Being a creator in 2019 means adapting to ever-changing norms. Whether it’s a shifting algorithm or the newest content trend, it’s important to be flexible and adaptive. If we look back through the last decade, some of the biggest creators started content from their college dorms. The next generation of big creators improved quality and upped the production of their videos. Then, the vlog era took over, after being turned on its head by Casey Neistat. Now, we sit in a YouTube world driven by celebrity creators with dedicated production teams. As a new or small creator, YouTube can seem like a daunting challenge to take on. But, while Will Smith and Zac Efron pump out the TV-like content – you can build your COMMUNITY; an x-factor that sets you apart from others.
Community is something you’ve likely heard preached hundreds of times before. YouTube’s own Creator Academy has an entire lesson on ‘building a sustainable community’. However, most creators don’t engage in community building. Video creators tend to spend their time creating content – passively interacting in comments or broadcasting messages via Instagram and Twitter. If you are serious about wanting to grow your YouTube audience, the community needs to be a huge focal point.
The Community Building Mindset
When you think about how you consume YouTube content, everyone tends to have a similar experience. You search for something, find a video that looks intriguing, and watch it. You’re encouraged to Subscribe and “Hit the Notification Bell.” Then, you move on to your next video. What’s missing from this routine is the engagement with the community, and as the creator, that’s the mark you’re missing. You’re asking someone to sign up to receive more videos BUT they’re not signing up to be part of something bigger. In fact, YouTube communities are often very shallow – limited to engaging in the comments section alone.
Let’s start changing our mindset by first recognizing what community actually is. By definition, a community is “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” That’s a great start because it has a few keywords… fellowship with others, and sharing. Now ask yourself this: How can my video content bring people together to share and connect with others? How can you help create a place where like-minded people can interact, share and potentially make new friends? Answering these questions will help get you in the right mindset.
The Community Building Toolkit
While you may find some use in YouTube’s Community tab, looking off-site will also benefit your efforts. Let’s take a look at some of the best tools for community building.
Discord is a text, image, audio and video platform initially designed for gamers. That focus has shifted over time and now is open to creators of all kinds. Since its creation, it has developed and added features to make it one of the greatest community tools available online. Discord allows you to create specific channels aimed at narrowing the focus of conversations. For example, you can have a food channel or a selfies channel; you could have one channel dedicated to pet pictures and another where your community can give you feedback. The platform allows you to chat with your audience directly, while also maintaining proper boundaries. It gives your community a chance to interact with each other and share what they are doing. If you’re not using Discord as a video creator in 2019, you are sincerely hindering your ability to build a community.
Most YouTubers use Twitter to promote their videos as they release – and as a broadcasting tool to share updates. But there’s a lot of value in using Twitter as a community-building tool. People often neglect the platform’s social features and avoid their audience’s growth there. Hashtags on interesting topics related to your content can often be a great place to connect with like-minded creators and viewers. There’s also the polling feature, which too few creators use to get feedback on the kind of content their audience wants to see. Follow some core members from your community; interact with what they are sharing. Community is a two-way street, and Twitter is a great place to build that!
Reddit for the uninitiated can feel like the wild west – and in fairness, it can be overwhelming. That said, there’s still immense value there in community building. Having your own subreddit where people can interact and share, with a democratic “up” and “down” voting system can be very rewarding. As a creator, it may take some time to foster that community – but it will pay off in spades. Consider Pewdiepie’s subreddit for example, where a large portion of his content now comes from. His community quite literally does half of his job! Philly D’s subreddit is often a source of important news and updates to stories he can then cover. As the saying goes, many hands make light work.
If you’re aiming for success as a video creator – a community is going to be the x-factor that sets you apart moving forward. The one-two punch for success on YouTube is Community and Production. If you want to learn more about our production tips and why music is so important to your content, check out this article that covers production and content creation!
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