YouTube tip: Imagine you are a member of your ideal audience

Posted by Matt Hayden on Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Short, compelling videos can be surprisingly easy to make. Basically, you just point and shoot. As long as what you're filming is interesting and relevant it's worth putting online. People love visual stuff, and they are more likely to share it than the written word. While it's always a bonus when a video is slickly edited, it doesn't absolutely have to be.

When people realize this they often go crazy making videos and uploading them to YouTube. But they don't make them easy to find. So they just sit up there gathering cyber-dust! This is unfortunate because they could get many more people who might be interested in what they want to sell or promote. It's worth doing some brainstorming about this and maybe even thinking laterally.

To illustrate this idea I'll draw from a field I have a lot of experience in: standup comedy. (I don't do gigs now. But I used to ages ago, last century.) So I can imagine what it would be like if you were a comic wanting to lift your profile these days.

You think about your audience when you write and rehearse your act, so you should do the same when creating and uploading videos. 

The obvious thing to do would be to upload live gigs showing you making your audience roll with laughter. But you should also keep these short and sharp. That's because on social media "snackable content" rules. The longer the tape is, the greater will be the number of people who don't watch it right through. That affects how it ranks in searches. Better to have a 5 minute highlights compilation than the whole 20 minute performance.

Speaking of searches: YouTube is a massive search engine in its own right. So think about what keywords people will be using to find the kind of content you're adding.

What a lot of comics do is just put their name in the title. Obviously you'll want to do that because people searching for you will find you easily. But why not be found for other relevant terms that will mean your video will be seen by more comedy lovers, especially locally?

So instead of titling it something like "Your Name, comedian. Headline gig" try, say, "Sydney Comedy Festival: Your Name at The Laugh Garage".

You'll still be found for your name. But you're bound to be found for other searches as well. You may not crack the first page for, say “Sydney Comedy Festival”, or "Laugh Garage" on their own. But you will probably rank highly for searches combining these terms. And there will certainly be some.

You should also go to the advanced settings and include the actual locations. This will help your rankings for people searching locally.

As well as optimizing your videos SEO-wise, you can use this idea of putting yourself in the searchers shoes to give you ideas about what kind of content to create and upload in the first place.

By that I mean that just because you're a comedy performer, don't limit yourself to uploading tapes of gigs. There are lots of other angles you can take. For example, why not interview the manager of an iconic comedy venue about the many famous funny people who've performed there? This can be very interesting content for comedy lovers. And you can put much more famous names than your own, along with the venue name, in the title.

You can also capture some of the tension and excitement of a live gig by interviewing comics before they go on. This kind of content is often very compelling, because you're right there, shining a light on what's happening backstage. Again, you can put the venue name, and often searched-for fellow performers' names, in the title and description.

Sure, you're not showcasing your own particular performance skill with videos like these. But you're still getting your channel in front of local, interested people who wouldn't have seen it otherwise. You're also helping other performers and venues, which they will greatly appreciate. This may even result in more offers of work.

Needless to say, the approaches listed above don't have to be limited to the field of live entertainment. Imagining you are a potential audience member can be useful for any kind of video content creator.

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