No matter who you are or what market you focus on, there are fans and communities on YouTube crucial to your marketing success. Fan created and uploaded videos dominate the platform, both in views and in engagement, for nearly any brand on YouTube. The result: every brand has fans and influencers that they can embrace on YouTube – the key is to understand how to find them and how to define them and their communities in order to harness their power as they are only getting stronger and more influential.

Expand Your Relevancy

I recently sat down with a senior marketer at a financial services company, and I told them about the power of the fans on YouTube. This executive complimented me on my pitch, but politely said, “Thanks Jason, but we don’t have any fans.” For them, the concept of engaging fans was obvious for brands like Coke, Disney, or even Swiffer (ever see the Swiffer dance videos?). But, for a brand that likely has few fan created videos talking directly about them, such as a bank or insurance agency, the notion that these brands should engage fans on YouTube was foreign to them.

Then, as we continued to talk, I brought up their partnerships with musicians and charities. These partnerships were designed to foster brand identity and help them reach new audiences – the audiences they wanted to have as customers. We also talked about the financial service company’s goals, ideals, and even unique life moments that they wanted to be associated with. Once we started looking for these different layers of fans on YouTube, we found tens of thousands of videos created and uploaded by fans that mattered to this company’s marketing strategies and customer segments. Moreover, when you add in the millions and millions of fans that watch and engage with those videos, the relevant audience on YouTube becomes massive. The key was focusing not just on direct fans of their brand, but rather, on any audience that they cared about and wanted to get in front of.

Sophisticated Targeting, With the Scale to Make it Count

If this kind of fan targeting can work for a financial services company, imagine how easy it becomes for a brand like Adidas. Instead of just focusing on videos about Adidas, and the tens of millions of fans watching those videos, Adidas could focus on videos about Messi (their spokesperson), on Nike (their competitor), shoe unboxings (a unique video genre), sneakerheads (a culture of sneaker enthusiasts), the World Cup (a major event they sponsor), or even down to videos about AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) if they desired in order to reach youth soccer in America.

Using ZEFR’s search tech, we looked into some of these different layers of fans on YouTube, and we found hundreds of thousands of videos, and millions of associated views, for Adidas to target:

World Cup


Total # of YouTube videos about the World Cup

These nearly 230K videos, covering all World Cup related content from over the years, account for a staggering 3,698,758,029 views. And, if you look just at this year’s tournament, there’s been over 80,000 videos uploaded already from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with that number growing every day.

Here is one of our favorite fan videos from the 2014 World Cup, which displays the kind of creativity that only fans could display:



Beyond the World Cup set of videos, Adidas can focus on videos surrounding their superstar spokesman, Lionel Messi.


Total # of YouTube videos about Lionel Messi

Once you add up the total view counts for all those magic Messi moments, you end up with 3,372,374,322 total views.


Shoe Unboxings

Lastly, we looked into the fan community known as Sneakerheads, along with one of their most common video styles, shoe unboxings:


Total # of YouTube videos about Shoe Unboxings

Here is a video from one of our favorite Sneakerheads, and one of Adidas’ top influencers that they can partner with, YoAntyKicks:

In the end, when Adidas takes into account these three different ways of targeting fans on YouTube, including both the videos and the fans watching those videos, they now have almost 325K videos to target, with over 7 billion views to potentially get in front of.

Ultimately, this approach to targeting reveals that advertising on YouTube can become a highly sophisticated and scalable way to target exactly who you want to reach at the video level, something that we at ZEFR focus on and continue to perfect. Who you want to reach includes fans and influencers of whatever you want to be associated with, be that other brands, people, cultures, causes, or feelings.

YouTube has built a sophisticated platform for expression. As a result, there is a clear opportunity to put brands right at the intersection of culture and authenticity that YouTubers are creating, commenting on, viewing, and sharing every day around the world. Fans, of every kind, have populated it with the content they like to make and watch.

YouTube is Ready and Waiting for You

The payoff is big. YouTube is massive – 5x the size of Twitter. YouTube videos live not just on its own platform, but on others – i.e. Facebook, Tumblr, TV, mobile, etc. Video is compelling. It is the future of social, and it is the future of targeted advertising.

Most importantly, fans on YouTube will continue to define your brand with or without you, and their authentic approach becomes more valuable, trusted and expected each and every day. It’s an exciting time for all, but only if you choose to embrace it and act on it.