Creative Best Practices Video

Why Sesame Street made it to the top of YouTube

Posted by Deborah Bates on March 6th, 2013 at 9:11 am

For those that love videos of ‘talking’ dogs, babies biting fingers or Korean men dancing, the news that Sesame Street’s YouTube page is the first non-profit channel to achieve one billion views may come as a surprise. To those that know what kind of content will inspire people, not so much.

To me, there are three main reasons why this channel has proven so successful – reasons which brands (whether for-profit or non-profit) should take note of...

1. It’s educational

Ok, so I know it’s aimed at youngsters, but the theory is all the same – teach viewers something new every time they watch. With Sesame Street, it’s a new letter, word, number or life lesson.

For brands, it could be anything and everything. It’s just a great way to make the content truly valuable. If your videos enrich your viewers’ lives every time they watch, they’ll not only keep coming back for more, but they’ll be more likely to recommend your content to their peers. This could mean increased likes, re-tweets, shares and +1s. These broaden your audience reach and also can improve your social signals (thereby increasing your traffic/rankings). What’s not to like?

2. There’s a good balance of light-hearted and serious content

Whilst Cookie Monster might sing a silly song about his love of cookies one day, the next, Big Bird might be teaching his friends about how important it is for families to stick together, or helping them cope with their parents divorcing.  This helps its viewers understand that life isn’t always easy, but that with help, they can get through anything... and have some fun along the way!

Employing a good balance of light-hearted and serious content can help your brand appeal to a wide range of viewers.  It can also establish your brand as one that can doesn’t take itself too seriously, but also cares about and recognises when the serious stuff has to be tackled. It’s a great way to give the brand a personality.

3. It recognises what’s important to its audience

Sesame Street’s content doesn’t aim above or below its audience; it is right on target. It knows that children love colourful, engaging content. It knows they’re a point where learning about numbers and letters is important, but that they also love to dance around the living room once the learning is over.

In short, it doesn’t spit out anything that’s irrelevant to the audience and that should be a key aim for brands. Find out what your audience wants and deliver it. Don’t deliver what it has no interest in.

Although these may sound like simple or even obvious techniques, more brands than you’d think have yet to catch on. Take inspiration from Elmo, Bert, Oscar and the gang. After all, if doing so could help you gain one billion views of your content, isn’t it worth at least considering?

Thanks to for the awesome image!

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