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How content marketing helped grow YouTube’s two biggest golf channels

As mentioned in our last blog post, content marketing is “the creation and sharing of material that aims to create interest in a brand, product or service without explicitly promoting it”. In this case, these brands are Rick Shiels Golf and Good Good Golf.


Both are fantastic examples of content marketing.


We’ll be looking at them both in more detail in a short while but before we go any further, let’s just recap our three top tips for content marketing...


Tip 1 – Tell, don’t sell.


Tip 2 – Think of the customer.


Tip 3 – Repurpose content.


We’ll be linking back to these within this blog post, so make sure to make a note of them.


Rick Shiels

Rick Shiels’ channel is the largest golf channel on YouTube. Before we get into how he’s utilised content marketing though, let’s just take a look at some of his stats...


Joined YouTube – 13 October 2011


First Video Upload – 9 May 2012


Videos Uploaded – 2,070


Most Watched Video – 5.4 million views


Total Video Views – 594,613,812


Subscribers – 2.35 million


(All figures are correct at the time of writing.)


Pretty impressive, right?


We’ve featured Rick in our newsletter, The Resonator (cheeky plug) before. Focusing on personal branding that time around, one thing we pulled out was the time it has taken him to build his channel.


As you can see from the figures above, he has been uploading to his channel for over 10 years, with an average of 3.85 videos being uploaded each week.


That’s a long slog to get to where he is today.


So, how has he done it?


Well, there’s a lot of patience involved, consistency and testing.


Let’s look back at the top tips though. Two of them seem particularly pertinent to Rick’s story. Tip 1 and Tip 2.


“Tell, don’t sell” essentially means you need to bring value to the person consuming the content in a way that builds a connection, rather than trying to sell to them all of the time.


Rick has done this perfectly, rarely having something to sell. But when he does, he’s built up so much goodwill through all the free content he puts out there, that people are happy to pay a few quid to get a ticket to a live show or support one of his sponsors.


This leads us nicely to “think of the customer”.


Rick’s channel has very little sponsorship. Nike used to sponsor Rick, but when they tried to renew their offer and pay him to explicitly sell their products, Rick walked away. For a long time, he didn’t have an apparel sponsor.


Now, Rick is sponsored by Lyle & Scott. But, apart from announcing the partnership, he’s not really mentioned them in any of his content. And this is because he knows that’s not what his audience is there for. They’re there to watch someone play golf.


Another way Rick has thought about his “customer” is through the content he produces. If you’re nerdy like us and scroll back through his back catalogue, you should be able to see changes over time.


These changes, generally, come to fruition for one of two reasons.


1. The general content landscape has changed so output needs to match (i.e. a new platform takes over)

2. The content producer tests and tweaks to best engage their audience.


Looking at Rick’s channel, we think he’s done the second of those two options.


A lot of his early content was focused on equipment reviews. But, as time has gone on, he is now more focussed on videos that show him playing golf in various formats.


One example where it is clear to see this feedback loop is with a series called Break 75. Initially started as a one-off series last year, this longer form video showed every shot of his round. The data said that this shouldn’t work because viewers prefer shorter videos.


But, following some promising signs, it returned for a second series of 12 episodes in 2022.


The popularity of this year’s series, combined with feedback from viewers, means he won’t be stopping at 12 episodes. It will now be a permanent fixture on his channel going forward.


By being willing to test new things and change his content, he’s been able to build a long-term, successful brand on YouTube.


Good Good

Now onto the second largest, but fastest growing, golf YouTube channel- Good Good!


Here’s how the stats look...


Joined YouTube – 22 July 2020


First Video Upload – 22 September 2020


Videos Uploaded – 272


Most Watched Video – 3.2 million views


Total Video Views – 168,014,365


Subscribers – 967,000


(All figures are correct at the time of writing.)


As you can see from the figures, their rise has been much quicker. So, how did they do it?


Well, what these figures don’t show is what came before the launch of their YouTube channel. Garret, the mastermind behind Good Good, and the other members were already creating content. Just not under the Good Good brand.


So, although this is a somewhat meteoric rise, Garret began uploading in 2013, with him turning his full attention to it around 2016 / 2017.


But how has Good Good still managed to amass such a following in a short space of time? And what does content marketing have to do with it?


Let’s go back to the top tips.


This time around, we’ll focus on Tips 2 & 3.


In Rick’s section, we spoke about how he “thinks about his audience” by using feedback. But, we would argue, that Good Good do this differently.


They look at macro trends and then try and bring them into their content.


