I’m Colin, and I’m a filmmaker here on YouTube. Today, I’m going to answer the question, “Do you really need to have a YouTube channel?” There’s no doubt that YouTube is increasingly becoming one of the most dominant platforms out there.
Everyone from celebrities, major brands, and people like you and me are joining the platform to tell stories. I like to think of YouTube as if it’s a library. A massive library with tons of great content that you can access at any time. Even if it was made five years ago, people will still watch it today if it’s good.
What to know about YouTube
YouTube is very different from platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Those platforms are all about what’s happening right now in this current moment. But on YouTube, you can make what’s called evergreen content. Content that doesn’t age or lose relevance quickly. That’s why how-to is still the most searched term on YouTube. If someone wants to learn something, most likely, they’ll search for it on YouTube. So if you have educational content, I highly recommend you take to YouTube.
Another important thing to understand about YouTube is that it’s linked to Google’s search platform. So your titles and descriptions are super important when it comes to YouTube because that’s the text that will surface when someone goes to Google and does a search. On top of titles and descriptions, probably the most critical thing about YouTube is thumbnails. When we’re brainstorming about our next video, we won’t go ahead and make that video until we know we have a clickable thumbnail in mind that’ll make people watch the video. That’s how important thumbnails are. If you can’t come up with a thumbnail people will click, it could be the best video in the world, but people still may not see it.
How is YouTube used?
Okay, so how do we use YouTube? We think about our YouTube channel as if it’s a show. On our YouTube channel, we break down media trends in polished seven to 10-minute videos. These videos are well-researched, attached to current trends, and aimed at educating people interested in the media and entertainment landscape. All of our videos follow that same format. Being a generalist is not rewarded on YouTube. There’s so much content out there that if you want someone to latch onto what you’re doing, be very specific about what you’re doing and if it’s working, do it again and again and again.
How do you build a YouTube audience?
YouTube is the most challenging social media platform to grow an audience on, and this is because videos take a long time to make, and the conversation in the world moves very quickly. So if you want to keep up with the conversation in the world, you need to find a low impact, sustainable way to produce videos. Social media is just a conversation, and YouTube is a way to partake in that conversation. Try and think of your video as if it’s a conversation starter. If it takes you two weeks every time you want to start a conversation and it’s costly, you will most likely miss out on that conversation.
YouTube is also all about consistency and finding a format that works for you. Most likely, you’re going to have to experiment week after week, and you may not immediately see the returns you want. The key is to find a low-cost way to make your videos so that you have time to experiment, tweak your videos, and find the format for you and your audience. Even though YouTube is arguably the most challenging platform to grow an audience on, it’s also one of the most rewarding. Audiences on YouTube are willing to sit for 5, 10, 15 minutes at a time and stare directly into your eyes and hear your message. That means, as a creator or as a brand, you can have a powerful connection with the people on the other side of the lens.
So, do you need to be on YouTube?
So to answer the question, “Do you really need a YouTube channel?” YouTube is primarily used for longer form horizontal videos. It’s not necessarily like Instagram or TikTok, where you could upload a 15 or 30-second video and see it perform. YouTube now is full of longer-form premium developed shows. If you’re able to make one episode a week for an entire year sustainably, then I think, yes, you should have a YouTube channel. If you don’t have the time, energy, or resources to make one good video a week for an entire year, then YouTube may not be the right platform for you.
Some of the other platforms like Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok allow you to tell stories with a much lower barrier to entry. Those can be great places to grow your audience and hone your skills while not taking up tons of time like YouTube. If you’re interested in monetizing your content, running ads against it, or integrating other products and brands, then absolutely, YouTube is the place to be.