Online video creators thrive when spending time developing new content ideas to entertain and grow their audiences.  After all, being creative is what drives creative people.  However, to be 'reel' successful, it's just as important for creators to focus their time and energy on building and engaging with their community/audience. On this week's Creator's Tip video, Tim talks about some simple and creative ways that you can engage with your audience and turn viewers into a loyal community of followers and ambassadors.

How to Develop and Grow Your Online Video Audience

According to a recent article on All Things D, Robert Kyncl, YouTube's Head of Content, those channels that are ultimately succeeding are those that spend equal time creating content and developing their audience.

Audience development is equally as important as great content. By creating fantastic content and spending zero time on audience development, you are certain that you will not succeed on YouTube. You have to focus on audience development as much as you focus on creating content.

Collaboration

Working together with other channels and cross-pollinating audiences is important.  It helps keep your content fresh and new and allows you to introduce your audience to new people.  This is something that is often overlooked.  While many creators know it is important, collaboration often falls to the bottom of the priority list when there are other things competing for time.  It does take a lot more time and energy to do collaborations, but they are really important.

Audience Inclusion

To build a loyal, engaged audience you cannot view or refer to them as an audience, but rather as part of your community.  Inclusion plays a massive role in developing and growing an audience today on YouTube. One way to do this is by having a name for your audience to make them feel more included.  However, sometimes that backfires.  Some people who would rather not feel like they have a pet name that someone’s just giving them.  It kind of depends on your personality and type of content you’re doing, but that can work very well for some people.

Engage Outside of YouTube

Also, engaging outside of YouTube on Facebook allows for a much more personal connection with your community.  There, you can interact on a level playing field.

Consider Personality vs. Brand

Commenting and posting as a person and not as your brand is also a key to making your viewers feel connected.  People really do want to interact with us on a human level, on a more personal basis.If you are a brand and you are interacting and engaging with a community that surrounds your content as a company, instead of using your brand’s logo for all of your profile images and pictures and stuff, you might want to use your face.  Put your company’s logo in the bottom corner of that image instead.  This way people feel like they’re still talking to a person.

Solicit Ideas, Encourage Ownership

Ask viewers to leave you suggestions for tutorials they would like to see on Pinterest, Facebook, etc. and then actually do them.  Ask them to give you feedback and help them kind of shape what content you make and what happens going forward.  Do whatever you can to make them feel like they have some ownership in this channel, and that it’s not just a one way thing for you to them.  They feel they have a stake in it, too. 

Try to ask questions and do that in pretty much every video to prime the pump and just get ideas moving.

Meet your Audience in the Real World

Attend YouTube meet ups, YouTube gatherings, or even host some yourself.  These are all great ways you can start to engage person to person, face to face, with other creators, and other people’s communities.  You can really start to involve yourself in other people’s lives in a human connection way that you really can’t do on YouTube.  This is valuable in just the relationships and the networking and everything that happens here on YouTube.

Host a Live Google Hangout

Do a live stream hangout with some of your audience.  Invite them at a certain time to come join you on your Google + profile or live on your YouTube channel where they can hang out.  You can answer questions, talk with them, do some fun games together, or some contests.  Show them around your studio, your space, or do whatever you want.  Just do something fun in a live hang out environment.  People really like engaging and connecting with people on a personal, live basis.  There’s a different dynamic that happens when you’re doing a live video stream as opposed to just uploading a video here on YouTube, commenting, and stuff like that.  It’s very different.  It’s very personable.

Thank Your Ambassadors

This is very important.  Whenever someone shares your content—that is the biggest check mark of credibility that they can give.  That is the highest level of engagement that you can have surrounding your content.  They are basically saying, “Hey, this is valuable to me, and this is valuable to everyone else who follows me.  I’m going to share it with them.”  Just take a second and say, “Thank you for sharing that.  I’ve seen that.  I value you.”  That can start building relationships with your audience and the people who are sharing your content feel like they’re developing more of a relationship with you.  They feel appreciated and respected.

QUESTION:  What ways do you engage with your audience to make them feel like part of your community?