Video content is leading the way in the content marketing scene (as of 2017). YouTube is currently the leading platform for video blogging (vlogging), video sharing, and video marketing. It is a free platform offered by Google, and many (including me) love it.
Facebook and Twitter have recently stepped into the video marketing game, but they still fall way short of having the kind of impact that YouTube has.
If you currently have a YouTube channel, you must be wondering how you can get more YouTube subscribers, and how you can increase the reach of your YouTube videos.
With over a billion unique YouTube visitors per month, there is a large potential audience for every uploaded video. Whether it’s a video of someone performing a prank or a video of a fashionista’s summerwear review, YouTube is the go-to platform for video consumption.
With a whole new lot of YouTube stars on the rise, it is definitely a platform to be considered by everyone looking for some online marketing and publicity.
YouTube is a great platform for bloggers to broaden their internet reach by making a personal connection with their followers.
The possibility for a blogger to leverage this social media giant and drive huge traffic from YouTube is high. To do that, one first needs to get more subscribers.
Note: This detailed guide to getting YouTube subscribers is long. Make sure you have enough time now to read it, or you can always bookmark it and read it later!
20 Smart Ways To Get More YouTube Subscribers in 2017
Another year has gone by and your resolution to re-build that YouTube channel of yours has not been accomplished.
If you are thinking about revamping your YouTube channel, here are 20 smart ways to gain more YouTube subscribers in 2017.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a YouTube fan-fest with a VIP invitee (thanks to my wonderful acquaintances), and a little interaction with them will shed some light on how these things work out.
I have another associate (a student of mine) who saw a tremendous amount of growth in his YouTube subscribers and viewers within a span of two years. Although his numbers might not be outrageous, they total well above a million views, which more than justifies his efforts.
All that said, correctly implementing these techniques will surely help you achieve your goals.
1. Create a plan (and script) for your videos.
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.“
– Sir Winston Churchill
The first step in getting started on your YouTube journey is to plan what your channel is going to be all about.
Then you need to plan the structure of the videos.
Decide what it is that you love creating and focus on developing related skills. Do not mimic trending YouTube channels. Doing what you love is more important for success on YouTube (and in life).
Videos tend to perform better if you write a script because scripts help you in organizing your videos efficiently and keeping you on track. By sticking to a script, you’ll be able to stay on track without veering off to an unrelated topic. This script will also ensure a perfect flow of events resulting in a well-focused video.
Include as many details as possible into your video script:
- The exact words you are going to say.
- The actions you will be taking in the video.
- The main points you need to stress.
- Any necessary calls to action (click on this link, subscribe to my channel, etc.)
Also, identify your target audience and write your script based off of their understanding.
Are they technically savvy? Are they non-native English speakers? Are they smart or dumb? What are their levels of expertise in relation to yours? Do they want something funny or informative?
Identify who your audience is and use appropriate language.
2. Produce highly engaging content (obviously).
It should go without saying, but you need to create content that is engaging, informative, and entertaining. Make sure it stays that way for the entire duration of the video. Losing the hook in the middle will cost you a lot of viewers.
Content that works the best is content that is either entertaining or informative. The content that really works the best is content that is entertaining AND informative. This is pretty standard with any kind of content marketing, but in particular, videos that inform and entertain are usually the most successful.
Specifically, you should be uploading a combination of burst and evergreen videos. Burst videos will be all the rage for a limited time, getting you instant hits, but will fade away as time passes by.
Evergreen videos are the ones that will get you archived views and will remain relevant irrespective of time. Ideally, if possible, you should try to create mostly evergreen content.
If you fear the wrath of the camera, you can try publishing ‘Screencasts‘. You can still make screencasts entertaining and informative.
Whatever you do, before you hit the publish button, make sure your videos are highly engaging and will be of value to your audience.
3. Increase your uploading frequency.
Now this is easier said than done, but you cannot ignore its validity. The main reason someone subscribes to a channel is because they love the work of the publisher and wants to see more of their videos.
YouTube subscribers usually do not like channels that don’t produce regular content. Especially in today’s digital age, consumers want continually more and more entertainment. You need to be able to keep up with your subscribers’ demands.
Consistency is the key to developing a long-lasting relationship with your subscribers.
Release your videos in a timely, recurring, and structured fashion. Try to publish one video per week… or at least one or two per month.
