YouTube community management, like teaching Zumba or designing Android apps, wasn't a career path that really existed 5 or 6 years ago. But nowadays, big brands, MCN's, and digital agencies are crying out for people with the niche skills, experience, business acumen, and creativity to grow their visibility, reach, and engagement on one of the world's biggest websites.
The role itself falls under many different titles - YouTube Channel Manager, YouTube Network Community Manager, YouTube Evangelist (eek), Social Video Manager - and may be a stand-alone position, or come bundled with responsibilities for other digital and social media properties. Candidates will need to completely immerse themselves in the YouTube ecosystem and fully engage with multiple parties both on and off the platform.
So, what does it take to become an effective Community Manager for a YouTube channel, or channels? Hopefully, this article will help employers understand and define the role within their brand or agency, and also help candidates understand the skill-set and experience required.
The Role: What is a YouTube Community Manager?
The main aim of a YouTube Community Manager is (or should be) to grow the channel exponentially by increasing subscribers, audience, and engagement. That may sound completely obvious, but it takes a very special set of skills to meet those goals, more skills than you might imagine.
And it isn't just technical or social expertise that makes a great manager, candidates need to be able to multi-task, have strong critical thinking skills, be able to pay attention to the smallest details, and have the ability to set priorities. They also need excellent verbal and written communication skills, they should be motivated self-starters but also work well with other people. And that's just for starters. If their YouTube duties are tied in among other expectations, they need the organisation, and delegation skills of a ninja.
Brands, agencies and MCNs will usually look for a candidate with at least 2 years experience in this or a closely-related field. They will also look for people who have a working knowledge of SEO, content marketing, video advertising, social media, and Google Analytics. Being YouTube Certified is also a growing requirement for any kind of channel or community orientated position.
It's a big ask, but they are the skills needed to grow a YouTube channel these days - and they are the skills that employers demand. A search for 'YouTube Community Manager vacancies' will return many results, just like the following from YouTube MCN, Channel Frederator Network. Frederator manage around 1200 animation-orientated YouTube partners within their network, so they are recruiting for two separate positions, but these responsibilities will often be combined for smaller MCNs, and for smaller brands or agencies:
Here is another position (now closed) offered by the BBC. It's for the management of the CBBC YouTube channel, one of the online properties of the BBC's Children's TV department:
Depending on the position, size of channel or network, and other responsibilities, an effective Community Manager will usually work extremely closely with the owners of the YouTube channel/s, the content creators, and the marketing department. They should also be closely aligned with the social media team to make sure that content and information is distributed in a consistent fashion across all networks.
As well as the day to day involvement in the channel or channels they are managing, Community Managers should be heavily involved in driving both short and long-term strategy regarding content and marketing goals.
So, now we've had the overview of the role, let's take a dive into some specifics:
YouTube Channel Management: Strategy & Technical Know-How
The full management of a YouTube channel will usually involve two approaches: a tactical or technical one, and a strategic one. There are the day-to-day responsibilities regarding uploading, optimizing etc, and then there's the more long-term strategy of building subscribers, encouraging engagement, and collaborating with other in-house departments, agencies and content creators.
YouTube Community Management: Technical Know-How
A a Community Manager, you'll need to know how to do the following technical stuff really well. Sure, you might not have to do it every day, you may even have someone to do these kind of tasks for you. But even if you are delegating them, you need to know they are being implemented properly, and that all concerned understand why they are being implemented. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- How to upload a video (yes, really)
- How to optimize the title and description so you can be found in the search engine results (YouTube and beyond)
- How to annotate the video (luckily there's a whole course on annotations that we've provided - for FREE!)
- A thorough understanding of YouTube's 'Video Manager'
- How to schedule a video, and how to make it unlisted or private
- How to upload closed captions, perhaps in a multitude of languages
- How to revise the title/description to achieve better rankings
- A thorough understanding of default settings especially advanced settings
- How to monetize video content
- How to optimize the channel i.e. set channel art, organize home page with specific playlists, set up a subscriber trailer, populate the 'About' page with copy and links.
