Using Cross-Promotions & YouTube Video Collaborations to Increase Viewers: The YouTube Creator Playbook

Using Cross-Promotions & YouTube Video Collaborations to Increase Viewers: The YouTube Creator Playbook

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A prevalent theme of the YouTube Creator Playbook touches on the social aspect of the site.  In previous sections, the playbook says that you need to encourage people to like, favorite, and comment on your videos in addition to using Facebook, Twitter, and other blogs to share the video or its links to others.  There’s a reason why certain videos are called “viral” and it’s the ability of that video to spread like a certain infectious agent, where everyone who comes in contact with it will share it with others in their circles.

But perhaps you’re not reaching all of the circles that you could reach, since even those that watch similarly-themed videos on YouTube may not know about your channel.  That’s where cross-promotion and collaboration comes in.  This is finding the creators of another channel that you like and are relevant to your own audience, and either creating videos with them or promoting their videos on your own channel in return for a similar promotion on their channel.

Here’s the playbook overview:

Strategy: Work with and cross-promote other creators and channels

Why It Works: Cross-promotion and collaboration can be one of the leading drivers of traffic to your channel.  Working with other channels helps find and attract new audiences.  YouTube is social; be a part of the community.

How To Do It: Build your own channel’s appeal.  Find and reach out to relevant channels with similar channels to plan smart and creative methods of cross-promotion.

Leveraging Other Channels’ Audiences: An Advanced Stage of Your YouTube Experience

At this point, your channel has picked up some respectable views and subscribers, something that is known to a pretty wide audience.  Your channel has to have the kind of following that would be attractive to the creators of another popular channel, an audience that would be beneficial for them to attract.  If you’ve got a few hundred subscribers and you’re trying to get a cross-promotion or collaboration with say, Freddiew, you’re not likely to get a “yes” for that kind of partnership.

Here is a fantastic collaboration between three channels that happened just a few weeks ago between Epic Meal Time, Freddiew, and CorridorDigital.  Freddiew and Epic Meal Time have millions of subscribers, while CorridorDigital has several hundred thousand:

Previously, Freddiew and Epic Meal Time collaborated on a video more suited to Freddie’s channel, but with an Epic Meal Time flavor:

You might not think a special effects show like Freddiew and a hyper-ridiculous food show like Epic Meal Time blend well, but they do.  They both deal in the broad spectrum of exaggerated comedy, and as you can see from the videos above, the “marriage” of their styles go well together.

You’ll notice that the collaboration doesn’t end there.  At the end of the video, Freddiew places a prompt, “Special Thanks to Epic Meal Time: One of our favorite channels- You gotta to subscribe to these guys!”  You can click on the prompt and go straight to the Epic Meal Time channel.  In turn, when Freddie and Corridor visited Epic Meal Time, they returned the favor.

The hope in all this is not only to see a spike in views for your next video, but to get extra subscribers and have a new audience that sticks with you after the cross-promotion or collaboration.

By the way, here’s a video from Sexy Nerd Girl talking about what happened after another popular program, and oft-mentioned Playbook YouTuber, Philip DeFranco pointed his subscribers to her direction (there is some bad language):

She takes the time to thank DeFranco, and tell the new viewers what to expect from her videos.  This is a pretty great acknowledgement of DeFranco’s shout out.  Considering the chasm between DeFranco’s subscribers (millions) to Sexy Nerd Girl’s (thousands), this was an extremely nice gesture and shows the power of “shout-outs” to other channels.  She didn’t even ask for it.

Reviewing the Playbook: Cross-Promotion and Collaboration

Cross-promotions and collaborations with other online creators and channels are some of the most effective methods of building audience and subscribers.  Accessing new audiences on YouTube begins with finding the channels where those audiences are already engaged.

No matter what kind of channel you are–vlogger, branded, comedy, music–it should be a priority to identify similar or relevant channels that you could work with on cross-promotion and collaboration in a way that makes sense for both channels.  With that said, you must do the initial work to build your content, your channel, and your audience into something that other channels want to support or be a part of.