Stick to your schedule and do not upload videos off of this schedule. This will hurt your reputation. It’s like watching your favorite TV series; a new episode comes out according to a regular schedule. This consistency helps you stay engaged as a viewer.
4. Learn how to optimize your titles.
Being distinguishable is the most important aspect of YouTube success.
One great way to do this is to give your videos offbeat names. This way, you’re going to be getting a lot of people coming to your channel based on curiosity alone.
Having quirky titles will play a major role in getting the views that your channel needs to benefit from the social proof factor.
But to get a maximum amount of views, you will also need to dive into the SEO part of YouTube marketing.
Here are a few tips for optimizing your YouTube titles for greater reach:
- Use the keyword in the title. This had a larger impact on SEO in the past, but it still has a pretty large effect on video. Google crawlers don’t watch videos the way they read blog posts, so putting the keyword in the title will let Google bots know what your video is all about.
- Use Google Adwords to identify what people are searching for on the web. Try to tackle videos with a perfect blend of high volume searches and low competition.
- Don’t make the title too long. Google truncates the length of the video down to 66 characters and adds ‘YouTube |’ before the video (taking an extra 10 characters). Your ideal video title should be no more than 50 characters.
- Make the title descriptive. Give the audience a sneak peek as to what the video will be about.
- Make the title engaging. Like I said above, having a quirky title will get more people to click. The more clicks you have, the higher it will rank.
- Don’t use the word “video” in the title. This will only take up space and won’t help you rank higher on YouTube’s search engine (though it may have an effect on normal search engines).
In short, learn how to write catchy, relevant, and optimized titles.
5. Make the most of channel customizations.
If you are going to get visitors to trust your brand on YouTube, you have to make the most of the customization options that YouTube has to offer.
Make yourself appear professional, and viewers will be sure to respect and trust you.
If you already run a blog with a bit of a following, make use of similar branding elements for your YouTube channel. This will make you easily recognizable across all platforms.
Having some well-crafted, custom channel art for YouTube will help you establish yourself as a brand. You can use this pretty cheap (Only $19) YouTube channel art service which lets you create your own optimized YouTube channel art.
Use a custom background header that includes some design elements from your blog.
Make the most of the YouTube channel bio and custom URL to finish up your channel customizations. Keep the bio short and to the point. You can always link to your blog’s URL in the video description for a more detailed bio.
6. Personalize video thumbnails.
Here is something many YouTube creators agree upon.
Create a custom video thumbnail for each video instead of letting one be randomly generated. This only makes sense.
Using annotations and relevant images as custom thumbnails for your YouTube videos will increase your videos’ CTR (click through rate). A custom video thumbnail with a minor annotation will tell your users what your video is all about.
YouTube currently offers a selection of thumbnails from three intervals – at the 1/4th mark, at 1/2 mark, and at the 3/4th mark. Choose the one that best illustrates what your video is about.
7. Create an engaging channel trailer.
YouTube offers a great feature called channel trailers that lets you automatically play a video upon the opening of a YouTube channel.
Your channel trailer is something you must carefully work on and constantly improve to keep visitors engaged.
This is the moment where you need to catch your audience’s attention within a few seconds. The perfect channel trailer is somewhere between 30 seconds to 60 seconds.
Here you will need to provide a reason to your potential subscribers as to why they must stay on your channel, and what it is that you have to offer them.
If you are good in front of the camera, give a quick, informative, and engaging introduction (with a well-structured script).
In your YouTube’s Channel Reports, check the viewer retention rates to see if you are killing off potential subscribers with a boring or lengthy channel trailer.
Tweak it until it’s perfect.
8. Make use of ‘Call to Action’ annotations.
‘Call to action’ annotations are those annoying popups in the video (which can be a blessing for the YouTube creators). If used in a proper way, you can get more subscribers by making your visitors click them during the video.
Many YouTubers have reported increased channel subscriptions with these annotations added to their videos.
A simple link created for subscribing to the channel can be placed as a call to action in your video.
If you’re using a graphic to add a call to action, you can liven it up with a call to action annotation.
If done in an unobtrusive way, you will see your channel subscriptions grow.
But again, the key here is not to be annoying. Users will not subscribe if your only reason for making videos is to get more people to subscribe.
Do it smartly, and it will pay off.
