A hint: YouTube.
In a sea of seemingly limitless online content, how can you ensure that your video rises above the fray? Apparently, we should all be taking cues from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, House of Cards, Austin Powers, and The Wolf of Wall Street—namely, films that break the fourth wall, or transgress the invisible barrier between the fictional narrative and, well, you.
According to a recent study, YouTube videos that contained the word "you" in the first five seconds had view counts that were 97% higher than videos that did not mention the word. The study, which was conducted by TubeBuddy and Hey.com, analyzed 30,000 YouTube videos uploaded between April 1 and December 1, 2016. In order to be included, the videos had to have a minimum of 40 views and belong to YouTube channels with more than five uploads and 10 subscribers.
In addition to nearly doubling a video's view count, the word "you"—or variations, such as "your," "yourselves," and "y'all"—increased a video's likes by 66% and engagements by 68%.
While the staying power of "you" is a well-documented phenomenon in the advertising world, this study suggests that addressing the audience directly in video content, too, is an effective strategy for engagement. In fact, it's one of the oldest tricks in the book: Shakespeare was a fan of breaking the fourth wall, the most famous example being Puck's speech at the end of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Bertolt Brecht later perfected the tradition. And today, blockbuster films such as Deadpool break the fourth wall to the tune of $750 million worldwide.
You can view the study in full here.