Building A Community On YouTube

In our last post in this Video SEO series, we took a look at Making Onsite Video Search Engine Friendly with the use of video transcripts, semantic markup, and XML site-maps etc. Now it's time to take a closer look at Leveraging the Value of Video step 1 - Tips to Building a Community on YouTube. Building a community - whether it’s with other creators or your audience - on YouTube means transforming your fans into an engaged and loyal audience, who can then, in turn, serve as a social army to promote your content.

Strategy Overview

  • Interact with your audience, and build a community around your content on YouTube.

Why It Works

  • An engaged community often leads to a dedicated audience, who will com back to your channel again and again.

How To Do It

  • Create viewer-centric content, engage with your audience through social features on the platform, and develop relationships with top contributors.

Effect

  • Engagement, Subscribers, Views

Strategy Details

Online video is social. People are drawn to online video and web series because they can interact with the channel in ways that they can’t with television. The ability for creators to interact with their viewers is key to the medium. So, speak to your audience, and listen to what they say. If you actively engage with your audience through your channel, it will pay off in the long run. Your fans will become your social advocates – empower them to grow awareness about your brand and spread the word.

The Importance and Impact of Communities

  • Communities are critical to building an audience on YouTube. After all, YouTube is a social platform. Liking, sharing, and commenting are key social features.
  • Think about your YouTube channel’s community as a social army of promoters: they’ll share your content with their social networks and help grow awareness about your channel.
  • And, in addition to spreading the word about your channel, they’ll function as a content barometer and focus group. They’re not afraid to tell you what’s working, what’s not, and offer up some ideas for future content decisions. Ask what they think, and more importantly, listen to them.
  • Remember, communities will happen with or without you on YouTube. You want to make sure you’re the one leading the discussion in a fruitful direction.

How To Build A Community From The Ground Up

  • Think of the communities you’re involved in - maybe it is a book club, a sports team, or your college alumni group. What qualities of these communities make you want to be a member? Can you recreate some of those same qualities in your YouTube community?
  • Give viewers a reason to support your cause. Why? Well, there are a lot of other things your viewers could be doing instead of watching your videos. What value does your channel and the content you create provide?
  • Once someone has visited your channel once, why should they come back for more?
  • Define a creed for your community. Think of this as your channel’s mission statement.
  • Make sure your community has a leader. It can be a literal host, a group with a consistent voice, or just a figurative brand / authority.

Community Building Fundamentals

Building-Communities-on-YouTube

  • Develop relationships with top contributors. Think of each viewer as an individual.
  • Respond to frequent commenters, and take a genuine interest in them.
  • Respond to comments in the first few hours after you publish a video. These first commenters are your loyal community members, so keep them engaged.
  • Your own comments on your uploaded videos get pinned to show up at the top of the comments section, prominently featuring your engagement with the fans.

Identify Your Most Engaged Fans

- The Top Fans tool in the Community section of Video Manager creates a list of your most engaged fans based off of how many of your videos they’ve watched, how often they comment or like your videos, and whether they are a top influencer on YouTube. These fans are often also subscribers, but don’t need to be.

- The Fans section of Top Fans gives you a list of your fans (refreshed daily), a recent comment, the number of subscribers to their channel, an engagement score, when they first subscribed to your channel, and the ability to message them or add them to a circle on G+ (as long as both your channel and theirs are connected to a G+ page or profile).

- Message these fans individually to thank them for watching your content, share exclusive behind the scenes pictures and unlisted videos, and understand how they feel about your videos by looking at their recent comments.

Recognize the contributions of individuals in the community. People love to be recognized; responding to first-time contributors is a way to encourage ongoing engagement. Consider recognizing your community through in-video shout outs, or by offering other rewards like fan merchandise or exclusive content shared through unlisted videos.

Create content about your community. Whenever possible, include your community in the video content itself. Shout them out by name, acknowledge that you’re reading their comments, or even let viewers choose the direction of a special feature. Many creators find ways to work-in their fans, letting the whole community know how much they appreciate their viewership.

Spur conversation. Create relevant content that generates conversation among your community. Ask for their opinions and feedback. Remember, good debates are a part of a healthy community; only remove / flag hateful comments targeted at an individual or group. Don’t feel comfortable asking every viewer for his or her opinion? Use the Insights section of Top Fans to privately message a smaller group of engaged fans to solicit feedback.

Use off-platform social tools to engage with your community. Do some research and figure out which social platforms your community is actively involved in. Jump into the conversation on those social networks.

- There are many social networks that YouTubers use as part of their social strategy. Some popular platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and Google+.

In our next post we'll talk more about  Sharing Videos on Social Media with the use of video transcripts, semantic markup, and XML site-maps etc.

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Post Script: Parts of this content originally appeared on the YouTube Playbook - We have included it these sections here as part of this series because we believe it is relevant and adds value to this series, and this series adds value to the playbook. It is not intended to indicate that we are the original author of all of the content displayed here.... So, yeah, Google please don't sue me. That'd be swell! Thanks.

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