A few popular video creators on YouTube have reached over 10 million subscribers – that’s more people than the entire population of New York City! So how does one grow such a huge fan base? Here are some of the techniques that top channels use to get so popular.
Just keep in mind that this is not meant to be a checklist or scorecard – none of these are absolutely necessary, but they can help grow a loyal fan base that comes back again and again.
This is a great “filter” to run your video ideas through before actually creating them.
Will viewers share your videos? Brainstorming ideas for “word of mouth” is powerful because people are learning about you from the people they trust the most – their friends and family.
Can we summarize what the video’s all about in one sentence – that is easily understood and also compelling in a way that people will want to share the video? If you can’t, then it’s going to take someone longer to explain it when they’re trying to share it. You want to create a video that from a concept standpoint is easy to share, so before you’ve even written a script – try to get into the heads of your viewers and figure out why they might share it. Think about the last video you shared for ideas.
Are you speaking directly to your audience? YouTube is an incredibly social platform there’s a huge community here. If you can turn to the camera and talk directly to the audience it can be a powerful way to bond with fans and build loyalty. It’s not just about talking to the lens – like any host or reporter – it’s about talking specifically to your viewers and maybe sometimes calling a few of them out by name.
Is there a way to involve the audience in your videos? One of the cool things about making stuff on YouTube is that you can get the audience to participate – you can do this a lot of different ways, like answering fan questions or featuring their video submissions. You could also ask them for ideas on what you should make next. Look at the comments, look at the likes and dislikes, it’s a good idea to listen to your audience and take into consideration what they want to see.
Are there strong recurring elements to your videos? Consistency is critical to success but consistency means different things depending on who you ask – to some it’s consistency of schedule or videos on specific days of the week because you’re tapping into the rhythm of people’s lives. To others it might be featuring the same person or segments.
Is there a clearly defined audience? Usually when you first make a video you want as many people as possible in the world to see it, right? But on YouTube, creators have seen that it’s often more effective to target certain groups or communities – people who are passionate about who they are or what they do. This could be a large group such as moms or a small niche such as toy collectors.
If the audience loves it, can you make more of it? Growing and maintaining a successful YouTube channel can take time. Some top creators have been uploading videos for over 300 weeks without stopping – that may not be for you – or for me – and that’s okay, but it’s helpful if you brainstorm ideas that makes sense on a practical level. Ask yourself – do you have the resources to sustain the idea over time? Do you have the budget and most importantly the personal energy?
Will your videos get found through search or for related videos? This is all about seeing what you can do to help your videos get surfaced in either search results or related videos. Related videos are the ones that pop up on the right side of the watch page and also at the very end of a video.
There are typically two types of things people search for on YouTube – trending topics or evergreen topics. Trending topics would include stuff like elections, holidays, big news stories, sporting events. These videos tend to do a better job at getting new viewers to the channel. By addressing trending topics in your videos, you can tap into the rush of people looking for those subjects.
Evergreen topics thrive all year round. They’re often “how-to” videos like how to tie a tie, or topics in pop culture that never really died – like Star Wars, Superman or Justin Bieber. Being aware of current events or topics that are always popular can help your videos get found by new audiences, and this can lead to extra views and new subscribers. Do you want to know a cool trick? Try typing a single letter or word into YouTube’s search box and you can see what the top searches are the right now. You can also type in “how to” and see what are the most searched tutorials are. If you want your videos to be discoverable, be sure to become an optimization expert – know how to write effective titles, tags, and video descriptions.
Can every episode be fully appreciated by a brand-new viewer? Have you ever watched a TV show and you had no idea what was going on because you hadn’t seen the first 3 Seasons? Accessibility is all about making sure your videos always welcome new viewers – it’s important because people might find any random episode of yours through a social feed, a search result, or related video – and they may not know anything about you or your channel, so it’s helpful to make sure you don’t leave those people in the dark.
Is there room in your idea to feature other YouTube creators? So what is one of the fastest ways to grow subscribers on YouTube? It is to collaborate with other creators who have their own fans! We’re talking about having them on as a guest in your videos – or vice versa. This works because when the other person promotes the video, you get seen by a whole other loyal audience that already understands YouTube, how to subscribe, like, and comment on videos.
Is this idea coming from a place of genuine interest? This is a big one, in fact it might be the most important factor in keeping yourself going and keeping yourself happy. Just look at some of YouTube’s most successful creators – they’re often overflowing with enthusiasm around what they do, and it shows through on camera. Brainstorm ideas that you love to talk about and you’re going to come up with something.
About the Author: Ken Ivey, affectionately dubbed ‘the Web Czar’ by peers – has been helping businesses embrace technology for 27 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 920-645-2700