As you make more videos, you’ll realize that there is a potential to nurture and grow a community of people who are actively engaging in your content and interacting with each other. This is what a lot of popular YouTubers have discovered. While communities can form organically, there are some requirements on the creator’s end to ensure it flourishes.
In this article, we’ll examine 8 unique ways you can treat your YouTube channel so that is more than a place to kill time, but a place to get motivated, inspired, and meet people with a common goal.
1. Don’t Think of YouTube as Television
If you want to build a community on YouTube, you got to understand how YouTube works. Tim Schmoyer, the man behind Video Creator , said that YouTube is a “lean in” experience, whereas television is a “lean back.”
What does that mean?
When people watch a television show, they lean back, they are passive, they might even be on their smartphone, searching Wikipedia and learning everything they can about the lead actor on the show they are watching.
However, when people watch YouTube, they are leaning in, fully engaged. Two things happen when people lean in:
It is easier for you as a creator to establish a connection
Viewers can disengage very fast if you don’t hook them
Because of these two reasons, you shouldn’t treat YouTube as if you are on TV.
TV shows take time to develop and many episodes or seasons for you to have a connection with a character. On YouTube, the viewers get familiar with the creator right away.
How do you treat YouTube, not like television?
#1 Speak Directly to the Camera
When you are speaking to the camera, you are speaking directly to your audience. It’s not a bad idea to have someone in mind when presenting (friend, family, or acquaintance).
You are not performing to a crowd like a talk show host on TV, but rather talking to someone familiar at a party. It’s that direct conversation that allows you to create a better connection with your audience.
#2 Don’t Put On a Persona or Have a Character
Cliché advice alert: Be yourself!
What does that even mean, right?
When I say “be yourself,” I mean, take time to find your voice. You can be addressing the same topics as another YouTuber, but the way you go about it will be different. There are many aspects that make you unique, and it all begins by asking yourself a few questions :
- What are you angry about?
- What are you sad about?
- What do you hope for?
- What are you really good at?
- When you were a kid, what did you aspire to be?
- What will you do if you had unlimited time and money?
The answers to these questions will be unique to you — and so is your voice.
#3 YouTube Is a Social Media
Television is not like social media, because after an episode of a television show, you don’t get to have a direct conversation with the creators and you wouldn’t be able to send that episode to a friend and get them into the discussion as well. However, on YouTube, you can.
The end of a television show leaves viewers satisfied or with a cliffhanger so they will come back next week to watch. Where as on YouTube, you should end with a question or a invite the viewer to join the discussion about the topics of your video.
2. Be Authentic On Camera
We are all naturally attracted to people who are genuine. That is why if you want to build a YouTube community, you will need to develop a real relationship with your viewers.
Here are 3 tips to increase your level of authenticity:
#1 Smile From Your Eyes
It’s easy to simply smile on camera, but when you smile with your eyes, there is no denying that you are finding pleasure in the moment. It actually appears as though you are happy to be there.
#2 Be Honest Without Caring About People’s Opinions
If you are always worried about what people think about you, then you are always going to have a mask on. If you finish every story and expect people to tell you how cool you are, then throughout the story, you are going to be anticipating the reaction of your audience.
Being honest is about being genuinely immersed in the moment, without keeping up the guard, concealing embarrassing details, or making bold exaggerations. Tell your story the way you feel it and don’t worry about what other people think.
#3 Praise and Defend What You Like
Be generous with your praises and defend what you enjoy. Don’t protect your ego, but focus on what you like. If there is a YouTuber you enjoy, shout them out in your video and celebrate them.
You might often feel the need to be critical or judgemental to other YouTubers, because they are your competitors, but if they are doing good work, let people know. Your audience will see that you are confident with who you are and will love you more for that gesture.
If people see that you are standing up and defending what you like, then it creates that culture within the community. Your fans will praise and defend you when haters come around, because you’ve nurtured this habit.
3. Be A Leader
A community has to have a purpose whether it be to make crafts, play games, or learn science. It starts with a specific commonality, and everyone within identifies as that.
We are the people who make crafts.
We are the people who play board games.
We are the people who are science enthusiasts.
And each community will need a leader. This needs to be you. It's your YouTube channel so it needs to be you!
If your channel is about making crafts, you need to decide what crafts you are going to teach people to make this episode. You can ask for suggestions, but in the end, it needs to be your decision.
If your channel is about learning science, you need to decide what concepts to cover and supply the information that will leave your community feeling smarter. Your followers are those who believe in what you are offering, your beliefs and values fit with theirs.
Believe it or not, people want leadership. Leaders motivate and coordinate. Leaders protect their tribe and guide them toward a common goal.
It is your job to remind your community of that vision. It takes a long time to make quality crafts, master a game, or understand scientific theory, and the work may seem endless, but with your leadership you can ensure that each member will continue making progress. Your YouTube community will be where people come to get that little extra boost of motivation every day, week, or month.
