A successful creative concept can have an enormous impact on a channel. Compelling videos can bring in new viewers, introduce them to the rest of your content, and build a loyal fanbase. While no strict rules govern content creation on YouTube, 10 fundamental principles have emerged as the most important guides to a successful creative strategy.
With the rise of social media platforms, sharing has become one of the most important ways to find and develop an audience. While you can't guarantee any video will go viral, you can make it more shareable by using some proven tactics.
Identify trending subject matter
- Keep your finger on YouTube's pulse, and stay on top of popular search terms.
- What words will viewers use to describe your video when they share it? Would you click on this yourself?
Connect through emotion
- Viewers are more likely to share a video that elicits a strong emotional response. Make videos that induce laughter or feelings of sweetness, excitement or nostalgia.
Appeal to your audience's values
People often share content because they feel the content conveys something about their own beliefs. Sharing funny content makes them feel funny, sharing informative content makes them feel knowledgeable, and sharing topical content makes them feel on top of the latest news. Keep this in mind: What will your video say about the people who share it?
Create ongoing series with break-out potential
Viral videos and recurring series are NOT mutually exclusive.
Many of YouTube's top creators release series in which each episode enjoys high sharing and viral activity. Often one video will break out and then introduce massive audiences to the entire series.
Dollar Shave Club: Humor
Hot Wheels Record Jump: Spectacle
Tips: It can be tough to predict when a video will break out, so optimize all videos by telling viewers how and why to subscribe to your channel. Need pointers? See Optimize Your Content.
The audience you're seeking already exists on YouTube — you just need to find it. One effective method? Collaborate with established YouTube creators who are already reaching your target demographic.
- It makes creative sense. If a creator is already interested in your product, an authentic collaboration is a logical next step.
- It benefits both parties. If you can offer a creator value that they couldn't get from anyone else, they benefit too.
- It builds audience. Each channel can tap into the other's audiences and find new fans. And a YouTube creator's audience understands the platform — how to subscribe, comment and engage.
- Be original. YouTubers are naturally skeptical of traditional endorsements. Think of a clever (and transparent) way to involve a creator with your brand.
- Be authentic. If the audience doesn't believe the collaboration is authentic, nobody wins. Consider addressing questions and concerns upfront.
Identify potential collaborators
- Research popular YouTube creators who share your target audience.
- Browse blogs and social media sites for others who may be able to spread the word about your channel. (Social ranking sites like Open Slate and Technorati can help you find whom you overlap with.)
Remember: YouTubers are brands themselves
YouTube personalities have spent a long time building their audience, and they place a premium on protecting that relationship. No collaboration should be:
- A paid endorsement of your products.
- A one-way creative process.
Be thoughtful about whom you collaborate with, and communicate clearly throughout the process.
O2GuruTV & Danisnotonfire and AmazingPhil/O2GuruTV
Wheezy Waiter & Vsauce talk Vidcon/wheezynews
YouTube is one of the most-used search engines in the world. People pour onto the site looking for videos about all sorts of subjects. These viewers may not necessarily be looking for your video, but they will land on it when it's surfaced by the site.
What makes content discoverable?
- Videos on highly-searched topics will surface in search results.
- Some search terms are popular for years. Videos that address these search queries will have a longer shelf life on YouTube.
Best practices for discoverability
- Make videos around trending events. Your content will surface with the sudden rush of traffic around that topic.
- Create "evergreen" videos that will be searched for over time, such as how-to videos.
- "Remember that the algorithm can't watch videos, so fully optimize metadata, including titles, tags and descriptions."
Sesame Street's "Share It Maybe" video capitalizes on a trending event.
Tips: Use google.com/trends to find out what type of content your audience is looking for. This will inform your content strategy. Use the YouTube Trends dashboard to identify popular videos that your audience is watching.
You'll know you've done your job when every episode of your show can be fully appreciated by a first-time viewer. In other words, your videos shouldn't lock out new viewers who stumble upon them.
Remember, a significant percentage of your audience will discover your video from a social feed, a search result or a related video placement. That means they won't have any context for the material.
Even a consistent series can be structured so that each video stands on its own and is accessible to new viewers.
Best practices to achieve accessibility
- Always consider the new viewer when writing and producing content. Would a new viewer immediately grasp what the video's about?
- Fold in context if necessary, but don't refer to videos the user most likely hasn't seen.
- If you do host serial content, include quick recaps at the beginning of episodes to bring new viewers up to speed.
Each episode of the BMW Launch Films series stands on its own, whether or not you've seen previous episodes.
Most top YouTube creators agree that consistency is crucial to success on the site, but consistency can mean different things.
What does consistency mean?
- Consistent format. Institute a recurring show or series that can be repeated again and again.
