Our world is becoming more visual by the day. That means an explosion of easily shared audiovisual content being spread throughout the world. While, naturally, there are a variety of platforms useful for posting video content, YouTube is still the undisputed ruler of sharing videos of all subject matter and length. You can make your content educational, entertaining, and have a certain level of creative freedom to truly express your brand’s voice. All the while, your videos can be shared in a few clicks and your subscribers will be consistently notified of any new uploads.
If you’re already on YouTube, you are likely already aware of just how powerful the platform has the potential to be for your business. However, unless you’re following a fairly specific array of tips, your channel likely isn’t quite reaching the heights it’s destined for. After all, if you’re reading this, then chances are that you’re looking to find ways to grow your subscriber list, or at the very least increase views and engagement.
Unfortunately, many businesses treat YouTube as a repository for irrelevant, old, and dry content that is best shared internally. Or, on the other extreme, businesses spam their subscribers’ feeds and notifications, creating brand burnout and an overall increase in disinterest. The fact of the matter is, you can pour your heart out into the best content in the world with excellent production value, but unless you know how to play the game, your subscribers and potential viewers may miss out on your message.
With this list of tips, you’ll be privy to the best ways to use the YouTube algorithm to your advantage, bring awareness to your brand, and create an actual audience that listens to and looks forward to what you have to say.
1. Ask and You Shall Receive
As with any piece of online content, a good call to action is essential for your videos. While it may seem somewhat awkward, asking your audience to subscribe and engage truly is essential to getting the interactions you want.
Of course, you want to keep your CTAs measured and limited so that your video’s content doesn’t lose value. Make your calls to action sincerely engaging and creative, and your audience will be sure to follow. One way that you can do this is by incorporating something about your business content into it (e.g, “for more delicious cupcake hacks, hit that subscribe button!”).
2. Create Valuable Content
By invoking the old idiom “content is king,” we are saying that interesting, engaging content can be essential to a business's success and visibility. That means making sure that your content has a significant value attached to it. Incorporating tips, factoids, and showing your expertise are all ways to draw in and keep your audience. People love learning about things, seeing things in action, and feeling like they’re exposed to an interesting part of the processes behind the scenes of your business.
One way that you can develop and keep track of interesting ideas to make videos on is by scheduling content on a specific calendar after you make some creative decisions with a trusted colleague.
3. Promote to Your Existing Audience
The internet is a big place. Building an audience from nothing can feel like yelling out into a void — it’s intimidating and inefficient. Fortunately, you already have an audience in your blogs, email lists, and social media channels. By simply promoting, linking, and even creating content about your YouTube channel (e.g, making a blog about it), you will guide people who are already interested in what you have to say towards your videos, which will, in turn, increase engagement and visibility for other people who aren’t in your initial audience. By doing this, you will also have access to user information that will be great for email lists and lead generation.
4. Fully Utilize Your Social Media Platforms
Of course, simply linking to your channel everywhere isn’t where the content synergy stops. Making polls on your social media platforms regarding your YouTube channel, cross-promoting special contests, or hosting giveaways are all excellent ways to utilize all of your platforms. You can even post snippets of your latest video on your socials. Remember, the more people are sharing, interacting with, and being exposed to your content, the better.
Getting people to interact with your platforms can be a challenging, unique, and creative endeavor. It’s certainly not an exact science, and you may have to wait to see the results you really want, but the end results are well worth it.
5. Network with Your Community
No marketing is a one-way street. This is especially the case with social media platforms where you have to be, as the name suggests, social. Remember: Everything, from what you comment and like to who you follow, is public on most of these platforms.
Social media, and especially YouTube, is also a community — and one that you have to participate in. By watching, subscribing, and interacting with channels surrounding other people in your niche, you’re showing audiences that you’re an active member of this community. This can help you gain positive attention from people or brands that you want to network with.
While the work may seem tedious, taking a few minutes out of your day to be active like this can do wonders for your network and visibility. In other words, you should treat it like any other business relationship.
Remember these tips when trying to engage with people in your niche:
- Be cordial with your audience and other creators.
