'How to make a man bun': Inside Asos' social video strategy

You’d think the most popular video on online fashion retailer Asos’ YouTube channel was about how to wear capes, this winter’s hottest clothing item.

But it was actually about man buns. With over 562,000 views, its YouTube tutorial “How to make a man bun” was the most popular video in 2015. It’s part of the brand’s strategy of prioritizing lifestyle content over product — and leaning heavily on video on social platforms.

“Video is a hugely important and exponentially growing medium,” said Hannah Craik, head of social media at Asos. “It is also becoming the preferred way that people, especially millennials, consume content, so we’ve been really putting some thought into how we can do it best.”

Asos’ social strategy has always been to interact with its customers the way they would interact with a friend on that social channel. The content is a mix of fashion, entertainment and lifestyle, including fashion tutorials, behind-the-scenes office tours and even red carpet sneak peeks.

Asos wouldn’t reveal the exact numbers but said that a “small” social team creates different types of videos for each platform. Asos aims for funny, entertaining or useful, putting out one to two videos on YouTube and five to six on Facebook weekly, along with a Snapchat story almost everyday. It also produces content in nine different languages, with several countries having their own local teams and accounts as well.

Snapchat has emerged as an important platform for the brand over the last two years. The vibe there is, “hang out with us,” whether on on shoots, in the office, while choosing clothes or with celebrities. It posts videos to Facebook and Tumblr as well.

Longest week ever.

Posted by ASOS on Tuesday, January 12, 2016

YouTube continues to be its hub for longer videos. The brand posts weekly videos on the latest fashion and beauty trends and how its fans can wear them on their own, alongside influencer and celebrity interviews and exclusive music performances and behind-the-scenes with the artists. YouTube is also where Asos realized that it had and could cater to a significant male following, with followers on its men’s channel growing 400 percent from 8,100 to over 43,500 over the past year. “How to do a man bun” was on the Asos men’s channel.

Asos uses different metrics on how well its videos perform across channels. On YouTube, for instance, Craik said that watch time was important. On Facebook, it’s about shareability and how many times a video is shared, whereas on Snapchat, the open-rate is a factor. In that sense, 2015 was a good year. According to Socialbakers, on YouTube, Asos got over 8.3 million views across its men’s and women’s channels. On Facebook, its 172 native videos received nearly half a million interactions, including likes, comments and shares.

“Video is generally expensive to produce, so the tendency among brands is to use one piece of content everywhere,” said Jason Goldberg, svp of commerce and content at Razorfish. “Asos is much more nuanced, producing different content for different channels. It’s really smart that they segment their content like that.”