- An understanding of data provided by YouTube, and Google Analytics
- An understanding of how Google+ integration works
- How to moderate and respond to comments
- How to implement a video advertising campaign (if that's within your remit)
- How to troubleshoot any technical issues
- The creation and curation of Playlists
- How to set up Google Hangouts on Air
Need a refresher on the above? ReelSEO has covered pretty much every technical issue regarding the management of a YouTube channel from every angle. Just pop your query in the search box in the top right-hand corner of this page to find what you're looking for.
YouTube Community Management: Strategy
YouTube community and channel management is an ongoing commitment to best practice and requires constant, and consistent attention if KPI's are to be met. From a strategic point of view, you'll need a comprehensive understanding of, and expertise in many different areas. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Understanding of Watch-time - it's YouTube's most important ranking factor so you'll need to know it inside-out
- How to build a passionate, engaged YouTube community around your channel
- How to build a subscriber base (for consistent engagement/views)
- How to pro-actively build as wide an audience as possible
- How to interpret data to better understand potential traffic and behavior
- How to drive views both to the channel, and if required, from it to other web properties
- How to set long-term goals using data and viewer feedback
- How to actively outreach to other channels, creators, branded partnerships
- How to capitalize on trends and promote content around tent-pole events
- How to optimize for mobile devices
- How to test/ split-test, and monitor results
- How to stay completely on top of YouTube best practice
- How to deal with copyright/ContentID issues
- How to handle any reputation management issues
- How to report on performance and other metrics to key staff
Responding to Viewer Comments & Reputation Management
For many Community Managers, their only real contact with the viewing public is via the comments made on each video. This form of communication can strike fear into the heart of many channel owners, but comments are also some of the most valuable feedback you can receive, if you can see past the trolls and time-wasters.
As a Community Manager, that's exactly what you are going to have to do. We've discussed the option of turning off YouTube comments, and in some very short-term circumstances, this is OK, but in the long-run, actively failing to engage with viewers, particularly those who really want to communicate with you, sends out all the wrong signals.
Actively failing to engage with viewers with comments turned on is equally as damaging. There may be nuggets of gold within the comments that you will miss if you don't respond - and that's disastrous for a Community Manager. YouTube makes it really easy to view comments on one screen, and makes it even easier to moderate them. A good manager will have this comment screen open all the time, and respond (or moderate) as the feedback comes in. This way, no nasty comments filter through, and serious concerns can be addressed, while positive comments can be rewarded.
Many reputation management issues can also be nipped in the bud if comments are kept on top of. Other departments (like social media management) can also be kept in the loop should negative feedback become a problem, so that it can be addressed across the board.
YouTube Channel Management: Outreach and Collaborations
A huge part of the strategic role that Community/Channel Managers play is reaching out to other branded channels, or independent YouTube creators, to collaborate on video content. Done well, this benefits all parties involved as audience exposure is increased and cross-promotion fuels more visibility.
A huge number of brands have reached out to YouTubers with a big, engaged subscriber bases (like the Pringles/Dude Perfect partnership below) and made wildly successful videos that lifted their visibility across different demographics. These days there are many platforms that can facilitate collaborations between brands and creators for a very reasonable budget and Community Managers should be all over that strategy. Getting a YouTube Influencer on board could really make a huge difference to your reach and engagement.
YouTube and Beyond: A Comprehensive Social Video Strategy
YouTube is a social network, but it isn't the only social network, and as a Community Manager, you'll either have to very closely liaise with the social team, or pull all of those responsibilities together yourself.
Engaging with the community outside of YouTube is vital if you want to drive people back to your video content, and social media provides incredibly valuable exposure for your YouTube channel. You can link to your YouTube videos on the big sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn and you can also edit and upload sections to Vine and Instagram. You can, of course, also upload your video content to Vimeo and other videos sites, to your own website, and natively to Facebook and other platforms.
Very often, YouTube audience and channel management falls under the general 'Social Media Management' umbrella and candidates will be expected to develop and maintain a myriad of social networking accounts. This can often be an advantage as you can co-ordinate publication and distribution across many sites and keep a tight reign on strategy.
So, there you have it - the basics of being a professional YouTube Community Manager. If you are lucky enough to already hold this position within your organization then you'll know how challenging but rewarding it can be. If you are hoping to go into this profession, we hope this article has given you some idea of the skills you'll be expected to have.
Are you currently working as a YouTube Community or Channel Manager? Are there any tips you'd like to pass on to our readers? Just let us know in the comments below.