Multi-channel networks (MCNs) are nothing new in the world of online video. But what if none of these networks seem to suit your particular niche, or don’t look like they will offer you any value if you joined? Fortunately, there’s another option available: create your own MCN.
On the 100th episode of Tube Talk, Vidpow’s Jeremy Vest talks to Reed Lucas, founder and president of video MCN Radio Control Network. Before founding the RC car hobby network, Lucas dealt with partner networks at Bent Pixels as the brand’s VP of Network Marketing and Social Media. In this episode, Lucas shares his story about how he formed his multi-channel network, what challenges he faced, and how vertical-based networks can provide more value to video creators.
It’s time for Vidpow TubeTalk, everyone’s favorite podcast for video marketing tips, brought to you by Vidpow, your video marketing team. Get your free YouTube channel audit by going to vidpow.com/vidchop.
Jeremy Vest: Hey everyone, my name’s Jeremy Vest of Vidpow. Today’s a very special episode. It’s episode 100. That is crazy. It also marks a really cool new partnership with Rainmaker.fm. I wanted to say hi to any of our new listeners out there. And today, I have a special guest: Reed Lucas.
Reed Lucas: Hey, Jeremy, how’s it going?
JV: Doing well, and today we’re gonna be talking about how to create your own multi-channel network. Take it away, Reed!
RL: Thanks for having me! I’m so excited to be on the hundredth episode. I’ve been listening to you guys pretty much from day one. And again, welcome to all the new people who are discovering this for the first time. You know, it’s really great that you asked me to be on.
I wanted to talk a little bit about, you know, how to start your own multi-channel network. My background was really working with brands and agencies on YouTube optimization and then ultimately, how to set up their own multi-channel networks. My recent position at Bent Pixels was Vice President of the partner networks, and we developed a technology platform that really helps people administer and start their own multi-channel networks with very little investment, as long as they meet the qualifications of the network.
JV: That’s awesome. So what technically is a multi-channel network?
RL: Well, multi-channel network is really… at the heart of it, it’s a group of like-minded video content creators on YouTube that share a similar interest that can band together to share their audience data and ultimately their network data.
JV: And why would I join a multi-channel network?
RL: Well, there’s a lot of good reasons why you would wanna join. I mean a lot of people have different perspectives about why they would wanna join a multi-channel network. But ultimately, I think it really boils down to community.
Having a community or group of people that you work together with to do cross promotion, collaborations, to increase your overall audience, and your average views per video, to generate more ad revenue for yourself as a YouTube content creator. A lot of networks out there have a lot of different value propositions, and we spend a lot of time on the network I created, making really great value proposition for our talent, so that they could grow their channels even faster.
So when you’re considering joining a multi-channel network, you really wanna look for, what is the actual value that they’re giving to me? Is it audience growth? Is it brand deals? Is it other side benefits like access to television appearances or getting your music on the radio if you’re a musician?
So anytime you’re thinking about joining a multi-channel network you don’t just wanna sign up. You wanna really look for a multi-channel network that focuses on supporting the vertical that your channel falls within.
JV: And that brings up, are there a lot of multi-channel networks that focus on specific verticals, and why would that be important?
RL: Well, there are a few multi-channel networks that sort of support individual content creators in specific verticals. And there are new ones being created everyday — my network as an example, the Radio Control Network. You can check it out. For those listeners who are online you can go to radiocontrolnetwork.com.
Our network is really focused on supporting the growth and audience development of YouTube content creators and social media influencers that are involved in the radio control hobby. So they really like to create radio control cars or bash radio control cars or fly radio controlled airplanes or maybe they’re drone or quad-copter influencers.
And we have a special knowledge about that specific vertical because I myself have my own channel, which is called Urban RCLA (you can check it out on YouTube), where for the last three years, as a hobby, I started getting into radio control. And during that time I started to learn a lot about the industry, and visiting a lot of the trade shows, and meeting and talking with a lot of the major distributors and brands.
So I have a very specific interest in radio control in general. And having a background in multi-channel network management and development, it was a no-brainer for me to create a multi-channel network that was focused on radio control hobbyists. So in my particular position, it’s really about just helping all those guys out there that are shooting videos on their phones, and really spending time editing really cool videos with new products that are coming out, so that they can grow their audience and ultimately making more money which then supports their interest and their hobby. They can use those payments to0 but more parts and more upgrades and all kinds of other things to support their hobby.
