How to Make a Successful YouTube Channel

September 3rd, 2014

How to Make a Successful YouTube Channel

There is no doubt that the Internet overall and social media specifically have made the world a smaller place.

We can go on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other networks to see firsthand global events in real time–not minutes or days later like in traditional media – whether it’s the Arab Spring protests or the Pope giving mass or concerts of our favorite artists.

Videos and YouTube Play a Huge Role in Social Media Marketing

Underneath this uber trend of social media as a global news and community force is a sub-trend of how visuals, and not just words, are taking over the digitalsphere. Especially videos.

At Rival IQ, we see tens of thousands of companies come through our system, and a year ago, nearly 100% of those set up their accounts with a traditional Website URL. Over the past year, however, we’ve seen an increasing number of “entities” use YouTube channels as their “homepage” or main URL.

Clearly, YouTube (and other visual channels like Instagram) is playing an increasingly important role in social media, especially if you are targeting consumers. And frankly, it should be an automatic part of your marketing strategy as you are targeting consumers aged 15 to 35.

The Most Engaging YouTube Videos are Global, Funny, and Heartwarming

We queried our database to find the 50 most engaging YouTube videos in Rival IQ (which means that a user has created a landscape that includes this YouTube channel).

The results validated two things: One is that the millennial generation rules the airwaves. The second is that it really is a small world after all.

The social video content that is winning the hearts and minds of people around the globe is personal, not corporate or political, and usually funny, but sometimes, heartwarming.

The winning videos came from YouTube channels that garner tens of millions of views, including a young Swedish gamer and comedian, an Aussie boy band, a gaming company, a man who calls himself a magician, a company who helps you learn foreign languages, a 3-day music festival featuring European electronic music, and a video series that combines rap and history.

The Top 5 Most Engaging YouTube Videos on Rival IQ

Let’s dig into the most engaging YouTube videos and then look beyond the videos to what these people and organizations are doing to build a strong following and community on social media.

1. Tomorrowland 2012 Official Aftermovie: With over 116 Million views, this video is still taking the globe by storm. Tomorrowland 2012 is part of an amazing musical festival series.

Videos for TomorrowWorld 2014, to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, are already garnering hundreds of thousands of views.  This Belgian-based company saw a market opportunity to bring European electronic dance music (EDM) to the U.S.  But rather than just doing a concert, they created this incredible experience over three days that draws tens of thousands of people and brought Atlanta $70 million in 2013.

2. PewDiePie A Funny Montage:  With more than 56 million views and nearly a million likes, this is just one of literally dozens of PewDiePie videos that are winning the YouTube viewer battle.

Who is PewDiePie? From his YouTube channel: “I’m just a guy from Sweden who likes to laugh and make other people laugh. Sharing gaming moments on YouTube with my bros!”

You can subscribe to his channel to “become a Bro”. And the Bros are clearly enjoying this.

Overall, this Swedish YouTube star has over 30 million subscribers to his channel and has had more than 5 billion views of his videos. PewDiePie has risen to YouTube conqueror through his video game commentary, silly antics, and by clearly knowing his audience.

Wikipedia calls him a “YouTube Celebrity” – showing the rise of a new genre of celebrity. He’s also won multiple accolades, including 2013 Most Popular Social Show and the Teen Choice Awards for Web Star in the Gaming category.

3. Epic Rap Battles of History:  Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney: Okay, I have to admit that this is my personal favorite. Yes, I love rap, and these guys are brilliant in the way they tell a story and weave in actual history with hysterical rhymes. While this video is not G-rated, they have figured out how to bring history to the people. This specific video has nearly 95 million views and 700,000 Likes.

Like PewDiePie, this is just one of many videos this ERB channel has achieved tens of millions of views and likes. The group creates rapper face-offs between business people, like Gates vs Jobs; civil rights leaders, such as Gandhi vs Martin Luther King; bizarre combinations, like Mario Bros vs. the Wright Bros or Marilyn Monroe vs. Cleopatra; and athletes, like Michael Jordan vs. Muhammad Ali (featuring funny men Key & Peele – who have their own most engaging video with Substitute Teacher).

I’ll warn you, once you start watching these, it’s hard to stop.

4. Five Seconds of Summer:  She Looks So Perfect: I’ll admit that I’m having trouble distinguishing one boy band from the next. However, give these four Australian young men credit, as their video and debut album, “She Looks So Perfect” is owning YouTube.

With over 72 million views and nearly 700,000 likes, this video rose to the top ranks is just the past six months. While their channel, 5SOSVEVO, has under 2 million subscribers, their videos are getting the views and likes around the world.

YouTube also rocked this foursome to stardom, as they were YouTube celebrities from posting videos doing cover songs starting in 2011. A fellow boy band, One Direction, took their fame from the Internet to the stage when they invited them to join one of their tours.

5. Homeless Man Gets a Home by MagicofRahat: This is a wonderful tearjerker. Magic of Rahat found surprising social fame by posting what seemed to be an innocuous video about giving a homeless man a “winning” lottery ticket. The video went viral on YouTube, Reddit, and online news media. This latest video shows the Magic of Rahat, who calls himself the Magician Prankster, doing the absolute opposite of a prank, by going back to the same homeless man to show him his new house, which was paid for by the thousands of dollars that were donated by people who watched the first video.

