If you want to get ahead these days in an increasingly-congested online world, you need to make the most of both video content and social media. Precisely why YouTube has become such an important platform for businesses worldwide – nailing these two essentials at the same time.
Hundreds of millions of people on a global basis now regularly use YouTube. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 30% of all Internet users worldwide are regular YouTube users.
Over the past three years alone, the number of people regularly interacting with YouTube has increased an extraordinary 50%. As it stands today, at least 300 hours of video clips are uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day.
For obvious reasons, this makes it incredibly difficult to ensure your own videos stand out from the crowd. To call your own video, ‘a drop in the ocean’ would be something of an understatement.
If you don’t have an effective and workable plan to ensure you stand out from your competitors, it simply isn’t going to happen.
The question is – what can you do to make it happen?
In short, the most effective solution is to invest in the creation of a valuable and engaging channel that’s capable of earning a loyal subscriber base.
Once you begin building a decent audience, you can focus on the production of superior content that sees your authority and reach expanding naturally.
Whether just getting started with YouTube or interested in making the most of an existing profile, we’ve got the tips and tricks you’ll need to take the next step.
Whatever it takes, YouTube is the kind of platform that has the potential to deliver the most extraordinary ROI.
Step 1: Conduct market research to identify fans
Before taking either a step further in your quest for YouTube domination, you first need to be sure exactly who you are reaching out to. Not only this but where those you are targeting typically spend their time on the platform.
A few basic statistics to give you a rough idea of what today’s YouTube audience looks like:
- YouTube has a relatively even split of female and male users
- That said, male YouTube users typically spend almost 45% more time on the platform every month than female users
- The 25-34 age bracket is YouTube’s largest by far, but every age bracket across the board is present in enormous numbers
When looking at things in terms of categories and personal preferences, male YouTube users tend to show greater interest in categories such as:
- Video games
- Animated content
By contrast, female YouTube users are known to show greater interest in categories such as:
- Skin and nail care
- Celebrity gossip
There are also certain categories that attract a relatively even split of male and female viewers alike, such as:
- Video content featuring dogs
- Weight loss
- Music from East Asia
- Pop music
- General fitness
For obvious reasons, therefore, it is important to ensure that you focus on appropriate categories when deciding what kind of content to publish.
You need to know exactly who you are targeting, while at the same time making it as easy as possible for them to find you in the first place.
Regardless of the type of business or YouTube channel you operate, you need to create an image of your ideal customer. Something of a thumbnail/snapshot of the exact type of person you are targeting – aka a ‘marketing persona.’
For example, if you were thinking of getting into the same kind of video game-related content as PewDiePie – the most successful star in the history of YouTube – you need only look at the demographics from his channel.
By doing so, you can quickly and easily determine that the average viewer of this kind of content is:
- Male (Though female audiences are quickly growing for this kind of content)
- Within one of YouTube’s younger age brackets of 13-16 years
- Not necessarily serious about gaming, but perhaps more interested in pure entertainment
So when looking to come up with a marketing persona for your YouTube channel, it could look a little like this:
Alex is 14-years-old, and while he owns a couple of games consoles, he doesn’t consider himself to be a dedicated ‘gamer’. He enjoys computer games but doesn’t spend a great deal of time thinking of them when he isn’t actually playing them.
Instead, he’s more into general comedy and light-hearted video viewing with his girlfriend – she also happens to be 14-years-old. They enjoy playing videos together, share the same sense of humor and watch Let’s Play videos and other gaming content mostly for entertainment purposes.
Working out why your target audience members would watch and enjoy your videos is crucial. If you know that your primary target audience is obsessed with video games in general, you could produce intensive and complex breakdowns, reviews, walkthroughs and so on. If they’re more about entertainment, you’ll do better creating humorous and light-hearted videos with a gaming theme.
Once you narrow things down to a much smaller and more specific target audience, you can continue refining your marketing efforts accordingly.
Across the board, however, you need to ensure that the audience members you target are indeed active on YouTube in the first place.
