Introduction to Memberships
In this video, YouTube creators Simon and Martina discuss all the things they've learned about the new feature, and share what you need to know about how to use Channel Memberships successfully.
Hi! We’re Simon and Martina, and we run a YouTube channel called Simon and Martina, where over the past ten years we’ve been making food and travel videos in Japan and Korea and many other parts of the world.
We’ve been using the Channel Memberships program for over half a year now, and it’s been a great addition to our channel, so today we’re going to be talking about our approach to this new feature, how we first thought about memberships and prepared to add it to our channel, how we chose our perks, and what kind of content we make for our members.What are Channel Memberships?
And before we dive in - If you’ve never heard of channel memberships, they’re a way for creators to engage more deeply with their audience that purchase monthly memberships, and for creators to earn more money at the same time. Viewers make monthly payments in exchange for access to exclusive badges, custom emojis, and other perks that creators can decide.Before you get started
It sounds like a no brainer: of course you’d want to be more connected with your audience and to make more money. I’m pretty sure every creator does. But implementing this feature isn’t something that should be rushed. For us, we spent a good month and a half or so discussing adding memberships to our channel before we finally pulled the trigger. We had a lot of concerns with alienating our audience, especially the people who couldn’t become members, and we didn’t want anyone to feel left out.
That’s just our approach, though. Some of you might be interested in setting up Channel Memberships as a kind of VIP backstage program, and there are many ways that could work. For our audience, though, and our message, we didn’t think it would be a good fit.
We don’t personally view Channel Memberships as something we are selling, or something that we’re trying to get as many people as possible to buy. Instead, we treat this more as a way for people to engage more deeply with us, or show their support, if they want to. If they feel like our videos helped them plan for their trip or gave them a laugh, channel memberships is a small way for them to say thanks.Coming up with your perks
Once we had agreed on our approach to Channel Memberships and what we thought it would mean for our audience, we started working on the custom perks. We decided that we wanted to give our members something that hopefully they can appreciate that adds to our videos and community, rather than creating a whole new set of extensive programming exclusive for channel members.
We had lots of ideas for things we could offer our creators, but we knew from experience that there’s a risk of trying to do too much and then not being able to sustain it. That’s a big one. Don’t burn yourself out trying to keep up with perks. Especially at the start, if not a lot of people are signing up for Channel Memberships, the effort for you might not be worth it compared to what you get out of your regular YouTube programming, and you’ll view fulfilling your perks as a chore. Don’t hurt yourself here. In the end we came up with a variety of perks that our members really value, but that we know we can keep delivering for months and years to come.
For us, because communicating with our audience is such a big part of what we do, we wanted to create something that would keep the kind of conversations we usually have with our viewers going. We often speak with our viewers in the comments, in LiveStreams, and on other social media platforms, and so we made our Channel Memberships out to be something that represents that specific aspect of the community well.
For example, we have the Notification Squad - when we post a video, people who have their notifications on come to our video and say they’re here as part of the NOTIFICATION SQUAAAAD! And so, we decided to make a Notification Bell as one of our custom emojis...but it’s got the face of our cat on it as well. It’s not a generic bell. It’s a cat bell, and it’s wonderful. Other emojis we have kind of represent the jokes we have with our viewers, and it’s great to see them using those emojis in our conversations.
These are small touches that didn’t require an unsustainable load of work from us, but they make memberships a really special and unique place for us to get to communicate with our members better.Making content as a perk for your members
Last, let’s talk about the videos we share with our members. We have a lot of footage we shoot throughout the month that doesn’t make the final cut of our main videos. We put this together in a format that’s somewhat representative of an older segment we did a couple of years ago, so people that have been around with us for a while hopefully feel a bit of nostalgia with these videos. It’s not as thoroughly edited as our other videos, but it gives us a way to share a little something extra with our members, something that we wouldn’t have shared otherwise. And actually we think our members like the fact the editing isn’t as polished: it makes them feel a bit closer to us, and that’s what memberships is all about.Announcing it to your audience
Once we figured out our custom emojis and badge and perks, the next, most important step was our announcement video. Explaining it to our viewers was essential: we knew that not many of our viewers would become members if we just launched the button but never mentioned it.
I think there’s a major risk that our audience would be confused or that they’d misunderstand why we added it, and they might interpret it the wrong way. So making our announcement video was one of the most important things we did in our launch. We explained the perks, and explained what Channel Memberships means to us, and what it could mean to members. More importantly, we have over 1 million subscribers. Not all of them will become members (though it’d be pretty sweet if they did), so we really wanted to explain what Channel Memberships would mean to those that don’t join. We didn’t want them to feel excluded. This was super important to our message.Engaging with your members
Once we had everything laid out and our announcement video filmed and edited, we launched the button and it’s done very well, both for us and our audience, both members and non-members alike. Part of what makes it so great for our members is that we always do our best to engage with them through members- only posts in the Community tab. Like we said earlier, communicating directly with our audience is a big part of what we do on YouTube anyway, but our members are choosing to spend money on our channel and that’s pretty amazing, so we make an extra effort to reply to their questions, or like or heart their comments. It’s important to remember that these payments are recurring - but members can cancel at any time, so this is one way we make sure they know how much we value them!Find an approach that works for you
So that’s it for our talk on Channel Memberships. If your channel’s eligible for memberships and you’re interested in implementing it, I’d recommend finding an approach that resonates with the connection you have with your audience. There’s no copy and paste answer for the best approach. If you engage with them and know your audience well, then you should be able to find an approach that gives your channel members something they find worthwhile.
And if you want to be a member of our channel I highly recommend it. We got some dope emojis. There are some other aspects to this that we didn’t mention, so if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below, and we’ll answer as many as we can, so we can keep this conversation going. Thanks for listening.