YouTube: a place of endless cat videos and tutorials on everything. My most recent binge-watching spree has found itself on YouTube watching DigitalRev TV. This YouTube channel, set in Hong Kong is hosted by a charismatic Chinese 20-something with an elegant British accent who simply goes by Kai. If it were not for his antics, you’d think he was a British photography-scholar. They do camera reviews, compare certain aspects of photography (like prime vs zoom lenses) and hold challenges to professional photographers (or Pro Togs) in their “Pro Photographer Cheap Camera Challenge”. Episodes include Chase Jarvis trying to take skateboarding photos with a Lego camera.
It wasn’t until the 15th some odd episode I watched that I realized DigitalRev was bigger than just a YouTube channel. Previously I had admired at their office thinking “Wow, they got a nice office for a YouTube channel”. Later I realized that DigitalRev is an online retailer that sells camera equipment (not one of my brightest moments). Their site has an attempt at a social community that is focused on photography. But where this really wins out is that their YouTube channel doesn’t overtly advertise in the way of “Buy! Buy! Buy!” It is more subtle. At the end of each episode it has the classic and innocent “For more information check out…”
What this channel did do for me as an amateur photographer was that it got me interested in photography again. It encouraged me to try new things with my camera. Furthermore, I feel that I have a source of trusted information about photography to go to.
Now the reasons why I’m playing up DigitalRev is because how effective this form of marketing is. Consider this: it’s YouTube so it’s free for both the viewer and company, it’s filmed in Hong Kong which is nowhere near where I live thus reaching a worldwide audience, it made me want to try new things with photography (such as exposure techniques) and I feel that I’m better for having binge-watched most of their videos. As companies are still trying to figure out how to market to the Internet user; DigitalRev demonstrates one simple philosophy: don’t ram the message down the viewer’s throat. To more clearly illustrate what I mean. The host Kai breaks more camera gear then he praises. The only brand he clearly loves is Leica, which is drastically out of 99% of his viewer’s price range. On more common and financially achievable camera equipment like Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and so on; he is honest about what he feels. He gives pros and cons and tests the gear out in unique ways.
What this company does is a lesson to anyone wanting to have a successful YouTube channel is that there is effort put into it. The host, cameraman and production assistant (who also make appearances) all understand photography. They’re well versed in the plethora of technology used in photography. Secondly, it is entertaining, unlike most of YouTube reviews. And last there is a production value to it. Which yes does matter.
There are of course many other channels that employ these ideas. However, there are more channels that don’t. If you want to sell products and gain a loyal audience on the Internet: don’t ram your call to action down their throat. Because lets face it, there are several other places people can venture to on the world wide web to find out the same information.