In the past, they’ve created videos themed around the Floor Is Lava, Squid Games and Among Us, all of which have nothing to do with golf.


By taking wider trends, which they know their audience is consuming, and adapting them for a golf audience, they’re able to reach more people. It also helps them build a relationship with the viewer as it shows they have similar interests.


But what about Tip 3, “Repurposing Content”?


There’s room for improvement for both accounts when it comes to this but Good Good are definitely head and shoulders above Rick.


If you visit any of their other social media accounts, you’ll see hooks and teases for their long-form videos on YouTube.


One of their most watched clips on Instagram and TikTok shows a member of the team getting a hole-in-one. Unsurprisingly, this correlates to their most watched video of all time on YouTube, even though “hole in one” is not mentioned in the video's title or description!


This shows that, by repurposing content elsewhere, they’ve been able to drive an even bigger audience on YouTube.


Head-to-head

Obviously, both channels are doing insanely well! But we’re now going to spend a bit of time looking at what they could learn from one another.


Owning your audience

The ultimate aim of content marketing is to own your audience. What we mean by this is that you’re not at the mercy of another platform.


Lots of brands build an audience, but it’s on Facebook, Spotify or some other platform.


The issue with this is that your relationship with your audience can be impacted by decisions taken by this 3rd party platform. For example, an algorithm change.


Good Good is an example of a brand trying to own its audience.


They sell their own branded merchandise through their website where they can collect their audience's data and use it moving forward to build relationships.


Rick, on the other hand, isn’t. His audience is predominantly on YouTube.


Cross-platform community

If you’re not at a stage where you can own your audience, then building a cross-platform community can be an alternative way to de-risk the influence of being dependent on one particular platform.


Now, you don’t want to be on EVERY platform as this would dilute your audience and be hard to manage.


As we know, Rick doesn’t own his audience. Instead, he has 3 main communities – YouTube, his podcast and a Facebook group.


Good Good, despite having a decent following on most platforms, haven’t built a stand-out community on any of these. But maybe they don’t need to as they are trying to own their audience instead.


Know your target audience

Too often, we hear people say that “everyone” is their audience. But, this can cause issues.


Being specific allows you to have more targeted messaging and build stronger connections with your audience.


Taking a look at GG, they are clear about who their audience is. Their content is made to appeal to younger viewers, similar to themselves. Whereas Rick tries to talk to a much wider golfing audience.


At the moment, this seems to be working for him. But the offline reaction shows Good Good are, arguably, having more success when It comes to building strong relationships with its audience.


The Good Good lads can host fan meet-ups which attract hundreds of people and have many more people sporting Good Good apparel.


This might be down to the outgoing nature of Americans but the connection between Good Good and their audience compared to Rick is on another level.


Showcase the boring stuff

Too often, we see brands saying they don’t have any content to share. But they overlook all the “boring” stuff right in front of their nose that other people would love to see.


It’s why people love watching programmes like 24 Hours In A&E or 24 Hours In Police Custody. To the people involved, it’s just a normal day. But to everyone else, it’s a peak behind the curtain.


Again, Good Good are better at doing this than Rick.


Shiels has his podcast which, at times, can offer an insight into his world. But that’s not its primary purpose.


Good Good, on the other hand, do it much more. They produce vlog-style content showing what goes on behind the scenes both whilst out filming but also on a day off. Again, this feeds into the relationship between them and their audience.


Remain focussed

There can be a temptation to try and be on every platform and do everything on all of these platforms. But this isn’t sustainable.


Rick, is focused on two outlets – his podcast and YouTube channel.


With the team he has working behind him, this is more than manageable.


The Good Good boys, however, each have their own personal YouTube channel. Add to that the main Good Good channel, three other spin-off Good Good channels as well as all the other social media platforms, it’s inevitable that there ends up being inconsistencies.

For example, at the time of writing, they haven’t uploaded to their shorts channel in over 3 months and their “weekly” podcast is released monthly.


Generally, it’s better to under promise and over deliver than over promise and under deliver.


That way, your audience doesn’t build up an unrealistic expectation of you.


Wrapping up

YouTube inherently lends itself to content marketing. But that doesn’t mean everyone is doing it well, or even at all.


Rick Shiels and Good Good are great examples of how thinking like a content creator or content marketer can benefit your brand in the long term.


As we’ve discussed, both of these brands have room for improvement. And that’s probably fair to say of all brands. Nobody is perfect after all.


But if you’re looking for some inspiration from the golfing world, watch what these two juggernauts are doing!






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