When I started this business, I didn’t think I’d end up making quite so many videos.
That might sound odd, but towards the end of 2022, I was publishing, on average, three long-form YouTube videos each week – sometimes more.
Add to that the abundance of YouTube Shorts, TikTok content, and Instagram Reels that are flooding out of Mark Ellis Reviews HQ each week, and there’s an awful lot – probably too much for some people – of my rambling face strewn across the internet.
I’m loving creating this stuff, but it has taken me far longer than I ever expected to suss out what works on each platform. None of it seems predictable, as you watch certain videos tank and others soar, but the more you create both long- and short-form content for these social media monsters, the more attuned you become with each one.
This has led to a fairly decent video strategy for 2023. I think. I’m still tweaking and testing it, but I’m getting somewhere, and my discoveries might just help you, too.
YouTube: It’s all about keeping it simple (long AND short!)
For the first two years of running the Mark Ellis Reviews YouTube channel I gave Shorts the cold shoulder.
I created just one in that time – a playful (pun intended) trailer for my full Playdate review. I was, I’ll freely admit, scared of going any further than that. I couldn’t figure out how to translate my content strategy into anything remotely resembling short-form video and I actively hated the idea of having mere seconds to build a relationship with the viewer.
That changed three months ago when I decided to go hammer and tong at YouTube Shorts. Partly inspired by some of my YouTuber mates’ success with Shorts and the clear indication that these tiny videos did, in fact, bring in new subscribers, I had no choice but to get involved.
My YouTube Shorts strategy is to publish both snippets of long-form videos and original, low-production pieces which are basically me riffing on the topic of a recent blog post.
The long-form stuff? That continues as it always has, but I’m going back to basics this year. I’m going to be super selective with sponsors, and ensure I abide by my 80/20 rule when it comes to growth versus sponsored content.
TikTok: repurpose, repurpose, repurpose
Ah, good old TikTok!
Before starting this business, I must have installed and removed TikTok from my phone a dozen times. I just never quite understood what the fuss was all about. Equally, it was obvious how much of a time suck it could become – and for no meaningful exchange of value.
Then, halfway into 2022, I created a new TikTok account for Mark Ellis Reviews and started publishing short edits of my long-form YouTube videos.
Since then, my TikTok account has amassed over 4,000 followers and more than 71,000 likes. I’ve got a couple of videos approaching the half-million mark in terms of views, and the stuff I publish regularly hits five-digit figures.
These numbers aren’t particularly big in the world of TikTok. I’m still yet to see a video go truly viral and hit the six-figure big time, but that’s irrelevant; I’ve somehow grown a meaningful following and impressive amount of engagement in an incredibly short time.
TikTok feels like the easiest social network through which I pump content at the moment. Most of it is repurposed, and it’s that stuff which seems to perform the best.
I have no idea (yet) what value TikTok offers my brand, but I have a feeling that will make itself known within the next year or so. Until then, I’m going to continue ‘feeding the machine’ and rely almost exclusively on chopped up soundbites from my YouTube videos. People seem to like – or hate – that stuff, which is great for the brand either way.
Instagram: be real (and remove production values)
If TikTok is the easiest social network on my list at the moment, Instagram is definitely the most frustrating.
There has been a lot written and said about the demise of Instagram since it was acquired by Facebook. It’s tough for me to comment on that, because I never really experienced it in its heyday as the owner of a brand. Back then, I was just posting photos of my dog, car, and beer on my personal account.
Things are different now, though. Instagram represents a significant opportunity to attract paying brands to Mark Ellis Reviews and build an engaged audience which is one step removed from YouTube.
The problem is that it feels almost impossible to work out how to tame Instagram. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why certain Reels perform and why others don’t. Certainly, what performs on TikTok and YouTube Shorts is no guarantee of similar success on Instagram.
However, I have started to notice some green shoots of consistency. Over the last few weeks, I’ve identified low-rent videos as being the most likely to draw in views on Instagram. These are shot on my smartphone, they’re often rambling, and rarely last more than 30 seconds.
But they appear to work, and the great thing is that they really are super easy to produce. I just need to let go of the perfectionist in me who wants to shoot everything on my Sony FX3 and colour grade and audio produce it to death. Because no one cares on Instagram.
As noted at the start of this article, I’m still playing with this video strategy for 2023. Although I’m pretty confident with the trajectory of the YouTube channel, I feel less in control of TikTok, and completely at the mercy of Instagram.
Algorithms change, as do audiences, therefore I’m going to be keeping a close eye on the performance of content across all three channels and will update my guidance accordingly.
For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the hustle and bustle of publishing more video content than I ever thought possible – and in more forms than I’d ever planned for!
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