I started a YouTube channel a while back and have been kind of on-again, off-again about posting content. My likes and subscribes have been dropping lately, so I wonder if you have any tips to help grow YouTube engagement, especially likes and subscribes.
Thanks for any help,
Thanks for asking the question, Jacob. YouTube can be a bit of a challenging social network because of the amount of work that often has to go into creating videos. If you’re going to spend time creating, editing, and publishing videos on YouTube then you want to feel like they are valuable to your audience.
In exchange for that valuable content, YouTube creators want to see engagement with their videos. So, whether your existing YouTube engagement is dropping or you are just getting started, it’s critical to understand how to grow your YouTube audience and ensure they are clicking those like and subscribe buttons while leaving meaningful comments.
Start By Understanding The Nature Of YouTube
If you’re an avid YouTube user, then you may not find it shocking to know that it’s considered the second biggest search engine (with Google taking first place, of course). What is surprising, however, is the fact it can be a super-effective platform for both personal and business use, yet it is under-used on both fronts.
There are a few reasons why business and individual shy away from YouTube. First and foremost, it’s the fear of time required to invest in creating high quality videos. Unlike Instagram, where you can just snap a photo or a quick video, post it, and see tons of engagement, YouTube takes more planning and…well…work.
Very few people and organizations are comfortable putting their content out there if it doesn’t look professional, and the cost of producing high quality videos can be substantial.
In fact, those folks who are successful at building an active YouTube community are usually those who balance great content without breaking the bank when it comes to production costs.
Another reason that a lot of folks avoid building a YouTube video channel is due to the mysterious and confusing algorithm that determines which videos are seen. This visibility, in turn, leads to comments, likes, and subscribes – all of which are critical in creating a successful YouTube channel.
The third big reason that causes folks to avoid YouTube is simply the negative comments that often come with publishing videos. Internet trolls love to sit behind their keyboards and sling nasty comments at every video which, as a YouTube creator, can be tiring.
The reality, though, is that there is a LOT of value in the comments section, if YouTubers are able to get past the trolls. In fact, many channels have developed their content primarily based on suggestions from their viewers who leave comments asking for new videos.
This is the kind of engagement that can really make a YouTube channel stand out and can lead to tons of engagement and plenty of traffic.
So, if YouTube is your thing, then keep reading to find out how the most recent changes at YouTube could be impacting your videos and channel and how to organically grow your YouTube channel.
Next, Understand How YouTube Actually Works
At first blush, YouTube might appear to be pretty straight-forward. For those users who simply search for videos and watch them, it’s simple.
From a channel owner perspective, however, it’s not just as simple as publishing a video and waiting for the views, likes, subscribes, and comments to roll in. Some of your best videos may not ever get any views. Others that might feel a little sub-standard in your eyes, might get great traction with your audience.
But why is that? Contrary to other platforms, YouTube is the one platform that doesn’t put most of its focus on algorithms. Unlike Instagram and Pinterest where the algorithm rules, YouTube values something else. Instead, they use “session time” as a way to determine what to show to users.
This is where the science of getting visitors to actually do something while visiting your channel comes into play. It’s really not enough to get playtime. Instead, you want visitors to actually like, comment, and subscribe. Extra kudos if they’ll hit that notification bell to receive alerts of when you post future videos!
That means engagement with your existing videos will likely determine the success of your future videos. If you can figure out how to get your audience to actually do something other than watch the video, then you will have identified how to grow your channel.
In other words, on YouTube engagement is the most critical growth factor for you audience. Without engagement, your channel won’t get the search traffic or features that ensure consistent growth.
With these tidbits in mind, let’s look at how to reverse the curse of dwindling likes, subscribers, and engagement on your channel.
How Do You Rescue Your YouTube Channel From Drops In Engagement?
For starters, if you’ve noticed a plummet in your numbers, it may not be solely based on your videos – or the lack thereof. There are a lot of factors that can cause drops in engagement.
Being Active And Abiding By The YouTube Terms Of Service Certainly Helps
Late last year YouTube announced a major cleanup of closed accounts and a removal of those that went against their policy (spam accounts or those showing abuse). Although this can be seen as a negative, especially if you’re one who lost hundreds of subscribers, it can actually work in your favor.
Channels who have legit followers are more apt to receive genuine engagement, which in return will keep your channel boosted and being suggested to the masses. There are also several things you can do to naturally grow your channel.
So, if your channel survived the culling, that’s a great thing. There are now fewer channels for you to compete with.
If you survived without having your channel being deactivated, but you know there are things in your videos that might violate the YouTube terms of service, then now is the time to clean them up. The most common violations of YouTube’s terms of service are:
- Using pornographic material or full frontal nudity in your videos.
- Using overtly graphic violence
- Violating someone else’s copyright or trademark
- Engaging in hate speech or misinformation
- Revealing personal information of other people
While there are hateful and violent videos out there, these are usually caught by YouTube quickly and removed. The one that most creators need to worry about is the violating copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property rights.
As yourself these questions with respect to your YouTube videos:
- Do you have permission to use all the music in your videos?
- Have you used someone else’s content or logo in your videos? Do you have their permission to do so?
- Are you using someone else’s photo or video of their likeness? Do you have their permission?
If you aren’t confident that you have all the permissions you need, maybe consider un-publishing any videos in question temporarily and figuring out the next steps.