While it’s important to promote your content across as many channels as possible – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., – there are no guarantees that those you target via other channels will indeed be active YouTube users.
Step 2: Profile optimization and channel branding
Upon creating a brand-new YouTube account, it is important to focus on optimization and branding. At the moment, you have nothing but an empty vessel – a blank canvas or upon which you will need to present your offerings by taking care of the following key elements:
- Your channel art
- Your icon
- Your ‘About’ section
Once again, we’ll be referring back to the example set by PewDiePie to show how things are done.
Note the banner that goes all the way across the top of the page – this is what’s referred to as channel art. Which although technically static is something that can be swapped and changed on a regular basis, in order to keep your channel fresh, interesting and engaging. Nevertheless, it needs to be something that’s relevant to you and whatever it is you do.
Toward the bottom-right-hand side of this banner are PewDiePie’s social media links, while the icon used to represent PewDiePie across YouTube in its entirety is featured in the opposite corner. For obvious reasons, the icon you choose to represent you needs to be selected and designed extremely carefully.
Always remember that most newcomers to your channel will want to learn at least a little more about you, before going ahead and subscribing, which is where the content of your ‘About’ section comes in.
The about section on YouTube provides you the chance to tell everyone who you are, what you do and why you do it, while at the same time publishing links and contact information.
On the branding side of the equation, consistency is important. However you set up your YouTube channel in terms of logos, designs, colors, fonts, icons and even tone of voice, this should be continued across each and every one of your assets – online and offline alike.
Your branding should make it easy to associate everything you publish with you and you alone.
Step 3: Use sections to organize your channel
If you’ve been looking carefully, you’ll have noticed that PewDiePie’s channel splits the content he publishes into a variety of different sections. The idea is that in doing so, it becomes easier for every viewer to find exactly the kind of content they are interested in as quickly as possible.
In the instance of PewDiePie, there’s a category for recent uploads along with a featured video that’s given the highest prominence right at the top of the page. Other sections to choose from (at the time of writing at least) include:
- The Latest Hot Videos To Watch
- Mirrors Edge Catalyst
- All Finished Playthroughs
- Scare PewDiePie
- Weird Stuff Online
- Fridays w/PewDiePie
- PewDiePie Montages
- PewDiePie Animated
- HTC Vive
Along with making it easier for viewers to find videos they’re interested in, grouping content together like this also increases the likelihood of each user watching multiple videos. With categories, there’s a much higher chance they will come across videos they didn’t know existed while browsing your channel.
The alternative option is to have no sections at all and to simply put out the most enormous list of videos in no particular order. In such instances, finding anything of relevance can be difficult, time-consuming and frustrating. Which is precisely why the vast majority won’t bother – they’ll simply exit your channel and never come back!
YouTube allows for the creation of up to 10 custom channels, so that’s exactly what you should be doing.
Step 4: Comment and connect
The key to success when it comes to social media in general lies in that very word – ‘social’. Just as is the case across every other popular social channel, you need to get yourself involved in the conversation and your target ‘community’, in order to subsequently bring these audiences your way.
Finding active users of relevance to your channel means tracking down the kinds of videos that are generating significant engagement in real-time. Which in turn means continually watching for the latest videos to be uploaded in your own niche or specialist area. See which videos are attracting plenty of views and interaction – these are the videos you need to focus on.
Post your own comments and reply to those left by other people, participating in the conversation proactively and positively. Don’t just comment or spam other videos for the sake of it – think of something meaningful to say that will spark or further the current conversation.
When these audience members see your comments, they may take an interest in who you are and what you have to offer. Get it right, and it could be your videos they are watching next.
Step 5: Consider collaborations
Some call it collaboration, others call it tapping into the success of YouTube channels that are already performing well. In any case, strength in numbers can be a great thing.
The idea in this instance is that you identify those who are targeting the same audiences like you, in order to approach them with your suggestions for possible partnerships.
You gain access to their audience, they gain access to your audience (if you have one) and you both benefit by promoting one another’s work.
