Connect with your viewers
YouTube is a social platform, and building and engaging a loyal audience is key to your success as a creator. It starts with developing a strong connection with your viewers -- a critical step towards forming a community who could become your most loyal advocates. Top creators acknowledge and interact with their audience; most importantly, they listen to what they have to say. YouTube’s social features can help you supercharge your community and up-level conversations to facilitate the long-term growth of your channel.
Develop a strong connection with your viewers by interacting with them.
Know your audience
Building relationships takes time and dedication, and deciding where to focus your energy can be daunting. Every community is different -- identifying and understanding what makes your audience unique can help you determine the best way to engage them.
YouTube Analytics offers reports to help you better understand your audience. The Subscriber report reveals the sources of your subscribers. You can also segment your data with the filters, “Subscribed” and “Not Subscribed,” to understand how they behave differently, including what they watch and how they discover your videos. Also, simply reading, reviewing and responding to comments are among the most effective ways to check the pulse of your commnity. You’ll soon learn who your most receptive viewers are, as well as, the behaviors common to your community.
Of course, when in doubt, many creators go directly to the source and seek input from their audience about the best way to engage them or the type of videos that most appeal to them. Once you have a good sense of what your subscribers enjoy, you can use the ‘notify subscribers’ option when uploading your videos to program which videos will be shared with subscribers.
See it in action
Produce with input from your audienceEpic Rap Battles of History not only asks for viewer requests but features viewers whose request was answered with the episode. (Video in English)
Connect with individuals, and activate your base
Interacting with your audience is a key step toward developing a loyal community who can help promote your content. If your audience loves what they see and have positive interactions, they’re more likely to share your videos and recommend them to their friends. Also, taking the time to acknowledge comments or audience contributions could inspire even more of your community to participate. Some creators even go that extra mile to engage with key community members by inviting them to see what’s behind the curtain.
- Listen to your audience: What do your viewers want to know about you that you haven’t told them already? Try reaching out for ideas and dedicate your next videos to them. It can be as easy as uploading a quick mobile video with the YouTube Creator Studio app.
- Feature audience responses: If you ask your viewers to submit comments, consider featuring some of them in your next video. Seeing their comments or usernames will likely inspire the community to interact even more.
- It never hurts to ask: Consider mobilizing your audience to spread the word. You could ask them to comment, like or share your videos, and subscribe to your channel.
- Tap into crowdfunding: Some creators with very loyal audiences ask them to help support their next video series or big project.
- Thank and praise your biggest advocates: Recognize your most loyal audience members, and thank them for their generosity!
See it in action
Pull back the curtainJamie Oliver records short mobile videos for his channel, FoodTube, to give his loyal audience a glimpse of his daily life. (Video in English)
Reward your most important community members
Another way to show appreciation is to reward them for being your biggest supporters. Some creators offer freebies, exclusive or bonus content, and other rewards. Try out some of these techniques to help make your most loyal subscribers feel like elite members of your inner circle.
- Bonus/exclusive content: Use tools such as annotations, unlisted or private videos, and playlists to share bonus content and target your biggest subscribers.
- Contests: Consider hosting contests or giveaways to shower your most engaged subscribers with gifts such as merchandise or other freebies. Though remember, it’s against YouTube’s policy to offer rewards in exchange for likes or comments.
- Personal access: Some creators host or drop into a Hangout, attend meetups, or surprise your audiene with a personal visit. Don’t limit freebies to video. Consider offering exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, merchandise, or access to a special event.
See it in action
Drop in unannouncedPewDiePie often drops in on his audience during meet-ups through video chat, and then puts their reactions in videos. (Video in English)
Extreme viewer appreciationBeauty vlogger Promise Tamang, aka /dope2111, hosted a ‘Subscriber Transformation’ contest, and she changed her appearance to look almost exactly like one of her top subscribers.
Encourage audience contributions
YouTube by definition is a community of creative individuals, so consider collaborating with your viewers to make even better content. Here are some ways you could incorporate them:
- Ask your audience to create content: You could prompt viewers via calls-to-action to participate in your videos or submit their own.
- Feature your audience: Once you’ve collected submissions, consider filtering just the best content and feature it in your show or on your channel in a playlist.
- Create videos about your community: and if possible, include them in the actual video.
- Have them reference your channel: Provide a clear template for UGC to reference your channel’s name in their videos (or a hashtag). This will help expand your brand’s reach.
- Focus on tentpole programming: Make it easier for viewers to participate by using a subject like Halloween. Tentpole events are often more compelling to blogs.
Fuel the conversation
Conversation among your audience is bound to happen with or without your involvement. The Comments section on your YouTube channel empowers you to promote quality discussions around your channel or videos. Try using some of these techniques and be a conversation starter!
- Be the first to comment on each video you upload. Your comment will likely appear at the top.
- Make a habit of responding to comments in the first few hours after uploading a new video.
- Give a thumbs up to high-quality comments.
- Share links to other relevant videos and photos in comments to boost engagement.
- Use the moderation tools to approve users to comment and hide unwanted users.
- While good debates are part of a healthy community, you can filter comments by blacklisting particular words or phrases in comment settings or simply remove hateful comments targeted at an individual or group.
To recap: the first step toward building a healthy community is to identify who your subscribers are and where to focus your attention. Then, build a relationship by acknowledging, rewarding and potentially collaborating with them. Promote quality interactions by actively leading discussions and using the moderation tools to raise the bar. You can access these tools from both your desktop and mobile via the YouTube Creator Studio app, available on Android and iOS.
How many dedicated viewers do you have?Try it now
Use the Fans tool to see who your most engaged supporters are. If you don’t have access to this tool, look through the comments on your videos for those viewers who regularly post. Is there a way you can reach out to this segment of your audience to build your network even more? Find ways to interact with your best fans - perhaps make a collaborative video or film a new episode with their interests in mind. Use YouTube Analytics to see if these small actions make an impact on your channel views.
Evaluate your community chatter.Try it now
View the Comments tool to see the most recent comments from your channel. Read through them to get an idea of how your audience feels about your videos. Do you see any trends? Do you see anything surprising from your community?