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Youtubers vs Traditional Press: Why are they different?

Youtubers and journalists can both influence the sales of a game. But what exactly makes them different?

Hello everyone! Last week, I spoke about contacting traditional press and gave some examples of how you can approach them. This week I’ll talk about contacting Youtubers and why they can be even more effective than traditional press.

This blog was orignially published by George Portman at Marketing Theory.

Youtubers can have an enormous influence on whether or not your game will be accepted by the masses. This is due to the enormous amount of people they can potentially reach with their content. Seven of the 25 largest Youtube channels are focused entirely on gaming, and each have 11 million or more subscribers. But even the small channels can have large impact on the sales of your game.

So how do you get featured on a Youtube channel? It’s not very different from getting featured by traditional press really. Just ask them. The examples from my last post work pretty well for Youtubers too. Here’s a great source for you with contact info and links to other resources. Again, key here is to stand out with your messages, or you’ll get drowned out by fanmail. But what makes Youtubers different? Why do they command such influence over so many people?

First of all, traditional press can work with a lot less. If you have only screenshots and a trailer for example, a journalist can write a nice little article about that to fill up their quota for the day. They can post the screenshots on their website and a link to your trailer too. Youtubers don’t have that luxury. Youtubers (and streamers for that matter) need something to play. Otherwise it’s nothing that viewers can’t get on their own. And that’s what makes traditional press important if you want to get featured on a Youtube channel.

Just like many ‘regular’ gamers, Youtubers don’t get word from the developers themselves, but are relayed through the press. So if a Youtuber hears about your game from a press website, and they think it makes good content for their channel, that’s good news for you!

But somehow, Youtubers command more influence than traditional press (in terms of sales at least), and that is where the main difference lies. Youtubers and traditional press are respected for different reasons. A journalist on one hand can be compared with a famous movie critic, someone who has spend his entire working life in the industry and knows exactly what works and doesn’t. If he says something is bad, it’s bad and vice versa. He commands a lot of respect through his experience.

Youtubers on the other hand are like the most popular kid in school. They command respect because they are liked. If the cool kid says that Toilet Simulator 2016 is the best game ever, other kids are goning to buy it because they want to be like the cool kid. And then more kids are going to buy it because they don’t want to be left out. Notice how the quality of Toilet Simulator doesn’t factor in the equation here.

If you have read my post on Cialdini’s 6 principles of influence you may recognise them at work here. The press’ influence comes from authority, the Youtuber’s influence from liking and social proof. The reason why Youtubers seem to command more influence is the same reason films like Transformers aren’t considered very good films, but are huge box office hits anyway, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars.

A Youtuber has a view counter that acts as social proof. People might percieve it as “Wow, 500 people watched his video and he liked it. It must be a fun game!” The video is watched a lot because of the fact that people like them, and as such are easily influenced by what the Youtuber says. More and more people buy the game, leading to more social proof and possibly even “People’s Choice Awards”, which gives the game some extra authority as well. A journalist or critic often lacks the view counters and entertainment value to initiate the concepts of liking and social proof.

But in the end, the press is the starting point of many games featured on Youtube, be it from the Youtuber themselves or through suggestions by their viewers. So should you only contact the press? No, it’s definitely worth contacting Youtubers, especially the smaller ones, directly. After all, sponsored content also happens. But both traditional press and Youtubers have their place and, ultimately, they want the same thing from a developer: an entertaining game.

As always, comments, tweets and e-mails are encouraged if you have any questions comments, or rants. Thank you for reading, and until next time!

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