JV: What’s really cool I like about this is passion. Obviously you really care, you have a passion for radio control stuff, you’ve had your own channel for many years and took that passion and you were able to make a business out of it. That’s really important I think for our listeners to understand when it comes to what kind of video marketing or video you should make. Do what you love and what you know, right?
RL: Yeah, absolutely. And I thought I’d tell you a little bit about just how it started and how I got it setup, so people that are interested or considering, or even wondering about if they should create a multi-channel network. I thought I’d tell them a little bit about what I went through to get it started so that maybe if there are listeners out there that really want to start their own multi-channel network they could learn from my experience.
JV: It sounds great.
RL: So what had happened is that in March I got asked by a group, an agency out of Culver City to do a brand integration with Qualcomm, where Qualcomm wanted to feature their electric Formula 1 cars and highlight their wireless charging technology. And they wanted to do that by creating a wirelessly charged radio control Formula 1 e-car that they could race against a full scale car. So they called me to see if it’s possible.
And I was like, heck yes. And I called one of my good buddies who’s name is Chris DeGraff. He’s out of Norway. He has the YouTube channel HemiStorm RC. He’s one of the best radio control YouTube channels out there. He has one of the largest organically created communities on YouTube for RC.
He also happens to be one of the best RC car body painters and he also has his own brand which has products for 5th scale RC. And I flew him out to LA to do this brand integration, which actually turned out amazing. You can find the video if you search for ClawCom RC vs Formula 1 E on YouTube; it’s a really clever video.
And we started talking about the idea of creating this multi-channel network. So months had passed and then we decided, yep, let’s go ahead and let’s do this, ‘cuz we knew that most of the big guys in YouTube that had RC-focused YouTube channels.
So, that’s one of the first steps you want to think about when you’re starting your own multi-channel network, is do I have a passion for this industry? Do I have my own YouTube channel? And do I have really great relationships with other large YouTube channels in that specific vertical? That if I asked them to join the network and help be my Bon Marche and Nordstroms or our leaders of the network, would they join? When we had discussed that it was a clear yes.
We knew we could get about ten guys that had a collective audience of about 100,000 subscribers to create a multi-channel network office, and that met the specific qualifications of Bent Pixels to be included and to use their platform of administration and support to start a multi-channel network. So, there were a couple of things that we needed to get started.
First, we needed to work out the website, which is radiocontrolnetwork.com. You can check it out. If you read the radiocontrolnetwork.com website, you can clearly see that I have identified a very specific value proposition for the influencers, as well as for brands. Because the ultimate goal really, of a multi-channel network, is to leverage your collective audience to generate more audience and to also secure brand deals so that you can get free product given to your talent, and you can also get premium integrations and giveaways, and even sometimes payment on a monthly basis to support those brands through your various social media channels. So after I set up the website, and I had the acceptance from Bent Pixels to create a network.
I could rely on Bent Pixel’s support and their application for multi-channel network management to really help with all of the administration. So talent acquisition, partner payments, newsletters, guides and articles, a full suite of amazing applications that are really useful to the partners to grow their network. You’ve talked about them before: TubeBuddy, one of the best YouTube audience development tools out there; Epoxy.tv; AudioMicro. All those other apps that really help support and grow an audience were available to me right from the get-go. So, it didn’t take a huge amount of human resources to manage the network because a lot of it was taken care of by these amazing tools that Bent Pixels has.
So, once I had the administration dialed in and the partner dashboard with all the apps and the communication and I had the website then it was just busy work to make sure that I had all of the communication points from marketing. I had the Facebook setup, the Facebook fan page… I created an Instagram and a Twitter. And I made sure to use my audience development background to create a really great, engaging YouTube channel.
And then once that was all created, we went and contacted all of our guys and on a favor, we said, “Hey we’re starting this together, we really want you to be a part of it. Let’s join you to the network, and let’s start promoting this thing and let’s start getting some brand deals.” So once we signed those top ten guys, and again, Bent Pixels’s platform makes it really easy to do that. You can do a tiered contract, and you can also do custom contracts as needed for big influencers.
Once we had them all in, then it was a matter of just working with those partners to include the links to the Radio Control Network website and the application links and all the descriptions of their videos. And using TubeBuddy, that made it really fast and really easy. And in a lot of cases I would go in and do that optimization myself.