General Best Practices

  • Cross-promote and collaborate with other content creators that are relevant to your audience or attract similar demographics.
  • Appear, guest-star, or contribute to other channels’ content and vice-versa.  Leverage each other’s audience to find new viewers.
  • Be creative with remote collaborations.  Record video chats, utilize video-responses, or incorporate video from one another on your channel.
  • Make it easy for viewers to get from one place to the other.  Use annotations, links in description, and clear direction within the video on what the viewer needs to do to watch more.  Tip: Link to specific videos and not just channel pages.
  • Be active on your channel during any cross-promotion period.  Respond to comments of new viewers.  Make a good first impression with your content and your interaction with new viewers visiting our channel.  For example, brand your channel in a new way or feature your best videos or playlists. (See ‘Channel Optimizations’ in section two)

Good Karma: What Goes Around, Comes Around, With Extra Viewers

The Playbook also suggests good old fashioned “likes, favorites, and comments” as a way to drive your viewers over to other people’s channels you like, and in turn, you can ask for the other channel to return the favor.  The likes, favorites, and comments will show up in your “activity feed” for your subscribers, which in turn promotes those channels.

If you go to Freddiew’s channel, you’ll notice a “Subscriber Box” that contains links to other people’s channels, like Epic Meal Time, MysteryGuitarMan, and yes, The Annoying Orange, plus a whole lot more.  This is a method of generating goodwill and getting those channels to also mention you in return, where new viewers go to their channel and vice-versa.  Providing a circulation of viewers helps you and helps them.

Another way this is done is by linking to other videos in your video, which in turn link to other videos, finally getting back to your own video.  This cross-promotion method creates a chain, so that no matter where a viewer starts, your video will get represented down the line.  Getting a big chain going with multiple channels benefits everyone, increases exposure over several unique audiences.  You can also bring awareness to your viewers that such a cross-promotion is happening and inform them of all the channels involved.

I’d like to take you through a typical collaboration.  That it happened is almost a miracle.  HollywoodBubbleInc has over twenty thousand subscribers, but when they approached Freddiew about a collaboration, it was more about what can they do for him first.  Freddiew says he gets hundreds of people wanting to collaborate with him, and it’s nearly impossible to get through them all, much less help out with a video.  Yet, HollywoodBubbleInc’s approach “filled a need” and this is what happened for Freddiew’s channel and his involvement with them:

In return, Freddiew was gracious enough to do a video collaboration for HollywoodBubbleInc:

And Freddiew did a video interview with HollywoodBubbleInc, and talked about the very topic of collaboration.  What’s interesting is they actually have contradictory information about the subscriber boxes, that the new subscribers often don’t stick around strictly because they were recommended.  It’s all in this eye-opening video, which mostly agrees with the YouTube Creator Playbook in everything except this one topic:

Freddie talks about “adding value” to what others are doing, which makes for a better and more fruitful collaboration.  Freddiew’s first collaboration was with MysteryGuitarMan, and look at how the two brands work very well together:

Collaborations should make sense, and compliment both brands.

Reviewing the Playbook: Methods of Cross-Promotion and Collaboration

In-Video promotion

A.) Guest Star: Appearing or guest starring in other channel’s content is a great way to work with other creators and channels.  You can combine show elements from each of your shows, or simply fall into another channel’s theme completely.

B.) Shout Out: A shout out can be illustrated with actual clips/teasers from the channel that’s being promoted or a simple host recommendation can go far.  Find clips that are short, surprising, or provide cliff hangers that make people more interested in following the call-to-action.

Make sure to link to the other channel using annotations and links in the description.

Channel Promotion

Recommendation Activity

“Like,” Favorite, or Comment on the videos of other channel that you like.  This indirect recommendation will appear in your activity feed for your subscribers.

Subscriber Box Sharing

The “other channels” module on your channel page is a great way to link to other channels, whether your own or your friends.  When users subscribe to you they are also offered the opportunity to subscribe to the channels you have added to your “subscriber box.”

