10 Successful YouTube Storytelling Genres for Your Branded Content

10 YouTube Storytelling Genres for Branded Content

What´s Happened to the Man I Married? Photo: Tyne and Wear Archive & Museum

YouTube influencer campaigns provide the authenticity, intimacy and trustworthiness that traditional brand-driven or celebrity-driven storytelling strategies can´t.

Since its origins, the platform’s micro-narratives have copied traditional storytelling genres (like the TV interview), reconfigured others (like the written diary versus the diary videoblog) and created new native categories from scratch.

It’s clear that YouTube native genres will help your brand create storytelling content that already enjoys a solid number of fans and even a certain audience seasonality that can reinforce your marketing plan. The question for marketers, however, is how to get that seemingly real connection with a regular joe that influencers provide, while still enjoying the control over the message and consistency that traditional brand-driven advertising used to offer.

Storytelling is the answer. Asking your influencers to use narrative genres in their videos will provide recognizable and regular patterns of communication for your brand while still allowing enough room for influencers’ creativity, as well as the freedom for their much-needed spontaneity.

Ten popular YouTube native genres that can be adapted for branded content success:

  1. “Unboxing”: This micro-genre plays with the excitement and expectation of opening boxes -normally coveted tech gadgets or high-end cosmetics, which the audience is already familiar with. There is the joy of ripping open the package, the aesthetic aspect of how the good is boxed or presented (beautiful or utilitarian packaging) and the satisfaction, or deception, with the new acquisition. The Unbox Therapy Channel is a reference in the genre.
  2. “P.O. Box”: This genre was born when bloggers started receiving commercial samples and free products from companies. In these videos, content creators vlogged their journey to the P.O. Box as well as the opening of the parcel itself. The genre went to new dimensions as fans started to send YouTubers gifts. This added complicity as the influencer would say the fan’s name on camera, read their heartwarming or funny messages, showed excitement for what was received and made jokes about the gift or expressed his or her gratitude.

3. “What’s in my X?”: This genre plays to the curiosity of the audience. The influencer reveals his or her calculated “perfect imperfections” by showing what apps are in his o her iPhone, what’s items he or she carries around in their bag, what’s in their makeup collection or gives a room or house tour, etc.  here and also following the influencer´s educational advice on how to organize your life. You need these apps in your iphone, this is what you should be carrying in your bag, copy me to make the most of your tiny bedroom etc.

4. “Draw my life”: The influencer sketches in high-speed the most relevant chapters of his or her life in a whiteboard while his or her voiceover narrates the story. The key ingredient here is the intimacy created by the voiceover and the gratitude the YouTuber expresses towards his audience for making his or her life so amazing.

5. “Haul”: The influencer displays items recently purchased and reviewsthem or gives ¨first impressions¨. The hauls can be thematic (makeup, household items, clothes etc.) or seasonal (Fall, Summer, Boxing Day, Black Friday etc.). The video saves the consumer from having to go see the items themselves and know whether they still want to purchase them or not.

6. Challenges: Being the Ice Bucket Challenge a planetary meme, this genre doesn’t need an introduction. The main attraction is watching someone´s journey through ridicule and suffering like drinking a bottle wasabi, or eating a jar of mayo… or getting soaked. The argh! moment is the hero. Here is what Tide did with this genre:

7. Fridge tours: Learning about people´s personal tastes and diet habits, from compulsive eaters to paleo fanatics, made this genre a YouTube classic.

8. What´s in my mouth?: two or more YouTubers make a collaboration in which one is blindfolded and the other puts things in his/her mouth to guess what they are. The point is to laugh and lightly torture whoever is blindfolded by putting disgusting and not-always-edible things in his/her mouth.


9. My boyfriend or girlfriend does my makeup:
this is done by two YouTubers, usually a boy and a girl. The boy will try to do a full face of makeup for the girl to disastrous results. We all, including the girl and the boy, will laugh at the boy for his ignorance on how to apply makeup.

10. Trying candy from X: Influencers try sweets from foreign countries on-camera. Explaining the candy’s origin, comparing them with local brands and arggh! and mmm! flashes are the stellar moments.


These examples are no anecdotes or isolated memes, but fully consolidated storytelling genres that didn´t exist ten or even five years ago. They enjoy millions of views and loyal fans, have their own YouTube icons, traditional celebrities doing cameos and genre hybrids. There are plenty of opportunities for brands to grasp.

Do you know of more YouTube native genres?

For ideas and tips on marketing, storytelling and communication, you can join Antonio Nunez´s free newsletter at antonionunez.com or follow his Twitter @AntonNunez

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