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  • Writer's pictureChristy Murdock

How long should your YouTube videos be?

How much time would you spend watching a single narrator talk about a hotel that has gone out of business? If you're like 6.6 million other YouTube viewers, the answer is four hours, five minutes and 39 seconds.

Jenny Nicholson is a YouTube content creator who is known for her deep dives on pop culture, particularly theme parks and all things Disney. While I have watched her videos in the past, I've recently fallen down a rabbit hole of her content based on the video she released almost two weeks ago called "The Spectacular Failure of the Star Wars Hotel."

Now, keep in mind that while I am a casual Star Wars fan, I didn't follow the development of the Star Wars hotel closely. I heard about it when it was first announced, but I never stayed there, and I didn't know that it had gone out of business. So why did I spend several nights watching Nicholson's takedown in 30-45 minute increments?

I still don't really know the answer to that question. Nicholson is funny and engaging, yes, but so are many other YouTubers. She has tapped into something pretty unique with this particular video, it seems. It took her nearly a year to complete and in less than two weeks has garnered 6.6 million views. Her previous video has had 10 million views over the past year. That translates to a 1754% faster pace of engagement for this gargantuan Star Wars hotel video.

How Jenny Nicholson breaks the YouTube rules

We all know the "rules" of YouTube. They include:

  • Post on a consistent schedule (Nicholson's previous video was a year ago)

  • Manage the short attention span of your audience (At around 4 hours each, Nicholson's last two videos require a commitment)

  • Engage with trends (While Star Wars and Disney are always popular topics, Nicholson's other videos include obscure topics like "Evermore: The theme park that wasn't"; "The Church Play Cinematic Universe"; and "A Needlessly Thorough Roast of 'Dear Evan Hanson'"

  • Collaborate with influencers (Nicholson's friends and family are her travel companions for her videos)

  • Encourage interaction (Nicholson does not beg for Likes and Comments and frequently makes fun of those who will disagree with her hot takes)

Am I saying you can throw the rule book out the window and do whatever you want on YouTube? Well, not exactly. But what I am saying is that there's no one way to create content, whether it's on YouTube or elsewhere. Authenticity and expertise still mean something in the world of creative expression.

What does Jenny Nicholson do that you can emulate?

So if we're ignoring (at least some of) the rules, what can you take from Jenny Nicholson's content that will improve your marketing, social media, video content, podcast or blog?

  • Carve out a niche (Virtually nobody is talking about the things Nicholson is talking about, and none of her topics could be characterized as generic)

  • Take your time (While you probably don't want to wait a year between videos, take the time you need to produce something that's of a higher quality than your competitors)

  • Focus on quality (Excellent production values in the filming and editing of your content will increase its value and improve engagement)

  • Display your expertise (Don't be afraid to tackle a narrow topic or an unusual interest. There's someone out there for virtually every odd query or question you're qualified to answer)

  • You do you (Be unapologetically yourself and add your own quirky sensibility to your video content. It may not be for everybody, but it will be for somebody and those viewers will be devoted to you)

Whether you're creating 7-second TikToks or spending hours on educational deep dives, finding your differentiators and leaning in to the content that only you can create will make a difference in how you're perceived and how your content is received.

So be bold. Be fearless. And may the Force ... well, you know the rest.

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