Did you know that in late 2018, UK-based Ball Street Network doubled the subscriber count on its UnitedPeoplesTV (UPTV) channel to 60K in just six weeks? The media company initially hoped to reach this goal in a year, but did so in a much shorter time thanks to optimizing its YouTube thumbnail size.
Using data and audience insights, Ball Street’s UPTV realized it needed to take a different editorial approach to its videos about one of the world’s biggest sports teams, Manchester United. By optimizing thumbnails and titles, the media company was able to increase its reach while providing its viewers exactly what they wanted.
Here’s the full story:
How UPTV Discovered the Perfect White Space
The nature of video algorithms means that the smallest of changes can make a large impact on where media publishers are featured on a platform.
Publishers always want to be the first to spot key changes so they can ensure they are top of the pile when a content trend takes off. Fortnite was a great example of this in 2018; creators that jumped early landed on top of the pile across several video platforms.
UnitedPeoplesTV has uncovered similar trends this year in order to tweak its content strategy to power audience growth. Because the channel is a part of Ball Street, which sees itself as a facilitator of creators, UPTV has access to the tools and guidance it needs to do what it does best: create authentic content that resonates with its fans.
Like many publishers have done, UPTV took a step back from the day-to-day of content creation to really think about where its channel fit with its audience. The production team needed to understand what made the Manchester United club and its fan culture unique.
To figure this out, the channel used key data tools to understand what other content creators were doing to fuel their growth and satisfy the YouTube algorithm to put them top of users recommended list.
Sam Peoples, founder of UPTV, said, “By just doing a bit of research into what was already out there in the world of Manchester United on YouTube, it became obvious where the gap in content was.”
Sam noticed there were some small tweaks he could make that could make a big difference. “Instead of doing a video a day, I switched to doing fewer. But every video I now do, I’m proud of, and the audience seems to be enjoying it, too, so everyone’s a winner. Sometimes, less really is more.”
From the data UPTV pulled, the media publisher understood it needed to give a more editorial perspective on the stories that really mattered to its audience.
What Happened After the YouTube Thumbnail Size Was Changed
At the time, the big story for Manchester United was Pogba vs. Mourinho. Sam focused on this trend and was able to satisfy the fans’ passion to learn as much as possible about these two players.
Knowing all this, Sam adjusted a video’s YouTube thumbnail size and title to cater to this editorial angle. This pushed the UPTV content to the front of users’ feeds by giving the audience exactly what they wanted when they came to YouTube in the first place.
Christian Hurley, Head of Strategy at Ball Street, said, “I remember being stopped on the stairs a week after our first strategy catch-up. Sam told me, ‘We need to talk because the channel is blowing up.’ A video had hit 1 million views and kick-started the rise that has continued.”
Sam wasn’t wrong — before making these adjustments to the YouTube thumbnail size, the channel was hovering around 30K subscribers and was projected to hit 60K in 12 months. By making these small changes, Sam achieved that in just six weeks.
And the channel has just continued to grow. Since November 2018, subscribers have grown to almost 100K.
So for any content creators out there, take a step back and figure out what your audience really wants. Make sure if you spot a trend, capitalize on it before everyone else does and land on top of the algorithm!