We've talked a lot about how to optimize views on your YouTube videos, and we went over a lot about what the YouTube Creator Playbook says about YouTube Analytics. But maybe after you have a video that gets some good views, you start seeing a dip, and you might wonder how to keep it afloat or maybe give it new life. A YouTube Webinar presented in March shows the everyday life of a "viral" video, from the point that you see a spike in views to the point where the views may not be as strong as they once were, and what you might like to do during all phases of a video's highs and lows.
Maximizing Views: Analyze Three Phases Of A Video On YouTube
The webinar, credited to "Stefan, Devon, and Sherif" from March of this year, goes over three phases of a video's life:
- The Spike
- The Dip
- The Flatline
Phase 1 - The Spike: How Do You Take Advantage?
Here's what's happening during the spike: people are watching your video in droves, they're discussing it on social networks, it's a trending topic. Here are some steps to follow when your video is cranking out views:
Tie your video to trending events, topics, or videos
This is called tent-pole programming and you are leveraging something already popular for your own video, and it's all the better if your popular topic is something that is current, something that people are already searching for. This is a piggyback technique that you see everywhere on YouTube, for good or ill, but if you have great content, it can get a substantial view count quickly.
You can tie your videos with other videos using video responses, and I'd say that there should be relevant connecting tissue between the two videos. People who like one video for certain content are likely to enjoy another video with similar content or topics. We've already seen that this year with the "S*** [People] Say" phenomenon.
Create presence on relevant online communities
Go to Reddit, FARK, Digg, etc. Get into the conversations on those sites. Become a trusted member. Then start sharing your videos. That's usually good form. This also works with blogs and other websites that are relevant. Many times you can get a video shared without having a relationship with those sites but it's more likely to be picked up if you do, and especially if you have something special to share.
Build and maintain your subscriber base
This is where you get your viewers involved. Calls-to-action. I always think of stuff like "Epic Rap Battles of History," which has two simple calls to action on every video: Who won? Who's next? Take a look at this recent one between Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra (has some material that might offend) and stay around for the call to action near the end:
The whole point of building a subscriber base is giving them incentive to come back every time you make a new video: regular publishing is the main one, since people look forward to seeing what you make next and will feel like you don't care if you don't make them fast enough.
Phase 2 - The Dip: How Do You Minimize The Dip's Fall?
At some point, obviously, your video isn't going to be super hot anymore. It happens to even the most popular of entertainment. So what can you do to keep that dip from dropping all the way to the ground?
Keep your video fresh in the homepage feed
This is sort of a maybe-sorta-kinda kind of deal...maybe. The suggestion here is to keep your homepage up with a flurry of activity: likes, favorites, shares, and new playlists. Everything you do in this regard can show up in a subscriber feed--although I always check the box that says, "Show uploads only," on my own, so I'm really only interested in new videos and don't really care much about what the people behind the videos I subscribe to are liking/favoriting. I admit though, I'm not everybody.
So this is a good tip, because most people probably don't check that box. And every time you do something new on YouTube, your activity will show up in their feed and will be a constant reminder that your videos are pretty awesome.
Keep the conversation going around your videos
This is one that is a definite must. You can spend hours just on comments and not just on YouTube. There's a validation phase for your viewers in your video's life, and you make them feel involved, special, and a part of the process when you take time to respond to their comments. Heck, this Philip DeFranco-led SourceFed show takes time every weekend to make a whole show to review the stories they did over the week and take time to single out some commenters:
But you don't have to do that (even though it's a great idea). All you have to do is respond, and ask more questions, and so forth. And, hint hint...the more comments you get, the better the YouTube algorithm responds to the related video.
Phase 3 - Flatline: What Happens To Your Video In The Afterlife?
Many videos never really die, they just don't rack up views in the millions-per-day that they once did. But, your most popular videos still get watched an envious amount of times. The key here is to write good metadata for when people want to find your video and there isn't a link handy.
Have great metadata
Great metadata is relevant metadata: tags, titles, and descriptions should all describe the video in the best way possible, while using a mix of popular search terms with specific search terms to your video. For good metadata, I'd suggest taking a look at a Freddie Wong video and the tags, titles, and descriptions he uses. But you'll see general and specific terms mixed together, a good title, and the description will be as detailed as possible. This is so that once the buzz has died down on a video, I can go to YouTube's search engine and start typing a few keywords into the field and it will be able to narrow down the right videos for me.
Create sets of content
Each video you make can help the next video, through playlists, annotations, and other links. So if you have a really popular video, it behooves you to use it to get people to watch other videos in your library. This can be done by going with the playlist feature, in which you can get people started on the most popular videos and get them "hooked" to where they'll watch all of them, or you can use annotations within the video to direct people to those videos. Check out this Freddie video, where he gives you dynamic links to previous videos at the end:
In the end, this kind of advice just tells you that you need to be always active in the life of a video. Always find ways to get people watching by using all the different tools YouTube offers, delve deep into the YouTube Creator Playbook, and follow the blueprint. It's not guaranteed to work, but with great content it has a very good chance of catching fire.