10 Important Rules for Growing your YouTube Channel
Youtube is the next big thing. This is a fact. But wait, Youtube is already a “big thing”. Last summer I was given the chance to attend an event known as www.Vidcon.com as the DP for the Web series, “Behind the Brand”. Vidcon is a convention that brands itself “for people who love online video”. This includes content, personalities, and entertainment.
When I showed up to the Anaheim convention center the first thing that surprised me was there was another event taking place that involved Tweens(Kids 10-12), High schoolers and young adults. Was Lady Gaga shooting a music video? Was Justin Bieber doing an autograph signing? What was it? I walked passed the line only to realize I was following the line into the event I was to film.
What I thought was going to be two days of filming middle age men and their how to assemble BBQ videos, I realized I was about to walk into a whole new world.
I discovered within seconds that times are changing and there is a new generation out there unlike anything before. The new paradigm is this: Today, no one under the age of 25 can fully remember a day when there was no internet. I remember the first time I typed in a web site URL was in 1995 when a college buddy of mine showed me information regarding the re-release of the Star Wars Movie trilogies. From that time forward the way I got information was forever changed.
Flash forward almost 20 years to now and we are just around the corner from something called “Video Convergence”, the day when there will be no differentiation between “Streaming Video” and “Broadcast Video”. When we will want to watch a show, we won’t wait for a time for it to air, we simply will wait for a time for it to be “available to watch” online. And the capabilities to create content and reach an audience will be determined by anyone willing enough to know how.
20 years ago I would be writing about how to audition for TV or pitch a show, but today I write to you about how to do something which is presumably simple. Starting a Youtube Channel! Sounds easy, right? Well, it should be but there are RULES that one must follow to have success in creating a popular Youtube channel in today’s world. Now, I didn’t come up with these rules all on my own. These are rules set by our YouTube pioneers who have had success with creating their own successful online channel.
I have many clients who want to start creating video content for their business. The first thing I tell them is, “Oh, you want to create a Youtube Channel.” The days of simply making a video and just streaming it on your website outside of Youtube is obsolete. That’s because if you're going to create and embed video content for your business, brand or persona, the best place to do it is Youtube. Let's Face it, Youtube has a corner on the market.
Before I continue let me stop and let you know that everyone we interviewed that day at Vidcon, understood very well the principles of how to grow an online Video Channel whether it is a brand or persona. And no one understands this better than fellow filmmaker, Devin Graham, AKA, DevinSuperTramp. His online videos are nothing more than eye candy. Water sliding 50 feet into a lake, Swinging on Arches monument in Utah or water skiing along the Florida Everglades. When Devin was asked by our producer what was his secret to forming a completely effective and viral video channel that generates millions and millions of views every month. Videos that are so mesmerizing to watch that shooting and posting these short videos are now his full time job....we discovered the following rules:
RULE # 1 - Be unique and entertaining to some degree.
Create Content that people can connect with. Two things that people find interesting to watch online is anything that’s bigger than life or anything successful and inspiring. If you are Johnny Knoxvill, we watch because he can be dangerous and funny or if its Kim Kardashian, we watch because she’s rich and has a unique and interesting life....Be Unique and entertaining. If you don’t think your personality is interesting but have something to share, find a friend or audition someone that would like to be your online personality (Spokes Person) and put him or her in front of the camera. www.LACASTING.com is full of wannabe some bodies who are willing to work with a creative person to start something. If you are dull and flat, don’t be so full of yourself to assume that people will find you interesting anyway. Not everyone has a great personality and there is no shame with that.
RULE # 2 Upload Content Often and Consistently.
Probably the most important and often less rule followed. You should be posting a unique video at least once a week. (And NEVER post a similar video twice. Not only is this confusing to viewers, nothing more will tell your subscribers "I'm running out of things to say" than posting similar videos. (i.e. Same interview cut up 3 different ways.) Anyway, I have a friend who has an awesome and very popular blog that specializes in homemade items. She now has a Youtube channel. When I asked her husband how many views her videos generates I was surprised by how much they fluctuated, 1 month 130k views, the next month only 13k views. I then asked how often does she post a video, they said they only had a production budget to post once a month. I said, if you want to grow your brand, posting 1 video a month simply is not enough.
I advised they do two things. Instead of shooting one video with their production team in the one day allowed, shoot 4 videos in one day and release them over a 4 week period. And if they only have a budget for one slick looking video to shoot and edit each month. Make 1 slick video and 3, “self made videos”. Be it with a GoPro camera or even your own cell phone. Whatever it is, do it and post no less than once a week. If this rule is not followed, no matter the quality, you WILL have a very hard time growing your YouTube channel and growing the number of views will be slow and almost insignificant. Bottom line, 4 amateurish shot videos a month is far far better than 1 slick video a month. Content and consistency is king. The only way to build an audience is to maintain momentum. With no momentum, your audience will forget you and not know when to expect your next video. Remind the world that you are still there! Once DevinSupertramp committed to uploading a video once a week his channel took off. He built an audience and strengthened his brand with his consistent filming, uploading and releasing once a week.
