If you’re a foodie, chances are you already know Epicurious, the gourmet cooking channel with mouth-watering recipes. Their YouTube channel boasts 4.6 million subscribers who tune in regularly to learn how to make the perfect omelet or discover a new kitchen gadget that will simplify their lives.
However, Epicurious wasn’t always a dominant presence on YouTube. Like many other food content creators, they posted well-produced step-by-step cooking videos. While this made sense for a cooking channel, it didn’t make them stand out from the competition. Epicurious may have had elevated recipes, but their engagement was lackluster.
So, they made a bold move. Instead of continuing to invest in a losing strategy, they set aside their brand guidelines and shifted from showcasing recipes to highlighting the people making them.
Their brand guidelines dictated a high-brow approach to complicated cuisine, which limited their appeal to audiences already familiar with gourmet cooking. By developing a strategy that would reach beyond die-hard foodies and amateur chefs, Epicurious started featuring kids in their content. Videos like “Kids Try Store-Bought vs. Homemade Cookies” and “Kids Try Famous Video Game Food, From Pac-Man to Mario” brought in a whole new audience: kids, parents, and anyone who used to be a kid (which is everyone!). Epicurious retained its foodie base and expanded to an entire universe of people who enjoy watching entertaining content.
Epicurious leveraged that success with different variations of human-centric content like “50 People Try to Peel an Egg” or “Wine Expert Guesses Cheap v. Expensive Wine.” The new content featured entertainment, challenges, and storytelling, and reached way beyond their original subscriber base.
Today, Epicurious has expanded its offerings to feature different levels and challenges that pit expert chefs against amateur cooks, such as “$265 vs. $18 Spaghetti and Meatballs” and “4 Levels of Milkshakes: Amateur to Food Scientist.” Their videos consistently get millions of views because they focus on what people want to watch, not just what they want to sell or tell.
This is the essence of creating viral content—understanding what people are already consuming on social media and delivering your message within that context with confidence.
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