Learning from Big Brand’s ‘How To’ YouTube Videos

Learning from Big Brand’s ‘How To’ YouTube Videos

One of the best ways to learn how to succeed on YouTube is by looking at what others are doing.  One of the most popular types of content on YouTube is “how-to” content.  I don’t know about you, but I type a lot of questions into the YouTube search box to learn new things.  This “how-to” trend has not gone unnoticed by the two largest retailers in the home improvement industry.  Just as a disclaimer I don’t have any inside knowledge of eather of these companies YouTube pages so my observations are based on what I know about how to succeed on YouTube and video production.  Let’s take a look at what each brand is doing with video on YouTube: where they are doing it right and where they could improve their YouTube channels.


The Lowe’s page is targeted to the average Lowe’s customer, who is a do-it-yourselfer.  They have made good use of video thumbnails to help us quickly understand what each video is about.  Some thumbnails have custom titles, which I think makes that content stand out more.  In addition, the thumbnails that are just screen shots work well because they engage the audience by showing the completed project.

The content is creative and fresh, showing they have put a lot of effort into their videos.  I love the use of hyperlapse in the DIY Window coffee table video, which makes it fun to watch. Lowe’s would be great content for Instagram if they chose to use it on that site.

One improvement Lowe’s could make is publishing their videos on a schedule so that viewers can look forward to regular uploads.  Presently, the company appears to upload the videos intermittently as they are completed but they are uploading something most everyday.  Instead of this unpredictable pattern, it would help to know what days and times I could expect new content, or whatever schedule would work for their audience.

The Home Depot

I am not sure The Home Depot has chosen a target market for their YouTube page.  Their videos range from do-it yourself videos to some stories about the brand and recruiting videos about working for The Home Depot.  They are getting decent views for their how-to content, but their viewership pales in comparison to Lowe’s videos.  Some of the how-to videos look like they were produced cheaply. One that I saw looks like they recorded it using car headlights and a cell phone. When compared to the creativity and production value of the Lowe’s YouTube videos, they are way behind, and the view count shows this.

Lowe’s has double the number of subscribers and views that The Home Depot has for their how-to content.  View count isn’t the only thing we should be looking at, but I don’t have access to the engagement data, so this comparison is just based on what we can see on the surface.

The Home Depot is doing a good job of trying to humanize the brand by telling stories; I just don’t think that is what the audience wants to see.  In addition, I don’t think YouTube is the right place for the recruitment videos, which would be more appropriate on the company website. If these types of videos are important to The Home Depot story, I would recommend better scheduling of these types of videos. Presently they are pushing the most widely appealing videos down on the page, and the how to videos are the ones that should be the most prominent in order to attract views.

However, no company is perfect – both brands have missed opportunities when it comes to directing the viewer from YouTube back to their corporate websites.  At the very least, there should be a clickable link back to the company’s website.  But they should also invite us to connect on other social media sites and to subscribe to their respective YouTube channels in the YouTube descriptions. Another key missing component is consistently responding to comments, as they are missing an opportunity to have a conversation with the viewer. Both companies could better implement uniform standards for their videos, improving their online presence in the process.

I have had many conversations with companies, who think that online video image quality is irrelevant.  While this may have been true 10 years ago, it is no longer the case.  With so many videos being uploaded every minute, Internet users need a good reason to stay and view what you have to offer and video quality is important. Lowe’s online presence is significantly stronger than The Home Depot’s, which certainly influences people’s preferences and buying patterns offline.

What did you take away from Lowe’s and The Home Depot to improve your online video marketing strategy?


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