How you should be doing YouTube
A guide to YouTube Strategy
By @MadreRoothman, Digital Strategist
PewDiePie recently hit 50 million subscriptions. And is still the most viewed, and most subscribed YouTube channel in the world. THE WORLD [insert flashing graphics here]. As an avid fan and proud member of the Bro Army, I’m excited for what’s to come. But it also got me thinking – where, and how, did he start his empire of bro’s? And what YouTube strategy did PieDiePie use to get his 50 million subs? So here’s how you should be doing a YouTube strategy.
Looking at his first video upload and first ever vlog, I admittedly had a laugh at his thick swedish accent doing the commenting/voice overs. But as he also says on his channel, it’s flippen hard work to get to where he is. Obviously, it all starts with a creating a channel. Then comes in customisation, creation, optimisation and metrics.
There are 7 main things to customise and keep on continuously customising after you’ve created your channel.
- Channel icon: Create high res images that can be viewed on mobile phones. Keep the design simple and have it relate back to who you are/what your brand stands for.
- Time stamps: A nice cheat if you want to get more views on video content as it helps viewers navigate through content easily. You can include timestamp links in the description field by simply adding ‘#t=1m50s’ to the end of a video URL.
- Channel banner: Yay! YouTube recommends a single 2560 x 1440 px image so that it’s compatible with most devices/screens.
- A Welcome video: Also known as channel trailer. Here you can add your most recent content or create your own promotional video. Check our Riyadh K’s channel trailer.
- Thumbnails: DON’T CLICKBAIT. Do however create high definition custom images that work with the video you’ve uploaded, title and context. Think about your channel CI and use of colours. Tyler Oakly does it it well on his channel. So does Joey Graceffa.
- Create channel sections and playlists: It helps to organize your content and makes it easy for users to navigate through your video content.
- Featured channels: A nice to have but not necessary – a feature that allows you to feature other channels/promote other channels as your brand.
Let’s first look at content types, and then we’ll move into a programming strategy. When looking at content types, YouTube talks about Hub, Help and Hero videos as guidelines for success.
- Hub video content: YouTube defines this as “regular, scheduled content that provides a reason to subscribe to a channel and return on a regular basis”. It’s episodic, editorial and acts as your channel’s main “pull” factor.
- Help video content: This is basically anything that targets your audience’s passion points, and educates by answering questions they could be searching for. It is also known as “hygiene content”.
- Hero video content: It refers to big, and what YouTube calls tent-pole events. It can be anything from live streams, a viral video, or creating content for events like Halloween or the Rugby World Cup.
Once you’ve determined what your hub, help and hero content will be, you can start with your programming strategy.
How will your channel calendar look like over a week, a month a year and how will you encourage engagement? Keeping your content types in mind, a guideline for a programming strategy framework can look anything like this:
And looking at the above over a timeframe of a year, it can look anything like this:
It’s easier to think of a programming strategy in terms of traditional TV. If you are a fan of, let’s say Top Billing on SABC 3, you know that when you tune into SABC 3 on a Thursday night at 7:30 pm, the show will start. Your YouTube channel should be the same for your audience. Aim to always:
- Build awareness
- Influence consideration
- Drive online and offline sales if you are a brand
- Grow loyalty.
YouTube lists several factors to keep in mind when optimising a video. I’ll give you the summarised version:
- Metadata: Think meta descriptions, titles, tags – and no click-baiting. Ever.
- Descriptions: Every video should have a detailed description about what users can expect from the content – also use outbound social links and website URLS in all video description areas where relevant.
- Thumbnails: As in section
- Annotations, interactive cards and calls to action: Adding buttons, website URLs and verbal call to actions in videos will help drive engagement.
- Playlists: As mentioned before – organise content so that users can easily find what they are looking for (see below example of Joey Graceffa’s Escape the night playlist).
- Channel experiences: users are more likely to respond or be interested in channels if it’s visually appealing – think channel name, icon, description, channel art, what to watch next/we do this every week lines, recent activity, channel trailer, sections/playlists, recognise the community by reading audience comments.
- Enable related channels: This helps drive future partnerships and possible collaborations.
- Feature channels: If you like something you see on YouTube – do a shout out to that brand/person/video content and give credit to others in the YouTube community too.
- Activate your channel watermark.
- Average video length: Keep it fairly consistent and use YouTube analytics to analyse early video content drop-offs.
- Content ID: Use YouTube’s content ID claim to manage your content online. And when using other videos on your channel, make sure it doesn’t have a content ID claim – or that you have gone through the right channels that will enable you to use other user’s pieces of content.
- Transcribe: Probably my favourite optimisation function. YouTube has an automatic function built into the video editor (video manager) that transcribes videos. Here’s how you can review, edit, or unpublish automatic captions.
Metrics will help you determine and measure the impact on your branding efforts – and it acts as a good driving force to meet your overall brand goals. If you’re running video campaigns with paid media backing it, YouTube gives a more detailed description of how to measure video performance. Here’s a rough guideline:
Great, now that you know the basics on how you should be doing a YouTube strategy, hopefully you’ll have an empire of bro’s too. In a while.