Nobody can contest the ever-growing popularity of YouTube. It is not just the most popular video-sharing site by a landslide, but the second most visited website in the world (only behind Google, which owns it). Viral recordings, music videos, movie trailers, short documentaries, and clips of cute animals represent only a portion of the billions of hours of content on the site.
YouTube is the place to be for many web users, especially after the implementation of a system for monetizing videos. An ever-increasing number of people now earn revenue by producing content on the site.
Sensing an opportunity to significantly expand their reach, many businesses have turned to this platform and created their own channels. They only need one viral video to boost their website traffic and promote their products and services to a potential audience of millions. Building a following on the world’s favorite information and entertainment platform is increasingly becoming an important tool in any growing company’s arsenal.
So how can you utilize YouTube to your advantage and develop your very own following on the site? Here are 6 helpful ways that have been tried and tested in the past:
1. Make your videos short.
You may feel tempted to pack a lot of content into a single video. YouTube itself would certainly like that. The company’s most recent updates to their ad policy is rewarding longer uploads – partly because that means more room for advertising. Content creators who monetize their channels now feel more encouraged to make their content longer than an episode of a TV show.
With that said, those creators do this because depend on the site for at least a significant amount of their revenue. If your goal is to increase your audience, site traffic, and conversions, then you may want to take a different approach. When it comes to promoting your site, short videos are the way to go.
Each one should focus on one important message that can help fulfill one particular purpose. It could be showcasing a specific product, demonstrating a service, or promoting a limited-time discount. Regardless of your goal, try to stick to one subject at a time.
Keeping your videos concise comes with a few advantages. For one, you can save up more ideas and make more videos based on each one. Packing too many subjects into one video might confuse the audience – or worse, bore them. Lastly, focusing on a single main idea can leave a stronger impression on a viewer’s mind.
2. Keep things interesting and engaging.
The first few seconds of your video are crucial to its success. You need to seize people's attention at the beginning, then keep them hooked all throughout. This can definitely be tricky, especially because YouTube’s trends can be fickle – what works one week may not work the next.
This is where in-depth knowledge of your target audience is critical. What makes them tick? What captures their fancy? What emotions will keep them hanging? What would make them want to get involved? You will need to address these questions, and you will need to address them often.
You may find it helpful to know exactly what demographics you want to reach with your content. You have probably already thought this through while creating your business model and designing your website. In that case, what you really have to figure out is who your viewers actually are (YouTube’s analytics feature can help), and what would make those viewers respond to your video and shop at your store.
If you are not clear about how to approach your chosen demographics on YouTube, remember that you are not alone. You will almost certainly find other channels in the same niche as you, and some of them may be successfully appealing to the groups you wish to target. Observing their approach may give you some ideas for how to do this – just be careful not to imitate everything.
3. Include your call to action.
Simply uploading material to your YouTube account is not enough. You are creating that content for a specific purpose: directing people towards your ecommerce site so they can purchase your products. You do not just want people to watch and admire your videos.
As with blog posts and service pages, there is nothing like a direct call to action that can make a viewer actually do something. If your video's purpose is to ask people to subscribe to your channel, go ahead and ask. If it was designed to grow your following, request that people to share it to their friends.
YouTube’s structure gives you a few ways to do this. A good place to add your calls to action is the description below the video, which can be 5000 characters long. That gives you plenty of space to also include a link to your store and links to your social media accounts.
Of course, you can also include calls to action in the video itself. These can be placed within the script as well, if you have a narrator giving a voiceover or an on-screen speaker. YouTube also provides tools for inserting links on the video, such as text boxes called “cards.” You can use one of these methods, or use several of them together.
4. Come up with a regular programming plan.
If people find your YouTube videos engaging enough, they may come back for more. However, if your channel seems inactive from a lack of recent output, they may cancel their subscriptions and forget about you. People appreciate some sense of regularity in the shows they watch, and that includes online content.
You should see your channel as if it were a TV series, one that needs to keep its viewers from watching the competition instead. Strive to release new material for your viewers and followers at least semi-regularly. You do not need to be so rigid with scheduling, but you should adhere to some kind of plan.
In a similar vein, you may want consider making announcements for your videos on social media. That means not just promoting your newest ones upon release, but also upcoming videos. This would create anticipation and inform your followers that they should keep following.
If people like what they watch, they are bound to look out for more. You may even want to come up with your very own programming of two or three shows that you can safely run on a regular basis. These shows do not need to be large-scale projects, but you should still be realistic about the limits of your time and resources. Only do more if you are able.
5. Don't forget to apply SEO strategies on and off your YouTube channel.
When you have an online business, consider SEO to be a constant priority in all your marketing efforts. Showing up in search results is important for your website to grow. You should make sure that every page related to your site – the homepage, service pages, blog posts, and more – are as SEO-friendly as they can be.
Naturally, this means you will also need to optimize your videos on YouTube. Like any other content you produce, your videos should be high-quality and connect to the keywords for which you want to rank. Make sure to add the proper title and tags to any and all uploads.
The video description feature comes in handy once more. Do you remember when we wrote that it allows a maximum 5000 characters? Try incorporating some keywords into a summary of the video and its message – and make sure they come up naturally.
Of course, SEO can be a two-way street. In addition to promoting your website on your channel, try promoting your channel on your website! You can easily do this by adding a "Subscribe to my Channel" widget on your page. You may also want to feature a few of your videos on your blog, in your guest posts in other websites’ blogs, or even within your site’s pages.
6. Partner with the experts in the online video world.
YouTube is not just some place to post videos. It is also a social media network with many communities, from the gamers to the beauty gurus to the film critics and more. This sense of community over competition only makes sense: viewers drawn to a specific subject typically watch and subscribe to multiple channels that touch on that subject.
As part of this site, you can become part of a community – and you may find that advantageous. Partnering with more well-established channels can give you a way to tap into their followings and strengthen your online presence. It is a great way to build your own following on YouTube.
Unsurprisingly, being part of a community means you will be expected to give as much as you receive. You need to engage with other channels and creators who are in your same niche or may be interested in the same subject matter as you. Check out other people’s videos, comment on other videos, and keep interacting.
Establishing yourself within a larger group like this may provide you with opportunities for greater exposure. However, if these opportunities are not presented or offered to you, then feel free to make some. Go out there and approach any channels related to your business. At one point, even the biggest of them were small, and you never know who will give you a boost.
Apply these 6 important ways to build and grow your YouTube subscribers and before you know it, you have got your own active social network on the world’s most widely-visited video-sharing platform!