Success on YouTube can be hard to come by, especially as the platforms changes so much and so often.
In fact a recent report suggested that it changes by about 33% each year!
So how are we meant to know what works today in 2016?
Well luckily for you I asked 24 of the the world's foremost experts on YouTube to tell us EXACTLY what to do to ensure success on YouTube in 2016.
I've categorized these awesome tips and added a clickable table of contents so that it's even easier for you guys to take action:
Tip #1 - Don't get hung up on gear
The biggest thing I see video makers procrastinate on is choosing the gear they want to shoot videos with and delaying buying it. This leads to making less videos, which is the worst thing you can do.
Yes, quality matters, but shipping matters more.
Get that camera you've wanted, upgrade your microphone, and invest in better lights. Then get back to work on making your videos not just better looking, but with better structure and storytelling.
Tip #2 - Don't compromise on Audio
Stunning HD visuals are going to help but it's not going to be the end of the world if you're no Steven Spielberg (or Casey Neistat for that matter).
However publish a video with bad audio and people are less forgiving.
People can just about stomach a dodgy picture (obviously aim not to provide one) but if they can't hear you, you have no chance of them sticking around and that's going to kill your Watch Time.
Invest in a half decent mic (here's the one I use) and ensure your levels are nice and smooth too - no one wants a screech in their earphones when watching on mobile.
Tom is a double Certified Youtube channel manger and is an expert in audience growth and YouTube strategy. He is also the author of the FREE ebook YouTube Optimization: The Complete Guide.
Tip #3 - Keyword Research is essential
YouTube is driven from an algorithm that awards search and suggested views to the lucky who stumble into traffic or the professionals (likely using vidIQ) who target this traffic and figure out how to optimize videos pre and post-production accordingly.
Rob is the CEO of VidIQ, a suite of tools that help YouTube Creators get more views, more efficiently. **Editor's Note - This is a tool I couldn't live without**
So how do we leverage these keywords on YouTube? David Walsh explains...
Tip #4 - Optimize Metadata for Keywords
YouTube can’t “watch” your videos (at the moment) so they rely on you telling them what your video is about. This puts control in your hands, and you can dictate to YouTube and Google what the content is so they can put it in front of the right audience.This helps in making your video “discoverable”.
Knowing what your audience is searching for on YouTube is vital to the success of being discovered – ie ranked – in the YouTube search engine. These “keywords” or “keyword phrases” that viewers are putting in the search box on YouTube are what you should have as the Title of your video.
This is the first indication that your video is what they’re looking for. It also tells YouTube the overall concept of the video.
To tell YouTube more about your video, you give it a keyword rich Description.This is where you flesh out what the video is about, the content of the video, etc. This helps YouTube know more about your video, and the content.
With your Tags, you tell YouTube those keywords and keyword phrases you want associated with your video.
The keywords you want to focus on are your Main Keywords.
You also can add General Keywords.These include your Channel Name, your name if it’s relevant, etc. It’s important to put these in as they help to get more of your own videos as Suggested Videos on the right of your video.
Tip #5 - Look at the bigger picture when it comes to VSEO
One of the biggest mistakes people make with Video SEO is they are not thinking bigger picture.
An example: for a client FUNimation we created videos where the title, tags, and playlists all shared a bigger picture theme. More people are searching for "anime full episodes" than the title of the show.
By making titles, playlists, custom thumbnails and using tags around bigger themes we were able to generate over 7 million more organic views a year for FUNimation. In summary, know what bigger concepts themes around your subject are being searched for and incorporate these themes to all aspects of your video discovery optimization.
Jeremy is CEO of Video Marketing company Vidpow who help businesses with their YouTube channels and video marketing. Jeremy is also a Certified YouTube expert and is the host and producer of the TubeTalk podcast which just reached it's 100th episode.
Tip #6 - Have a plan of action from day 1
When you’re getting started with YouTube there’s two very important things you need to know before you launch into your content strategy and that is :
1) Who is your target audience for your channel? That is, who are you trying to reach, and the second thing is
2) What is the value proposition of your channel? That is what value does your channel propose to deliver to that target audience?
