YouTube unboxing videos are (along with other odd videos) incredibly popular. No one really knows why, as they are also – in most cases – incredibly dull.
So to prevent a somnambulist pandemic of the world’s connected population, we present to you ten ways to make YouTube unboxing videos entertaining, fun, engaging, possibly amusing, and absolutely not dull.
How Popular Are Unboxing Videos, Really?
Probably dating back to 2006 with an unboxing video of the Nokia E61 (a Blackberry-style smartphone), unboxing videos are ridiculously successful for YouTubers, with one 2014 video – by DisneyCollectorBR – chalking up over 70 million views for the opening of a Peppa Pig Blocks Mega Hospital.
This is just one of many videos on that channel, and of course there are so many other unboxing videos out there that YouTube could spin them off onto their own “Unboxing Videos” site and you still wouldn’t have time to watch them all. Knowing that YouTube unboxing videos grew by almost 60% in 2014 on the previous year will give you a firm idea of just how popular they are across the board.
But making an unboxing video that is really popular is a little trickier than simply switching on a camera and unwrapping something, as I proved back in 2007.
So, an unpopular feature phone, recorded with a webcam strapped to my head. Oh, and the quality isn’t great, either. Already, we can see the clues as to where I went wrong. Let’s take a look at the ways you can make a YouTube unboxing video that people will like.
Use a Decent Camera and Mic
Begin by ensuring your camera is of good quality. No one wants to watch an unboxing video like the one above, with grainy quality and a low megapixel sensor. Use a smartphone camera if you need to (the iPhone camera has evolved well), or perhaps a sports camera; use a top-of-the-range digital video camera if you have to, just ensure that clear viewing is possible. If HD is an option, use it, so that the viewer gets a good look at the product in as high a resolution as possible. If this means buying a new camera, make sure you make the right choice.
The same goes for sound. It doesn’t have to be Dolby Digital 7.1, but you need to make sure that the device you’re recording with has the capability to record good quality audio. If it doesn’t, find a compatible external microphone and use this instead.
Ensure the Presentation is Stable
On a related note, you’ll need to make sure that the video of the unboxing is stable. Avoid jerky camera movements, instead employing an angle that you know you won’t impede with a hand close to the lens, or a stray shoulder or limb.
For the best results, you’re going to need a tripod (see our buyer’s guide for help) or some other camera mounting device. You’ll need to match this to the hardware you’re using to record the video. As long as the video is stable and maintains focus on the product being unboxed, you should be okay. It’s a good idea to disable automatic focus on videos such as this; instead, manually set the camera to focus on the box and its contents, as the automatic focus “shift” can prove distracting to viewers.
While we’re on the matter of presentation, record your unboxing videos somewhere clean and tidy. My desk in the video above was a really bad example, and was far too untidy to be shared with the Internet!
Choose an Interesting Product
Getting the product right is a major aspect of unboxing videos. If you’re simply unboxing a phone no one is likely to want to buy, then you’re going to be very fortunate to receive 7000 views over a nine-year period.
On the other hand, if you’ve got your hands on THE latest piece of tech, or toy, food, kitchen equipment, makeup, bike component, or whatever, then pointing your camera at it as you pull the pieces out and switch it on is a good idea. Whether it’s a new iPhone, some awesome new LEGO or something else entirely, as long as it is something you know people will be buying, you’ve got the right product for an unboxing video.
Time it Right
Unboxing videos are typically watched during the holiday season, and more generally from October to December, when people are looking for, and buying, presents and gifts for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. With figures indicating over 60% of unboxing viewers do so when researching a particular product to buy, you can see why getting the timing right is important.
But this can work in various ways. For instance, if we’re talking about the unboxing of a brand new product, then forget about what time of year it is – just buy it, unbox it and upload to YouTube as quickly as you can. On the other hand, if you’re planning on an unboxing of a toy, you might prefer to wait until the calendar moves closer to the October-December quarter.
As with any YouTube project, know who your audience is, and time the video for when they’re most likely to see and appreciate it.
Unbox it NOW!
A common issue with unboxing videos is that the host/narrator tends to spend a bit of time with a sort of preamble, an introduction to what they’re about to open. As a concept, this is fine, but often such introductions end up being longer than the rest of the video!
