Last night in Los Angeles, our friend Tubefilter put four guys who’ve forgotten more about YouTube than the rest of us will ever know on a stage. The panel “You’re A YouTube Partner — Now What?” featured Next New Networks‘ Ben Relles, Rafi Fine of the Fine Brothers, Jason Schnell of Reckless Tortuga and former YouTube exec George Strompolos, who’s now the CEO of digital media startup Fullscreen. The result? A whole lot of knowledge getting dropped, with no shortage of general and specific tips of interest to those hoping to use YouTube as a platform to web video success. The event had great turnout, but in case you couldn’t make it — here is some of the most valuable advice they shared.
- Know what your format is, and maintain a regular schedule. Fine pointed out that with a few exceptions, pretty much everyone on YouTube who’s succeeding has developed basic concepts for shows that they post consistently — thus creating a brand for themselves and enabling audience growth.
- Don’t create a YouTube account for your show; create one for your overall brand. Both Fine and Schnell emphasized the value of having a central channel that hosts multiple shows, as opposed to individual channels for individual shows. The reason? If your shows are hosted on individual channels, it’ll be harder to drive traffic between them — meaning that if one show is a big success, the other shows won’t benefit as much.
- If you have a separate website for your show, consider hosting options aside from YouTube. Strompolos mentioned that while a YouTube presence is essential, Blip.tv or Ooyala might have better monetization for creators who don’t mind using multiple platforms. However, sticking with one platform does keep all the views in one place, if that’s important to you.
- Censorship can drive traffic. Reckless Tortuga, Schnell said, posts edited versions of their videos on YouTube with a notice that unedited versions are available on the official RT site.
- Being super-active could help with your placement in search results.
According to Fine, the Google algorithm favors those who post more.UPDATE: Via email, Fine corrected this: “Posting more often does not help the algorithm. The algorithm is based on who gets a combination of the most Views, Likes, Favorites, Comments, Video Responses, and views outside of Youtube to a smaller degree. YouTube does not disclose how much power each of these have in terms of helping content creators climb the YouTube lists more than others. The more you get of each of these, the better the chances of getting higher on the lists.”
- Music videos are great promotional devices. This was something all the panelists, especially Relles, agreed about. Not only are music videos proven crowd-pleasers, but if you create a parody of a pop song, you’ll also see a boost in traffic thanks to search results. And if people like what they see, that traffic may lead them to check out the rest of your content.
- Facebook and Twitter are essential. Strompolos emphasized building a Facebook presence as a way to “double-down” on your online popularity. Fine said Facebook and Twitter are where the Fine Brothers interact with their hardcore fans, and get feedback on their content.
- Reach out to communities that are relevant to your videos. As an example of this, Schnell described how one Reckless Tortuga video, a mock PSA on racism, did well because they posted it on a forum for black women. “Put your content where people are watching that kind of content,” he said.
- Use your words, not on-screen text. According to Strompolos, actually telling people in a video to check out a new account or show is more effective than YouTube annotations.
- Get specific with your tags, especially if you’re new. As popular as the search “funny” is on YouTube, Fine said that new videos are likely to get buried in the search results.
- Pilot your content. Schnell said that for Reckless Tortuga, they’ll create “mini-pilots” to test new concepts — and what doesn’t perform for them, they cancel.
These tips may not work for everyone, of course — there’s no magic bullet for web content. But making the best content you can and being smart about your distribution never hurt anyone.