9. Use the right tools.
There are a lot of great tools out there. From tools to help you make videos to tools to help you promote your videos, using the right tools will help you increase your organic viewership.
And the more organic views you have, the more potential subscribers you can get.
For me, I have been using TubeBuddy for a while & I highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about YouTube marketing.
TubeBuddy will help you find more viewers, make more money, and automate your entire YouTube process. Definitely check it out.
Check out this video on how TubeBuddy can help:
More YouTube tools:
10. Let people find you.
YouTube provides an option to link to your official web page, and if you’ve got one, make sure you do it.
This makes sense, and there’s no reason for you not doing it.
The efforts you put into getting visitors for your YouTube channel can be capitalized on when you direct your most curious visitors to your website. Moreover, your channel will also become verified as an authentic representation of your brand on YouTube.
Under the channel settings of your YouTube page, add your website/blog URL to your channel.
You may also consider adding your website/blog URL in the channel description itself.
Similarly, add a ‘Subscribe’ button somewhere on your blog to drive more subscribers to your YouTube channel.
11. Limit the videos to under 5 minutes.
- Source: Buffer blog- The Ideal Length of Everything Online
Although YouTube is home to many detailed, in-depth reviews and other such lengthy content, the high converting videos are the ones which are optimized for less than 5 minutes in length.
Comscore reported in January 2014 that the average length of most YouTube videos was around 4.4 minutes. For content creators who are getting started, this is the golden number.
Follow this number until a following is built.
Once you have a good following, you can experiment with video length and see what your audience’s reaction is.
Keep it short, simple, informative, entertaining, and under 5 minutes.
It is a tough challenge, but it’s worth your efforts.
12. Use A YouTube Intro & Outro.
Your YouTube intro and outro not only helps in branding, it will make your video more entertaining.
Having an intro and outro will serve your brand and offer your video a sense of professionalism. It’s like the opening theme song of a TV show.
Moreover, an attractive intro will ensure that your viewers stay glued to the rest of the video.
Here is an example from my channel:
13. Edit your videos ruthlessly.
Thomas Hawk, a well-renowned photographer, claims that for every single photograph that he publishes, he has ten rejected shots. The same goes with any type of editing.
Ruthlessly edit your YouTube videos and make sure only your best ones get published.
If you make haste about strictly adhering to your schedule and publish haphazardly, it will only hurt you and your brand as a whole. Make a lot of recordings while you are shooting a video, and make sure only the best parts get selected.
Take multiple shots if you don’t feel confident about a certain take.
Although I haven’t done much video editing on a Macintosh, Adobe Premier will work perfectly if you are based on Windows. Get the right editing tools to assist you in this (often) painstaking process.
If are willing to invest more time and effort to understanding cinematography, I recommend you check out The Five C’s of Cinematography: Essential tips for film making. It has some great cutting-edge techniques for both the novice and the seasoned cinematographer.
14. Optimize your video descriptions.
Coming back to the SEO aspect of YouTube videos, the video description is not to be neglected.
The description will not only let your videos be found in search engines, they’ll also give potential viewers an idea of what your video is about.
But don’t overdo it. Having a very detailed description makes no sense because only the first few lines of your description show up when the video is initially loaded.
Again, like the title, you should use your keyword in the description, and again, don’t overdo it. Don’t think you’re outsmarting the search engine by adding in your keyword 17 times. Doing this will actually hurt your chances of showing up in searches.
Keep it natural and authentic.
Hint: You can try linking people to a ‘squeeze page’ in your video description.
15. Make the most of meta tags.
Make use of the Google Keyword Planner for getting ideas on relevant keywords for your YouTube videos. Add all of those relevant keywords to your videos. This will help you become more discoverable in both Google and YouTube search engines.
Overdoing keywords will not help (it will actually hurt), but a few well-researched and well-placed keywords can do wonders for your rankings.
A low video count may not always be only about poor content; it could also indicate poor discoverability
Metadata is something that plays a major role in getting your videos displayed in search results. You can browse some well-converting videos and see what meta tags they are using to give you some ideas. But don’t just copy and paste meta tags; this won’t help your cause.
Here’s a video guide to help you out:
16. End your videos on a high note.
Whatever the nature of your videos, make sure you end your videos on a high note.
Just like the last dialogue before the curtain falls, make sure you end your videos in a memorable fashion.
