Success stories: Slow Mo Guys
Four years and multiple burns and scars later, Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy -- otherwise known as The Slow Mo Guys -- have grown their channel to over four million subscribers. Mixing science and comedy with powerful high frame-rate cameras, they've shown us everything from airbags to mousetraps in slow motion. Here we outline five key strategies that drove The Slow Mo Guys to their current level of success.
The Slo Mo Guys mix science and comedy with powerful high frame-rate cameras to show us everything in slow motion. How have they built such a huge following with such constraints on their time, whilst living on different continents?
1. Consistently deliver the goods
The Slow Mo Guys are unusual YouTube creators in that their content strategy has remained mainly unchanged from the first video. This consistency means you know exactly what you'll get when you subscribe. The Slow Mo Guys deliver nothing other than slow-motion videos!
Although their uploads are much less frequent compared to other YouTubers of a similar size, this consistency has served them well every time they upload a new video.
See it in action
Views explode with paint exploding @15,000 fpsThe Slow Mo Guys uploaded Paint Exploding at 15,000 fps video in April 2013 which lead to an uptick of views in the days following. [Views from The Slow Mo Guys 'paint-themed' videos, March 31-April 30, 2013]
2. Tell the full story
Beautiful high frame rate, slow motion footage is included in every video, but that usually makes up around 30-60 seconds of videos that are on average 3.7 minutes long. So what are they doing, and are people watching?
The channel could have simply been a video repository of 60-second clips of high-speed footage, but by also showing the viewer the guys behind the 'Slow Mo' they've engaged their audience into becoming a loyal fanbase.
See it in action
Audience retention of Mouse Trap Finger ChallengeAs shown in the Audience Retention graph above, their viewers like to rewind and watch the high-speed footage again. However, their engaging personalities mean that the story of how they get the high-speed footage itself is also hugely compelling. The stress, persistence, and sometimes actual pain that Gavin and Daniel (usually Daniel) go through to make the videos becomes just as big a draw as the stunning slow-motion visuals.
3. Perfect the basics
The Slow Mo Guys know the power of compelling thumbnail and title combinations, and bright, high-quality, high-contrast thumbnails have been a fixture of the channel from the start.
The biggest traffic driver for The Slow Mo Guys is via YouTube's Suggested Video recommendations -- accounting for 31% of all views. Ensuring the thumbnail and title are eye-catching and compelling is a key factor in driving long-term viewership of such videos on the platform.
See it in action
Irresistible thumbnails entice viewersThe Slow Mo Guys were pioneers of slow-motion footage on YouTube. Their consistent and entertaining format has allowed the audience to get to know the presenters, while optimized thumbnails and titles have helped ensure the channel’s success. Their thumbnails are bright, high quality, and high contrast.
4. Create shareable content
Around 5.3% of their views come from external websites and embedded players, indicating that this is content that people like to share and discuss.
Their first video to go viral was Giant Six Foot Water Balloon. The video was funny and scientific but also inherently technical by the nature of the high-speed footage. This meant that the video was shared on a wide range of blogs and websites, from howstuffworks.com to Gizmodo and Buzzfeed, as well as driving a large amount of traffic from social media sites such as Facebook and reddit.
This also means that they can work with a wide variety of brands extremely effectively and are not restricted to collaborating with a particular vertical. From demonstrating "cold spray" for General Electric, to celebrating the release of EA's Battlefield 4 game, these collaborations have allowed them to make videos they may not normally have had the resources to make, and resulted in compelling and engaging content for their fans.
5. Respond to audience demand
Unsurprisingly, living in different countries has a huge impact on the amount of videos Gavin and Daniel can create together. To combat this, they often block shoot videos to ensure they have enough content to upload on the channel during the months in which they are apart. However, they are still engaged with their audience and are active in the conversation, sometimes letting them guide the editorial.
See it in action
Who's up for the cinnamon challenge?This kind of content resonates very well with their subscribers, with the Cinnamon Challenge video getting double the views from the YouTube Guide in the first two weeks compared to their usual output. Featuring content that their superfans love as well as videos that appeal to a wide range of audiences, have helped spread the word and cultivate a loyal following.
The Slow Mo Guys were pioneers of slow-motion footage on YouTube. A consistent and entertaining format, which allows the audience to get to know the presenters, and optimised thumbnails and titles have helped ensure the channel's success.