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Fans Chip In With YouTube Fan Funding

YouTubeFanFundingYouTube has always been about putting the power in the hands of its users. Now they’re taking it a step further and letting users take the reigns on creator support with Fan Funding. This new feature allows fans to send cash to channels they love, directly through YouTube.com. The program is already in a pilot phase with a few fan favorite channels like Soul Pancake and The Young Turks, with more channels to be rolled out in the next few months.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Fan Funding is how creators will respond. With many channels boasting multi-million subscriber stats, it’s no secret that YouTube has an avid fan base. Creators have the potential to create more and better content if they have access to financial backing. Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have already successfully funded multiple video projects, the most successful of which, the film Veronica Mars, funded $5.7 million of its $2 million goal in 30 days. YouTube Fan Funding brings this potential directly where fans are already watching.

Monetization on YouTube has taken a number of forms in the past. From the most common ad-supported system to pay-to-watch channels and VOD rentals, YouTube is not afraid to experiment with its platform. This most recent iteration will leave creators to use their funding however they like. Each contribution will be capped at $500, with YouTube taking 5% plus $0.21 per transaction.

But will fans actually pay? YouTube has yet to report on any numbers, but you can expect channels to get creative with incentivizing funding. Some will require funding out of necessity for production: there might be more incentive for fans to chip in some cash if the next episode of their favorite show is on the line. Others may generate supporter-exclusive content to reward fans who chip in with videos just for them. Fan Funding opens up new levels of potential with fans by allowing them to directly impact the success of their favorite channels.

Here’s a look at how Fan Funding looks on Soul Pancake:

soulpancake

So keep an eye out for this option, coming soon to a channel near you!

Boost Your Reach with Your Very Own YouTube Billboard

YTBillboardHave a new album or film coming out soon? Of course you do! But do your fans know about it? Pre-release promotion is a no brainer, but ask yourself how you are conveying that message. YouTube is one of the most powerful tools available for making your voice heard, though it’s often underutilized as a promotional tool. Consider your video’s watch page as a virtual, interactive billboard for your message. Creating a simple, yet compelling video announcement can invoke pure excitement among eager fans while allowing you to convert potential sales right off the bat.

Let’s take an album release for example. If you want to draw a genuine response from your audience, they’re going to want a taste of what to expect. Tease a track that fans have never heard before with creative imagery behind the audio. You’ll build up expectations while also leaving your audience wanting more. Time this the right way and your album will already have eager eyes waiting in anticipation for street date.

Aside from giving fans a sneak peak at what you’re promoting, you also have some prime real estate to work with to take care of business. Display vital information like the album title and release date in both your video’s title and description (or burned directly in the video itself). More importantly, give your fans the opportunity to buy the album instantly. You’ve gotten them amped up for the release, now turn that excitement into a sale by including pre-order links in the videos description and in-video annotations.

What if your following isn’t that great on YouTube yet and your fans are more centered around Facebook or Twitter? No problem! This strategy will work there too. Create your video billboard the same way we talked about above, and simply copy and paste the link as a post anywhere else on social media. As long as your vital information is included in the video’s title or burned into the video itself, you’ll get traction anywhere else your fans are. Excited fans will spark up conversation either on YouTube itself or directly in your social posts, all leading up to a strongly boosted street date.

Check out our decorated example below:

YTAnnouncement

Use YouTube End Cards to Build Watch Time

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 11.44.22 AMBy now, most YouTube creators understand that building watch time is more important than simply gaining views on their videos. And since building watch time will positively impact search, recommendation and ad CPMs for your videos, it’s in your best interest to work to improve it. There are a couple of tactics you can use. In a previous blog post, we examined how creating playlists is an effective way of getting viewers to watch multiple videos in a session. Another method, which we’ll look at today, is to add end cards to your videos.

What’s an end card? Think of it as brief interactive credits after the main content of your video, with calls-to-action (like subscribe, watch another video, buy a track on iTunes, etc) and clickable annotations. End cards are less intrusive to the viewing experience than traditional in-video annotations and typically perform much better. They usually last about 10-15 seconds at the end of the video. For a great example, check out this video.

How do I create an end card? Use Photoshop or similar graphics editing software to create your end card and save it as a reusable template. Be sure to include a space for at least one other video and a subscribe call-to-action. You can also leave space for multiple videos or playlists, but avoid making it too crowded. Simpler is better. After you’ve created your template, use video editing software like Final Cut Pro to add your end card to your video. Here’s a good walkthrough of how to do this. After you’ve added your end card and included the necessary content to it, export your video and upload to YouTube. That’s it!

End cards are a great way of extending viewer watch time and gaining subscribers for your channel. And they add a nice level of professionalism to your videos. Be sure to check out some of our other YouTube-related blog posts for tips and ideas for improving your videos and channel.

