Last week, I watched the four videos from YouTube's new Pro Series.  It had some pretty good information, the first part of the series covered advertising: how to deal with advertisers, making deals, all that.  Then I looked in the comments, which is often a dangerous thing to do when it comes to YouTube.  One of the top comments said something to the effect that "The only way you get popular is if YouTube pushes your channel."  I felt like there was some truth to that, but then I realized this is another Catch-22, or "chicken or the egg" type of conundrum.

Does YouTube Push Certain Channels, Or Do They Help Those Who Can Help Themselves? catch 22

First off, "pushing" the channel would mean something like: always being featured on the YouTube home page, always being featured in recommended channels, videos always popping up in search, in suggested videos, anywhere YouTube likes to feature other're there.  But, how does YouTube know to push your channel?  Do they do it randomly?  I think not.  I think they help those who help themselves.

And those that help themselves know how to market their videos once they are launched.  You start developing relationships with the gatekeepers from media outlets who publish your videos because they are good content, or at least, content that gets people to visit their site and gets people talking.  Once you start showing proficiency in getting people "from the outside" to watch your videos, the view count follows, the subscriber count rises, and as a result, you start getting featured near other channels with similar content.  If your channel is about video games, then your video game channel gets featured next to other video game channels.  Suddenly, more subscribers start flooding in, you get featured in more and more places--it's a process that keeps feeding off of itself.

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I mean, who at YouTube has the time to discover channels and push them based on a lark?  And if they did, how would they be guaranteed to be watched and loved and subscribed?  I think this is where SEO really kicks in.  If you're a channel that optimizes all those SEO things: titles, tags, keywords, and you're successful, YouTube basically automatically pushes your channel to like-minded pages.

So, yes, they push channels.  They push channels with creators who already know how to get discovered on their own.  This might not be "fair," but this is sort of the "What will you do for me?" aspect of YouTube.  YouTube needs to know you're serious about creating content and building an audience before they start featuring your channel in key places.  Otherwise, featuring a channel that hasn't quite made it will feel like spam.

I know, this probably can't sound real to many of you who work hard to create content and feel like YouTube never puts you in a position to succeed.  But you would definitely be seeing results if you started seeing your videos on all sorts websites and blogs, regularly, every week.  The secret behind marketing your own videos sometimes comes down to luck (I'd say, a lot of the times, but luck tends to follow those who are persistent).  Sometimes it's just time.  It's about creating relationships with gatekeepers: sometimes you approach them, sometimes they approach you.  And once you start getting that kind of regular attention, YouTube will often do their part.

  • Antoine Jameson

    Creating relationships with gatekeepers?? Not to disrespect you but what a load of bullshit

    • Mark Robertson

      hmm... Not sure I see the problem with that statement whatsoever, but OK ;-)

    • Chris Atkinson

      You could have left the "Not to disrespect you" part out of the comment, especially since you're so wary of bullshit.

      But yeah, believe it or not, creating relationships with people who can put your videos on their sites is an integral part of the business. If you don't think so, good luck to you in all of your endeavors.

      • Mark Robertson

        my thoughts exactly

  • Frank Schwarz

    Has YouTube decided to push hangout videos over regular videos or has nobody looked into this yet? Thanks guys another great article.

    • Chris Atkinson

      Frank, I haven't actually seen anything that hints at this. I haven't really looked, but my guess is that they don't get pushed any harder. Same rules apply.

  • Tim Schmoyer

    YouTube knows what content is valuable to viewers and what content isn't based on all the data points it tracks, the biggest being watch time. Content that proves to be valuable is promoted more than content that isn't. That makes sense.

    What's the best way to prove to YouTube that your content is valuable? Build your subscribership so YouTube has more data points to work with. Plus, subscribers will give YouTube more engaged data about your video than a random viewer will, so building that base is important.

    But that comes back to the question, "How do I build my subscriber base if YouTube doesn't promote me?" That's when persistence in a lot of small steps is necessary. Over time, those small steps add up and before long you'll be at the bottom of a steep bell curve... assuming viewers find your content valuable, of course.

    Good post, Chris!

  • RCSparks

    I am a full time YouTuber. A full "Legacy Partner". I have been creating content since 2009 - and dedicated to the "craft". I have over 100 Million views, and a large audience (all organic). I just posted my 500th Video. YouTube does have "Partner Promotions", and this article really does hit the nail on the head. YOU HAVE TO WORK. Folks think its an easy thing to "just make youtube videos" - but the truly successful ones Live the Lifestyle. 24/7 - it doesnt start that way - it grows that way. You Need Great content AND take advantage of ALL SEO options. Use the YouTube Analytics information - and Most of all - Interact with your audience. The Relationship you have in the community helps your promotions - Partner or Not. If YouTube see's your stats - and you are active - you are more likely to get promoted.

    Good luck!