RULE # 3 Be patient.
Success doesn’t happen overnight. If you have passion for what you are doing this should come easy because you might feel like you have no choice other than to do what you like to do. But even passion can’t help patience. Make a goal, 3 months, 6 months, or even a year to let your channel to grow. Don’t make 2 or 3 videos, feel nothing is catching on and simply give up. Commit and create. Sometimes it takes time to figure out what is working and what doesn't work.
RULE # 4 Give a Reason to Subscribe.
No one wants to subscribe to a channel with 1 video. I recommend launching with at least 1 video and 2 in the chamber. Notice at the end of each Devin Supertramp video Youtube allows you to add “Notations”. Notations are links you can add to your Youtube video AFTER it’s uploaded. When a viewer clicks on the link, it can take them to another one of your videos within your channel. This lets the viewer know, you have a library and you are serious about providing users with MORE content. Give your viewers a reason to stay.
RULE # 5. Logo or Trademark
Create a logo or “your look" that people can say it’s yours. Steve Jobs was never seen with out his blue jeans and black turtle neck shirt for years. Mark Zuckerberg has the hoody thing, Devinsupertramp has the flip flops and backward checkered hat. Wardrobe is easy to maintain. This is my least favorite rule to follow because I hate thinking about what I HAVE to wear all the time. Even your own tiny logo on the bottom of the screen from start to finish can establish your “Look”. Your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube should all have the same logo or self portrait so people can connect with you.
RULE # 6 Post Only to YOUR channel.
Suppose you shoot fun Snowboarding videos and your audience has grown. Then Burton Snowboards notices your popularity. Don’t begin by posting the same videos to both Burton and yours simultaneously. Your audience is YOUR channel. And Two videos, one on Burton’s channel and one of yours only cuts your views in half and thus screwing up your SEO and brand. Stay where people love you the best, stay at your home channel. And if Burton wants you to make videos for them, of course you wouldn't turn them down either.
RULE # 7 Cross promote (collaborate)
Rule 6 doesn’t mean you can’t work with other brands. It just means, don’t post the same video twice. Cross promote can mean many things. Let’s say Burton wants to cross promote with Larry’s Crazy Snowboarding Halfpipes channel. Suppose Larry has 10 million views a month and Burton wants to tap in on his audience. At the end of one of Burton's unique Youtube Channel videos they add a notation that directs the viewers to Larry’s Channel, and at the end of one of Larry’s Crazy Halfpipe videos there's a notation that leads viewers to a video on the Burton channel. Cross promote! What would be the result? An increase of viewership for both brands. You are now sharing an audience. Don’t be selfish. Share and conquer.
RULE # 8. It’s ABOUT the shot.
This might not be always possible but If you are already somewhat advanced is videography don’t fall into the trap of same ol’ same ol’. Plan, create and seek to be unique. Watch other videos and study and learn what they do that is unique. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Remember, this is a VISUAL medium first, information second.
RULE # 9. Emotion before Information.
What is your channel about? Most videos can be broken down into 5 categories:
If you are providing a service then you can probably apply any of the above at anytime. One of my clients is a ballerina, and her videos are really just about what she is wearing, what she is doing and who she is with. That’s it! But she's famous. And sometimes a following can be that simple.
For most channels they are simply trying to get information across, but how do you deliver that information without boring your audience or ruining your brand?
People today don’t want to be bombarded with information nor do they want to be pressured into doing things like purchasing. The message today should be, “How can I Help or inform you of something you need”. Emotion before reason.
One of the most successful product ads was in 2003 for the iPod. The campaign featured dark silhouetted characters against brightly colored backgrounds. Steve Jobs at first was opposed to this idea because it didn't show the product in detail and they didn't explain what the iPods did. With the creation of the Silhouette campaign, however, the focus shifted from convincing consumers to purchase the device to asking them to "buy the emotion.”
RULE # 10. Understand Analytics
If you don’t understand what is and isn’t working on your channel then you will continue making the same mistakes over and over again. The Youtube analytics is the best tool on your channel. Inside the Analytics tool is the “Audience Retention” feature. Within that is the “Relative Audience Retention”. That right there says it all. If there is a increase on the graph you are doing something right, if there is a drop at a certain point this is where you are losing viewers. A decent video will have an "Average Viewer" rating. A truly interesting video will be “Above Average” and a viral video will be “High”. Really it's a learning process but the code to maintaining a pure audience is understanding the analytics.
Bonus, Brand integration. If you do find success, then brands will start coming to you and asking you to wear their clothing or use their cell phone or mention their company. In fact, my friends company Zefr.com specializes in Brand Integration by matching up products and brands with videos and channels. This is a bright future.
Also remember this, it might seem like it’s fun, but it is work. If you are serious about your Youtube channel have fun but don’t forget, it is a business. Treat it as such.
I love, love, love what I do. I’m also passionate about it, and I make a living at it. As the old saying goes, get paid doing what you love to do and never work another day in your life!