The last thing you want to do is have your channel blocked or banned because of an unlicensed song in a YouTube video. You can’t recover your YouTube engagement if you channel is banned.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Applies To YouTube Too
Yep, the good ole’ SEO best practices can be your best friend on YouTube. Remember, YouTube is a big search engine, so SEO principles that apply to Google and Bing apply to YouTube, as well.
In fact, if you can create YouTube videos that align with the most searched keywords for your niche, then you’ll no doubt see a rise in viewers.
For those that aren’t SEO nerds, you might be asking “How does SEO work for YouTube videos?”If there isn’t text in the videos, then how can a search algorithm understand the content?
YouTube and its metric system can actually pick up keywords using the closed caption that is added to videos. That’s why it’s important to do your research before recording your video so you can include your keyword(s) in your videos (naturally of course).
While you’re searching for keywords, take it one step further and look for videos that are ranking for that topic. Get an idea of what they’re saying, what they’re using as the description, hashtags, and even the cover photo.
The more time and energy you put into planning your YouTube video keywords, the more likely you’ll be able to leverage the algorithm, gain more viewers, and then see more engagement.
Keep Your YouTube Videos Short And Sweet
At one point in time, the trend was favoring for having short videos. Then it changed to longer videos being applauded. For YouTube content creators, it’s a bit of whiplash as to what length of videos work well on YouTube.
For now, the final vote is in favor of shorter videos, and rightfully so. We live in a pretty action-packed society that can get sidetracked in a moment, so to be sure and keep users’ attention, keep your videos between two and five minutes.
Hubspot has found that they see the best engagement rates on their videos that are around two minutes in length.
Keeping your videos short also means that your content can be broken up into chunks. Instead of trying to squeeze in all 10 ways to grow your online business using YouTube, opt in for breaking it up into 2 or more videos that highlight just a few tips at a time.
In other words, stretch and refurbish your content. No need to waste time always trying to come up with something new.
The key is to make your video only fit the required time to convey the content in a meaningful manner. The more concise your YouTube video is, the more your users will appreciate it and the more engagement you will see.
Brand Your YouTube Channel And Your Videos
There’s something to be said for looking professional. It shows users that you value your channel and your content. Not to mention, you want your channel to flow with where you’re showing up on other platforms, especially your own website.
Use the same colors, font styles, and even step out to create your own eye-catching look. Let your personality show. Be consistent with your branding so your users get used to see it as part of your videos.
Want a perfect example of a brand that both entertains and shows of their product? Look no further than the Blendtec videos that ask “Will It Blend?”
And while you’re at it, use every bit of your channels perks, especially the URL spaces on your channel header. It’s a great way to say, “Hey subscribe to me while you’re here… then click over to my website!”
If you’re going to take the time to create YouTube content, be sure that it aligns with your overall brand AND can drive more traffic to your website and other channels.
Consider having a consistent introduction and exit graphics that ask your viewers to share comments, subscribe to the channel, and follow you on other channels.
The more opportunities for engagement you present to your viewers, the more engagement you will likely see.
Show Yourself And Be Yourself
If you’re the type of YouTuber who doesn’t like to be seen, then your audience may have a hard time connecting with you. Every so often make it a point to show your face in some of your videos. Yes, this means you’ll have to come from behind that Zoom share screen and put a face with your brand.
When people can see who they’re watching or listening to then chances are they will be more likely to recognize you as a real human being and not just a voice behind a screen-share. People like to subscribe and engage with channels created by humans.
The more you present yourself as a human (and not just a voice), then the more likely it will be that you’ll see rises in YouTube engagement.
Speaking of which…
Engage With Your YouTube Audience
When someone likes, comments, and subscribes, take the time to engage back!I know it seems intuitive and simple, but as your channel grows, it’s going to take more time do to. The more you engage, though, the more engagement you will get back.
You may not want to subscribe or follow every single channel that subscribes to yours, but it doesn’t hurt to check them out and see if you can at least leave a comment. Also, when people comment on your videos, try not to let more than 2 days go by before you respond.
Your commenters will appreciate that and most likely be driven to comment on more of your videos.
Create Click-Worthy Thumbnails For Your Videos
Thumbnails are the first thing that a user sees when they are surfing YouTube. They are what shows in the search results, and are critical to helping a user determine whether they want to click-through to view the YouTube video.
If you don’t have a good thumbnail assigned, then it could be a major reason why your videos are getting overlooked. You can use a free graphic creator such as Canva to create a thumbnail that showcases what your video will be about.
Ask For Engagement…It’s Okay!
This last tip is something you should get in the habit of doing. The issue is that a lot of people might not feel comfortable with it.
Ask for the like, the comment, and the subscribe. I know it sometimes feels uncomfortable to ask people to subscribe or like your video, but get in the habit of doing it.
Want a good example? Check out the Project Farm videos where the video creator asks for questions in the comments as to what videos he should create next. Every one of his videos is created from a request in the comments of his YouTube channel.
Make it a part of your closing statements and do it every single time. Who cares if you feel like you say it too much.
The point is you want people to hear it so much that they naturally react to it. And guess what? They will!
Wrapping Up YouTube Engagement
Figuring out YouTube and how to grow your engagement or stop dropping engagement numbers doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Use these tips to show up and boost your business using one of the world’s most watched platforms!
Do you agree or disagree? What are some ways you use to naturally grow your YouTube channel? Share them in a comment so others can benefit from your experience. Have questions about YouTube engagement? Be sure to ask them in a comment or reach out via my contact form.