- Consistent schedule. Upload a video to your channel on a specific day and never miss that deadline.
- Consistent elements. Repeat small aspects of a show the same way every time, such as intros and outros, or revisit certain segments in each episode.
- Consistent voice. Have a clear and confident perspective that's apparent in every video, no matter how different each video is.
Why be consistent?
- It compels your audience to return again and again to what they like and are familiar with.
- It increases fan loyalty.
- It makes your audience comfortable.
- It helps your audience develop a sense of expectation.
Best practices to remain consistent
- Develop video ideas that can be expressed over multiple episodes.
- Create a structured format that will prevent you from having to reinvent every video.
- Upload on a regular schedule and never miss upload day.
- Make sure your videos have a clear point of view that accurately reflects your brand.
Consistency of format/Rokenbok
Consistency of elements/PBSideachannel
Why Do We Love Zombies?
Consistency of schedule/RhettandLink2
The Mythical Show Ep 4
Consistency of voice/Vice
The Warrior Women of Asgarda (Documentary)
Tips: If you're able to upload on a consistent schedule, communicate that to your audience so they know when to look for a new video.
The more you can identify the group you're attempting to reach, the better the response to your content will be.
Determine whether you're seeking to reach a broad group or a niche audience. Niche groups may include people who are extremely passionate about certain subjects, such as Minecraft, fingernail art or toy collecting.
Best practices for targeting your audience
- Study content that's similar to yours and try to determine which demographics are engaging with it.
- Take a look at any of your existing content (across any platform) and determine who's responding to it.
- Design every element of your content to reflect who you would like to reach.
Targeting a broad audience/Vsauce
What if Everyone JUMPED At Once?
Targeting a niche audience/Puma
PUMA Football: Usain Bolt corre com Sergio Agüero
Tips: Use YouTube Analytics to track which of your videos appeal to your target audience.
Plan for the long run
If you've designed a consistent format for your videos, great. Now it's time to make sure you can sustain that format. Take a long look at all the elements of the production, from the location and the actors to the overall budget, and decide if you'll be able to maintain the project over time.
Why aim for sustainability?
It will help you serve your audience consistently over the long run.
Best practices for being sustainable
- Plan your creative concept carefully. Does it have longevity?
- Implement recurring formats and a predictable programming schedule.
- Make sure you have the in-house or agency resources to support this effort for the long term.
Vogue: From the Vogue Closet
Converse With Viewers
Part of what makes YouTube remarkable is that you can converse with your fans in real time. They can let you know instantaneously what you're doing right and what's falling flat.
Why make conversational content?
Your fans want to feel as though they're helping shape your brand. Give them that rare chance to connect with your brand by providing opportunities for feedback or, better yet, involve them in your content.
Best practices for conversing with viewers
- Make an emotional connection. Cognitive psychology shows that people are more likely to remember something that caused a strong emotional response.
- Always ask for feedback. Let viewers know their comments matter, and that you're listening.
- Respond to viewer comments, both in video (when possible) and on social media.
While being conversational with your viewers can help build loyalty, YouTube channels can take engagement further.
Viewer involvement can vary. You can share viewer questions and feedback in your videos, or incorporate their actual content into your brand channel. In some cases, you can let viewers dictate the content itself.
Why involve your audience?
- By involving your audience, you can help them develop a sense of ownership and connection to the show.
- The audience may have useful ideas and suggestions.
Best practices for involving an audience
- Give viewers a range of options for how to participate. They can simply give suggestions or, more ambitiously, actually help the channel make its videos.
GoPro uses customer videos/gopro
In the digital age, viewers crave personal connections, and they want to learn more about what makes you special. Tell them why you do what you do: share your brand's core values, years of service, and dedication to serving them.
Why make authentic content?
Authenticity helps viewers feel more connected to your brand. Create content that feels truly inspired and you'll turn passive viewers into lifelong, loyal fans.
Best practices around being authentic
- Cast subject matter experts or industry professionals to add credibility to your message.
- Showcase real-life fan stories to make your message relatable.
- Consider telling the backstory of your brand in a special video or channel trailer. Remind fans that your brand came from humble beginnings or share little-known trivia about it.
Strive to be authentic every time
- Viewers can detect when they're watching someone who's truly passionate about their craft, or speaking about something they love. Ask yourself if that passion is apparent in each of your videos.
Halloween Treats Gone Wrong/Crest
- Develop show formats that are highly shareable.
- Collaborate with other YouTube channels to find new viewers.
- Converse with your audience! People tend to subscribe to people, not brands. Make each video comprehensible to a first-time viewer, even if it's part of a series. Develop a consistent voice, format and schedule.
- Give your audience unique ways to participate in the content.