Video Essentials

Learn the Hero, Hub, Hygiene Strategy to Build YouTube Channels


Often those in the media, and even in marketing circles, define success on YouTube as creating a viral video. However, it’s important to broaden our understanding of what a win is on the platform. While having a video go viral is great, planning for it can be difficult.

Even if you do manage to create a viral hit, you haven’t cultivated a community that you can communicate and engage with over time. As a result, you’re missing out on one of the greatest value propositions YouTube has to offer: subscribers. Subscribers watch twice the content of non-subscribers and act as a built-in distribution base for your content.

So if a viral video won’t build a community, what will?

LegoGrowing a community around a channel is the result of building a relationship and recognition over time through ongoing content creation. YouTube creators understand and implement this well. Take a look at any top YouTuber: Nine times out of ten they’re uploading videos on the same day each week and they’re communicating this to their fans.

Continuous content creation is a challenge for anyone, and for brands in particular. It’s difficult enough to come up with one video—concepting, shooting, and editing. In order to create a lot of content you need to have a process in place and a clear understanding of what you want to create.

The people at YouTube are well aware of this need for structure in the creative process. They’ve developed a framework that addresses both the needs of the brand to communicate a message and the needs of the consumer. The framework YouTube has developed to solve for this is the Hero, Hub, Hygiene strategy. Within this architecture each piece of content serves a specific purpose.

  • Hero content: This means major advertising initiatives intended to reach a wide audience. Hero content includes viral videos and major commercial pushes (such as Super Bowl commercials). These are far less common than other types of content (coming once or twice a year) and are created to support major campaigns.
  • Hub content: This type of content is episodic and is meant to keep subscribers coming back week after week. Hub content is often what brands miss out on the most, because it can be difficult to maintain a rigid production schedule or create a whole content series. However, this content is critical because it keeps the subscribers you worked so hard to acquire engaged and coming back. It should keep your core consumer entertained, or they’ll most likely unsubscribe.
  • Hygiene content: These videos capture viewers searching for information where the brand has expertise, and often take the form of how-to guides. Think of hygiene content as paint-by-numbers for digital video: Content should focus on information the brand’s customers are searching for, topics the brand has expertise in, and areas where the brand has a chance of placing high in search rankings.

This may seem like a lot of steps, but the framework removes a lot of guesswork. It ensures that brands think about the purpose of each piece of content. Contrast this with the way many brands are currently creating content, offering videos that only interest the marketing team and do little to grow a channel or entice consumers.

Adopting the Hero, Hub, Hygiene framework helps brands avoid the trap of creating content that doesn’t add up to any results. Putting all your eggs in one basket by trying to create the next “Gangnam Style” is not a realistic long term strategy, but merely one part of a strategy.

Can you name one brand that has turned viral video into a long-term strategy?

What results can brands expect by implementing the Hero, Hub, Hygiene strategy? One brand that has successfully adopted this framework is Lego. Lego’s YouTube channel has over 500,000 subscribers, over half a billion views, and is currently growing at a rate of 35,000 new subscribers per month. That’s about as good as it gets with organic growth.

How has Lego brought this framework to life?

Lego has several pieces of Hero content—its mainstream content intended for the masses—but the most recognizable is The Lego Movie trailer. This was a Super Bowl moment for the brand, and something it promoted heavily to generate widespread awareness.

Lego maintains several types of Hub content, but one of its most prominent is the Lego Blocumentary Web Series. Now in its fourth season, the Blocumentaries highlight great creations from around the world and offer a look at innovative Lego builders. This content celebrates the Lego community, and keeps Lego’s die-hard fans coming back for more.

Lego creates Hygiene videos in its Creator series, which are essentially how-to pieces. These videos provide basic information about Lego products, such as assembly instructions, the function of various Lego pieces, and Lego construction tactics. For example, one video covers “Quick window building ideas.” Narrated by a Lego designer, the video explains how to improve window’s made out of Legos. Another video in the series outlines how to build sliding doors for Lego houses.

The Hero, Hub, Hygiene framework forces brands to think about how content is experienced by the viewer, and the role each type plays in channel growth. Lego has assembled the building blocks of organic YouTube channel growth, and you need to do the same. But hurry up—if you don’t start creating a relationship with your potential community of fans, someone else surely will.

To read more about Lego’s implementation of the Hero, Hub, Hygiene strategy, download a case study on my blog.

Guest post by Brendan Gahan (@brendangahan). Gahan is a YouTube expert helping Fortune 500 brands with their YouTube influencer and community building campaigns. He was named Forbes 30 Under 30 in Marketing & Advertising and one of the 25 Top YouTube Business Power Players for 2013. Subscribe to his newsletter for whitepapers and case studies.

The Ultimate YouTube Strategy for Brands – Hero, Hub, Hygiene from Brendan Gahan



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