If you cruise around YouTube long enough—and take a few wrong turns—you’re bound to stumble upon some reaction videos. It’s an entire genre.

You can watch as rappers react to metal, and metalheads react to hip-hop. There’s a rugby player sharing his analyses of American football highlights, and a legit physician running color commentary on fictional hospital scenes. Just this week, YouTube suggested I watch Europeans react to being called beautiful. (Spoiler alert: they like it very much.) It’s all out there on the ’net.

Don’t get me wrong. People-watching is great, and I have the privilege of a great (street) view from my desk. But why would thousands of people spend five minutes at a time being a secondhand content consumer (or is it firsthand viewing twice-removed?)? There’s some magic here, and with the wave of a wand (or, you know, concentrated effort), you can apply it to your marketing:

  • We can only experience something for the first time once, and a chance to revisit those long-buried emotions—perhaps those associated with *NSYNC’s 2000 hit “Bye, Bye, Bye”— is invaluable. If you happen to ride that nostalgia wave while also incorporating the talents of Oscar winner Christopher Walken, then all the power to you. Kowabunga.
  • Check your Facebook feed and notice how all your “friends” have opinions on music, shows, movies, and well, everything they see or hear. The internet has given us a way to find out how everyone’s feeling all the time—reaction content is basically an online validation party. Show consumers who else belongs to their herd, whether by creating an online community or by releasing the most inspiring (yet “controversial”) ad of the year.
  • We love to get an insider’s point of view. Never underestimate the value of seeing through someone else’s eyes—especially a subject who’s lived it firsthand. You can read about Saudi Arabia allowing women to drive, but to actually hear how it affects peoples’ day-to-day lives? That’s going to stay with you.

So, to clarify, these are lessons learned from watching people react to other people—and by applying them to your field, you might just rack up your own positive reactions. Now if you’ll excuse me, my recommended videos are on fire, and I have to watch the elderly reacting to dubstep.  

Have a weekend worth reacting to, everyone!

– Your people-watching friends at Brokaw.

The internet has given us a way to find out how everyone’s feeling all the time—reaction content is basically an online validation party.

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