You have your YouTube channel up and running. You’ve created some videos you’re really loving and have had some sporadic success, but your engagement hasn’t been reliable or consistent. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and putting a bunch of effort into your YouTube channel, but you can’t quite figure out how to build a loyal and engaged audience, you are not alone. Many people have great ideas, some awesome content, and maybe even a strategy for their YouTube channel, but a few key things are missing.
Taking time to intentionally build a novel, engaging channel that is easy for your audience to find and connect to is the key to creating a successful YouTube channel. Many people waste time, resources, and energy through trial and error trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Others get discouraged early on after they have poured their hearts into creating content that just doesn’t seem to get the engagement they know it should. If you are in this place, please don’t give up, and know that it is possible to create sustainable, predictable engagement through a few simple and fairly easy-to-apply strategies.
We will walk through how to create excellent content that gets your audience engaged and excited to keep watching, the importance of audience retention and how to increase the time your audience spends viewing your content, and lastly, how to optimize your channel for searchability and clickability.
The first concept is the most important and the most obvious: content. Creating engaging content is the foundation of your YouTube channel. Everything else is tweaking and improving outcomes, but none of it is worth anything without genuinely great content. Now, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for creating great content, but there are some key points to remember to make sure your content gets people excited and builds a loyal audience.
The first key to creating great content is knowing your ideal audience. Who are you trying to reach? What do they love? What do they struggle with? Why are they visiting your channel? If you don’t know who you’re speaking to, your content will lack focus. Take time to really figure out who your ideal audience is before you create any more content if you don’t know the answers to these questions.
Once you know who you’re speaking to, you can create content that is truly novel. You know what your audience is struggling with if you are aiming to provide information and education. You know what they like, what makes them laugh, and how to provide truly entertaining content. The secret here is to really aim to create content that resonates with your specific audience. Don’t create the 100th how-to video on a topic that’s been beaten to death. Really figure out what is missing in your market and provide true value to your audience. The more engagement and feedback you collect, the better your content will become because you learn more about your audience. Keep going back to your ideal audience. Keep asking questions about who they are, and you will be able to create great content that connects with a loyal and engaged audience.
After you feel confident you know your ideal audience and you have created a foundation of awesome content they connect with, you can start to focus on increasing your audience retention rates. YouTube as a platform places a high value on audience retention rates, but what does this mean exactly? Audience retention means keeping people engaged so that they watch from the very beginning to the end and then go on to watch more of your videos. So how do we do this?
One of the best ways to increase audience retention is to create playlists. Batching relevant content into playlists does a couple of things for your audience that will keep them on your channel and keep them engaged with your content. First, playlists make it much easier for your audience members to find exactly what they are looking for without having to search through all of your videos. Next, it keeps them on your channel rather than jumping around to other channels in search of relevant content. Last, playlists help by creating a streamlined viewing process. You can also use features like cards and end screens that drive people to other videos.
Another way to increase audience engagement is by reviewing your audience retention graphs on YouTube. Figure out where people are dropping off and make necessary adjustments. Are you losing people early on during the introduction? Try creating an engaging intro that is less than 15 seconds. Always have an eye on your data and keep making adjustments until you have it right.
The third way to drive engagement and rise above the crowd is through optimization. We generally think about optimization as strictly search engine optimization, or SEO, but, on YouTube, there is another aspect that is important to stand out. Having a high-contrast, visually appealing thumbnail is essential to driving people to your content. People are scrolling through tons of content, and your thumbnail can catch their eye in a highly saturated platform.
After creating thumbnails that pop, you need to have titles with a high clickability and searchability. Clickability means the title is appealing and draws someone to click that video to watch. This does not mean making them click on something that they aren’t expected to watch, because then you don’t get the audience retention. Get creative and figure out what your audience will connect with.
Searchability is including one to two main keywords that you’re actually trying to rank for. This means you’ve done the keyword research beforehand and those are the keywords that you want to potentially rank.
If you follow these three strategies, you will be well on your way to creating a YouTube channel that stands out and has an organically engaged audience.