It’s tough out there for the little guy.
With so many professional YouTubers dedicating hefty budgets to producing high-quality videos and bolstering them with high-cost ad campaigns, how can those with little to no ad budgets possibly keep up?
Not everyone has the budget to invest in a full-blown YouTube channel promotion strategy. If you’re looking for a way to get more subscribers but can’t quite afford the cost of advertising, check out these free tips to help you grow your following on YouTube.
1. Perfect Your Video Titles
The titles of your videos should be clear and direct. They need to inform viewers what they can expect when they click on your videos.
Don’t mislead. While it may seem like a good idea to use clickbait titles to grab attention, that practice doesn’t do you any favors in the long run. Buzzword-filled, emotion-driven titles make it tough for people to find your videos when they search for terms that are actually relevant to your video and channel. Plus, clickbait turns media consumers off—it’s hard to trust a creator who’s constantly exaggerating his or her titles!
Use strong keywords. Since your title is one of the best ways viewers have to find you, you have to make sure you’re using the words they’re searching for. For example, if you make a video about lightning bugs, you may want to consider calling them “fireflies” in the title (or at least including it there) if that’s the more popular search term. Not sure what you should say? Try out Google Trends to see how your keywords stack up.
2. Make Your Description Relevant
When you use the search function on YouTube, you get a huge selection of videos to choose from. Typically, most casual viewers will look at the thumbnails and the titles to decide on what to watch. But there’s another important piece of data on the results page: descriptions.
Have a strong beginning. The first 150 characters of video descriptions show up in search results. That makes those 150 characters the perfect spot for you to further differentiate yourself from the masses of other YouTubers someone might choose to watch over you.
As above, so below. Just like your title, you need to make sure your video descriptions are clear, relevant, and—most important of all—not clickbait. You certainly shouldn’t just repeat the title of your video or channel in the description of your video—it’s a huge waste of keyword space!
3. Utilize Thumbnails
While it’s true that your thumbnail won’t help you turn up in search results, it’s also true that they make a big impact on what viewers choose to watch.
Tell viewers what to expect. It’s worth the time to make a thumbnail that represents what your video—and even channel—is about. Your thumbnail lets viewers know at a glance what you’re offering them.
Create a recognizable theme for your channel. Consistency is beneficial because it helps your fans (and potential fans!) recognize your videos more easily. Plus, consistency in design communicates that you’re serious enough about your content that you pay attention to how it’s presented and what it says about you as a brand.
4. Create Playlists
Playlists are a useful tool that many inexperienced YouTubers overlook. They’re helpful to first-time viewers and loyal fans alike—which makes them helpful to you.
Make viewer experience a breeze. If you have various types of videos, make your channel easier to navigate by sorting them into playlists. Playlists make it simple for new viewers to see the type of content you create. And, thanks to the Up Next feature, viewers are more likely to keep watching your videos when they’re part of a playlist.
Use those keywords. You can add a title and description to your playlists, making them prime real estate for keywords. It’s another place for you to “advertise” exactly what you’re posting, helping you show up in search results.
5. Grab Viewers’ Attention Right Away
You’re already confident in your content. Now you need to optimize it to retain viewership.
Make viewers want to stay. The average human attention span is around 8 seconds, so you need a quick, direct introduction that leads straight to the point to encourage viewers to keep watching.
Figure out when they’re leaving. Use the Audience Retention stat in the Analytics section of YouTube’s Creator Studio to see how much of your audience sticks around—and where they stop watching. That’ll give you helpful insights into what is and isn’t working for your channel.
6. Strategize Your End Screens
While you’re paying attention to your intro, don’t forget about your outro!
Make it easy for your viewers to keep watching your videos. Cards on your ending screens make it simple for them to keep clicking (this is also where good thumbnails come in). You don’t want to interrupt what they’re currently watching, but you don’t want them to click away to someone else, either.
Keep tabs on how your end cards are working. If you’re not sure your end cards are effective, Creator Studio offers a helpful insight: the End Screen stat, found in Interaction Reports in the Analytics section. This shows you where your viewers are clicking at the end of your video, so you can find out if your latest end screen strategy is working.
7. Don’t Forget Calls to Action (Because Your Viewers Will)
As nice as it would be if your viewers automatically hit the like and subscribe buttons after enjoying your videos, it simply doesn’t happen that often. (Attention spans, remember?) Because of this, it’s important that you remind viewers to interact with you.
Ask verbally. While it’s not a bad idea to put your request for likes, comments, and subscriptions in text at the end of your video, you may get better results from vocalizing it. Asking humanizes you, making you more than just a face on a screen. Plus, your viewers may be more likely to hear the request than see it, considering that those tiny attention spans mean they could be multitasking and looking somewhere else.
“We started a…YouTube channel last year and for the first nine or so months never asked anyone to subscribe. As a result, we had hardly any subscribers to show for our work. At the beginning of [the] month I went through and added linked annotations asking viewers to ‘Subscribe!’ to our channel and we literally tripled our subscriber base in a matter of weeks.” —Megan O’Neill, Adweek
Encourage comment conversations. When someone leaves a comment, respond to them! Not only will this show you that you appreciate the feedback, but it motivates others to talk to you, too. Interacting with your viewers makes them feel good, and viewers that feel good about you are more likely to come back, subscribe, and comment even more.
8. Promote Yourself on Other Social Media
Don’t just focus on gaining viewers on YouTube—get on other social platforms, too!
Be consistently active. The more social platforms you’re active on, the easier it is for interested parties to find you. Just make sure to update frequently and link to your channel so all those social users know you’re uploading videos as well as posting on their favorite platforms. (Just don’t beat them over the head with the fact that you’re on YouTube—that’s not fun for anyone.)
Strategize your social game. Check out Traffic Sources in the Analytics Section of Creator Studio to see where your viewers are coming from and adjust your social strategy accordingly. For example, if views are pouring in from Twitter, create a hashtag (or use popular existing ones) to get even more Twitter users to notice you.
Start using these free, easy tips right away to gain YouTube views and grow your brand’s reach. For more immersive help with your online advertising strategy, contact Kirkpatrick Creative today.