And now we’re starting to see a lot of automatic referrals from the partner videos. And we have over 10,000 videos in our network that are referring partners into the network to join, so that was a really simple process that didn’t cost a lot of money to start. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk a little about how we work with brands, so that we can support our hobby and grow our talent.
JV: Yeah, sounds good.
RL: So basically what we do is recount the brands and we’re offering up a couple of things. The first thing is we want to work with you to provide our top influencers of your choice with free product on a monthly basis so they can make video content and share via social media about your new products or existing products that you want to sell.
And in another part of it is we offer to do a giveaway which then we use for talent acquisition. So when we share information about a giveaway of a product; we’re using it as a way to gather talent to the networks. So you have to be a partner of the network to be entered in to win this awesome RC car or upgrades or whatever it may be.
And then we also offer all of our partners an exclusive coupon code to those brands so that we can build brand loyalty with our partners when they feel like they wanna purchase their products. So some of the brands that we’re working with right now is HPI, which is one of the biggest radio control manufacturers out there.
They sponsor people like Ken Block with their WR8 Ken Block edition rally car. We’re working with Maverick RC which is a daughter brand of HPI. We’re working with ATs which is a great aluminum parts manufacturer. And we’re working with Max Amps which is one of the biggest battery manufacturers out there.
And we’re working with quite a few more, but ultimately, they’re gaining access to our influencers that will share their experience with their product and they receive the benefit of gaining access to all those loyal customers and viewers of those influencers. And what we know through our research is that there is a ton of activated consumers that watch these videos. They actually watch their favorite influencers’ videos to gain an understanding about what products to buy through that credentialization from those influencers.
JV: That’s very cool that you have a lot of research to actually show what people are purchasing. Well, this has been really good. I do have a couple of questions.
A lot of people, when it comes to multi-channel networks, have a bad taste in their mouth. In fact, about half my living comes from multi-channel networks screwing people over, and then coming to Vidpow for us to help them. Can you talk about that? Obviously there’s a lot of great multi-channel networks in the world. But what makes a bad multi-channel network?
RL: That’s actually a really great question, and I’ve had a lot of experience with that as well, being the VP of Partner Networks over at Bent Pixels. And I think what it boils down to, the number one reason why people have a bad experience, is that they join a multi-channel network, and they don’t receive the value because they’re not one of the biggest channels, or they join the wrong network that doesn’t provide a value proposition that’s along their interests. So by taking a look closer at vertical-based multi-channel networks, they can get a lot more attention to their channel from the administration and through support and they can also a get a lot more benefits that are very directly related to what their interest is.
So what you find sometimes is you find, hey, influencer A has million subscribers and they join MCN A. But they’re not in their top ten, so maybe they’re not gonna get a lot of attention paid to them in terms of brand deals. Or maybe the brand deals that come through are so far off the base of what their channel is about that they just have to say no, ‘cuz the audience won’t dig it.
Or maybe the multi-channel network doesn’t have any value proposition that helps them with audience development or any support important to help someone’s audience development. So, I think the new time is now for vertical-based multi-channel networks to work with the influencers.
In our network, I know the biggest thing that we pay the most attention to is not just the support of our top influencers but really spending one-on-one time with our individual content creators regardless of the size of their channel to help them grow. My audience development certification and content ID certification helps me very quickly work with channels to upgrade their channels to create a great display, work with them on optimization, and give them tips on content creation. So at a base foundation level we can really help them out.
And I think when we start seeing more verticalized multi-channel networks that are developing brand deals and helping their channels grow, very specifically in a vertical that they understand and are passionate about, I think the overall taste of multi-channel networks in the mouths of the collective YouTube creator community will change, because the value will be there.
JV: That’s a great point. And Reed, how can people find you if they want to reach out to you for more information?
RL: You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can look up Radio Control Network on Facebook, Radiocontrolnet on Twitter, and Radio Control Network on Instagram and YouTube.
And you can also go to Radiocontrolnetwork.com. And you can see how I laid out the entire value proposition. And it’s a great template for others to follow if they decide to start their own multi-channel network. And also, I’m very willing to talk to anybody about their ideas for creating a multi-channel network, and I’m very happy to help get them set up and get them on their way.
JV: Awesome. And you can find me at Jeremyatvd.com. Until next week. Keep talking, Tube!
Thanks for listening to this episode of Tube Talk. Question, comments? Email them to us at TubeTalk@vidpow.com.