Over two billion users log in to YouTube every month.
These people watch billions of hours of videos on the platform every single day.
For video creators, YouTube is a goldmine for building an audience. As of 2018, however, there are over 23M YouTube channels fighting for the attention of viewers.
How can you promote your YouTube channel and ensure that every video gets the maximum viewership? I’ve got 12 promotion strategies to make the most of the video platform. Let’s start with looking at the important factors in the YouTube algorithm because its AI algo drives 70% of what users watch.
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Two Important Factors In The YouTube Algorithm You Need To Focus On….
Getting a user to click on your video and start watching your video content is no longer sufficient. Until 2012, the YouTube algorithm rewarded the view count on videos. Now, though, it has re-jigged it with the goal of maximizing long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction.
The two factors that weigh heavily are:
- Watch Time: The duration of viewing a video.
- Session Time: The overall time spent on YouTube.
The algorithm “follows the audience”, which means that you need to maximize user engagement and focus on retention. A few other important metrics that the algo relies on are the likes/dislikes and the “not interested” feedback.
Pro YouTube creators nail down their analytics to find out the patterns of their behavior that lead to sharp drops in their audience. For example, Tim Schmoye’s client discovered that his viewers dropped every time he used the word “module.” It led him to stop using the word in his videos and it resulted in flattening of his retention graph.
And how can you increase your session time?
While you’ll see a few tactics later in the article, a great strategy is posting consistently, every week. That way you become a part of your audience’s weekly routine and your videos might get pushed to their home page. The result is, their YouTube sessions start with your video. Isn’t that valuable?
1. Invest Time on YouTube SEO
YouTube is the world’s third-largest search engine. If you can get your video at the top positions in the YouTube SERP, then you can get views for free every single month.
How can you rank higher?
Well, YouTube does not serve a list of most-viewed videos for a query. It delivers the most relevant videos and channels to the user. A few aspects you need to take care of include:
Include relevant keyword(s) in your video title and description: The YouTube algorithm can directly parse text. By including your target keyword in the metadata, you signal YouTube to consider it for the query.
How to find out a relevant phrase that describes the content in your video? Well, it’s good old keyword research and I recommend using a tool like Tubebuddy for the same.
Include closed captions: By including subtitles, you give yourself an opportunity to connect and reach an international audience. It also improves the user experience of your regional viewers if your speech becomes unclear at some point.
Design Custom Thumbnails: Your thumbnail is the first visual interaction of your video with a prospective viewer. If you catch their attention with a vibrant thumbnail and invoke their curiosity with your title, then they are more likely to click through. A consistent look and feel will also help people instantly recognize your videos.
Engagement: Once a viewer clicks on your video, it’s key that they interact with your video. Are most viewers watching least half-length of your video? Also, are they liking/disliking/commenting on your video, and subscribing to your channel? The more engagement the merrier.
Pro Tip: You can also use relevant tags that other videos are using. These tags might not lead you to rank directly in YouTube search. However, you can capture some eyeballs under the “suggested videos” tab and earn traffic from there.
2. Collaborate With Other Channels
Want to get exposure from an audience that has not heard of you?
Then, collaborate with other creators. Cross-promotion is a great way to expand your audience quickly. The mechanics are simple. When a creator with a similar audience (and likely different content) vouches for your content, then it creates instant social proof. It persuades their audience to check you out.
To find out potential collaborators, you need to find out channels that have a similar:
- Level of influence: If you’re reaching out to a channel with 10x your number of subscribers, then chances of conversion into a partnership are low. Else, you need to offer some other kind of value to them.
- Audience Type: You can check out the interests of your audience and the other channels they watch. Your comments section can also lend you a few interesting creators to collaborate with.
Social Blade is a great tool to discover channels with a similar size and demographics.
3. Promote To Other Social Media Channels
Do you have an existing audience on another social media platform?
Even if you have a few hundred followers and friends, you can generate some mileage for your new videos. I coordinated the updates with my friends and family to take place within the first 24 hours of releasing a video.
