YouTube has evolved from humble origins to become a comprehensive video search engine and an extension of Google. As the number of users on the platform has grown, so has its extensive video library. As a result, the breadth of content is immense, making it challenging for new content creators to find their stride when developing a rapport with their audience. However, there are several ways to foster a sense of community on YouTube.
How to build a YouTube community
1. Match your channel to your brand image.
Your brand’s YouTube channel should showcase who you are and the kind of videos you’ll be sharing so viewers can decide if your content is something they’d enjoy. It’s essential to cultivate and infuse your brand image into all aspects of your channel.
Consider your banner and profile images, text, intro and outro cards, and links when first developing your branded YouTube channel. All of these elements need to accurately represent your business so you attract subscribers who will be interested in and engage with your content. Your video metadata – including captions, alt text, descriptions and titles – must align with your brand voice to attract the right audience. Incorporate links to your other social media profiles and website into your videos and descriptions to foster a relationship with your audience across all channels.
If you’re savvy in graphic design, create a custom banner that showcases your brand so viewers know they’ve come to the right channel. If not, seek the help of a professional who can make one for an affordable price. Review your video thumbnails to ensure they accurately represent each video.
2. Create video playlists.
Viewers on YouTube stream 694,000 hours of video every minute, according to Statista. Make playlists for your videos to keep your content organized and encourage viewers to spend more time on your channel. When viewers begin a video in your playlist, it will automatically direct viewers to the next video in the playlist. So, not only do playlists encourage viewers to stay on your channel, but they can also boost your view completion rate (VCR), or the percentage of viewers who watch the entirety of your video. Group videos by themes, challenges or topics.
3. Encourage action.
Incorporate CTAs, or calls to action, into your video content to drive viewers to complete a certain action, such as subscribing to your channel. For instance, you can use a CTA that encourages your viewers to like, comment and subscribe during your intros and outros. Keep your CTAs simple and direct so viewers are more likely to convert. Be judicious with what actions you want your audience to complete, since too many CTAs can confuse and frustrate your viewers.
To make the most of your on-screen CTA opportunities, add a branded end card to your YouTube videos that directs viewers to more of your videos and your channel subscription link.
4. Engage with your audience.
To foster a sense of an online community with your YouTube audience, consistently engage with your viewers. Here are a few ways to interact with them:
- Review and respond to comments.
- Post polls to ask viewers which type of content they want to see most.
- Ask for their input on posting cadence specifics, such as the days and times they’re most active.
Engaging with your audience helps humanize your brand and show viewers that you want to create content that resonates with them.
Take advantage of the comments section of your videos, as this can be a hub of valuable information, such as the topics or types of videos your audience is most interested in. Give a shout-out or tag the user(s) who inspired your new videos to take interactions a step further.
YouTube mistakes to avoid
Not paying attention to data
If “content is king,” data-driven content is the master of the social media marketing and digital universe. Creating content based on data-driven results is the best practice you can implement when developing your overall brand marketing strategy and videos for your YouTube channel. YouTube’s analytics dashboard provides several key performance indicators (KPIs) that can inform and refine your video publishing process:
- Keyword and search term performance analysis to identify organic keywords that generate the most traffic
- Audience engagement analysis to quantify your channel’s likes, comments, shares and subscribers
- Traffic source data
- Video performance data, such as the styles, formats and topics that resonate most with your audience and the average watch times on your videos
When you can generate new videos based on the information garnered from your channel’s performance metrics, you may experience an uptick in views and subscribers.
To give your YouTube channel the best chance for success, identify the objectives for your channel and strategize how your video content can help achieve those goals. Launching your YouTube channel without considering the outcomes for your overall brand will likely result in a disjointed viewing experience. To ensure that your channel aligns with your overall marketing strategy, consider which measurable objective you’re trying to achieve with your YouTube content:
- Brand awareness
- Customer support and education
- Building an engaged community with your audience
Use your YouTube video content as a vehicle to build a community with your audience by telling your brand story. Sharing your story will increase awareness of your brand and reputation, which makes your company seem more relatable to your audience.
Wasting your budget
You can’t afford to waste even a dollar of your business’s budget if you have limited marketing funds dedicated to your YouTube channel. You may be tempted to approach an advertising agency to help create specific campaigns to drive traffic to particular videos on your channel. However, the help of an agency isn’t always sustainable and will likely only amount to a small bump in views and subscribers. It might be better to use your marketing budget to develop your own video marketing strategy based on the holistic performance of your entire content library.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Engage in A/B testing for the following tasks:
- Refining your content calendar
- Identifying the types of videos your audience enjoys most
- Determining the best CTA placement in your content
- Learning how to best interact with your viewers and subscribers
Not uploading enough videos
If one of your YouTube channel objectives is to foster a sense of community with your viewers, one of the easiest ways to do so is by consistently uploading new videos. Maintaining a diligent posting schedule for your YouTube channel is necessary to building a robust content library. It also helps to keep your channel active and increase your number of quality subscribers.
Creating a content calendar can help you plan the number and types of videos you’ll produce each month and when they’ll be published. If you need to deviate from your posting schedule, let your audience know when they can expect new content. While the exact publishing cadence will depend on the videos you publish, a good rule to start with is one new video each week.
If you’re just starting your YouTube channel, develop a backlog of video content before launching your channel so your audience has a variety of videos immediately available for consumption.
Exclusively uploading short videos
The rise of TikTok and multiple short-form video content creation options might lead you to believe that solely creating YouTube Shorts would be best. However, YouTube uses minutes watched as the KPI to rank video performance, so longer videos perform better on the channel when compared to shorter content.
From a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective, it’s better for your channel if, for example, a viewer watches 20 minutes of a 90-minute video than if someone watches the entirety of a 10-minute video. Like every other website, YouTube also tracks how long visitors spend on your page, and posting longer videos can help decrease your channel’s bounce rate.
Additional reporting by Syed Balkhi.