This is a great example of how the world can come together to make one person’s life a little better, thereby making us all just a little bit better.

Now, let’s take a look at the YouTube channels behind these videos and see what we can learn about engagement and social media best practices.

Best Practice #1: Take a Multi-Channel Social Approach

These YouTube celebrities are not using YouTube alone to reach their fans and build a strong community. As we can see below, every one of these channels also has a presence on at least four other social networks. At Rival IQ, we track six networks, and the only place the YouTube stars don’t have a profile is LinkedIn.

It’s important to note that if you are a business-to-business (B2B) company then LinkedIn is a must-have.

YouTube Social Channel Matrix

Best Practice #2: Prioritize the Social Networks Based on Your Target Community

While these users may have a presence on all five of these networks, they most likely do not have an equal presence or activity level on them all. The reality is it’s hard to do 5 or 6 social networks all well. Prioritize the channels based on where your competitors and your community is engaging already.

To get a sense of emphasis for these different networks, I reviewed a chart showing an aggregate social audience. Here, you can see two things: One, PewDiePie is killing it compared to the other profiles in this landscape. Two, as part of our multi-channel evaluation, we can see that Facebook is also an important channels for most of these, followed by Twitter and Instagram.

YouTube Social Audience multi channel

When we dig down by channel, we can also see that popularity contests vary. On Facebook, TomorrowLand actually leads with the most Likes, followed closely the 5SOS.

YouTube Facebook likes

These YouTube stars and their teams have figured out how to extend their YouTube presence to obtain a following and engagement across several social channels. A good lesson for us all, as we need to take a multi-channel yet integrated marketing approach to our social media marketing. 

Best Practice #3: Post Consistently on Your Top Priority Channels

It’s not enough to just “show up” on these social networks, you need to make sure you are posting content consistently. As we can see in this Social Activity chart for the past 30 days, these personalities are posting frequently on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

YouTube Social Activity

In this case, while PewDiePie has the largest social audience, 5 Seconds of Summer is the most active, especially on Twitter and Facebook.

Let’s look at both of those networks a bit more closely to see specifically how frequently 5 Seconds of Summer and others are posting. We can see that 5 Seconds of Summer is really active on Twitter, with 14 tweets on average per day. This compares to the average number of tweets I see on a regular basis for other brands, which is somewhere between 5 and 10.

This group must know they have a strong target audience on Twitter.

Youtube Tweets per day

On Facebook, the activity is even more skewed by 5SOS, with the band posting nearly 7 updates a day on Facebook. Most pages achieve about 1 or .5 posts on Facebook a day, which is exactly what we see with the other profiles.

YouTube Facebook Posts

My guess is we may see a big increase in activity by TomorrowLand during the actual festival, so it would be interesting to check back in from September 26 to 28 and see what their activity looks like.

Best Practice #4: Create and Post Engaging Content

Clearly, these five profiles have learned how to create amazingly engaging content on YouTube, but what are they doing on the other social networks to gain engagement with their communities?

We saw from the above metrics that PewDiePie is winning in overall audience numbers, and 5 Seconds of Summer is doing the most overall activity. But who is winning in engagement outside of YouTube and what kind of content are they posting?

5SOS is winning the engagement battle on Facebook. We evaluated the top 50 posts over the past 30 days, and the boy band scored 48 out of 50, with PewDiePie grabbing two of the top 50 posts.

YouTube top Facebook social content

As we dig into those top 50 posts, we can see each one gets amazing engagement numbers – more than 200,000 Likes, Shares, and comments. Both play to their respective communities, with 5SOS posting photos of the band members, while PewDiePie’s updates are simple and speak to the “Bros”.

YouTube Facebook content

Best Practice #5: Leverage Content While Adapting it to Each Social Channel

One of the basic mistakes many companies or personalities make is not leveraging content across different social channels while also making that content relevant and appropriate for each network.

For example, we already know these channels have obtained awesome engagement on YouTube for their video content. To gain that engagement on YouTube, they promote those videos on other channels. But they also create unique content that is relevant to each network.

For example, we saw above that 5SOS posts photos of the band members and simple updates multiple times a day on Facebook, really drawing in their fans. PewDiePie, in contrast, has found simple updates without photos works best for his audience.

While topics may be similar and build on each other, the specific content needs to vary based on what works on each channel. You can figure out what works best by comparing content your competitors or other companies in your market successfully use to draw engagement on each channel.

For example, you can see here that while some of the photos and tweets are similar to what 5SOS put on Facebook, they have also created unique content relevant to Twitter, such as the retweet engagement strategy, “RT for a follow”.

YouTube Twitter top content

Your Turn to Be a YouTube Celebrity

Okay, maybe not.

But you and your organizations can learn how to not only create awesome video content that gets the attention of your audience, but also extend that engagement to other social networks. It doesn’t take a ton of money to make a splash on social media. However, I’m sure all of these profiles would tell you it does take hard work, consistency, and constant outreach to your fan base.

All of these channels started with just one video and one post. So, stop putting it off. Do your competitive and market research, establish your social strategy, create some strong initial content, and launch! 

Then, learn from what you and others do in order to maintain and build your social presence and community engagement.

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