The engagement and social proof numbers from these first few hours after publishing determine the placement of the video in SERPs.
Besides as a long-term strategy, you can also plan to reach out to websites that have embedded videos similar to you in their articles.
Even if a website has written about a subject, then you can reach out to them and share how your video adds a ‘media’ component to their article. And helps increase their time on page.
If you have an existing email list or a website, then share your new videos with them. It’s a great way to garner engagement and drive initial views. The YouTube algo uses these initial engagement metrics to decide if the video will be distributed further on its platform.
4. Ask For Help From Your Viewers
As compared with other social media platforms, the YouTube audience is comfortable with call to actions. It’s the courtesy of the “Like, Comment, And Subscribe” culture that video creators have infested on the platform.
You can request for help from your viewers directly during these key moments:
Beginning of the video: You can ask viewers to “press the bell icon” so that they get notified of the updates from your channel.
End screens: At the end of the video, viewers “expect” an engagement bait. So the retention drops drastically. Be careful with not changing frames and keep talking while the end screen appears.
Video Description: Most viewers will not read your video description. However, you can still place a request to share videos from your channel here.
5. Leverage The Community Tab And YouTube Stories
These two tools are relatively new and are not available to all creators. They are YouTube’s attempt to create a full-fledged social media experience for its users.
If you have a community tab, then you can interact with your audience by posting questions. The School of Life use it to publish written-essays that accompany their intriguing video sketches.
You can also use the tab to promote your upcoming videos.
YouTube has also launched stories that follow a similar format to other social media platforms like Instagram. The difference is that although these short video posts are also temporary, they last for 7 days. Right now, the stories are only available to channels with over 10,000 subscribers.
vidIQ regularly interacts with their subscribers and posts it as a story on their YouTube channel.
6. Follow The Netflix Suite
Producing one excellent standalone video might fetch you a few hours of watch time. A better way, though, that enforces binge-watching is creating a series.
The first step is picking a subject that will resonate with your audience. You can find out the same either by looking at your YouTube Analytics (if you’ve been a creator for a while and gathered sufficient data). Else, you can use keyword research tools.
Once you finalize the subject, you can create a compelling script for a series. After you’ve rehearsed and perfected it, produce the series. Before releasing, you can create a buzz for it by releasing a couple of trailers.
Finally, you can release the series in either of the following ways:
- All at once: This is the original Netflix way that provides convenience and creates a seamless experience to your viewers.
- At regular intervals: You can also create buzz for every episode and release them weekly. Every new video can be also put under a playlist. It creates excitement and builds anticipation in your audience to check your channel regularly.
Series are an underutilized tool on YouTube majorly because a series requires a high budget and exemplary storytelling skills. However, when executed well, it’s ammunition to promote your channel.
Pro Tip: You can add all of your above videos in a series playlist. While a video can exist in unlimited playlists, it can only appear in one series playlist. So such playlists are also useful for high-level classification of your channel.
7. Collate Your Videos Into Playlists
Even if you’re not creating a series, each one of your videos should exist in at least three playlists. When executed tastefully (keeping the audience experience in mind), a playlist is a great tool to increase the session time of your users.
How to promote your playlists? They usually don’t rank in YouTube search. But you can use end screens in your videos to direct viewers to related videos on your channel. It’s a great way to extend session length.
You can even add videos by other channels in your playlists, where relevant. If a viewer likes watching them and were directed through your video, then it increases the session length of the user. So it will help your videos to rank higher.
8. Get Traffic From The Big Search Daddy
How would you like a steady stream of traffic from Google on your videos?
Most creators don’t play outside the YouTube universe, when, in fact, video SERPs have continuously increased in Google.
Indeed, for select keywords, Google favors video content, or at least delivers mixed media content. If you can get a snippet for your video, then its colorful thumbnail will lend regular traffic on your channel.