Arrange cross-promotion for yourself by getting placement in other people’s subscriber box and sharing your own.

Tip: Use to identify successful channels and compare subscriber growth.

Shared Topics

  • Organize and create videos with other producers that are related, complementary, or supplemental.  Focus both sets of content on the same “tent-pole” event or create complementary videos that have similar tones/subjects/persepectives.
  • Make the viewer aware of all the channels involved in the cross-promotion through playlists , annotations, mentions, and links.
  • Consider linking multiple videos in a “chain” that completes a circle.  (i.e. producer A ends his or her video with a teaser or recommendation to check out producer B’s video, which in turn links to producer C, and so on back to A.) No matter where a viewer begins, all viewers in the loop are in a position to gain new viewers and potential subscribers.

How to Find Channels In Which to Collaborate and Cross-Promote

YouTube suggests going to a site like vidstatsx, which has a ton of information about the growth of YouTube channels.  It gives a bunch of statistics, not only on the total growth of some of the most popular sites out there, but it also gives stats on the rate of growth.  This is a good way to figure out how you stack up with a future partner, whether you have the chance at an equal collaboration or not.

This is exactly what Freddiew says in that “YouTube Partner Bible” video above.  Your best bet is to find a channel that has at or around the same amount of growth.  Partnerships like he had with HollywoodBubbleInc are very rare.  But since they were able to enhance his show, and it didn’t require extra effort from him to collaborate, it was a lucky catch for the much lower-subscribed channel.  By the way, you can also see that HollywoodBubbleInc didn’t exactly jump to millions of subscribers just because they had Freddiew on their show.  Building an audience takes more than a lucky special appearance from one of YouTube’s stars.  They’ll have to grow through other means.  Content is still king.

Reviewing the Playbook: How-To Steps

Build Your Channel’s Appeal

  • Before reaching out to collaborate with other channels, build your value through great content and/or a meaningful, engaged audience.
  • Create something exceptional, unique, compelling, or special with your channel that will make other channels interested in supporting or working with you.  This can extend beyond just content to include production support, access to talent, shoot locations, etc.  Tip: Having a unique contribution is one way to attract collaboration partnerships when you’re just starting a channel.

Know and Find Relevant Creators and Channels

  • Know who your peers are and where similar audiences to your own channel are spending their time.
  • Use YouTube and third-party sites such as* to identify channels of similar content or audience size and growth.

Create Engaging Cross-Promotion Opportunities and Collaboration Videos

    • Create collaboration videos with channels and creators with similar content and relevant audiences.
    • Set clear objectives of what each creator wants to get out of the cross-promotion.  Work closely with each other to ensure each channel is maximizing the opportunity and benefits with working together.
    • Fine tune your channel, content, and engagement during cross-promotions to provide the best experience for new viewers to make them become subscribed fans.
    • Consistently update and refresh less-intensive promotion strategies such as featuring channels in your subscriber boxes and recommendation activity.

*YouTube does not recommend or approve Used as an example of helpful sites.

Tracking Your Cross-Promotion and Collaboration Efforts With Insight

You can find out whether your cross-promotions and collaborations are working by using Insight and checking out the number of viewers that come to your channel and stay there after you mingle with other channels.

Insight Tracking Tip

Track the effectiveness and results of cross-promotions by examining viewership graphs and subscriber changes in Insight.  Assess the “stickiness” of your content/channel and the relevancy of the cross-promotion by measuring subscribers gained from the additional views.  How many new viewers were retained weeks after the promotion?

ReelSEO’s Coverage of the YouTube Creator Playbook

Each week we will be covering the Playbook until it is out of pages to cover. Previous overviews of the Playbook include:

The First 15 Seconds

Calls to Action

Publishing Frequently And Regularly

Tent-Pole Programming

And there’s also video tips from Tim Schmoyer:

And another:

And here’s another:

You can bet we got the YouTube Creator Playbook covered here.


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