IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SMART
Let’s face it, kids. When we first stumbled upon the mysterious land of YouTube on our family computers, we all had that deep-seated fantasy of becoming reality’s answer to “iCarly.” Fast forward to 2020 and this fantasy is now on anyone’s list of viable career options.
The digital pages of YouTube have gone past shoddy webcam clips and instead turned into a professional playing field. Since the time of “Me at the Zoo,” the site has seen its share of subgenres that seem uniquely “YouTube.” There are DangerTubers, “X-Files” conspiracy theorists, Smosh-esque skits—take a hyper-specific topic and the site probably has a channel dedicated to it, even in the deep crevices of the search page.
And if writers have indie publishing to combat the traditional ways, artists have YouTube to channel their innermost passions to create without the hurdles of TV. Filmmakers troop to the site for free rein and if they’re fortunate enough, this might just be the secret to their creative success.
But with a site packed with beauty tutorials and gaming walkthroughs, distinguishing your channel from the rest of the flock—and coming out with a golden Play Button on top of it—seems like a far-fetched concept. Luckily, we have a few wise words (and examples) to lead the way.
Taking some cues from YouTube and Smart’s Creator Camp LIVE speakers Wil Dasovich, Alodia Gosiengfiao and Erwan Heussaff, we take a look at how content creators kickstart their channels and stay on track of the industry.
Fill the void in your category and stick to it (a.k.a. Establish and build your name)
Just like TV, YouTube has genres. Channels have that one category they instantly tick when they hit “upload.” With an ecosystem continuously becoming competitive—and hundreds of hours posted on the site every minute—the goal is to take a spot in a little corner of YouTube, build your brand and stick to it.
For starters, the YouTube cafeteria consists of vloggers (personal lives, comedic content), gamers (Lets Play’s, walkthroughs and reaction pic fodder), beauty gurus (reviews, tutorials and the people of our Pinterest board) and how-tos (a cramming college student’s most viewed videos). To get a channel off the ground, create an initial formula and content plan. Whether they’re daily vlogs or weekend specials, fill a category on a consistent sched with a target audience in mind, and don’t stray away while in the baby steps phase.
As a result, in a game of name associations, we pair folks like Alodia with gaming, as part of her noteworthy brand.
However, that doesn’t mean they can’t veer away from their known zone once they got the groove. Aside from his vlogs, Wil is known for his tightly-knit relationships, even with his subscribers. Erwan takes the lifestyle and cooking genre as his own but beyond that, he has taken his spot as a multifaceted content creator.
Consistent content is key when trying to own a niche and, soon enough, a creator’s channel may as well be synonymous with their category.
Get into the nitty-gritty of the data (a.k.a. Review what works)
Digital content creators may not need reminders on this one, as some are guilty as charged when it comes to checking subscriber counts by the minute. Once the channel has kicked into gear, so does the ins-and-outs of the audience.
It’s true: Data like that is a content creator’s friend, and YouTube Analytics may be their most visited site. To give the content a boost, review what viewers gravitate towards, starting from a video’s Like and Dislike ratio. Analytics is a goldmine when it comes to knowing what makes viewers tick, from their preferred time of watching to when they opt out of a video.
Features like Audience Retention will clue creators in on the ideal length of videos. Consider it a warning sign if the content has a huge view count, but only a few make it through the end. Traffic sources and device reports are also info to keep on hand, just so you know if a promotion strat’s working.
It’s also handy to check out what’s happening in a niche. Certain video agencies have released reports outlining topics to focus on. According to results, trending topics across categories include budget meal cooking, pranks, parodies, memes, video—and physical—games. Challenges, like Erwan’s take on the Dalgona coffee craze, are also a quick way to get those much-needed eyeballs.
But whatever you do, use your platform wisely (a.k.a. Create meaningful content)
YouTube offers freedom like no other platform, and each content creator stands on their own soapbox—no matter their subscriber count.
Whatever a niche is, a creator should start with some significant questions: What’s the meaning of it? What’s in it for the audience? Even if creators take on a trending challenge for curiosity, there are layers of value for subscribers, whether it’s a new piece of info or that much-needed laugh for the day.
Outside of eye-catching titles, take time to fine-tune the message a video is trying to address. Know that content doesn’t exist in a bubble, so strike up a meaningful convo with the one watching on the other side of the screen.
Creatives demonstrate the relevance of content creators by making videos with purpose, like using their platforms for passions and advocacies.
Viewers are friends, not fans (a.k.a. Stay open in the community)
While there isn’t a foolproof plan to become the content creator we aspire to be, some creators have decoded something close to it. On top of the perfect thumbnail, consistent posting and social media promotion, creators should tap into the potential of the comment section. Cap off a video by leaving it with a question, and keep it on the personal side by treating it like a one-on-one with the viewer (because hey, it technically is). Reply to the comments as much as possible because these folks know a lot of info that may or may not be considered TMI—so greet them like a friend, too.
YouTube is a community, and content creators like Wil tap into these personal connections by telling anecdotes and narrating it to viewers like they’re old friends. It’s essentially why viewers are drawn to vlogs in the first place.
Noted all that down? For creators, this is only the start. To know more about the world of video content creation during these times, YouTube and Smart Communications continue to empower the Filipino creator community through Creator Camp LIVE, a series of webinars with influential Filipino vloggers Wil Dasovich, Alodia Gosiengfiao and Erwan Heussaff as a commitment to helping creators thrive during these uncertain times. Launched in December 2019, the now digital-first program gives insider info on navigating the industry and adapting to the changing landscape, including sessions on relevant and resourceful content, meaningful collabs, creator well-being and branding.
Kick things off with Wil Dasovich’s session on the power of community and Alodia’s discussion on building a strong brand, now available on Smart’s YouTube channel. Learn the relevance of content creators on July 24, Friday 3 to 4 p.m. with Erwan Heussaff.
To join in on Creator Camp LIVE, head over to Smart’s YouTube. Plus points: It’s all for free.
For more info, check out Smart via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Art by Jenny Masangkay