YouTube Channel Partner Goals – Web Presence

YouTube is host to a billion users who are watching over one billion hours of content every day (YouTube Press 2018) with content creators uploading 300 hours of video to the platform every minute (Brandwatch 2017). I wanted to find out more about what channel owners can do in this highly competitive marketplace to keep viewers watching, subscribing and returning to their content. For some creators, their content can generate millions of dollars in ad revenue through the YouTube Partner Affiliate program. Since the start of 2018, to be a part of the program, channels need to meet ‘the eligibility requirement for monetization [of] 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers’ (YouTube-Creators Blog 2018).

3-Minute Videos

According to Buffer’s blog post by Lee (2016), 3-minutes is the optimal length for a YouTube video. This was based on data that took the average length of the most popular videos on YouTube. However, this information was gathered in 2012 & 2013 and, if redone today, should probably be considered for individual categories because of the significant popularity of music videos. Even with that in mind, keeping videos succinct makes sense considering viewer behaviour. According to the statistics from Brandwatch (2017) ‘More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices’ and ‘the average mobile viewing session lasts more than 40 minutes’. These two points make me believe that users are actively engaging with the platform and viewing a variety of videos each visit – this provides an opportunity for creators to keep viewers on their channels.

A Well-Timed Card

Using YouTube channel analytics, creators can see the average view duration and a graph of the audience retention over time for each individual video. In an interview with DeMers (2017), Syed Balkhi suggests placing a card at the exact moment when users are leaving your video. Creators can use this card to invite viewers to link to another video right at the moment they are thinking of looking for new content. This takes advantage of the active nature of the user and keeps them clocking up viewing hours on your channel.

TubeBuddy

While researching I found many people recommending the use of TubeBuddy, a browser extension certified by YouTube, to manage and optimise a YouTube channel. One of the key features of this plugin is its ability to improve SEO within YouTube. It allows channel managers to see where a video is ranking on YouTube searches for its tags and keywords. It also can suggest related tags and keywords for individual videos by analysing the title, description and existing tags. Based on the positive response this plugin has received (Boone 2018), I am definitely planning to test it out for future projects.

References

Boone, J 2018, ‘10 Ways to Harness the Power of Your YouTube Videos’, No Film School, 19 April, viewed 25 April 2018, <https://nofilmschool.com/2018/04/10-youtube-tips-creators-should-know-about&gt;.

DeMers, J 2017, ‘8 Secrets To Grow Your YouTube Channel In 2018 From A YouTuber With Over 550 Million Video Views’, Forbes, 29 December, viewed 25 April 2018, <https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2017/12/29/8-secrets-to-grow-your-youtube-channel-in-2018-from-a-youtuber-with-over-550-million-video-views/#239e263f28de&gt;.

Lee, K 2014, ‘Infographic: The Optimal Length for Every Social Media Update and More’, Buffer Social Blog, 21 October, viewed 25 April 2018, <https://blog.bufferapp.com/optimal-length-social-media&gt;.

Mohan, N 2018, ‘Additional Changes to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) to Better Protect Creators’, YouTube Creators Blog, 16 January, viewed 25 April 2018, <https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/2018/01/additional-changes-to-youtube-partner.html&gt;.

Smith, K 2017, ‘39 Fascinating and Incredible YouTube Statistics’, Brandwatch Blog, 12 December, viewed 25 April 2018, <https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/39-youtube-stats/&gt;.

YouTube 2018, YouTube for Press, YouTube, viewed 25 April 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/intl/en-GB/yt/about/press/&gt;.

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Content is More Important than Quality – Digital Storytelling

There is so much digital content available for consumption and most people have relatively easy access to technology to create this content, however, high production values do not seem to be a prerequisite for audiences. As long as the content is of interest, and able to be downloaded or buffered, users are willing to engage with it (Dobrian et al. 2011). The online video with the second most views over the first 24-hours is known as Chewbacca Mask Lady, reaching 50 million views in a day (Parker 2016). It was originally recorded and posted to Facebook by Candace Payne while sitting in her car. While this example is definitely an outlier, I’m curious about the relationship between perception of quality and user engagement.

Audio First for Audiovisual

In support of content over quality, if the audio is of poor quality and the information cannot be heard, it creates a big barrier for audiences to engage (Beerends & De Caluwe, cited in Harrell n.d.). This definitely aligns with the findings of Dobrian et al. (2011) where audiences are willing to sacrifice video quality (to a certain extent) as long as they are interested in the content. If the audio quality isn’t perfect, videos can be helped by using subtitles, Ashraf (2016) found that ‘78.2% of all views are silent’. This is all in services of making it easier for audiences to understand the creator’s intended message.

Amateur Hour

The internet and social media have provided an open platform for users to share their digital creations and Jenkins (2006 p. 136) identifies its value for amateur storytellers:

“Most of what the amateurs create is gosh-awful bad, yet a thriving culture needs spaces where people can do bad art, get feedback, and get better. After all, much of what circulates through mass media is also bad by almost any criteria, but the expectations of professional polish make it a less hospitable environment for newcomers to learn and grow.”

For online distribution, the ability for people to reach a community with shared interests is more important than the quality of the production. The deeper value of amateur production was also recognised by Allocca (2018) who, trying to comprehend YouTube as a vessel for ‘authentic entertainment’, saw ‘The authenticity that attracted us to early YouTube videos and channels came not from their amateurism, but from the aesthetic honestly that naturally accompanies amateurism.’ I believe that the appearance of authenticity has become its own visual aesthetic, identifiable by recordings with phone selfie cameras, and used in video marketing to give the impression that something is unrehearsed, unpolished and produced with the same technical resources and capabilities of its intended audience.

References

Allocca, K 2018, Videocracy: How YouTube Is Changing the World . . . with Double Rainbows, Singing Foxes, and Other Trends We Can’t Stop Watching, Bloomsbury Publishing, New York, USA.

Ashraf, S 2016, The Silent Movie Era Returns On Social Media, Locowise, 9 December, viewed 21 April 2018, <https://locowise.com/blog/the-silent-movie-era-returns-on-social-media&gt;.

Harrell, L.S n.d., Why Audio is More Important Than Video Image Quality, VTREP, viewed 21 April 2018, <http://vtrep.com/audio-is-more-important-than-video-picture-quality/&gt;.

Dobrian, F, Awan, A, Joseph, D, Ganjam, A, Zhan, J, Sekar, V, Stoica, I & Zhang, H 2011, ‘Understanding the Impact of Video Quality on User Engagement’, in SIGCOMM ’11 Proceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM 2011 conference, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 15 – 19 August, pp. 362-373, viewed 20 April 2018 <https://dl.acm.org/ft_gateway.cfm?id=2018478&ftid=1012372&dwn=1&CFID=31083971&CFTOKEN=6f884d4dd7ac3957-6DD46D29-079F-0AB0-320EA49C7CAE8053&gt;.

Jenkins, H 2006, Convergence Culture, NYU Press, New York, USA.

Parker, R 2016, Chewbacca Mask-Wearing Mom Hits 50 Million Facebook Views in 24 Hours, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 May, viewed 21 April 2018, <https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/chewbacca-mask-wearing-mom-hits-896120&gt;.