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.
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 channels…you'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.
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.