You need to have both of those figured out or it’s really hard to attract those people, get them to subscribe and continually consume more and more videos.
Tip #7 - Get Viewers on to YouTube and Keep them there
YouTube creators measure their channel’s success based on views, likes, and subscribers, but most haven’t even heard about the most important element YouTube considers when giving videos and channels authority and ranking.
That element is “Watch Time,” including view duration and viewer retention.
YouTube’s algorithm favors Watch Time more than any other factor when giving authority.
Channel Watch Time is the amount of time a viewer spends watching a video. A higher average view duration equals more authority, and more authority means YouTube will suggest your videos and channel more.
In addition, Session Watch Time is the most critical metric that is almost never discussed, and you can’t even track it! If you bring traffic onto YouTube and that viewer stays on YouTube for the next hour, you get credit for that session Watch Time, no matter whose videos that viewer is watching.
How do you keep viewers coming back?
Get traffic coming onto YouTube from articles, blog posts, websites, consistent video posting, social media, etc.
Getting more viewers on YouTube and keeping them there does more for your video and channel ranking than anything else.
Tip #8 - Watch Time is King
Watch time – Yes its something which YouTube have been very keen to instill in our thought process behind the content we are creating and uploading on the platform for some time now (and for good reason!). But there are easy mistakes and pitfalls when trying to balance the need to increase watch time on your channel whilst creating engaging video content that doesn’t tail off.
My advice would be to look from a creative perspective at some of the strands on your channel, or ideas, or one-off hero content - Look into the optimum amount of time the video can realistically reach and keep to it. Don’t completely alter your outlook simply due to algorithmic changes from YouTube – but pay attention as to why they have done it and how you can benefit from it!
With that in mind, my tip would be to focus on creating a brand new strand on your channel which is specifically long in length – this could take many forms but must suit the style and voice of your channel. Create a regular release schedule to go with this - to encourage video viewers to watch more than one of your videos.
Experiment and look into similar channels to yours and what they are doing, get inspiration and try out new ideas – you’ll find the right balance eventually and when you do – you’ll rocket up the YouTube search.
For more tips on watch time check out FAQ Tube's guide to Optimizing YouTube Watch Time.
YouTube Audience Development Expert
Tip #9 - Establish an indentity
Who exactly are you?
And what do you have to say to us?
You need to be able to answer those two questions clearly before you even turn on your camera.
Dre is an 9-year veteran on YouTube who has posted almost 5,000 videos and earned over 35 million views on his main YouTube channel. He is also an author and public speaker and you can find out more at DreAllDay.com.
Dre has also written about another very important tip for success on YouTube for FAQ Tube - The Importance of Consistency on YouTube.
Tip #10 - Interact with your audience
Your audience is your lifeline.
Without them, you would have no channel, no voice, no importance in this ever-saturated world of content (even in the video world, which is still much in its infancy as a whole).
As such, you need to work hard to get to know them and then serve them. Pay attention to their comments, respond to them, interact with them on other platforms like Twitter and Reddit, figure out what other content they enjoy watching, ask for feedback on your videos, etc.
That all being said, don't serve the trolls! You'll know who your true fans are the more you get to know them. When you make your audience happy, they will love you and go above and beyond to spread the word about your videos.
Bree is the founder of Geek & Prosper , where she helps Geeks (and non-geeks) to find an audience and business through online video. Bree is also a freelance journalist who specialises in YouTube and the Online Video space.
Tip #11 - Focus on engagement
Engagement is a much stronger metric to focus on rather than views and subscribers so I generally recommend for people to focus on comments, likes and shares.
Views and subscribers are still important metrics but not as strong of an indication of whether you're going to turn that viewer/subscriber into a customer. For example, one of my channels posted a video and it only got 100 views but it got 100 comments, that's 100% engagement!
So focus on increasing comments, likes and shares rather than purely focusing on views and subscribers. The higher the engagement, the higher chance you have of converting those people into customers.
Rebecca is CEO & Co-Founder of Laika Network, a music focus Multi-Channel Network that works with artists such as Pink Floyd, Phil Collins and many other up and coming artists.
