This article was originally published in Reel West Magazine, and was republished here to archive it, after the close of the magazine.
If you have been to a media, technology, cross-platform storytelling or marketing conference in the past 5 years, you have likely heard predictions that the next great wave online is in digital video. These predictions make sense. YouTube is after all owned by Google, the world’s largest search engine, so it stands to reason that Google would give preferential treatment to YouTube video in searches on Google.
Why is it then, that for many, you are only being met with mixed success in your creation and sharing of digital video, even when the video production quality is beautiful? This may have made many of you skeptical of the effectiveness of digital video and whether or not it can really be profitable for you. I know myself and my team were skeptical for awhile. We questioned whether the time had passed in which to make ourselves a success on YouTube. Was making YouTube videos ‘spreadable’ and making money off of this platform only an achievable goal for early content creators on YouTube?
That was what was going through my head until my friend Steve Dotto of Dotto Tech decided to make YouTube the main platform for his technology show (that had previously been a television and radio series). Over the past 2 years, Steve has grown his YouTube Channel to over 80,000 subscribers and is nearing 5 million views. And he is making a living at it – both from YouTube itself and an associated Patreon crowdfunding campaign.
This prompted our team to start paying attention to our YouTube Channels – researching how to be met with success with our digital video, and experimenting on our Channels to see what worked for us. We started our experiment 6 months ago, and with weekly consistency for the past 2 months. We were met with almost immediate success. We started receiving regular invitations to join MCNs (Multi-Channel Networks), have had LA casting agents reach out to us about hosting new television series, have built an engaged audience that regularly comments on our videos, have a 60% increase in video views and a 23% increase in subscribers to our main channel, and we’ve started making a small income off of YouTube.
Why is our video sharing and content creation now working for us on YouTube, whereas before it was met with rather mixed success, as are so many other people’s videos? Aside from the odd viral cat video (or in our case, goat video), this all comes down to your ability to reach your target audience.
There are many ways to reach your target audience on YouTube, including:
- Commenting on other recent videos on YouTube that are reaching your target audience;
- Engaging the commenters on other recent videos on YouTube that are reaching your target audience;
- Sharing your videos on your social media feeds with fitting hashtags that will help your target audience to find them;
- Including your videos in blog posts;
- Sharing your videos in niche communities online geared towards your target audience, including SubReddits, Facebook groups, Google+ Communities, LinkedIn Groups, as well as other forums;
- Sharing your videos in your newsletter;
- Reaching out to popular blogs, whose audience you think would enjoy your videos; and
- Creating timely videos on topics that people are looking up online.
Perhaps the best way to reach your audience, and the way that we are beginning to see the best long term success with, is by understanding that Google is a search engine and most people visit Google and YouTube to search for something. If you can figure out what your target audience is searching for, and then create video content that addresses what they are searching for, then you stand to grow your audience and video views at a much faster rate. You can also do this on your past video content by searching for the most competitive keyword phrases that suit the video, and adding them to your video’s title, metadescription, and tags.
To research keywords that your that video content can be competitive with in reaching your target audience:
- Use a keyword research tool to find the monthly Google searches for a variety of appropriate keyword phrases for the video in question, and record the number of monthly Google searches for each appropriate keyword phrase. Personally, our team uses AdWord’s Keyword Planner for this.
- Then type each potential keyword phrase for the video into a YouTube search, and record the number of search results.
- Divide the number of YouTube search results by the number of monthly Google searches for each of the keyword phrases.
- Your ideal keyword phrases are the ones with the lower results / search ratios.
- Use this keyword phrase in the video’s title, 1st paragraph of the metadescription, and tags.
- If possible, add a secondary keyword phrase to the video’s title, metadescription and tags too.
We had a quickie, kid filmed, experimental video reach over 22,000 views by doing this.
In addition to this, if you create custom thumbnails for your videos, you will attract more eyes and as a result clicks to your videos. It is all about visual storytelling, after all.
If you want to learn more about growing and engaging your audience on YouTube, and getting more views to your videos, join us in monthly YouTube experiments by following the hashtag #StoryToGoVideos.
I also encourage you to join the broader media storytelling conversation by connecting with @AhimsaMedia on Twitter, the StoryToGo Facebook Community, and engaging with the #StoryToGo hashtag.