4. Measure By Engagements Not Views
Engagements are comments, likes, and shares.
Consistent engagement is what separates a channel from a community. If you simply want to have a channel, then don’t worry about engagements, because all you want people to do is watch your video. However, if you want a community — which ultimately increases your viewership in the long term — then you will have to experiment with earning engagements.
How engaged are your viewers?
Tell your audience to take action in your next video and see how many actually do what you suggested. Ask them a question and see if anyone responds in the comments.
This is a good indicator of how well you are growing your audience. If you are getting a lot of views, but nobody is engaging when you tell them to, it means they are coming for the content, but they are not ready to be a part of the community.
At the end of this video about decluttering by Madeleine Olivia, she asks the viewers what it is they are getting rid of. A simple question, but she sparked a variety of genuine responses:
#1 Respond to Comments
It doesn’t have to be brilliant insight or a witty remark that will leave everyone thinking you are a genius, but a simple recognition to the person who took the time to leave a message is enough to earn some appreciation from your audience.
Building a community on YouTube takes time. Before you can get those in your community to talk to each other, you must first talk to them. If you see that someone has left a comment and nobody else has responded. You, as the community leader, need to respond. You need to nurture it at the very start.
5. Allow Your Community Into Your Life
You are the connecting link for all your community members. You are like the grandmother or grandfather of a large family. Every member of the family knows you.
The best way for your audience to build that connection with you is to tell the viewers about your origin story. Your journey is bound to be different from your audience’s but hearing about the obstacles and the decisions establishes a rapport with your viewers. You stop become a random person on YouTube and become a relatable human with a back history and a shared goal with your viewers.
#1 What Type of Stories Should You Tell?
While it is your channel and you can tell whatever stories you feel like it, it is good to consider what type of stories will resonate with your audience best. Here are a few jumping-off points:
- The time you overcame a great obstacle
- The time you made a decision that changed everything
- The time you went on a quest or a mission
- The time you did something you regret
Link these stories to what your channel is about.
If your channel is about crafts, talk about the hardest piece of craft you had to make and how you achieved it. It might even be worth making a video around that to show the struggle and the eventual achievement.
Stories humanize the creator and give the emotional drivers needed for the viewers to cheer and get attached to you.
6. Have a Secret Handshake — And Offer Exclusivity
Of course, I don’t mean a literal handshake, because your community will mostly exist online. What this section means is that you should establish familiarity with your loyal viewers. Make them feel as though they are on the inside, and they are part of an exclusive club.
As your community forms, you will begin to see rituals materializing as well. Fans of sports teams develop chants in the stadiums, and you as a YouTuber can reach the same results as well.
If your community grows enough — like LaurDIY and her fans “Pretty Little Laurs,” Niki and Gabi who calls her fans DeMar Doll’s and of course, PewDiePie’s “Bro Army” with his signature brofist — you might even get a terminology page .
These details create a bond between you and your community that makes them feel as if they are a part of something bigger.
7. Find Your Super Fans and Get to Know Them
The better you know your biggest fans, the better you will be at defining your community.
Your biggest fans will end up representing you whenever you are not around. These are the people who will spread your message, so it is important that you know who they are as they will end up doing a lot of your promotional heavy lifting.
#1 How to Find Your Most Loyal Fans On YouTube
1. Find Loyal Fans Through Comments
The best way to find your most loyal fans is through the comments. These are not only the people who watch your videos, but they are vocal about it. They are ready to share their thoughts on your videos, so befriend them and get them fully invested in the community.
Find all your comments in YouTube Studio > Comments
Here you can filter to see comments from a specific video or all videos.
#2 Reach Out to Fans In Private Message
Contact those fans privately and share exclusive content, behind the scenes pictures, and anything else to make them feel appreciated. If you are a sports team, these fans are the season ticket holders cheering you at every home game, so it is beneficial that they receive some perks.
You can send a private message by going to the fan’s YouTube page > About Tab > Message Icon.
8. Use the YouTube Community Tab
Communities can exist outside of YouTube on your blog, on a forum, on a Facebook page, etc.
While YouTube is great for videos, having to create a video every time you want to interact with your community is not efficient. That is why it is worth having a separate channel for communication, preferably a social media platform that your viewers are most active on.
However, for YouTubers with over 10K subscribers, they will be eligible to use the YouTube Community Tab.
The YouTube Community Tab is great because it keeps the community on YouTube. Here is what it is capable of doing:
- Posting messages publically
- Having a conversation with the whole community
- Sharing existing YouTube videos
- Creating polls
- Posting images
YouTube Channel, Mango Street engaging with their photography community.
Building a YouTube community will take time and effort, but if you stay true to what you are doing and present your videos in an authentic way, you will begin to see people join you on your journey. If your goal on YouTube is to inspire, motivate, and meet interesting people that share your passion, then creating a community will yield the most dramatic results.
Are you a part of any interesting YouTube community? We’d love to hear about them.
Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.
Follow @Shanoon Cox
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