To optimize your video, plug the keyword in Google and scroll down to the video carousel. You might also find a dedicated video SERP, which is even better. Next, get an idea of the video length, titles, and the type of content Google favors.
Before you begin producing, please note that video SERPs are volatile. Ensure that the video results have been stable and delivering organic traffic for a while. Ahrefs is a great tool for the same.
For instance, here are the results for the phrase “how to tie a knot.”
9. Conduct A Contest Or Giveaway
Conducting a contest is a great way to mobilize your community and increase the activity on your channel. Besides driving engagement, they also expose you to a new audience for your channel as the participants like to share their entries with their personal networks.
Let’s look at an example. Rob Scallon, a guitar player, invited his subscribers to participate in a cover contest with his video Fingerpicking 101. He collaborated with Yousician for the same.
In the month long contest, he ended up getting 116 entries. He declared 20 awards besides the winner, who won a Rob Scallon chapman guitar.
And guess what?
If your audience consists of fellow creators, then you might end up with LOTS of engaging and entertaining crowdfunded content.
Unless you’ve your own products you want to give away, It’s a great idea to get a brand sponsor your contest. Else, you can try to bestow a prize which has a high perceived value. For example, in 2010, Rob Scallon launched his first contest on the same song above. The winner of the contest was awarded a Rob Scallon CD.
You can drop emails to relevant people at the target company for the same with your partnership proposal.
10. Join Live Streams And Get Your Channel Reviewed
Have you seen those “please subscribe to my channel for my family” comments? Yeah, I know they are annoying. The reason I brought them up is that there’s a related yet more authentic way to get some exposure for your channel.
You can chip in on live reviews of a channel by a YouTube channel like vidIQ. Besides getting insights to improve your channel, it’s free exposure for your channel. Albeit this won’t make a dent, it’s helpful for creators just getting started with YouTube.
vidIQ shares the schedule of their audits on their channel. Go and set a reminder for yourself to be there on the next one: vidIQ YouTube.
11. Reverse Engineer Proven Topics and Jump On Trends
Jennelle Eliana charted a dream YouTube journey by touching a million subscribers with two videos. What did she do right? The first aspect is that she cherry-picked subjects that were proven demand. Just look at the number of video views on the subject of “van life.”
The second key aspect is that she picked up a trending subject. It means the time of the year and the content influx on “van life” show an upward trend on YouTube. As you can see below, vidIQ shows that the search term “van life” was starting to surge.
How can you find out such subjects that are probable to garner higher viewership? You can plug your ideas for videos in a keyword research tool. You want to find a window of opportunity – high demand coupled with low competition.
It will help to look out for pop culture trends like “Star Wars” in December. You can use “Google Trends” to stay abreast with trends as well.
12. Don’t Forget The Basics Of Filmmaking
As discussed, accumulating a significant amount of watch time will put you on the map and get rewards from the YouTube algorithm. Sure, tactics like an interesting hook and creating long videos are cool.
However, the overarching strategy that determines if a viewer is emotionally engaged is your story. Ideally, you want to have one big idea for one sketch. All the elements in your video should then support this central theme. If you digress from it, it’s a distraction and will lead to your audience losing interest.
As Casey Neistat put it, “You need to find something that an audience is interested in. And then share it with them in a way is that they are also interested in.”
A couple of other aspects you should take care of:
Jump Cuts: When used judiciously and tastefully, they are a great way to gain the attention of a viewer dropping off.
It’s All About Audio: It’s not about buying expensive gear to produce sexy visuals. However, maintaining a high-quality audio output is crucial for a great listening experience.
YouTube is brimming with a hungry audience. It’s a great opportunity for video creators and marketers. However, it’s also easy to get lost in the hundreds of hours of videos uploaded every day. It’s a better strategy to plan how you will promote your videos and garner an audience.
In this article, you saw twelve powerful ways to do it. They will take time and effort to perfect, however they are mostly accessible to every creator (even ones low on marketing budget).
Are there any techniques you use to promote your videos? Tell me about them in the comments below.