'Trash TV' isn't a term I throw around liberally. I assure you, my recent YouTube rant came from a place of genuine rage.
Once the red mist settled, however, I looked at the YouTube views and realised I'd accumulated 500+ views in under 24 hours. Of course, this modest number is unlikely to attract the advertising purses of Amazon, Apple or Alfred's (the chip shop down the road), but compared to my prior uploads, it was somewhat viral.
From this experience, I learned two critical storytelling hacks that enabled client Raya's videos to perform strongly and attract a new audience during her Eurovision adventure.
The YouTube storytelling hacks were:
1: BE A SURFER
Arguably, surfing isn't about riding the waves, it's about anticipating them. Within seconds of watching the god awful TV programme that inspired my rant, I assumed my disdain would be shared by any human in possession of a moral compass. I knew I was unlikely to be the only person horrified by a mainstream broadcaster displaying such remarkable irresponsibility. I was right.
Immediately, I wanted to exchange thoughts with this online community. The following morning, having seen enough Twitter rage to feel justified, I grabbed my phone, and filmed my vlog.
By the time I uploaded the video, it was the only one on YouTube discussing the TV show in question - a channel 5 offering titled 'One Night With My Ex' . Moreover, it ranked on page one of Google - shining like a furious beacon for anyone scouting information about the show.
And so, returning our attention to Raya - who wanted to share her Eurovision story via YouTube vlogs, I knew to enable her to efficiently find her audience, or rather, for her audience to efficiently find her, she had to share her story like a surfer i.e. we had to anticipate what her new fans would be searching for.
Ahead of Raya posting her debut vlog, we reviewed all her potential vlog titles, and I proposed we name her series 'RAYA: CRAZY FOR EUROVISION'. Critically, this series title features lucrative search terms that any new fan of Raya would be searching.
(Raya was competing in The Eurovision Song Contest 2018 with a song titled 'Crazy')
The results of launching RAYA's vlogs like a surfer were plain to see: new fans, heightened online engagement.
2: SHARKS EAT SURFERS
YouTube is second only to Google when it comes to 'search', thus, as far as its hunting prowess is concerned, YouTube is a shark. Tell YouTube exactly what your video/story is about, and the platform will better find the right people looking to consume such content.
In the case of my 'angry video', this meant ensuring YouTube knew the video was about a programme titled 'One Night With My Ex' and more specifically, it was about the series' opening episode involving 'Tom & Amy'. To guarantee YouTube was in no doubt what my video was about, the search terms 'One Night With My Ex' and 'Tom & Amy' feature repeatedly in the description field. See here.
Using Raya to illustrate this hack further, we added key search terms to (a) the video title, and (b) the actual video description, i.e. 'RAYA' 'CRAZY', 'EUROVISION' 'RAYA CRAZY' and so on - all terms her new fans would likely be searching as her Eurovision adventure unfolded.
NB: For best results, the key terms of your video/story should appear in the first sentence of your description. YouTube prioritises the first sentence of videos when ranking them.
Again, see the description field in Raya's video below for insight.
Your story is important to you, sure, but equally, it will be of significance to others, too - so why sell yourself short? Do all you can to attract & engage with an audience of like-minded thinkers. Be a surfer.
Nervous about taking the leap into YouTube, thirty minutes before publishing her very first vlog, our client Raya Clark sent us the below message.
Three days after jumping into the unkown, Raya received the most beautiful YouTube comments from strangers as far afield as Australia. Most critically, Raya's online audience grew across all her online platforms following her YouTube debut.
The question, then, is how do you create YouTube videos that not only connect with strangers, but inspire them to be your biggest cheerleader and support your journey?
Long before Raya pressed 'PUBLISH' on that first video, we knew her content would capture hearts and minds for these three reasons:
1: Do it for the right reasons
Very soon into her Eurovision journey, Raya told us that she was a huge "YouTube geek" - watching hours of it in her leisure time (Casey Neistat being among her favourite YouTubers)
Instantly, we knew the most critical of all boxes was ticked - the 'PLEASURE' box. Psychologically, few things are a bigger turn-off for viewers than watching someone vlog without pure motives. From the outset, Raya wanted to vlog not to grow her audience, be more visible or become a YouTube millionaire, but simply because she thought it looked fun.
If the prospect of vlogging ignites the fire in your belly from a creative storytelling perspective, that will translate in your videos and viewers will share your enthusiasm.
2: one person, not one billion
Who's your best friend? Whoever that person is, next time you hangout, make detailed mental notes of how you talk to each other, while asking yourself these questions:
"do I start each sentence with "right" ?
"do i refer to him/her as "guys"?
"do I say "umm..." a lot?"
The most engaging vloggers talk to the camera in an identical manner as they talk to their friends. They don't concern themselves with how many people are [or aren't] watching, because as far as their on-screen delivery is concerned, they're simple having a chat with one person: the viewer. With that in mind, using terms like "right guys" or "hi everyone" is counter-productive in cultivating a one-to-one relationship.
NOTE: In the above sentence, we used the word 'viewer', not 'viewers'. Always imagine you're having a natter with just one person. It makes the process less daunting for you, and significantly more intimate for the viewer. From a subconscious point of view, viewers feel a greater connection to a one-to-one style of delivery.
3: make a meal of it
Everyone likes toast, but toast is better when served with a complimenting spread of joy; be it peanut butter, jam, or if you're feeling adventurous, Nando's. Our point? Give your videos toppings. By 'toppings', we simply mean bring your video to life by adding sub scenes that assist your storytelling.
In Raya's second video [see below], the bulk of the vlog takes place in Costa Coffee, but her narrative is amplified by opening and closing with footage from other parts of the day. Watchable as Raya is, an eight-minute video of her talking to camera is merely toast, but an eight minute video of her entire day brings added Nutella.
In our next blog, we'll share the quick, free and simple tricks you can apply to your videos to give them an extra boost - heightening the chances of them being discovered by people desperate to watch your story, message or insight. We applied these exact methods to Raya's videos, and the results were immediate.
Until then, what do you think makes a great vlogger? Who do you love watching and why? Share your thoughts below.
header image courtesy of PEXELS