It’s another day in Los Angeles, and the crew has arrived just before sunrise. They patiently unravel their items from their packs, setting up camera equipment and going over schedules. The cast is walking in circles, muttering lines under their breath as they desperately try to memorize the script before it’s shooting time. The sweetness of Twizzlers and the aroma of warm coffee wafts throughout the hallway as “go time” nears.
A Director narrows her gaze through the camera lens, “And…action!” Everything quiets – the air holds still – and a new story is told. This isn’t the start of the next great feature film, nor is it destined for a major TV network. These producers, actors, writers, cinematographers and director are all working together to make the internet a better place.
“If something excites you, go for it.”Chad Hurley, co-founder and former CEO of YouTube
The YouTube Space in LA has been open since 2012 and has become a thriving incubator of diverse talent. The rules are simple: have 10,000 followers, and you can create your masterpiece within its state of the art facility for no cost. You can party like a Spielberg, even if you’re barely out of college.
This “free-for-all” creative warehouse is truly revolutionary as both a business model and a resource for inducting the next generation of raw creative talent. YouTube is forward-thinking to the tiniest detail. Understanding immediately that as a tech company, and a cornerstone of the modern Internet, they must treat their product and their audience as a global force rather than a “niche market.”
“Whenever you’re the leader in any industry, you get more headlines.”Chad Hurley, co-founder and former CEO of YouTube
That’s why YouTube Spaces have popped up in Berlin, São Paulo, New York, Tokyo, and London. They’re well on their way to creating an entire fleet of creators whose work is now facilitated thanks to YouTube’s open-mindedness. It’s a long stretch to go from cat video to creative domination, but with YouTube’s example, anything is possible.
Like most tech companies of its caliber, YouTube started from humble beginnings. The year was 2005, and the future of shareable content online was just beginning to evolve. MySpace was on top; Facebook was close on its tail and internet videos were well on their way to being the most sought after content in the world.
Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim were fresh from their exit as employees of PayPal, and they wanted to invest in something new, different, and impactful. The group began the company with a simple question: “How can you make videos easier to share online?”
Around this time Janet Jackson’s famous wardrobe malfunction was on everyone’s lips, and yet – video of the event was difficult to locate and share within your network. Finding the video forced you to go through several hoops through websites to get what you wanted. The group felt compelled to act and like most entrepreneurs; they were pushed by this magic phrase: “There has to be a better way.”
Even with their big ideas there was no predicting how big YouTube would grow. From global attention to major advertising dollars, they soon gave TV networks and film studios a real run for their money.
Just last year, when the controversial North Korea-skewering film, “The Interview” caused Sony Pictures to eject it from being shown in theaters, YouTube was quick to pick up the slack. They quickly offered the film as a purchased download, which helped it elevate the company to becoming one of the top sources for streaming content online.
1. Trust in the Numbers, They Don’t Lie.
YouTube thrives on its subscribers and has created a creative hierarchy of “YouTube Stars” who boast more than a million viewers. In the world where fewer and fewer people are tuning into television in real time, this has become the only way to track truly how the world is spending their free time.
“Every user has something to say.”Steve Chen, chief technology officer of YouTube.
But not only that, YouTube has used this information for good rather than bad. They have the most detailed focus group in the world, for no cost. They know from the subscriber rates that kind of videos work best with which demographic, which length video keeps users interested, which region of the world gravitates toward which kind of star.
This boils down to the classic adage of, “The customer is always right.” When it comes to your own business, trust in the numbers like YouTube does and use it as a way to be creative with your product. Customer feedback is a gift, not a nuisance. It allows you a guide map for how you can better serve your audience.
2. Ask Yourself, “What’s the Cherry on Top?”
YouTube could take a backseat to their product and still collect billions of dollars in revenue. Instead of becoming complacent with their company, they’re constantly innovating and figuring out ways to use their opportunities in the best way.
They’re constantly asking themselves, “How can we add a cherry on top to our popular comedy channels?” And with that, Comedy Week was born. “How can we add a cherry on top to our YouTube creators?” Inviting them to on-campus parties so they feel like they’re part of a real in-person community.
How can you “add a cherry on top” to your product? Something that isn’t necessary to your product creation, but boosts customer morale and loyalty?
3. Value Your Creative
YouTube knows you eat with your eyes, which is why their interface is easy to navigate and simple. The same could be said about their YouTube Spaces, which have the look and feel of a futuristic, hip, free film school.
Don’t cut corners with creative, and make sure you’re investing in what’s going to provide your customer with the best experience. Invest in your design, keep it simple and easy to revisit. Make it a home for your customers to return to much in the same way YouTube has become accommodating for so many viewers from around the world.