Why YouTube’s Hero, Hub, Help Content Strategy works
YouTube’s hero, hub, help content strategy is key to growing a branded YouTube channel.
Developed by YouTube, the hero, hub, help strategy recommends that brands create three types of content:
HERO – You’re ‘go big’ brand/campaign moments that happen once or twice a year.
HUB – Episodic content, in a repeatable format, uploaded on a set schedule. This should be 80-90% of your brand’s videos.
HELP – Answering consumer questions or participating in trends. (because YouTube is the second largest search engine). This commonly takes the form of ‘how to’ content.
But, why does this content strategy work? I break down the reasons.
WHY DOES HERO, HUB, HELP WORK?
For the sake of simplicity I think you can break it down into three main categories:
- It taps into what the YouTube algorithm prioritizes (i.e. recency and search)
- It leans into viewer behavior and our inability to retain too much information
- It makes life simpler for creators – with an established format you streamline workflow
YouTube prioritizes new content above old.
As a result, there’s a demand on creators to publish content at a high frequency. This is something that Matt Gielen spent a lot of time deconstructing and explaining in his post – Reverse Engineering The YouTube Algorithm: Part II. In that post Gielen sites a paper from Google which explains why this is the case:
Many hours worth of videos are uploaded each second to YouTube. Recommending this recently uploaded (“fresh”) content is extremely important for YouTube as a product. We consistently observe that users prefer fresh content, though not at the expense of relevance.
The implications of this is simple – you need to make more content to keep your channel relevant.
What’s the best way to create content frequently? Using the ‘hub’ strategy, i.e. content that is “episodic, and something that’s easy to replicate.”
Another major factor to keep in mind is that YouTube looks at your watch and search history – YouTube is looking at the these behaviors and searching for patterns.
Essentially, every action you take is teaching YouTube who likes what content. If you’re a channel owner you want to use this knowledge to clearly define the viewer you want and create extremely consistent content so that YouTube knows exactly who wants to see your videos.
For example, if you you create videos around surfing and you get a bunch of 30 year old males who live in one California coastal town to tune in every video. It’s safe to assume that guys of the same age, same demographics, who live in the next town over will also like it.If one day, that channel posts a ‘My Little Pony’ video then it will result in that original demographic stop watching and new demographic coming into the channel – this is confusing for YouTube to reconcile.
Which demographic should the channel be promoted to? By creating content which appeals to varied audiences, YouTub e is not going to prioritize content from that channel.
YouTube is selling ads – they want to keep people on the site longer.
As a content creator, you want to tell them, by being as specific as possible with your content, who likes your channel. Once again – the best way to accomplish this is through the ‘hub’ style, episodic content.
Why does the hero, hub, help content strategy work from the viewer standpoint?
The answer is simple – there’s so much content you need to be clear what your channel stands for. There’s 500 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute. And YouTube is just one site – you’re actually competing for competition against the entire internet – an infinite sea of content.
You’ve gotta be memorable to stand out, and the best way to accomplish that is to be simple and clear.
Ask yourself – What does my channel stand for? Am I uploading at the same days and times of week? Will a viewer know what my entire channel stands for if they watch one video?
If you can remove as many variables as possible, you’re going to make it much easier for people to keep coming back. Think about it this way – what if they don’t the see the subscribe notifications? If you are every single Wednesday at 2:00, they’re more likely remember that than if sometimes you upload Wednesday and other times you upload Saturdays or if you skip a week.
Like the saying goes K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid.
So why does the hero, hub, help model work so well for content creators?
Perhaps the biggest reason is that by apply hero, hub, help, where ‘hub’ is the majority of your content – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Coming up with ideas is fucking hard. On top of that, coming up with new sets, new talents, new production crew, base on the creative, all these things, it over-complicates the process.
You really want to stick to a format that you can realistically do day in day out, whatever your schedule is.
The other reason hero, hub, help works so well for content creators is that YouTube tells you what works. By going into the creator dashboard you can see audience retention on individual videos and you can see for yourself exactly where people watch and lose interests – peaks align with people watching more of a video and troughs align with where they drop off.
As a result, you, the content creator can make incremental changes over time to improve your content.
I once saw a panel with Harley Morenstein of Epic Meal Time and he spoke to how he applied these learnings to his own channel. In his analytics he was seeing peaks every time they whipped out more bacon, so they just added more and more to the channel – now bacon is one of the things Epic Meal Time is best known for.
Oftentimes, brands and content creators want that ‘viral’ hit and the idea of making incremental changes seems unappealing. Although, it may not seem really sexy at first, over time it really adds up. The most powerful force is compound interest and that’s what these changes. Over the course of a year or two years, they make a big, big difference.
To recap why hero, hub, help works so well – you want to train YouTube and teach the platform who exactly likes your channel. The way to accomplish this is by creating ‘hub’/episodic content around a very specific topic in a consistent format. You want to make it easy for viewers to remember your channel by maintaining that consistency we discussed and posting on a set schedule. Lastly, you want to make these little changes over time and leverage the insights that YouTube provides and apply those insights to your hub series.