 13% female) is divided. For example, the channel “Red Bull Snow” specializes in the best freestyle snowboarders and skiers in the world. But it is not purely this strategy that sets Red Bull apart. Rockstar Energy has been publishing similar action sports videos on their channel for the past two years. But these videos were very short, 7.2 million views came from videos between 0-30 seconds. The channel had only 10.5k engagements. The YouTube algorithm spreads such short content significantly less, that is why the organic views and the associated engagements are relatively low. Therefore there is a significant difference in engagement and brand appreciation between Red Bull and Rockstar Energy. In short: YouTube is a platform for longer content.
With Red Bull Media House and access to the best action athletes in the world, it doesn’t seem complicated for Red Bull to make spectacular videos. However, these spectacular moments are often only of a short duration. This often results in short-form content and limited watch time. For example, we see that the action sports camera manufacturer GoPro seems to have a similar content strategy, in which mainly short spectacular clips are published. Due to the good thumbnails and spectacular action these clips attract a lot of views, but it is more difficult for GoPro to generate a lot of watch time. Watch time, however, is the key component of the YouTube algorithm. The length of the videos plays an important role in generating watch time. The longer the videos, the more watch time on the platform will be realised.
Red Bull knows how to perfectly match such action moments to the YouTube algorithm. The brand processes this spectacular, short-term content in two ways to keep publishing long-form content:
An example is “Snowboarding World’s Craziest Videos | Red Bull Top 5”. Five very spectacular snowboard clips in a row still provide a longer video of more than 7 minutes.
Furthermore, Red Bull also often makes “deep dives” in the athletes who create all these spectacular moments. We not only see the skydive, snowboard jump or motorbike tricks themselves, but also the way towards them, who the athletes are, where they train, etc. Red Bull knows that the first 30 seconds of the video are essential for the viewer’s attention. and therefore does not immediately start with the interview, but instead starts with a quick compilation of action highlights and exciting music. A good example is “Travis Pastrana’s Guided Tour of Pastranaland | Red Bull Backyards ”
As we always advise customers at Team5pm | The YouTube Agency, an optimized thumbnail is crucial for the performance of your content. But what makes a good thumbnail? A close-up photo, the use of contrast and bright colors, movement / action and emotion are some elements that work well. The action aspect is of course made for Red Bull. The thumbnail design strikes a good balance between consistency and variety. The overarching style makes the thumbnails immediately recognizable, but at the same time the thumbnails are unique and there is enough variation between the different videos.
In addition to the regular uploads, community posts are an effective way to not only reach your own audience, but also to attract new viewers. Red Bull posts a new community post every other day in the form of an announcement of a new video. In this way, the video gets a boost within the algorithm and engagement is stimulated.
To conclude, it appears that the size of your market share does not necessarily guarantee your success on YouTube. This success is the result of optimized long-form content in a well-thought out online video strategy, which focuses on engagement with the viewer. Only then, will the power of YouTube manifest itself. Red Bull knows better than anyone how to effectively recognize and utilize this power of YouTube in their online marketing mix.
Want to learn more about a successful YouTube strategy? Check out our website Team5pm, read this blog about 9 other successful brands on YouTube or watch the interview with Bob van Iersel about Heineken’s strategy to reach a younger audience.