In the recent MediaPost article by Ashkan Karbasfrooshan "Content Owners May Have To Diversify Away From YouTube To Win, the author writes, "I have no idea if YouTube will help me grow my business or force me to grow despite it." I've outlined what appear to be the main points he made in support of that argument, and offer different perspective from the point-of-view of a YouTube Partner. I've headed up TouchStorm's efforts on YouTube for the last two years where we've gained over 80 million views and have become one of the top 50 "Gurus" of all time.

Good YouTube Content Is Still Easy To Find

Karbasfrooshan's initial point is about all the noise around the mass amounts of content being uploaded every day. He says

"Therein lies one of the challenges facing content owner...on YouTube it's a bit of a free-for-all, where National Geographic competes with Buffy the cat..."

I'm not sure of the source of that conclusion, as I have noticed over the years, with analytics, that the most trackable sources of views typically come from related video views and YouTube search. If YouTube, and viewers, are doing their jobs correctly you should not find the above scenario Karbasfrooshan points to often. Personally, I haven't had that experience in quite a while.

YouTube Marketers Need To Adjust To Online Audiences

Next he says:

"The problem is that the majority of audiences on YouTube seem to favor the content that seems less than desirable from the big marketers."

I believe this problem happens due to a disconnect between marketers and the YouTube audience and from marketers not understanding how to create engaging video that meets a want or need in a fashion/format that encurages discovery and positive user engagement. Without either your video won't go far. TouchStorm works with large brands heavily and the success we've had with matching viewer's interests with brand's interests shows that this problem is avoidable.

ALSO ►  GE: Harnessing the Power of YouTube Creators to Tell Its Story [Case Study]

The YouTube Homepage Is Getting Better

My previous point holds true also when Karbasfrooshan says:

" YouTube grew and got acquired by Google, its algorithms favored those channels with high subscriber counts. The cycle continued and became a self-fulfilling prophecy, a new-media video version of 'it takes money to make money.'"

It's true that the home page of YouTube used to be populated quite a bit by content from those that were already popular and by those that knew how to game the system with tactics like category sniping. But there have been several changes to the YouTube home page, which now features content from a broader variety of publishers. YouTube has also tightened up it's TOS and given warnings to all...including partners.

Here's a video that delves further into some of the changes the Partner program has been through:

The Odds On YouTube Marketing Success

Finally, Karbasfrooshan wraps with this:

"...if you are starting to produce or distribute videos now and looking at YouTube as a channel, good luck. It's not impossible, but the odds are stacked against you."

I don't completely agree. Success for YouTube marketers is very much a possibility. However, the odds are surely stacked against you if you don't know:

  • What topics to create videos around (backed up with data)
  • How to create a video in a style/format that encourages positive user engagement
  • How to optimize your content for YouTube and Google search which has more moving pieces than traditional SEO
  • How to fully leverage the promotional tools YouTube provides publishers
  • What it takes from a resources standpoint to engage with your viewers and grow your community
  • Kara Shelley-Messum

    As someone that's been with YouTube for the last 4 years and watched it grow I can definitely say things have changed, with the basic idea behind it switching from an open platform that seemed unbiased (anyone could go viral) to one where the corporation behind the mask plays favourites and decides who gets famous and 'makes it' (SxePhil, Shane Dawson, ShayCarl, iJustine, NiggaHigga, KevJumbo etc almost always being visible on the home page).

    Aside from that content creators used to be able to upload content that was 'questionable' without fear of it being removed, flagged or them being suspended. As someone who creates videos on intimate accessories and sexual wellness (nothing rude or inappropriate - just the facts presented with a 'this is normal' attitude) I've gone from getting 100,000 hits per video to having my content flagged, removed, strikes put up against me, told that 'advertisers only wanted to advertise against "family friendly" content' and having no one to help me understand why - unfortunately it was YouTube itself that decided my content was no longer worthy of being shown. Of course all of the developments have forced me to carry my content over to other sites where it's welcome and no longer depend on a failed system that just isn't working for content creators like me.

  • Jay Lichtenberger

    Want to grow on youtube? Make content people like, Make it engaging! Once you have a niche, then collaborate with other youtubers in the same niche. Very simple.

  • Riley Adamson

    Jeff - You make some excellent points refuting Karbasfrooshan's article. In general, I definitely think YouTube is still a viable platform for most video marketing efforts - primarily because of the cost. However, Karbafrooshan is right about one thing: simply uploading/tagging a video on YouTube isn't going to get it the exposure it needs. The chances of happenstance discovery are too low. The real value is in embedding for target markets, and hopefully being shared amongst them, two features that YouTube make very easy.

    On the other hand, diversification, while time-consuming without the aid of something like TubeMogul, can only improve SEO and engagement. Ultimately, I wouldn't abandon YouTube, but I wouldn't confine myself to it either.

