Most people approach YouTube wrong (Ourselves included)
After listening to a podcast with Mitch Joel interviewing Carlos Pacheco, it really had me thinking about Video Strategy and how most of us go about it all wrong (myself definitely included).
Most people when approaching their YouTube channel strategy think of themselves as the protagonist (the hero). Be it by entertaining, by doing a weekly show, by doing a regular Vlog, or episodes leading up to a grand finale, etc. It could be you’re trying to be the industry leader, guru or god forbid, an “influencer” in your industry.
Many videos on YouTube go unwatched, many others are only watched by your immediate family and several search engine bots. I know this all too well. My podcast failed miserably years ago when I overestimated how interesting I could be interviewing people. And our weekly “#InTheLab” episodes we did a couple years ago have at the most a couple hundred views each. Though, we do have people from time to time mention how they watched one of our videos – to which I immediately thank them because they are a part of a small minority. Not a dismal failure, more like a brilliant learning moment.
We never had a “video strategy”, we were just making videos each week and tagging them with #InTheLab. There’s a smarter way.
The problem with this “hero” strategy is that it’s self serving, it gets old fast and it’s not what people are currently looking for. We all can’t be Trevor Noah or Jimmy Fallon. And very few people are looking for a new guru to help them via YouTube channel surfing. To attract an audience the size that Casey Neistat has takes a long time, a lot of work and dare I say a little bit of good old fashioned luck?
In the podcast, he makes the point that the majority of these “YouTubers” have been producing videos on their channels for 10 years or longer. In that case, it isn’t luck that got them to where they are but sheer determination and resilience.
If you can create something for ten years straight and people are still interested in what you’re doing, you have done it. You have succeeded.
And with all that practice over the years you’re now most likely an expert. The problem lies in the fact that most people won’t see through the 10 year plan. Most people won’t find huge success in the first couple years and give up.
The artist doesn’t care about success, the artist keeps creating until the audience loves her. That may take 1 year, that may take 10 years, it may even take 100’s of years. No matter what, the artist keeps creating.
The three H’s of your YouTube strategy: Hub, Help, & Hero
Back to being the hero of your own channel. It’s not the worst idea, it’s just very narrow thinking. Being the hero is only a third of the strategy. Add helpful videos and hub videos and you have yourself a well rounded video strategy for your YouTube channel that’s based on several distinctively different criteria.
Ever YouTube’d your favourite brownie recipe? How about lessons on braiding hair? The reason most people find you on YouTube is because of a problem you solved. Ask yourself “what has my audience/customer struggled with or had questions about in the past year?” or “What are the main pain points in my industry?” “What will people continue to ask about for years to come?” “what questions do my competitors refuse to answer?”
Visuals by Royal Z
Your helpful video strategy is where you’re going to get your views. Everyone has that weird explainer video the posted on a whim 5 years ago that still increases in views. The reason? It’s helpful. When Anastas (Visuals by Royal Z) was working with us at StratLab he used to always say his behind the scenes videos were always the most popular. With 643,000+ views on his “How I shoot Rap” video you could say people are looking to learn from Anastas.
Tasty is a food channel on YouTube, I used this cookie video to change how I make Chocolate Chip Cookies (the same cookies I’ve been making since grade 5). That’s how good these recipes are! They will change your cookie loving brain forever.
In the podcast Carlos talks about all the videos he’s posted to his channel, amazing videos, cinematic videos, but his most viewed video of his? A simple explainer video showing a way to take off wallpaper from a wall.
Don’t overthink things, post videos that can help your audience.
The best channels give people reasons to come back. This isn’t as straightforward as one would think. It takes a lot of videos to create a Hub that gets visited over and over again. Events you’re going to, popular news in your area, pop culture that’s current, organizations you sponsor, your team’s about us video. Anything that showcases what makes you special.
Variety is how you create a hub. Sometimes the best things to share have nothing to do with your company or industry but show your audience what you care about. Generally there’s some secret sauce that makes people want to watch again and again.
One of my favourites that does have a “secret sauce” is the Bon Appétit YouTube channel. Particularly when Claire tries to makes replications of popular food products. She someone times has to make 40-50 versions before she gets it right. You can feel her desperation at times, she openly says “I don’t want to be here anymore, I don’t want to finish, but I will.” She’s honest, she’s frustrated, she’s very human.
Today almost everyone has access to high quality video production, use that to your advantage. Give people a reason to come back to your account. I hate to quote Bonnie Raitt but “Let’s give them something to talk about!”
Moz has always done this with their “Whiteboard Friday” series. Borderline “Helpful” videos as well, Moz and more specifically Rand Fishkin did an amazing job of giving you more reason to subscribe to their account and watch all the different content they were producing. Multiple different hosts, a variety of learning outcomes, blog posts to backup what they were talking about. A true Hub for learning.