Succeeding in the social video space can be a challenge. What works with one audience may completely flop with the next. YouTube has only been around since 2005 but is already the world’s third-most popular website, boasting hundreds of millions of hours viewed each day. Given this dramatic rise, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to figure out how to tackle your social video strategy. One of the best ways to start is to take a look at some recent social successes, and take notes.

#1: Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s one goal is to get people to fly to and from New Zealand, preferably using their airline. Rather than making the same-old easily forgettable informational videos, Air New Zealand has taken an entertainment-first approach to their in-flight safety videos and made them available online. This all but guarantees that their videos will be shared, and reach millions of people around the world. Even if you’ve never flown Air New Zealand, it’s likely that you’ve seen one of their many in-flight videos.

Key factors:

  • Star power: Air New Zealand consistently partners with top talent. From Bear Grylls and Betty White to the bearded wonder that is Peter Jackson, Air New Zealand never cuts corners in casting their videos.
  • Partnerships: Air New Zealand has partnerships with Weta Workshop and other New Zealand icons such as the All Blacks rugby team, allowing for some great collaborations on safety videos, including with easily recognizable brands such as ‘The Hobbit’.
  • Entertainment first: While all of the requisite safety information is included in the videos, Air New Zealand focuses on presenting everything in an entertaining format. They tell a fun story, include great content, and let the viewers do the rest!

#2: Dove

The beauty industry is notorious for advertising that demeans or otherwise objectifies its audience. Dove managed to turn that approach on its head, and create content that not only appeals to, but actively seeks to empower their audience. The result: huge success!

Key Factors

  • A no-sell approach: While there are Dove videos that are focused on a particular product, the best-performing videos are hands-down those that prioritize people and personal stories over product.
  • Positive emotional impact: Dove’s videos have a positive, empowering vibe to them. If someone has a positive experience in watching a video, they’re naturally more inclined to share it with others.
  • Empowering their audience: Dove’s videos overwhelmingly focus on empowering their key demographic: women. While others may enjoy the videos, Dove has targeted their video content directly to the audience that matters most to their bottom line.

#3: PewDiePie

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying the brand that PewDiePie has built for himself! From solo content creator to $7m+ a year, Felix Kjellberg has created an entertainment empire around (mostly) video game-related videos.

Key Factors:

  • Popular genre: By creating great complimentary content for an already popular market, PewDiePie captured the attention and support of a powerful, tech-savvy audience: gamers.
  • Personality: Rather than downplay or edit his personality in attempt to appeal to a broader audience, PewDiePie has built his brand around being purely himself. His personality is key to his success, and while it’s definitely not for everyone, the audience he has attracted is substantial.
  • Entertainment: PewDiePie isn’t doing technical walkthroughs or giving out tips on the best way to play a given game. He’s just having a fun time and creating something entertaining and shareable in the process.

(Warning: NSFW language. It’s impossible to find one of his videos that doesn’t have swearing in it)

#4: Ice Bucket Challenge

The ultimate in social video success. While the original ice bucket challenge did not originate from the ALS Association, the positive impact of this social phenomenon on the ALSA’s awareness campaigns and donations cannot be underestimated. Resulting in over 2.4 million tagged videos on Facebook, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised more than $100 million in 2014 – an increase in donations from the previous year of over 3,500%.

That the challenge originated outside of the ALSA brand is even more impressive, as it shows the power of embracing the positive efforts by the community. Had the ALS responded negatively, or distanced itself from participants, the brand could have been damaged irreparably.

Key Factors:

  • For a good cause: Without the underlying goal of ‘to raise money for charity’, it’s doubtful that the Ice Bucket Challenge would have been as successful. Doing something silly on camera for the fun of it is great, but adding the motivation of charitable contributions highlights the social impact and encourages enthusiastic support.
  • Social experience: The Ice Bucket Challenge is fundamentally a social experience. The point wasn’t just to dump cold water over your own head, but to challenge your friends and family to do the same. This built-in social mechanic meant it spread exponentially as friends playfully challenged one another to participate.
  • Celebrity involvement: The public involvement of big name celebrities really pushed the Ice Bucket Challenge over the top. Suddenly it wasn’t restricted to Facebook and YouTube, but reached late night TV and the feeds of some of the most influential online celebs. At that point everyone wanted to be a part of the larger social experience, and the number of videos skyrocketed.

#5: BuzzFeed

Not just the master of the listicle, BuzzFeed has built an amazing catalog of social video content. With over 9 million subscribers to their YouTube channel, and a huge amount of social shares across Facebook and Twitter, BuzzFeed has built a massive audience for their videos.

Key Factors:

  • Something for everyone: BuzzFeed has an impressive collection of videos targeting a variety of interests and demographics. Just want to watch food videos? They’ve got a whole channel for that. Prefer to watch a bunch of guys try out products, experiences, and sweet K-Pop dance moves? They’ve got you covered.
  • Short and shareable: Nearly every BuzzFeed video clocks in at under 5 minutes. Their food-oriented videos are almost all under the 1:30 mark. This makes their content easy to watch and easy to share. Seen those super short recipe clips flooding Facebook recently? Many of those are from BuzzFeedFood.
  • Humor: While there are more serious videos in BuzzFeed’s weighty collection, the majority are super funny. Even the more serious videos tend to mix a bit of humor into the content, which makes it more accessible and, you guessed it, shareable.

The approach you take for your social video strategy will depend on your brand and what will work best for your customers. Every brand is different, be it massive multimillion dollar industries, individual creators, or charity efforts. Use the examples above not as a template, but as inspiration for brainstorming a strategy that’s right for you.