Tip #12 - Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
If you have been following FAQ Tube as you should have, you will all know that optimisation is the key to success on YouTube. To me, this equals “ticking all the boxes”.
YouTube is a platform that gives you a lot of freedom in terms of customisation (titles, thumbnails, descriptions, your “own” profile, the list goes on and on…).
Good optimisation is basically ticking all the possible customisation boxes – the more you customise, the more you up your chances of ranking high in YouTube’s search. The more effort, care, and hours you put into it, the more it pays off.
At the same time – do not freeze up at the daunting workload and never get started. Better tick half the boxes this time, and the other half the next time than none at all. Never get too daunted to begin – it’s better to give it a go and do something than delaying it until infinity.
Lisa spends a shocking amount of her lifetime on YouTube, but somehow justifies it for her career as YouTube Channel Manager and Writer (it's all research). You can find out more about Lisa here, or read the guide she wrote for FAQ Tube on Starting a Gaming Channel on YouTube.
YouTube Channel Manager
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Tip #13 - Brand your channel like a Pro
Strong branding is essential to a YouTube channel, ensuring that your channel has a strong identity that your audience associates with you is key. It can make you really stand out from the rest of the noise in creating something that is recognisably you.
Providing your audience have enjoyed your video and want more of your content, using strong branding you can create your own audience’s journey within YouTube’s algorithmic world. By having a strong and consistent design across your thumbnails your audience will become associated with them and want to click those over others. As soon as you show up in YouTube’s recommendations, at the end of a video or on the side bar you are immediately winning over all the others with your branding!
In creating that identity I would always suggest utilising clear and clean graphics, consistent colours, a professional logo and making sure all the while that everything is optimized for mobile.
The RH Experience
Tip #14 - Always use custom thumbnails
Get some custom YouTube video thumbnails from Vidpow's VidThumbnails Vidpow’s video thumbnail service. On average, their customers experience a 150% increase in organic views.
Here’s how Vid Thumbnails does it: They will custom design 6 different video thumbnails for your video, A&B test the thumbnails to see which one(s) get the most views, deliver you a report, and even upload the best thumbnails to YouTube or send you the final artwork. And, they do all this for only $8 per custom thumbnail.
Best bang for the buck that I've found.
Tip #15 - Create as many Playlists as possible
It takes very little time to put together and you can either create category playlists or ‘Best ofs’.
For example, you can create a ‘Best Of 2015’ or your ‘Top 10 favourite cake recipes’, or your 'top predicted up and coming celebs for 2016'.
The best thing is, you can add any video you like (not just your own) if it’s relevant to your playlist.
Playlists serve as a great ‘added value’ service you can give to your community while also giving you the opportunity to get even more watch time and exposure.
Emma founded MyVoxSongs YouTube Channel with her husband,Olly, 6 years ago. The channel produces Nursery Rhymes, Stories & other Kids content and has over 300 million views. They have since released a number of products including an iPhone app and Nursery Rhymes albums.
Emma is continuing to produce more YouTube Channels specifically for kids, such as Sophie’s Toy Club as well as providing YouTube consultancy.
Read FAQ Tube's guide on How To Optimize a YouTube Playlist.
Tip #16 - Dig into YouTube Analytics
Even as other online video platforms continue to grow, none comes close to approaching the breadth of data that YouTube offers via its analytics.
Dig in to every aspect of your viewership data, and use those insights to inform your programming decisions.
Look at audience retention to see where viewers drop off, for instance, and look at demographic data to better understand who your audience is.
From a promotional standpoint, nothing's more important than the 'traffic sources' and 'playback locations' sections; use them to see how people are discovering your content, and use that info to promote future videos.
Tip #17 - Collaborate and Grow
We all want to grow our channels, but that is one of the biggest battles on YouTube. One of the things that we take for granted is what is right in front of us. Other YouTubers! In order to grow your channel, you need to expose it to new eyeballs and one of the most effective ways to do that is to collaborate with your fellow YTers.
Here is the best part: it is so simple to do!
