As YouTube has become more of an institution, more and more brands and newcomers are attempting to stake out a place on the biggest video platform on the internet. And as they do, they keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
As the site changes and matures, things that worked five years ago are no longer the smartest ways to build audiences and get views. This multi-part series will explore a variety of ways to deep-six your YouTube investment.
Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
When Revision3 first got serious about YouTube back in 2008, we created a Revision3 channel and dumped all of our shows into it. That was less than successful. After carefully watching (read: copying) those more successful than us, we started creating separate channels for each of our shows. Only then did we start to see traction for “Diggnation,” “Film Riot,” “Scam School,” and our other popular shows.
But for some reason YouTube decided that it was smarter to follow the single channel model when it started doling out its $200 million to launch new channels. Almost all of the channels (including our own TechFeed) shoved seven or more separate shows into a single channel. Smarter YouTube experts — including Phil DeFranco with SourceFed and the Green Brothers with SciShow — resisted the advice. Unsurprisingly their single-show channels were among the few breakout successes, while most of the multi-show channels have faded into irrelevance.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, though, I still see media companies and other brands new to YouTube trying to load a slate of disparate shows into one channel. It still doesn’t work — and is clearly a recipe for failure.
Why? Because the way users consume YouTube content is very different from traditional TV. The “subscription” reigns supreme on YouTube, as the path to success is by amassing the biggest pile of subscribers you can. That is because nearly half of all views are consumed via the feed of new programming that sits on the left side of the screen — and your subscribers are the ones that will push early sharing, comments, and social buzz that will drive your views even higher among non-subscribers.
But if you have multiple shows in one channel, they have to *all* appeal to your subscribers for it to work. A variety of different shows, with different audience profiles, just won’t work. That is because you’ll end up flooding your subscribers’ feed with shows they just aren’t interested in, and they’ll end up either ignoring your feed-entries or unsubscribing.
There are ways it can work — but it’s by creating variants of the same show rather than a variety of different shows. Check out two of our bigger channels — Rev3Games and SourceFed. Both use the same stable of 3 to 4 hosts and create variations on an existing show theme, rather than creating separate and distinct shows. So Rev3Games has video-game “reviews”, “previews,” and “casual Fridays” — but all with the same mission of providing intelligent, personality-driven coverage of video gaming. Similarly SourceFed ties their daily news/lifestyle coverage with segments like “Today in History” and conversational round-tables like “Truth or Dare” and “Comment Commentary.”
Contrast that to the relative wasteland of “Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls,” Rodale’s “3V,” or “Intelligent Channel” — all destinations that tried to put a disparate lineup of shows into one channel and haven’t gained a lot of traction.
Next time we’ll dive into how these sorts of problems could be identified, and possibly discovered, before it’s too late.
Jim Louderback joined Revision3 as the CEO in July 2007, and guided the company to a 20-fold increase in viewers, a 12x increase in revenue, 39 new distribution partners and 9 prestigious company and show awards. In 2012 he sold the company to Discovery Communications and now runs the Digital Networks business for Discovery — of which Revision3 is a part.