How to Interact on YouTube to Grow Your Following
YouTube ranks number two in the world of social networks, Facebook being number one. (We have to disqualify Google+ from this contest, because their results are artificially inflated by the integration with their search engine statistics.)
There’s something you ought to know about this social network, however: Whereas Facebook and Pinterest’s audience has a majority of female users, YouTube’s has a majority of male users.
So if your target market leans more towards the male gender in its demographic, you definitely need to be using YouTube to create engagement and drive traffic to your Channel and sites.
Regardless of gender, however, YouTube’s number two status ought to set you down focusing on how to use this powerful network to grow your following.
Step 1. Your Channel Subscriptions
There are several effective tactics you can use to increase subscriptions to your YouTube Channel, but there’s one over-riding method you have to make sure is in place before we take a lot of any of these: And that is asking your viewer to subscribe.
Let’s look at your options…
- Asking within your video – Simply add a graphic at the end of your video asking the viewer to subscribe to your Channel. You should note, however, that YouTube is extremely strict about its users providing incentives, so don’t offer any sort of reward or bribe. (It is permissible to say things like: “Subscribe to my Channel for more videos like these”.)
- Annotations – these are clickable graphics or text boxes embedded within your video. You can add them using your Video Manager in your YouTube dashboard. There are several types for you to choose from – speech bubbles, text boxes (“Notes”) and hot spots (Spotlights) being the most popular.
One fact to note, however: Annotations will not appear in YouTube chromeless players; nor will they display on mobile, tablet and TV devices. So you should always make sure you don’t rely solely on your annotations to attract subscribers, but add calls to action in other places too.
TIP: If you want to make your Annotation clickable, simply check the “Link” radio box within your Annotation creation settings, and use your annotation to add a link to your Channel or to another video (e.g. the next in a series).
Step 2. Video Responses
Considering their effectiveness, it is surprising that more people don’t make use of video responses.
What is a “video response”? It’s when, instead of commenting on another viewer’s video, you make your own video in response to his video and post the link in his comments.
Video responses can not only start an entertaining dialogue, but you can quickly pick up subscribers from the original video poster’s own Channel.
There are ways to do it and ways not do it. Scathing denunciations of the original post may build some viral traffic, but – unless you are Gilbert Gottfried – won’t make people subscribe, if denunciations are not something you normally indulge in. In fact, it can get pretty unpleasant, and may even result in your account being suspended, if someone “flags” your response.
Blatantly showing the original poster up is also not a positive strategy. If you want to correct someone, you have to do it carefully. Sandwich criticism in between a compliment and a positive statement.
The best way to create strong video responses that will please the original poster and his subscribers:
- Present some additional aspect to his video that actually enhances his original point
- Make a funny and engaging response. But if you use parody, be sure to laugh with the original poster – not at him.
Creating a video response is drop-dead easy. Here’s how you do it…
- Click inside the “All Comments” box as if you were just going to type a comment. Then click the link under the bottom-right corner of the textarea box.
- You now have three choices:
- Choose one of your existing videos
- Upload a new one
- Record a new one
Videos you post as a response become linked to the original poster’s video – the perfect way to create backlinks and gather subscribers, if you’ve done a proficient job on your video response.
Note: If you see an asterisk – * – beside the video you are about to upload, YouTube is reminding you that the video in question has already been linked to another video as a video response. If you continue, your old link will be broken and the video you choose will now be linked to the current one.
One last tip with video responses:
- Invite a response to your response!
And make it irresistible for the original poster and his followers to do so!
Step 3. Install the YouTube Subscription Widget onto your Website
The more people you turn into subscribers, the more chance you’ll get to interact with them. So do be sure to install the Subscription widget onto your own Website.
This involves :
- Accessing your website on the server through your FTP program
- Copy-paste the following snippet of code into your web page HTML.
<iframe id=”fr” src=”http://www.YouTube.com/subscribe_widget?p=[substitute your YouTube Username here]” style=”overflow: hidden; height: 105px; width: 300px; border: 0;” scrolling=”no” frameBorder=”0″></iframe>
Insert it where you want your widget to appear.
It should look like this on your website or blog, with your own logo or image, your Google account name, your username and the number of your own subscribers:
(When you substitute your username over the pink text, be sure not to include the square brackets.)
Step 4. Follow other Channels
Here’s yet another basic strategy too many people ignore: Following other Channels to attract their subscribers to your own Channel.
Use interacting with other users via their Channels exactly as you would interact with another social network.
“Favorite” other peoples’ videos that you particularly like – but if you are favoriting ones outside of your normal area of branding, create a separate Featured Playlist for them (e.g. “Inspirational videos”, “Funny videos”).
You can also keep lists of members whom you regard as friends.
Follow channels for industry leaders and news sources. Recommend their videos to your subscribers or make a Playlist of helpful videos. (You’ll also be seen as the person who knows all the breaking news.)
After all, the social element – social sharing — is really what it is all about.
Step 5. Increasing Identification and Integration
Brand your Channel page by adding videos, playlists and other Channels, as well as a Channel banner and Watch Page icon. Follow YouTube’s own instructions and Channel branding best practices.
And speaking of best practices in YouTube interaction, make sure you observe the following five “musts” diligently.
- Get into the habit of checking for comments about your videos regularly (either via your channel or your Gmail). Respond to them straight away – even if it’s only a “Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.”
Answer any questions that are asked, and seize the opportunity to refer the questioner either to another of your own videos for further information or to a different YouTube video, if it will be genuinely helpful. This will create goodwill on both the part of the questioner and the person whose video you are referring them to.
- Vary your responses. Don’t always post comments on others’ videos – vary that with video responses.
And if you are asked a question that requires a detailed answer, don’t do it in the comments section: Instead, respond to the question by (a) thanking the commenter for a great question (b) directing him to a new video you’ve made in response, directly giving or demonstrating the answer.
(E.g. “That’s a great question about arc lights, Devin. Rather than write pages here, I created a quick video showing how to tell the difference between carbon arc and voltaic arc lamps…)
- Share each new video to your social networks – and use a call to action: Give your social network fans a strong, irresistible, curiosity-arousing reason to check it out.
- Install the Facebook YouTube app on your Facebook Page – and drag the tab to show as one of your four cover-header tabs, under your Cover photo and to the right of your “About” section.
- Embed your YouTube video on your blog. This not only gives you a reason to interact with more viewers via your blog itself, it will prove a handy failsafe back-up, should YouTube ever take down your account!
That’s more than enough to get you started – more ways to interact than you might have imagined, at first.
Use YouTube as the powerful tool it is to interact with people and grow your following.