Let’s Get Together: The New Groups and Comparison Features in YouTube Analytics

apples and orangesLike all major tech platforms, YouTube is constantly working to improve itselfee. Sometimes major changes are highly publicized, but more often than not, subtle upgrades are rolled out with little to no fanfare. The latter is the case with two recent features that were added to YouTube’s (already robust) analytics dashboard — Groups and Comparisons. Let’s take a look at the functions of both and how you can start using them to get more details from your data.

Groups
Previously, it was only possible to view data for single videos. In order get an idea of how multiple videos were performing, you had to employ some type of manual tracking (i.e. a spreadsheet). This was no doubt cumbersome, especially for channels with lots of videos. Now, you can set up groups to view aggregate data for both videos and playlists.

Groups can provide some really interesting intel on your content. For instance, find out how all videos for a particular artist are doing. Or, see if your official music videos are outperforming your simple album art videos. The possibilities are endless. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on the number of groups you can set up, however there is currently a limit of 200 videos per group. To set up groups, visit your analytics dashboard and click on the Groups button at the top. Create a new video or playlist group and then use the check boxes to add videos to the group.

groups

Comparison
This feature let’s you look at two things side by side. Perhaps it’s two different date ranges for a particular video (e.g. 6 weeks before and after adding annotations to see if they made an impact). Or the same date range for the same video, but for two different countries. Much like groups, the comparison feature provides a ton of ways to slice and dice your data, often revealing new things that were previously rather difficult to see.

To try a comparison, click on the Comparison button and fill out the two fields. Then navigate analytics just as you would for a single video, but this time you’ll see both sets of data next to each other.

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Hungry for more data and analytics? Read our recent post “Get to Know Your Fans (Really Well) with YouTube Fan Insights” and learn even more about your YouTube audience.

Get to Know Your Fans (Really Well) with YouTube Fan Insights

1900113_266170920211205_747889287_nYou know how many views your channel is getting and generally where they are coming from. But is each fan created equal? Sure you love all of them, but wouldn’t you like to know which ones are having the most influence on your content? Now, thanks to YouTube, you can see which fans are interacting with your content the most and sharing it with others.

YouTube’s recent addition to Channel Insights and Analytics is the Fans page. This gem allows you to creep on your viewers just enough for you to make some actionable production decisions. If your channel has at least 1,000 subscribers, this page will populate with your channel’s most “influential” viewers. Influence is based on a combination of the number of subscribers that viewer has on his own channel and his level of engagement on yours. Engaging actions from fans can be anything from likes, comments and shares to playlisting your videos.

The best part about this new functionality is its counterpart, titled simply, “Insights.” Not to be confused with your channel’s YouTube Analytics and Demographics section, Insights is much more powerful and linked directly to your Fans list. If you already have access to the Fans page (i.e. you have 1k subscribers or more), you can enable Insights by linking your channel to Google+ and creating a new circle. If you’ve been putting off using Google+, this new feature alone is reason enough for you to finally jump in.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 11.17.08 AM

When you visit the Insights page for the first time, you’ll be prompted to create a new circle. For those of you that don’t know, a circle is simply a grouping of fans/followers. YouTube will auto-populate this circle with the profiles from your Fans section, but you’ll be able to edit this however you’d like. Once this is saved, your new Insights page will fill in key information about this specific group of fans.

This is where your decision making and promotional plans come into play. For each fan in your Insights section, you’ll see his or her recent activity with your channel (likes, comments, shares), other channels and videos they’ve viewed, and a demographics overview. By reviewing this information, you can carefully assess how fans are reacting to your channel as well as other channels they may like. Don’t be afraid to pivot slightly to cater to what these fans seem to like most about you (or others).

Once you’ve gotten to know your fans, you’ll probably want to reach out to them and reward them for being so great. The most powerful tool in Insights is the ability to send updates and videos exclusively to this group. You can share private and unlisted videos with only your Fans Circle to give them special messages and premium content. This behavior encourages others to follow your channel more closely and subscribe to gain access to this elite group. Drive fan loyalty and reward your top fans!

After you’ve gotten used to the Fans and Insights pages, be sure to update your circle regularly. Watch for new top fans and add them to the circle once you feel they’re similar to others in that group. It’s also important to note that these new features work best if your fans are also following your page on Google+. YouTube is making an effort to encourage fans to follow you, but you should be sure to do the same.

Though these new features could border on the stalker side of social media engagement, the real value is in being able to gain insight on your fan base. Before now, fans were just numbers and statistics. Being able to interact more directly and focus on core groups of fans separately could mean a big boost to your brand’s following. Use responsibly!

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