Q&A with Kathryn Korostoff, president of Research Rockstar 

Editor’s note: Kathryn Korostoff is the president of Research Rockstar Training & Staffing, and the host of the YouTube video podcast series, Conversations for Research Rockstars. The series launched in 2017. She can be reached at KKorostoff@ResearchRockstar.com 

Is YouTube an efficient way to reach market research professionals?

I have a video on YouTube with over 15,000 views that says, “yes!”  

To be candid, I am a bit biased toward YouTube. I've been using YouTube semiregularly since 2017 and have released over 100 videos. Of these, 15 have more than 1,000 views, which I consider very successful given that market research is a pretty narrow topic - in the context of all YouTube as a whole.

From my experience with the video podcast series, Conversations for Research Rockstars, [YouTube] has absolutely helped me to reach both new people and it has been a great brand-building mechanism with people I already had relationships with. For me, both audiences are important. However, there are two important caveats.

It can be tricky to assess the precise business impact in financial terms. Unless you are using YouTube videos to make money selling ads on YouTube, sales tracking is indirect. For example, someone searches for a term that leads to your market research-related video. They watch the video and maybe decide to visit your website as a result. Maybe they end up signing up for a meeting or demonstration, after which they become a client…perhaps a year or more after they saw the video. Would you know that B2B sale originated with YouTube? Probably not. 

In contrast, people who do consumer marketing on YouTube are more likely to have more precise sales tracking, since they likely have the mechanisms in place that allow Google Analytics to track end-to-end sales conversions. B2B is messier.

You can get a lot of other useful statistics from the Channel Analytics section of the dashboard. For example, I can see that about 50% of my views come from YouTube itself as opposed to direct links and other search engines. This makes me feel confident that YouTube is generating traffic I would otherwise not have. 

It isn’t always fast. Unless you are driving traffic, in volume, to your new YouTube video(s) it takes time to get traffic. Some of my most-watched videos had fewer than 500 views their first year!

What topics get the most views?

There are three things to consider:

First, have content that will appeal to large numbers of people. 

To get high volume, you have to cater to the largest groups. And that means choosing topics that are “entry level” - where no advanced market research knowledge is required. For example, my most-viewed episode was simply some tips about how to write qualitative research reports — and it has over 15,000 views. My second most-viewed video  is titled, “What is Market Research? What is Marketing Research?” with 13,900 views. When I have covered topics that were more “advanced,” they get fewer views.

Second, choose topics that have a long shelf life, so-called “evergreen” content. 

Videos that get stale fast or are tied to an event simply don’t get the benefit of YouTube’s long-term traffic building. An evergreen topic might only get 200 views the first month it comes out, but reach 2,000 views at 12 months and 4,000 at 24 months.

Finally, avoid thinly-veiled sales pitches. 

If the goal is views, the content should be objectively factual, useful information - such as educational content, case studies. A video that is a glorified version of the company sales presentation won’t get many views unless you have a real hook. Informational content gets more organic momentum.

Of course, you may decide that you intentionally want a smaller, specialized audience. That’s fine, but be aware that YouTube is, at its heart, a search engine. Videos with low view counts are typically not well-loved by the YouTube search gods. So, if you stick to a niche, you will need to do your own promotion to get traffic.

How can you make creative YouTube content efficient? 

Who has five hours to create a single, 20-minute YouTube video? Not me! Here are my tips based on five years of experience.

  • Choose a format that will be efficient. For informational B2B videos, you have lots of choices, but most often we see one of these:
    • Informative solo (sometimes called “talking head”). The video consists of one person speaking “to” the camera, and may or may not include other visuals such as slides.
    • Co-hosts (a series with the same two people, often very conversational).
    • Interview (host interviews guests, usually subject matter experts).

Note that the time required to produce your video will generally follow the same order: videos based on a solo format will usually take less time to prepare and produce than ones based on interviews. Of course, there are other pros and cons, but for sheer time investment needed, the more people involved, the more time it will take.

  • Unless you happen to just love doing your own video editing, hire a freelance video editor. Let them handle the nitpicky editing tasks of cutting out any segments where the dog barked or you misspoke. Let the editor do basic editing, trimming and possibly adding an intro/outro. If you are just testing the YouTube waters, there is no need to go nuts with high-end graphics, so you can get a suitably qualified video editor for $30-60/hr. Save the high-end editors for when you decide you want to get fancy.
  • Create a process for content creation that works for you. There are many approaches. Here is my process:
  • Start by designing two or three slides. Once I have selected my topic, I create just two or three slides. This gives me a logical structure to follow in my narration and creates a helpful visual component. And by limiting myself to only two or three slides, I am forced to stay on topic, and reduce the risk of creating crazy long videos.
    • Pick a title. Once I have the slides written, I pick a title. With YouTube, you want to keep titles short – I aim for nine words or fewer. And try to place the keywords closer to the beginning than the end. Once I have the title, I create a title slide which I also use for my thumbnail.
    • Record! I record using either Zoom or Loom, with my PowerPoint. Sometimes I add my webcam (here’s an example), other times I don’t (here’s an example). Conventional wisdom says that having real people on webcam boosts engagement, but for B2B informational content, I am not sure that’s true.
    • Edit. Again, unless you love to do this or your company has an in-house video pro, I recommend using a freelancer video editor.
    • Write the descriptive text that appears under your video. Some people prefer to go with full “show notes;” that’s great! Personally, I just keep to a brief description that tells the reader why this video might be useful and usable for them. Why? Well, the fastest way to create show notes is to create a transcript. In my experience, auto transcriptions have enough errors that I feel compelled to edit them – and that’s more time than I am willing to invest.

How “fancy” or “polished” does YouTube content need to be?

Admittedly, I am biased: my video content is very simple, and so far that has worked for me. If you are targeting professionals, you need to be polished enough to be credible, but I have yet to see any research or experiments that suggest that adding dazzling visual effects boosts view count or duration. To find out for yourself, try this: go to YouTube and search any B2B topic of interest and sort by view count. Watch the Top 10 videos and you will probably see that a few are repurposed snippets from conferences , a few are just a person on a webcam talking to the camera and a few have some animation or screen demonstrations.