How do you keep your channel engaging, make it easy for new subscribers to find you and grow into new areas? These tips from V&F’s TubeGuru will help blast your YouTube channel into the outer stratosphere – and they have nothing to do with your actual video!
Your title is incredibly important. A lot of people make the mistake of writing a video title like this: ‘A guy walks down the street and then sees a unicorn near a New York subway’. Obviously this isn’t going to work – it’s too long and the most important part of the message is at the end. Always put the attention-grabbing words first; in this example: ‘Unicorn Spotted in New York. Unbelievable!’. It’s a very YouTube-style title, and it’s also one that will get the most views because YouTube is a giant search engine that gives preference to the words at the beginning.
Remember that you can change your video title at anytime too. I often change a video title depending on when it’s coming out so, for instance, I’ll give it one title for two weeks, and then change it to something else after all the main subscribers have seen it. If you had a cooking show, for example, you could call it ‘Secret Recipe’ and then change it to ‘World’s Best Apple Pie Recipe’ once it has gone out to all your subs.
Remember to put in as many tags as possible – there’s a reason they give you such a big window. Add a variety of general terms like ‘cooking’ and ‘food’ but also make sure you grab the niche end of town with tags like ‘Bircher muesli recipe’ and ‘bacon curing’ or whatever it is you’re showing. And if there is something happening in the media that relates to your video like a cookbook release from a famous chef or a new TV series, then update the tags. If you’ve got a video showing how to make olives then the following week Jamie Oliver does a show about olives, you need to get that into your tags immediately. You really need to treat your video like a garden; give it constant attention and upkeep if you want to grow the best fruit. And one of the best ways of harvesting a bumper crop is tent poling.
Tent poling simply means synchronising your episode content or schedule to coincide with big events in mainstream and social media. Picture this: an iPhone 6 is about to come out. To get people to watch your channel you make a video called ‘iPhone 6 Gets Cooked in Microwave’. Other than being a dangerous and stupid idea for a video (i.e. perfect for YouTube!), anyone searching for information about a new iPhone is going to watch your video. Why? Because it’s YouTube and people love seeing things get broken, cooked, destroyed and blasted into pieces. If you had made a video called ‘Guy Throws a TV Off a Cliff’ you’ll get less views because, let’s face it, not too many people are keying ‘Throw TV Off Cliff’ into the search bar. If you ride on the back of major search events and trends you can tap into potential audiences of millions.
The key to success here is knowledge, and this comes from being connected to people and to media. Some folks take this to extremes, subscribing to every magazine, website and newspaper to scan for trends and when see one, they jump on it. You don’t need to take it this far but it’s worth using opportunities you come across and scripting big events into your videos. In a real-life example, we heard of a major game release coming out so we scheduled a video that features one of the characters from the game. Because so many people were using this name in their search strings, our video got picked up by social media and shared on hundreds of websites and forums. It’s a simple idea but once you open your eyes to the possibilities of tent poling, you’ll have a plethora of new concepts for videos and your channel will explode into new territory.
Great videos rarely mean instant fame and riches from YouTube – there are millions of great videos out there that are unnoticed. You need to learn the rules of the game and make then work for you. Titles and tags will get you part of the way and beyond that, it’s about the description. Magical things can be achieved with the right description and we will go into that in detail in next month’s column!
TubeGuru has been making YouTube videos since 2007. He has more than 60 million video views, and more than 750,000 subscribers.