There are countless options to explore when it comes to collaborations. You and another YouTube channel owner could work together on the creation of videos, you could swap or even host each other’s content to diversify your channels, or you could simply agree to promote each other’s posts and profiles to whatever extent specified.
Many partnerships like these can be organized free of charge, though there is always the option of paying larger and more established YouTube channels to promote and publish your work to significantly boost exposure.
YouTube has published an extremely helpful guide to collaborations, which can be found here.
Most successful YouTubers also set up a Featured Channels section, which essentially provides a bunch of links to the channels they recommend. Or in some cases, their other channels, if they have several up and running at the same time.
Along with promoting the channels of those you support, recommend and have established collaborations with, it can also be beneficial to promote your competitors.
While it may come across as counterproductive, it’s a good way of associating yourself with successful YouTube channels and to some extent tapping into their established popularity.
That said, you’ll always need to ensure that you notify the channels in question when you add them to your list of Featured Channels. Some will respond favorably and offer to list you on their channels likewise, some will request you don’t add them to your list, and others simply won’t bother to reply at all. Still, it’s a case of common courtesy to at least let them know.
If looking to find out more about how exactly collaboration can make all the difference, we’d advise checking out this case study on Zoe Sugg.
Step 6: Ask for subscribers
One of the most effective, important and consistently-overlooked approaches to building a YouTube audience is that of simply asking people to subscribe. If you want those who view your videos to subscribe, you need to tell them to do exactly that.
Contrary to popular belief, consumers across the board are naturally predisposed to do as they are told, which is precisely why Calls to Action (CTAs) continue to represent some of the most powerful marketing tools on the face of the earth.
Research has shown that if you don’t tell people to “Subscribe Now!” or “Buy Now” or “Click Here to Find Out More!”, they are considerably less likely to do so.
Some YouTubers add annotations to their videos requesting subscriptions at the beginning, at random intervals during the video or at the end.
As you’re only likely to win the approval of those who watch your videos from start to finish, the most important of these junctures is the end. Feel free to ask when and where you like, but ALWAYS ask for subscribers at the end of each video.
Step 7: Buy Views, likes, and subscribers
Last but not least, getting things off the ground in the first place can be extremely difficult – regardless of how much time and effort you invest. The reason being that even if you do a good job attracting plenty of people to your videos and your profile, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will be taken seriously.
After all, with a relatively small library of videos and next to no subscribers, your channel may come across as having little to no value which is precisely why so many businesses worldwide make the decision to buy YouTube views, likes, and subscribers, in order to set the ball rolling. If you have no idea where to purchase views for your YouTube videos, take a look at our list of top 3 websites to buy YouTube views.
It all comes down to a simple case of social proof – regardless of how outstanding your channel and its content may be, it takes popularity to breed popularity.
YouTube users are massively influenced by the numbers – the greater the number of plays, likes, and subscribers you have, the more likely they are to interpret you and your content as relevant and authoritative.
Contrary to popular belief, buying audiences in the first instance in no way represents ‘cheating’. After all, it’s not as if the audience you buy represents an audience of paying customers in the typical sense.
They aren’t going to buy anything, or bring your business in any benefits other than an increase in numbers. Nevertheless, this increase in numbers (in the early days in particular) can make all the difference, when it comes to winning over your chosen target audience.
Viewed from both general business and marketing perspectives, YouTube represents an extraordinary platform with limitless potential for capitalization. Hundreds of millions of consumers from all over the world are heavily influenced by the videos they view on a daily basis.
Standing out from the crowd can be difficult, to establish yourself as an authority on YouTube is to stand every chance of becoming a spectacular success story.
It takes time, effort and patience to bring any YouTube channel to any kind of fruition. And it’s entirely likely that you will need to pay for certain services along the way – particularly when it comes to building your initial contingency of subscribers, plays, and likes.
One thing’s for sure though – a strategic and savvy investment in a strong YouTube channel could turn out to be the most valuable investment any business could ever make.