Understanding The YouTube Strategy Of PowerDrift That Has Clocked Over 21M Views

Satyen Poojary shares how Indian motoring truly deserves to be shown, their YouTube content strategy, work with brands, engaging with PDArmy and the future


When a bunch of heavy weight bikes breeze through the wind touching crazy speed limits then a fan like me is bound to get high and cheer for them. The thumping, the excitement and the courage to get past the wind makes a bike race. You guessed it right, I drive a Royal Enfield Classic and love to look out for new bikes and races.

Recently, I came across a bike race video on YouTube that pumped up my normal heart beat. It was a dirt bike race in Ahmedabad with a perfect track for the event with soaring temperatures. The five-and-half-minute video uploaded in the first week of July garnered more than 7K views and is a complete package of entertainment.

The soaring sound of the bikes trying to conquer the dirt, the sneak peek of the pits, talk with the brave racers, the right background track and the cool video editing makes it a perfect video to go vroom on YouTube. This is one of the coolest videos from the house of PowerDrift - a 22 member team of social outcast nerds, a big chunk of auto and film enthusiasts who are showcasing Indian motoring in a way it’s deserved to be seen.

PowerDrift, the YouTube channel started in mid 2011 as PowerToTheRider caught attention and at the same time was bullied by the giants of the industry. The bright minds that came forward to pursue their core love were all experts in their ‘core’ paying job field; from mechatronix engineers, to subject matter experts in IT, to the best of talent in the world of film, TV and photography. “The objective was and still remains showing Indian motoring in a way it truly deserves to be seen,” shared Satyen Poojary, an avid automobile enthusiast and brand manager at PowerDrift.

The idea to go with videos was a bold move for the team at a time when people were doubting the entire digital growth in the country. “We chose video because most people used to write marketing gimmickry material or brochure specs or narrate them on videos that went on mainstream TV and were dumped on YouTube. Some still continue to do so. Videos being the new preferred fluid format for content consumption, we wanted to ensure that we take a head start in this format and change the way the mainstream industry deals with it.”

The below video showcasing the limited edition of Royal Enfield Despatch Motorcycles is one such example where PowerDrift has created content beyond a launch video that could be enjoyed by motoring fans not only in India but across the globe. The four-and-half-minute video shows the two beasts that were launched online with the story behind the despatch riders during the wars and its association with the Royal Enfield special edition bikes.

Today PowerDrift has more than 21 million views from 388 video uploads. “We are today India’s second largest automotive channel and rank in top 100 globally. Our growth rate has been more than the Industry leader and the now number 3 player combined!  It is an overwhelming experience for us, every video release is like a dose of adrenaline especially when it’s well received by our audience,” added Satyen.

Content has played a deciding role behind PowerDrift’s growth in the last few years. Pick up any video, it has a story and music to be discovered. From PowerDrift Launch Alerts to First Drive to Auto Rallies, the channel has explored content to keep its fans engaged.

Taking through the content strategy, he informed that they divide videos into the core reviews or specials, and quick snacky consumable videos.

The quick snacky consumables are discovery videos and a huge chunk of this audience stays back, subscribes to the channel to check more antics. “This year is a big year for us, we are trying to reset what has become the norm and are exploring new formats of content. You will see the “blockbuster” series for a not as much motoring inclined audience, but at the same time, the ones who are motoring inclined will (hopefully) enjoy it too!”

There are a lot more diverse genres of content that is yet to come, each with a specific objective to entertain and the same time help fellow enthusiasts.

With every video content PowerDrift is challenging the norm and at the same time the introduction of a cool background music raises the bar several notches up. Over the time PowerDrift has been showcasing new music genres like dubstep, electronic, classic underground rap and hip hop to its audiences. The madness for music can be experienced once you’ve played the Best of PowerDrift Music on high volume.

“From music creation to having a taste that can best show a character of the machine, we love experimenting with music a lot! It’s a potent tool in the right hands,” informed Satyen while stating that a lot of their competition is now sourcing music from the banks they refer. “But we have an edge there as we are acute audiophiles too.”

Creating good content isn’t the only challenge but getting them discovered is another big hurdle. YouTube makes this problem more grave. Finding a genre that you have not previously seen is impossible on the current YouTube UI. Sadly most of YouTube India is flooded with TV or Bollywood content, and breaking that chain is almost impossible. The audience isn’t aware that they also have speciality genre content on YouTube.

This is where social media has come as a boon for niche content creators like PowerDrift. “You would see content specific to the nuances of every platform on our channel. While we would not like to share a lot of info on the hacks for this, but one hack that we would advice content creators, is simply stay true to your genre, pursue what you enjoy doing the most, adapt these liking to individual platforms.”

However, Facebook video isn’t something that the team at PowerDrift is seriously considering as of now. “As a platform, it’s not evolved yet, and comes with its own set of woes of poor video management interface, to even copyright credit to the creators. Users can simply download the content and repost it as their own.”

Good content travels and a strong community does the job, for PowerDrift it is the PDArmy - fans, friends, critics spread around India, and some even global. Apart from pulsating content, PowerDrift makes sure to have regular giveaways in the form of contests. Like the recent #WowMoment or the #PDGiveaway contests.

Have brands shown genuine interest towards PowerDrift? Brand interest is slowly picking up, but the team is very particular about its association. “Most brands in Indian do not want to make content. They prefer making blatant advertisements and calling it content instead. On the other hand there are some who understand content marketing, but dangerously tread in making the content suffer in trying to force a sales pitch in there.”

However the fun travel story with Mercedes Benz India last year for the 2014 Delhi Autoexpo or for that matter content stories with Mahindra Adventure, TVS Motocross who wanted to showcase their contribution in the Indian motorsports scenario, is a genre that’s dear to their heart.

Over the years PowerDrift has partnered with a lot of motoring events like India Bike Week, Pune Superbike Festival, Rally of Maharashtra, Rain Forest Challenge, One Make Races, as pure barter deals. “Like we said before, we are not in this for money, but if there’s a pay cheque with it we wouldn’t complain. We recently did some content with a Smartphone manufacturer, our payment was in kind, and we gave it back to our community, the PDArmy!”

Going forward, in addition to experimenting with content, PowerDrift wishes to bridge the gap between real world interaction, and this pseudo social virtual engagement. “Imagine a huge chunk of well-informed motorists active on the streets. That should improve a lot of things from civic sense, to safe motoring habits, and it would also bring about a new wave of awareness about the Indian motoring as a Lifestyle, which is a way of life for many of us.”

Indian motoring has got a new meaning with PowerDrift!