- Don’t try to advertise constantly.
- Remember that not everything needs to be commented on.
- Don’t expect immediate engagement in return — you’re playing the long game here.
6. Engage With your Audience
Maintaining positive behavior doesn’t just apply to your network or others within your niche. Everyone loves being acknowledged and interacting with people they respect and feel like they know. Simply dropping a like on someone’s comment or leaving an affirming positive reply are great ways to connect with your audience and build goodwill. It’s also a great way to answer their questions and address their concerns directly.
Of course, you don’t want to blindly interact with every piece of audience commentary and engagement. Some people may ask leading questions about things you may not want to discuss or spoil for your business. Some are downright rude and want to egg you on into a public yelling match. Don’t fall for the bait by engaging.
7. Collaborate with Other Businesses
Again, you don’t have to yell into the void to gain an audience — especially when you have the network that social media platforms provide. There are likely other businesses within your niche with successful YouTube channels that you can collaborate with and leverage.
A rising tide lifts all ships, and by combining each other’s audience and utilizing each other’s ideas, you gain each other’s strengths in a mutually beneficial relationship. You can even use each other’s audience for charity events and promotions.
Just make sure that your ideas are your own, and that you don’t step on anyone’s toes by misusing their platform or taking their ideas. These are relationships that you want to maintain for the long term. The last thing you want is for a collaboration to devolve into a negative public spectacle that will alienate your viewers and other people in the industry.
8. Go Viral With a Payoff
Payoffs are, as the name suggests, an event that is promised or implied through a piece of content. Things like shaving heads for charity, ice bucket challenges, or simply promising something to your audience after a certain number of subscribers or views (such as a giveaway) are all great ways to demonstrate this. These milestone payoffs are an excellent way to engage your audience and keep them excited for what is coming next.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should only promise things to your audience that you intend to keep. Breaking promises is certainly a way to get engagement, but it may not be the kind you want. Negative engagement can erode public goodwill in your brand and amass bad reviews. Virality is fun, but only if gathered through the right channels and reasons. You also want to make sure that everyone involved in the payoff/video is enthusiastic about it.
Some other ways you can demonstrate payoff include:
- Doing employee challenge videos.
- Having your audience choose the end result of a poll or challenge (e.g, how you should decorate the office)
- Creating value and opportunities with your video or product
9. Keep Your Branding on Point
An incredibly important and basic aspect of any social media channel is making sure that your branding is attractive. To keep your audience, you should make sure that your visual identity is consistent, your channel is easy to navigate, and your contact information/”About Us” sections are easy to find. Your channel is a user experience, just as your website or other social media channels. Make sure that it’s reliable and easy to navigate.
One way that you can make sure that your YouTube UX is up to snuff is by creating playlists. These can help your audience navigate to the kind of content they want quickly and will help you keep track of your content library and its performance.
Paying attention to your metrics is also a great way to monitor how your channel is performing, giving you an assessment of what works and what doesn’t. Social media branding is a constantly changing game, and being agile is essential to your eventual success.
10. Know Your Meta
Understanding the “meta elements” of your YouTube page, such as your title, meta description, and thumbnails are all important to gaming the algorithm and getting your content in front of more faces. While you shouldn’t modify your brand and content to exclusively perform for YouTube to the point that you lose your brand's identity, looking around and seeing what the experts are doing to get to the top is a good way to get started.
We personally recommend doing plenty of SEO keyword research to base your titles on and making sure that your snippet is attention-grabbing. Remember: YouTube only shows the first 157 characters in your description. Make them count.
YouTube can be a challenging platform for any business owner, requiring more effort per post than most other social media platforms. It’s a powerful tool for many, but can be somewhat frustrating to those that haven’t quite mastered it — especially without a decent amount of subscribers.
If you’ve already suffered from an unsuccessful attempt at growing your brand’s YouTube channel, you may think at first that it’s “just not for you” and an overall waste of time. With a bit of know-how and effort, however, YouTube can drive leads and customers to your business, generate great public relations, and create synergy with your other platforms.