If you want to collab with someone, be it next door or halfway around the world… all you have to do is reach out! However, make sure that the person you are collabing with is in line with your brand and will not alienate your audience. Shoot them an email, a tweet, a text, and the “ask” can be as simple as them filming a cameo on their phone and sending it to you.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you should only collaborate with channels that have more subscribers than you. Collaborating with a fellow YTer who has a following, even if it smaller than yours, is still valuable. Most likely, those subscribers have not heard of you, and if you collaborate, they are more likely to check out your channel, share, subscribe, and become a fan! And it is a win-win for your collaborating partner too since your fans will check out their channel as well.
Think of it this way, it has worked pretty well for Mother Nature… She calls it cross-pollination.
Check out YouTube's Creator Academy for more tips on Collaboration.
Ovation Digital Arts
Tip #18 - Use a "Hero, Hub, Hygiene" content strategy
The key to a successful YouTube channel is to attract new viewers whilst nurturing the core/returning fans. A great way to do this is to think about your content using the 3 H’s strategy (Hero, Hub, Hygiene). Using this simple process and planning ahead will help you take your channel to the next level in 2016.
Your HERO videos attract new viewers to your channel and pull in casual browsers. These videos could be a collaboration with a related channel, live-stream or any other one-off special creation. You punctuate your content calendar with these “tent-pole” videos, say, one a quarter, helping to grow the reach of your channel/brand.
HUB content is released more regularly and is designed to attract return viewers to your channel. HUB videos should have a consistent format, presenter and topic which represents the ethos of your channel / brand. The HUB content is how you grow your returning fan base.
Once you have returning viewers HYGIENE is how you interact with them. It’s so important to remember that YouTube is a conversation and not a broadcast, so sparking discussion in the YouTube comments and responding to your fans across YouTube and social is key. Building a rapport will make you stand out amongst your competitors. In a cyclic process you can then use the feedback you gain from your audience to improve your future videos strategy.
Oli is part of The Yak Collective, a group of Adventure Travel Film makers. You can see their feature documentary Driving Into The Unknown on YouTube. Oli is also a twice Certified YouTube Channel Manager.
Tip #19 - Leverage Social Media
It doesn’t take an expert to know that the online video space is more competitive than ever. YouTube alone is jammed with more and more content from professionals, long-time creators, newcomers, brands, television networks, and just about any other stakeholder who can manage to turn on a camera. And that’s just YouTube!
You’re also competing with growing content offerings on platforms like Vessel, Go90, Watchable and a dozen others all of which are mining the same short-form video views that most YouTube creators are chasing.
So how do you stand up, stand out, and build an audience that keeps coming back?
It’s more important than ever for creators to engage with their audiences on every level. That means getting down into the notoriously toxic trenches of the comments section, but it also means putting yourself out there on other platforms. YouTube is a multiplatform experience now. Subscribers want consistent quality video content, but they also want to engage with creators on twitter, follow them on Snapchat, Instagram and even Vine (remember Vine?).
Savvy creators find ways to bring their brand to every platform and build an audience that can be directed back to their channel. If you don’t have a Peach.cool account yet that you’re not trying hard enough.
The good news is that building an audience on alternate platforms like Facebook and Instagram can pay off in the long run with more than just traffic to your channel. Today’s biggest YouTube success stories aren’t confined to one platform, they’re multi-platform social stars who are positioned to succeed not just in today’s online video ecosystem but in the increasingly diverse one we’re likely to see by the end of 2016 and beyond.
Evan is an independent journalist who specialises in online video. Follow him on Twitter for the latest news and opinion in the online video space.
Online Video Journalist
Tip #20 - Don't rely on AdSense for your income
YouTubers these days don't necessarily have to rely solely on the Adsense revenue that YouTube shares with them.
Creators can earn money through product placements, branded content creation, reviews and sponsorships. Just like how hollywood celebrities have been endorsing products on TVC for years, now YouTubers can be the ambassadors of brands in the ever expanding world of the internet.
They can also sell merchandise like t-shirts or beauty products, get crowdfunding or patronage, opt for affiliate programs and get commissioned on the sales, run & operate their own avenues like a website or a print magazine!
