Whether you are a brand or an influencer, there is always an important lesson to learn from your peers – and competitors.  I’ve gone through the best brands and influencers of 2015 and compiled my top 5 for each, pulling out a valuable takeaway I learned by observing their successes in 2015.  Use these lessons now and into 2016 and hopefully you’ll make my list this time next year!

Best Use of Branded Video 2015: 5 Top Brands

BuzzFeed

No brand has cracked the code this year quite like BuzzFeed. They have spent a tremendous amount of effort finding out what type of content resonates best with viewers on every platform and figuring out the most efficient way to draw in viewers based on compelling titles and thumbnails. This has resulted in shareable content that has garnered more than 4.7B views on YouTube in the past year and another 8.8B on Facebook.

Video Marketing Takeaway: Take the extra time to create clickable titles and thumbnails for your video content and figure out what works best for each platform. Video length and duration change significantly based upon the platform. Lastly, don’t be afraid to separate your video properties into specific interests to develop a core audience based on the interests of viewers rather than the personality of the people starring in the videos.

Disney

Obviously, Star Wars gives Disney an easy way to the top of this chart. With just the new movie alone, they could have probably made this list. But it’s how they have handled their video campaign for Star Wars that is most impressive. First and foremost, they are holding something back. Although a good chunk of internet users would say they feel inundated with Star Wars content, by that same token Disney has been careful to protect the plot and secrets of the movie. So while their biggest product is at the forefront of your mind, they haven’t given away the whole thing in video.

They have also done a tremendous job of either working licensing deals with other companies or choosing the look the other way for fan based content. The result for Disney, free promotion from everywhere on the internet. Whether it’s the Bad Lip Reading guys doing videos of all of the classic or the Cinema Sins guys covering every single movie, they are earning credit both through their own work and leveraging influencers as well.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

The Tonight Show has done a fantastic job of using YouTube as a highlight reel for the show to both develop an online presence and drive traffic back to television for the rest of the show. Anyone working in television should take note. The Tonight Show has used the best of their content to gain over 9 million subscribers on YouTube and grab more than 1.7B views.

Adidas

If you want to know how to run a brand campaign that reinforces your brand, look no further than Adidas. In the past year they focused on working with popular athletes and ensuring that their videos put their brand image front and center, rather than just making trendy internet memes. Their video campaigns were able to earn over 188M views on YouTube in the past year with a concentrated push around the holiday season that should translate into bigger sales for this year.

GoPro

GoPro is a great example for building a community. Not only do they utilize and feature the best content created using their equipment on their main distribution channels, but they have inspired a legion of fans to film their greatest moments, and most importantly, tag them when they do. This creates massive brand awareness and identity. Their most viewed video in the past year is approaching 15M views, but the most watched brand video of the year is actually fan made. GoPro related videos have garnered over 1.8B views across all platforms in the past year according to Tubular data.

SketchShe

Few influencers had a better year than this Australian comedy threesome. These ladies created their channel in late December of ’14 and found their niche lip syncing hit songs in their car with a comedic twist. They are on pace for roughly 750k subscribers by year-end and nearly 80 million views. That’s quite the first year for a channel on YouTube. They are utilizing both Facebook and YouTube for posting their content, with nearly double the followers and average monthly views on Facebook.