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