Let's map out your overall channel strategy. How do you decide which video to release when? First you need to communicate what your channel stands for, and then you need to map out the different types of potential videos and the best times to release them.
Develop a Programming Strategy
Programming means creating a cohesive viewing experience across your channel; each video should fit into the larger channel vision. It encapsulates both pre-production and production activities: what type of content to produce and how to publish and share it.
Your programming strategy should be articulated around three different types of content: help, hub and hero content, with each content category requiring a different type of activation.
In this topic, we'll review each content type in more detail.
You know who you want to reach. But to draw viewers to your channel, you need to capture their intent — that is, understand what they're searching for when they come to YouTube. Use search insights to find the most frequent searches (aka "queries"). Which queries can your brand credibly answer?
Start making videos that quickly and clearly answer these queries. These videos are called "help" content.
"Help content" means your channel's basic, always-on videos. These could include tutorials that answer the most popular search queries in your content area.
Help content best practices
- Use Google or YouTube Trends to determine high-volume searches in your targeted category.
- Create a help video that clearly and simply addresses a specific high-volume search query.
- Establish why the brand should be the one to answer the query, but keep the sales pitch to a minimum.
- Include branding and packaging sequences, if necessary, but only later in the video.
- Once you've answered the query, include an invitation to subscribe. Give good reasons: "We create videos like this every week."
You've captured your viewers' intent, and you're answering their queries. But how do you get a one-time viewer to return? It's time to drive viewers to your "hub" content.
Tip: Brands should aim for at least eight pieces of help content at launch to drive channel discoverability.
"Hub content" is regular, scheduled content that provides a reason to subscribe to a channel and return on a regular basis. Episodic and formatted series work best as hub content.
Hub content best practices
- Create an editorial voice with a strong, distinct style.
- Consider casting a single, identifiable personality to appear across all your content.
- Maintain a consistent visual language.
- Communicate a regular and clear release schedule in channel art, video descriptions and/or calls to action in your videos. (See Optimize Your Content.) Weekly episodes work best.
- Develop an active promotion strategy that includes social media, cross-promotions and incentives for subscribers to share the content.
Once you've started building a loyal audience who has subscribed to your channel and returns to see what you're up to, you're ready to think about turning up the volume with hero content.
"Hero content" refers to the big, tent-pole events that are designed to provide a massive step-change to your audience growth. Hero content could be a live-streamed event, a viral video, a Google+ Hangout with top talent, a cross-promotion with a YouTube influencer, or even a made-for-YouTube ad. It may revolve around a large cultural event like Halloween or the Super Bowl, or it may be a major event that you instigate.
Hero best practices
- Identify tent-pole events that are relevant to your audience.
- Develop a programming calendar covering all the videos you are going to create or curate for the event.
- Get ahead of the buzz
- Use the "Explore" tool at Google.com/trends to gauge how much early and sustained interest there is around an event.
- Release ancillary videos around your hero content several days before the event. The "pre-buzz" leading up to an event is just as important as (or more important than) the actual event.
- Reach out to blogs early with your hero content.
- Ask yourself: Would people bother to share this on social media? Would this make a good newspaper headline? Can you imagine your audience paying for this content?
- Ask for your audience's participation in the event. Can they design it? Star in it? Vote for it? Turn your audience into advocates who will promote ahead of the launch.
- Use offline advertising, social media posts and influencer support. One-off flashes of activity work less well than planned promotional strategies that build over time.
Tip: Since hero content usually requires a large investment, develop a sound hub and help strategy first to build your channel's viewership.
Promote Your Channel
When viewers have found your help, hub or hero videos, what's next? One of the best ways to turn one-time viewers into a loyal audience is to invite them to subscribe to your channel.
- Communicate that every video is part of a channel and include in each video a call to action to subscribe to your channel.
- See for instance how you can use cards to tell viewers to subscribe to your channel in Optimize Your Content.
- Highlight your channel's content, series, schedule and offerings.
- Design branding, graphics and packaging to convey the channel's theme.
- Capture intent across your target audience: What are they searching for on YouTube? Create help content that clearly and usefully answers these queries.
- Create recurring episodes, or hub content, to induce viewers to keep returning to see more.
- Identify tent-pole events for your audience and schedule hero content around them throughout the year.
- Build a channel calendar to map your content strategy over the year.
- Promote your channel across your videos and encourage viewers to subscribe.