If you’re feeling a little left on the sidelines of the YouTube subscriber wars, don’t despair. Getting people to subscribe to your YouTube channel isn’t complex. In fact it’s more pleasurable art than knotty science. Though it has to be pointed out at the onset: if you’re serious about boosting your YouTube channel, you do need to be prepared to put the spade work in. Sure, there are some real neat tricks and tips to help lighten the load (and we’ll go through some of those below). However, there are no instant solutions to see you shoot up the ranks, and guarantee viral videos. So beware those who promise you YouTube multitudes at the click of your mouse.
But to kick off with, let’s remind ourselves why we need to get subscribers in the first place. Apart from that big chunk of YouTube’s community doing it for the kudos (losers? of course not), YouTube offers something a lot more tangible (to the more popular channels at least). Money. And as with the money-spinning you’ll find on most other social networks, those dollars comes at you from the hosting of ads. But unlike many of those others, YouTube’s advertising model hooks into a real sweet-spot for the ad-men (and women) – the attention-demanding act of watching videos. That’s a captive audience, and it means the potential money-pot from advertisers is bigger; and the threshold to start earning a lot lower.
Which is where the sport of subscriber-hunting takes center stage. To get a share of advertising revenue from YouTube you need to become a partner; to become a partner you need to get video views of a 1,000 or more. And the best way to get those sorts of numbers is to build up a fan-base of committed viewers – subscribers who will get a reminder every time you post a vid. A simple idea, but the real trick is to get your following over that critical mass which will quickly earn you your ‘partnership’.
With that in mind, let’s run through some of the best techniques to get your account subscribed to the max:
Get your name about: Content is king, of course, but to bring the viewers in you need to make – and to work – your connections for your chosen niche. Start with the channels and sites that inspire and influence you, especially the ones where your prospective audience are likely to be hanging out. Watch their videos, throw in your own comments, provoke a debate. In short, create a fuss around your name (while trying to keep the vibe positive of course). Then start introducing your own channel into the picture, but don’t be heavy handed. If you have a video link that pairs off nicely against one your commenting on, throw it down. Just don’t chuck video responses into every comment – that simply looks desperate.
And don’t narrow your horizons, either. There’s a world beyond YouTube that can funnel viewers right back to your channel. It could be other social networking sites, like Google+, Facebook or Twitter. It could be social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Diggit or Reddit. Work these to the same principle – spending some time showcasing your content, but plenty more time talking about the scene surrounding your channel. Simple things like adding your YouTube link to signatures at the end of emails, or as the primary web-page for your Twitter account, these too can help to wire-up potential new subscribers.
Sub for a sub: This is where the pay-off from ‘network working’ can show itself. If you have hung out at other opinion-forming channels, and developed good relationships with them, you are ready for the next level: ‘subbing for a sub’. In other words some mutual back-scratching, with you offering to subscribe to them, in return for them subscribing to you. Again, if you just do this from cold, and do it all the time (as some people do), you’re just as likely to offend as to be ignored. But if you spend the time to become a helpful voice on their channel, the chances are they’ll see the mutual benefit of the two of you subscribing to one another. And because you’ve won over the bigger opinion-formers (who, if you’ve chosen right, have a lot of weight with their viewers) you’ll soon be watching your subscriber numbers climb.
Presentation pulls them in: It’s one thing getting people to your channel to cast an eye; it’s quite another to get them to view. And it’s an even bigger deal is to get them to commit to you through a subscription. What helps ease your visitors to becoming a long-term viewer is the ‘atmospherics’ around your content. Visitors won’t subscribe unless they’re eased in by the whole package. That means a collection that makes sense, and works as a theme. It means a title that’s chosen with care – with words that are likely to be ‘search terms’ for example, or with a really good hook that just insists the video be played. It means choosing a thumbnail that grabs attention. And it means personalizing your site – don’t forget that YouTube lets you can customize the way your channel looks.
Make the content count: Last but not least – the content needs to hit the spot. Make sure you pour maximum creative juices into each video you post, and don’t let ‘filler’ through. Subscribers will only come when they’re sure they’ll get consistent content. And cool content is the ultimate fuel for firing up your reputation, building recommendations, subscriptions, and the racking up of those views. You can’t rely on purely content of course; the ‘sell’ must be there too. But there’s no point in pouring energy into your marketing unless the product is up to all that viewing scrutiny. Marry superb videos to a strong subscriber strategy, and you’ll be onto a real potential winner.
Now you just need one of your vids to catch the ‘viral’ bug, and the rest is history.