You plan, prep, film, and edit for hours to create one video and post it to your channel, hoping that people will find it, watch, and subscribe. And in addition to that, there’s a new YouTube algorithm in town.
Things were simpler back then
Not to sound like my grandpa, but it was easier in the old days – or at least easier to gain subscribers on YouTube. Before the new algorithm, small-time YouTubers were still able to find their way to viewer’s dashboards and recommended videos. Now, YouTube rewards big-time players that are churning multiple videos a day (looking at you, BuzzFeed). So how can you break through the new algorithm and grow your channel organically? Here are a few tips we recommend:
Produce watchable content
Watchable as in people want to watch it. If it’s not interesting, regardless of the length and quality – no one’s going to watch it. YouTube rewards watch time, so the longer you can retain your viewers, the more likely they are going to favour your video and add it to viewer’s dashboards and recommended lists. YouTube is trying to get people on YouTube to stay on YouTube as long as possible. And the more you can help them, the more they will help you.
Identify what people are watching
Start by identifying what videos your competitors are producing and why people are watching them. Then ask yourself, what value can you add to make it better for the consumer. If you can make the content more intriguing and more engaging, regardless of the length, consumers are going to watch that instead. Realistically, how many of us would rather watch an hour-long, interesting movie than a 20-minute, boring show?
Keep producing it
By consistently producing quality content that people are watching and getting them to come back, you can increase your subscriber count. Subscribers are key to growing your channel; they watch and engage with your video more so than viewers who aren’t subscribed. Similar to the 80/20 rule where 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers, your view counts may largely be dispersed amongst people who aren’t subscribed, but your watch time will increase from those who are subscribed. And watch time is king to YouTube.
Make your videos attractive
No one’s going to watch a movie if the trailers are bad. First impressions are everything, content is the rest. And in this case, the first impression comes from the video thumbnail.
YouTube has a plethora of videos, most of which are very similar in content. It’s crucial to stand out and convince potential viewers to click on your video before they are pulled away by another video of similar content.
Common thumbnail practices
Two common thumbnail practices are taking over the world of YouTube right now. The top YouTubers are making their thumbnails as animated and flashy as possible. This includes bright colours, emojis, and loud titles to scream to consumers.
The second most common thumbnail practice is using a simple title and a modest image. Depending on your brand image, one of either thumbnail practices may be utilized. However, the commonality between all thumbnails seems to be the use of a human face. The human touch can show viewers reflections of themselves and adds credibility and trustworthiness.
Finally, YouTube is on our side! CTA’s can easily be added through YouTube’s Video Manager to be spread around the duration of the video and at the end. With the use of cards and the new end screen feature, it’s much easier to drive consumers to another video, playlist, or to get them to subscribe.
Gone are the days of annotations. YouTube recognized that content creators were creating their own end screens with links to other videos and annotations for subscription. For a while, they were performing well; as with everything in social media, it had to evolve. Annotations didn’t work on mobile, and were soon seen as distractions to consumers. Many consumers were closing them without paying attention to the content. Annotation use plummeted by 70 percent, and so YouTube used this opportunity to give birth to end screens.
End screens show for the last five to 20 seconds of a video, and include elements that will direct viewers to another video or playlist, subscribe, or to another link. The best way to utilize this feature is to have a still image that plays at the end of the video so that the elements don’t divert attention away from any important video content.
You can add up to five cards in one video to drive consumers to other channels, to links, and video and playlists. Cards may divert attention away from your current video, however, and should be used strategically. Look at your YouTube analytics to see where your videos fall off in watch time and where consumers are beginning to click away. Use this as an opportunity to enter cards and entice them with another video they may be interested in.
We’re all familiar with the saying, “If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.” Sometimes that’s all it takes. Simply ask viewers in the introduction or at the end of the video to give you some support by liking the video and subscribing. By verbally asking, people may also be more inclined to say yes.
Video marketing adds value
Video marketing isn’t new, but in this digital media age the value has substantially increased as it demands more consumer attention than any other medium. 83 percent of businesses that use video marketing believe it gives them good return-on-investment. The audience of video marketing chose to watch the video within their own choice with the intent to be educated or entertained; heightening the value of video marketing.
Used effectively, YouTube can build trust between consumers and a company while also cultivating a community of subscribers that enjoy the content you have to offer. It is also the second largest search engine in the world, so it makes good sense to upload the videos on a platform in which billions of consumers are watching. It doesn’t look like YouTube will be going away any time soon – just the opposite, it’s still growing!