    • Jeff Martin

      Agree with your Riley. You shouldn't rely completely on YouTube, you have to get into the social circles to encourage sharing and engagement. As you you pointed out, you definitely can't tag it and forget in on YouTube. You have to leverage the particulars of video SEO for both YT and Google/Bing search as well as take advantage of all the tools that YouTube gives. Then you have to stay on top of the activity you're generating and guide it.

  • Jeff Martin

    Happy to help you Bill, however as I mentioned in the 1st paragraph, the scope of this article was to offer a different perspective to the topics that Ashkan Karbasfrooshan originally wrote about. I don't mean to insinuate anything which is why I've shared what I've learned at various conferences I speak at and made decks available as well.

    You can find ReelSEO's coverage of my presentation at SMX West earlier this year here:

    Here's coverage of my presentation on utilizing the Promoted Video Program at SMX East 2010.

    If you're headed to SMX East in Sept I'd suggest you stop by and here myself and Manny Rivas speak (Manny always does a great job):
    Video Search Success Stories.

    Best of luck to you - look me up if you make the conference.

    • Julie Perry

      Now that's more like it -- EXCELLENT content, Jeff! (And I realize that wasn't the original purpose & intention of the blog post; however, since it did come up, I appreciate you gathering together these resources in the comments so we could reference specific strategies & tactics you recommend.)

      Hadn't seen that ReelSEO blog post before -- outstanding! Thanks so much for sharing these presentations. ~Julie

    • Jeff Martin

      Glad you found it useful! At SMX East I'll be talking about how to research topics and keywords and share some optimization tips to make sure videos are geared up and ready to go after release.

  • Julie Perry

    I think @Pam Brossman makes a great point. Better guidelines would be a good thing for YouTube to consider.

    With regard to @Bill Thomas' comment about wanting actionable advice around this topic, Bill: I have never had better luck marketing on YouTube than now. The reason is because it's not "luck" that's getting my team results. For some quality, actionable tactics for maximizing your marketing and SEO efforts on YouTube, please consider checking out the slides from my BlogWorld East presentation back in June.

    They are here on SlideShare:

    My goal in creating this presentation was to offer actual tactics you can apply right away to optimize and network your videos better. You'll also find some good advice there about how to generate traffic to your own Web properties using YouTube. I hope you find it useful. (Note: I'm slated to give a similar presentation at BlogWorld West in November in LA if you happen to be coming to that event.) Thanks. ~Julie Perry

    • James Fisher Mtn Jim

    • Bill Thomas

      Thanks Julie - much better information that the OP. I picked up a few tips on things we weren't doing so I really appreciate it! We're closing in on 1 million views, should hit it soon!

    • Julie Perry

      Well, it seems copy/pasting that link won't work. Just search "julie perry blogworld slideshare" and that'll get you there. The title of the preso is "17 Killer YouTube Tactics That Build Your Responsive Online Audience by Julie Perry of BLASTmedia - BlogWorld East 2011." I hope it helps. Thanks.

    • Julie Perry

      Thanks so much, James -- much appreciated!

    • Julie Perry

      Love to hear it, Bill -- glad it could offer a few extra tips. Congrats on your current success! Those interactive transcripts are pretty powerful, btw, if you aren't already doing them. I also recommend trying out the Promoted Ads -- at least to give campaigns an initial push. Ah, and playlists. Adding videos to playlists helps optimize them fast and gives you additional opportunities to come up in search. We find you can even add videos to playlists that don't contain your videos -- just focus on keywords, but then make YOUR video the first in the set, and make it the thumbnail for the entire list. Thanks for the feedback, and happy tubing on our way to 1 million views!

  • Bill Thomas

    How about supporting your post with some actionable information instead just insinuating that your consulting company knows the secrets? Wasted my time reading this.

  • Pam Brossman

    I think what they need to do is create video guidelines giving examples of what is allowed and what is not allowed. By giving visual examples of someone doing something wrong vs someone following the guidelines correctly it allows YouTube users to clearly understand what they are allowed to do. Written guidelines are like reading a legal document the majority of people do not understand it and they make innocent mistakes. By visually demonstrating what is allowed and not allowed [it is a visual tool] it leaves no room for error. I believe YouTube need to create it's own 'Guidelines' channel whereby people who are unsure can go to the guideline channel and watch best practice videos so they understand what they are doing before loading their videos. That way when you get flagged by YouTube you can be redirected to the video tutorial or the breach so you clearly understand what you did wrong. YouTube do not assist people in fixing the mistake they just tell you that you are in breach and send you to the guidelines so that you can try and figure it out for yourself. No wonder people keep re-offending they don't know what they did wrong in the first place.