What These Goofs With 5 Billion Video Views Can Teach You

By  May 12th, 2016


Here on Search Engine People you can read articles from some the most knowledgable video and search engine marketers in the world. There are real insights which can actually help you get more views, subscribers, and better search rankings.

But how is it that Smosh, two goofy friends since high school, and the frequent creators of such ‘sophisticated’ videos as The Wiener Song, become so popular? What could these idiots possibly know that dozens of professionals don’t?!?

You’d be surprised. Read on to find out just what they know about YouTube marketing.

YouTube Marketing Skillz From Smosh

They Perfected Channel Branding Early On

In a sea of one-hit viral videos, Smosh were one of the first channels to really catch on and gain a following. How this happened uses the exact same tactic which you have to use today: They found a niche they were good at, and they stuck with it.

For Smosh, this came in the form of their early ‘music video’ versions of theme songs. Their Mortal Kombat video turned out to be the most popular with over 25 million views:

And then there was there infamous battle with the Pokemon theme song and copyright issues, but that’s another topic!

The important learning moment here is that they found a niche and ran with it. This built up their subscriber numbers, and established who they were. With this branding done they took another step towards the types of comedy skit videos they’re known for now.

They also established their ‘characters’ all those years ago. Watch an old video and a new one: Ian still plays ‘Ian’, and Anthony still plays ‘Anthony’.

Branding who you are, and what type of content you make, and gradually taking steps to grow your content, is exactly what every famous YouTuber has done:

  • PewDiePie expanded to add comedy videos from his core gaming videos.
  • Epic Meal Time added real cooking shows to their slate of absurd, extreme meals.
  • Philip DeFranco has personal vlogs to go with his news show.

Branding and establishing an identity are the absolute first priorities of any YouTube channel. Smosh showed us this with their outrageous amateurish videos ten years ago!

They Are Surprisingly Organized

Smosh have taken their organization to a level which few YouTube ‘marketing professionals’ ever bother with. For starters, they have great visual organization thanks to how they label their thumbnails with logos which are unique to each of their series, or use consistent imagery:

Smosh YouTube thumbnail example

Creating good looking thumbnails is HUGE on YouTube. If you don’t know this, you’re not a YouTube marketer. These images are visual ‘calls to action’ which get users to click and actually watch the video. If you’re using the stock thumbnails which YouTube automatically generates for you …I’m sorry, but you’re an amateur.

Their organization also extends to their use of Playlists. Each show has its own playlist, as do deleted scenes, and videos from other YouTubers. This makes it easy for anyone to binge watch one type of video, and drive Smosh’s YouTube view numbers higher and higher.

It pays to be organized on YouTube. Great thumbnails which use logos and themes to separate content is important. Creating YouTube Playlists which allow users to binge-watch is perhaps even more important for growing a channel’s views and subscribers.

Their Outro Game Is On Point

Perhaps the most important thing you’ll do for the long term success of your YouTube channel is create a solid video outro. It’s in here where you’ll give credit to your team if you want, and push for subscribers with visual and auditory calls to action.

Here’s a screenshot example from a recent video:

YouTube video outro example

As the ‘Click Here to Subscribe’ button pops up you can hear Ian saying “Hey guys, thank you so much for subscribing.”

After watching hundreds of Smosh videos, …for research… I can tell you that they create a new ‘thanks for subscribing’ call to action for each video. This type of personalization for each video goes far beyond what the average YouTube marketer is doing now.

You’ll also see in the bottom left that they link to bonus scenes. This keeps their viewers on their video content, even if they have not yet subscribed. They do this as part of every outro as well, with that small thumbnail being a video preview. They’ll also sometimes link to other videos when they don’t have bonus scenes.

Once Again: The Wiener Song & Its Marketing Implications

Did you think I mentioned that above as a cheap joke? Well, you could say that about this whole article …until you look a bit deeper and see the absolutely solid video marketing happening here.

First, The Wiener Song video is not a standalone. It is a hype video for Smosh: The Movie. A feature length movie (which is well worth the money) that viewers can purchase. The song is about a specific scene in the movie where, well, what happens in the song also happens in the movie. There also clips from other scenes: This may be the world’s first auto-tuned music video movie trailer. Marketing skillz? Smosh has them.

That’s not all the clip has going for it. Watch it to the end and you’ll see this key moment in YouTube marketing smarts:

YouTube collaborations

They give a shout out to their collaborators! Connecting with other YouTubers is a fundamental skill, and collaborations are the peak of connecting with other YouTubers. The two images are video with YouTube Annotations over them which allow you to click them and watch videos for The Gregory Bros. How does this help Smosh? Like this:

Some free pushes from their social media exposes people who may not yet heard of Smosh. The Gregory Brothers may not be Twitter marketing experts, but this isn’t the first time that Smosh has done a collaboration video in an effort to open themselves up to new audiences.

Here’s the video which first exposed me to Smosh, and which absolutely cemented my love for Epic Meal Time:

The most important thing they did here, five years ago when they had a much smaller team working with them, was knowing not to break character. Any EMT fan watching this video, who had no idea who Smosh was (like me), could watch them in this video and flip over to the Smosh channel and get the same content.

Smosh realized that it’s pointless to do any sort of collaboration that’s outside of their brand. They didn’t go onto the show and act like the EMT team, they didn’t do shots or drink beers as was the tradition back then. They stuck to their ‘nerdy guys’ bit and drank juice boxes! This shows an understanding of their brand which every YouTube user must bring to their channel, and guest appearances, or fail.

Smosh May Be Goofs, But Who Knows YouTube Marketing Now?

This article has all been in good fun, I know there are many YouTube marketers out there with insight. Perhaps some of you have even worked go Smosh at some point. What you can learn from them about getting more views, while having some fun, is:

  • Finding and sticking to your niche, and then growing once you’ve established who you are.
  • You have to keep things organized with thumbnails that use linked imagery for linked videos. Having Playlists made is another part of organization which results in binge watching.
  • Your outros are where you’ll get more subscribers, and keep viewers watching your other content.
  • A good hype video for a bigger piece of content is as important to you as movie trailers are to feature films.
  • Collaborations have been around since the beginning of YouTube, and they will help you build your channel together with your peers. They’re also really fun!

Using these video marketing tactics in your own YouTube marketing may not make you as famous as Smosh overnight, but they will work and they will build your channel.

Do you have any particular Smosh moment that you feel was great marketing? Do you just want to talk Smosh? Comment below and we can chat!

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* Adapted lead image: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Gage Skidmore

About the Author:

Ernest is a frequent video marketer in a practical and analytical sense. You can find his analytical side on the YouTube blog he contributes to every Wednesday. Learn about many of the secret that the best YouTube marketers are keeping from you!

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What These Goofs With 5 Billion Video Views Can Teach You

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