For the best response, keep the introduction brief. Ensure the viewer knows what they’re about to see, perhaps share your expectations of it, but generally be concise and ready to open the box within the first 15 seconds.
To save time, prepare the box in advance. If there is any tape that would prevent opening, remove this with a box cutter or similar sharp knife in advance, but keep the cutter close should internal packaging prove more challenging than anticipated. Should unboxing take a while, use a video editing tool to shorten things slightly with a crossfade.
Use Multiple Angles and Movement Well
Static videos can be dull. Busy videos can be distracting. Both can be a turn off.
It is common for unboxers to bash off their videos relatively quickly, recording on a good quality smartphone camera and uploading from the same device. But for better results, you should consider spending some time at the editing stage. Taking some photos and using these with the Ken Burns effect, panning and zooming (achieveable with various tools, including iMovie) as part of the video can add some movement, which will prove useful if you employed a tripod.
Similarly, if you have the opportunity to change the angle of your unboxing, do so. Perhaps you want to show a close-up of one or more small items in the video. Rather than bring them to the camera, pause the recording and reposition before resuming. Or better still, run through the entire video at the first angle, and then reposition to either repeat the entire unboxing process giving a choice of angles throughout.
However, it is efficient to simply reposition the camera to record the chunks you want at a different angle, such as for close up work, or perhaps for an establishing shot of you beginning the unboxing.
Be Yourself… or Use Music
With the creation of any YouTube video in which you feature, you need to be aware that any attempt to be “Mr TV” is going to end in failure. While you can have an online identity that isn’t you, it needs to be natural. Avoid “playing a part” that you’re uncomfortable – just be YOU.
This means making light of mistakes, making observations that might be critical or highlighting things about the product that you like, or that amuse you. Videos featuring light humor are always going to do well on YouTube, so while you shouldn’t be scripting jokes, keeping the unboxing lighthearted is a great way to let your personality shine.
However, if you don’t want anything other than your hands to appear in your unboxing video, opting for a soundtrack is a good idea. Keep it copyright and royalty-free for the best results – YouTube has a selection of tunes that are suitable for unboxing videos.
Switch it on and Use It
Don’t wave the unboxed item around and end the video. If it’s a phone, tablet or computer, boot it up and have a play. Unboxing a new frying pan? Go and shoot yourself cooking pancakes.
Whatever you’re doing with the unboxed item, remember to talk your viewers through. This might mean explaining what you’re doing with a computer menu, or how you’re putting together some pieces of LEGO. You could talk the viewer through the technique you’re using to apply makeup, or the temperature you’re using – and preparation required – to cook those pancakes.
Share Your Enthusiasm
Are you excited about the product you’re unboxing?
If so, you need to communicate this. Begin by researching it, preparing some notes (written, or memorised) and using these to fall back on as you perform the unboxing. Speak clearly, and with confidence, while pointing out details people might be interested in.
For instance, with a smartphone unboxing, you might share the key specifications for the device (CPU type, how much storage, how much RAM, etc.), whereas if you’re unboxing something extensive like the LEGO Dimensions video game, you might cover the number of pieces, how long it should take to build, that sort of thing.
You should also attempt to give the viewer some options. For instance, share the price of the product, tell them where you bought it, but research some alternatives in advance. Look on your unboxing video career as a public service, helping people to make the right choices. If they make a good choice based on your video, they’ll come back for more.
Finishing Your Unboxing Video
“That’s all folks” is a powerful phrase. It means “move along, nothing else to see here” – not something you want viewers to do with your unboxing video. Rather, you want people to stay, to comment, to share.
Finish the video with two things: a close up of the product, and a call to action. Ask the viewers what they think of the product. Will they be buying it now? Do they already have one, and how have they found it? You should also remind your viewers to subscribe to your channel.
And once you’ve done that, any editing is completed and the video is uploaded to YouTube, don’t forget to share it on social networks. Well done – you just created an unboxing video that people will enjoy.
Do you produce your own unboxing videos? What level of success have you had with them? Perhaps you enjoy watching unboxings – or worse, you utterly hate them! Whatever your interest in YouTube unboxing videos, share your thoughts in the comments.