In a time when the YouTube algorithm favors longer shows, how do you consistently produce viral videos that are more than 12 minutes long? How do you get your audience to click on a video, and then how do you get that audience to stay tuned for the whole thing? Lucky for you, Keith Habersberger and Zach Kornfield of hit Youtube comedy series The Try Guys divulged their hard-earned tips and tricks. At last year’s PatreCon 2018, they gave us the scoop on how to keep your audience coming back for more. And more and more and more. You can catch the full video here, or if you’d like a skimmable version, read on.
In case you’re unfamiliar, The Try Guys video series is the creative brainchild of Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfeld, and Eugene Lee Yang. Originally dreamt up in 2014 while working for Buzzfeed, the series is now its own entity. The gang branched off from the media giant in 2018 to launch their own production company, 2nd Try LLC, in order to retain all rights to the brand. As a group, they handle it all: writing, producing, directing, shooting, and acting in each episode where they “try” things out to the vast amusement of their audience.
Since its creation, the comedy series has experienced whopping success in the form of over a billion views across social media platforms. 30 million of those views come just from “The Try Guys Try Labor Pain Simulation” video which, yes, is as uncomfortable as it sounds to watch. They’ve even co-written a book together titled, The Hidden Power of Fcking Up,* scheduled for release this year.
After five years of producing videos together, they’ve nailed down the process for how others can also crack the viral content code. Don’t worry, they’re not interested in clickbait. For them, it’s all about impressing and exciting their audience, with an end goal of pushing viewers to click “share.”
Follow these 10 takeaways from The Try Guys dudes themselves so you too can watch your Youtube views soar.
Connect with people’s passions and identities. Rather than appealing to everyone, attempt to appeal to someone. Even if it seems like you’re going after a more narrow audience, those viewers will be more invested by the content if it uniquely speaks to them.
Make sure your videos accomplishes one of these three things: makes your audience feel something, connects them with someone or something, or informs them of information. Whether you make them laugh or cry, a huge burst of emotion is sure to get their attention.
Anticipate how the viewer will react. Will they feel comfortable sharing the video on Facebook? Will they want to post it on Reddit to see others’ reactions? The Try Guys have found that distilling things through humor helps people digest it more easily, especially if your audience worries about relatives seeing shared posts.
Test and iterate. You’ve produced a hit video, but don’t relax quite yet. Your job is not nearly done. Next, dissect it. Let the data inform you of what you’re uniquely good at creating, but don’t let it dictate your art. If you don’t take risks and break free from the data, you’ll squash your innate creativity. Always question every hit you have.
Find your foundational formats. The Try Guys break down each video into formats, or plot devices used to keep their audience’s attention. Some examples include the “versus” format: what girl talk sounds like in elementary school versus what it sounds like in college. Or they conduct taste tests: what’s the best thing on the menu while drunk at Burger King. They discovered these foundational building blocks while studying what makes each viral video tick.
Elevate your format with a solid framework of multiple formats. Once you figure out your formats, don’t just stick to one. Using multiple formats within one video keeps your audience captive with anticipation.
Show human error to make your content more relatable. Bon Appetit’s viral videos are a perfect example of this. Claire Saffitz from Bon Appetit fails throughout her videos as she attempts to recreate classic junk food fare, even though she’s an expert. Sometimes, it even takes her 17 days. Watching her struggle demystifies the creative process, and gives the audience confidence that they too could eventually become an expert. This tactic breaks down the barrier between you and the audience.
Stay consistent. Repeat after us: quality, channel tone, talent, format, and upload frequency. Okay, that was a mouthful. Staying on track with these breeds familiarity and comfort for viewers. Also, keeping a consistent upload frequency pushes them into a habitual pattern of checking your channel.
Listen to what your audience responds to. One of The Try Guys, Ned, had a date night with his wife, so he couldn’t be there for when they recreated Kim Kardashian’s famous butt photo. Coincidentally, the audience loved that Ned prioritized his relationship with his wife overwork. So The Try Guys told Ned to lean into his relationship and to talk more about her on camera. Now, she’s practically an auxiliary character of the show.
Always pilot new format ideas. Maintain a baseline of quality while continuing to build upwards. Have fun with experimentation, and be prepared for some plunkers while you hit your stride.