Ask your audience for a subscription and a like if they liked the video. Tell them to check out your website. Give them your phone number and ask them to call you (…I wouldn’t recommend that one).
Whatever you do, remember:
- If you never ask, the answer will always be no.
End your videos on a note of confidence and let your audience know that you appreciate their viewership.
Create a tail slate, or a brand-like outro with a standard banner and “subscribe” annotations across all of your videos.
End your videos with a smile and keep your visitors eager for more.
17. Consider collaborating with fellow YouTubers.
Collaborating on YouTube has become pretty common recently among top content creators.
- Because collaboration benefits everyone.
It’ll be good for you, for your collaborators, and for the audience.
The creative process is a constructive one, and seeing other YouTubers as your competitors will only impede your progress, leaving you languishing and loathing others’ successes.
Try to reach out to similar users in your field and ask them out for an opportunity to work together on something interesting.
You’ll be able to connect to a new audience, your collaborator will be able to connect to a new audience, and your viewers will love all of this extra value they’re getting.
It’s a win-win-win.
18. Interact with your loyal fan base.
Social media is built upon this intangible thread of connecting and interacting with fellow people.
- It is all about how much you care.
When your fans know that you care about them, they will care about you.
Interact with your audience, and listen to their requests in the comments section of your videos. It is true that you may face certain backlashes and anger in your comments section, but brush it off with elegance and listen to your loyal fan base.
Reply to the comments under your videos, and make your viewers feel connected all the time. This will build trust, and they will respect you for caring about them.
19. Consider giveaways and video challenges.
Who doesn’t love giveaways?
Offer your audience something in return for all of their engagement on your YouTube channel.
A free giveaway or video contest will reward your current followers, and will help lure in new followers.
You can give away anything you want:
- A new tech gadget.
- A branded t-shirt.
- A hosting subscription.
- A new car…!
Whatever it is, your audience will love the chance of getting something for free, and they will tell all of their friends about it (especially if the prize is really good). This is not only free promotion, it’s free viral promotion.
For a really big giveaway, many YouTube hosts require users to follow all of their social media profiles to enter into the contest. I recommend this approach.
It’s best if the thing you’re giving away is related to your niche, but even if it’s not, your audience will still love getting something for free.
20. Cross-platform promotion is a necessity.
In this age of social media, being present and active on multiple social platforms is a pre-requisite for being alive.
If you’re trying to build a brand, being discoverable is a must. You need to be active on many major social media platforms.
You should at least have a profile on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. But you can always opt for other ones like Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat, and all of the others… If being on too many social media platforms sounds like a logistical nightmare, you can use an auto-scheduling app like Buffer to help you stay organized and on a regular posting schedule.
You can also try Facebook Ads and Google Ads to promote yourself further on the web (I’d recommend trying Facebook Ads before Google Ads). You can also try tools like Pay with a tweet that lets users pay for a product with a tweet.
This is how successful brands are built. By being visible on many places around the web, you set yourself up as an omniscient presence.
Bonus Tip: Hustle for your first 1000 YouTube subscribers.
Whatever you do, have an aggressive strategy to get out there and get your first 1000 subscribers as quickly as possible.
The ‘build it, they’ll come’ attitude won’t work on social media. You will need to promote your channel to your maximum abilities. A channel that’s quickly gaining buzz will also help you stay motivated to work even harder and create better videos for your audience.
Share with your friends what you’ve been working on, and ask for a subscription if they are interested. Remember, don’t keep pestering friends; they are not obliged to do anything.
Get out there on other social media platforms with some personal connections and let them know about your undertakings. Ask them for likes and subscriptions (if they’re interested).
Again, don’t pester anyone!
Conclusion: Keep experimenting and exploring
“Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.”
— M. C. Escher
What worked for someone else might not turn out to work for you. So, keep experimenting and stick to the methods that work… for you.
Keep experimenting with camera angles, backgrounds, video thumbnails, and all of the techniques in this article. Keep tracking your changes and the way they are affecting your audience’s behavior.
Stay true to your brand.
Building something of value on YouTube takes a lot of effort, time, perseverance, and a long-term commitment. But eventually, with patience, you can reap its benefits.
What are some other strategies you think should be mentioned here? Shout out your thoughts on how to build YouTube subscribers in the comments below.
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