No doubt, these are bright days for creators on YouTube
Subrat is the co-founder of Vidooly, a company that provides tools and dashboards to YouTube Creators and MCNs.
Diversification seems to be a very common theme amongst our experts in 2016, many of whom believe that success in online video doesn't only mean success on YouTube.
Tip #21- Give away your best content
I routinely give away some of my best videos. I give them to the owners of websites I guest post for and respect.
Well #1 it adds value to their website and makes my contribution even more unique and valuable and #2, I get in front of their audience in a unique way and actually grow my subscriber base by attracting people who would normally not visit my channel.
Tip #22 - Transform your Videos into other content types
Try experimenting with transforming your content into different forms that can take advantage of various platforms. I never intended to be a YouTuber at first; instead, my initial idea with YouTube was to spice up the mix of content on my blog by creating the occasional video that would mix in with blog posts and podcast episodes.
Initially, I wrote very barebones summary articles for these videos - they were basically excuses for the videos to get their own post on my site. Eventually, though, I started scripting my videos more heavily - and I realized I could easily turn those scripts into full blog articles.
It's definitely extra work to do the formatting, but it results in a piece of content that can rank for long-tail search terms a video would have a harder time reaching. It also lets me serve people in my audience who prefer text, and I can also do a lot more internal linking - which helps people dig deeper into my older content that they might not know about.
Don't stop with blog posts, either. Another strategy that occasionally works well (sometimes REALLY well) has been creating infographics that summarize the key points of a video. I build these specifically for Pinterest, and a few of them have gained thousands of pins there - which all link back to my video's article (Infographics aren't the only option for Pinterest - more often, I'll just create a tall image that looks nice and contains the title).
Here's an example of a video that uses both strategies .
Tip #23 - Have a multi-platform video strategy
Success for content creators in 2016 won’t be exclusive to the YouTube platform. Creators should actively seek out multi-platform success, with opportunities including Facebook Video, live streaming, and brand partnerships.
Facebook Video poses a significant opportunity for video creators given its massive reach, engaged audience, and built-in social structure. Watch for the upcoming release of Facebook’s partner program for monetization to be a game-changer.
Live streaming enables creators to interact with fans in real time and monetize through micro-transactions, promoting audience engagement and generating new revenue sources.
In today's multi-platform world, MCN business models have shifted from a heavy reliance on ad-based (AVOD) revenue. Modern MCNs generate earnings through original productions, distribution, branded content, influencer marketing, and brand services such as claiming and channel management. Creators should keep these revenue models in mind when strategizing for the year ahead.
All that said, YouTube remains a crucial platform for video creators, and it can serve as a springboard to a multi-platform career. Creators should leverage their established audience to drive viewers to other social profiles.
The good news is this: there is a great deal of opportunity for video creators in 2016. Those who are early to new platforms and test different types of content to attract audiences will be successful in the next phase of online video.
James is the SVP, Growth at Bent Pixels, the premier technology platform for next generation media companies, and the producer and host of All Things Video, the first podcast dedicated to the online video ecosystem. Find out more about James here.
All Things Video Podcast
Tip #24 - Re-edit Video to promote on other platforms
Outside of posting standard links to your YouTube videos, think about posting natively on other platforms.
It may sound paradoxical but as 2015 saw all the major social platforms embrace their own video, in 2016 they all present an even greater opportunity to boost your YouTube channel.
You can create teasers to attract people to your channel, or repurpose YouTube content on other platforms as an efficient way to maximise your footage and create a more wholesome digital experience for your brand.
If you're already a YouTuber, creating multiple edits should be easy but Epoxy (an amazing free tool) makes it even easier.
George is Executive Producer at Orama, creating content and video solution for lifestyle brands.
As i'm sure you can agree these are some awesome and more importantly actionable tips that you can start to put into practice today.
I can't promise overnight success but I can guarantee that following these tips will see your channel have a demonstrable uplift in views, subscribers and engagement on YouTube.
A huge thank you to all of the contributors and to you for checking this out.
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