When I saw that Shaun McKnight of Cute Girl's Hairstyles, a YouTube channel boasting 3.3 million subscribers and half a billion views, was going to be speaking at the May DFW Cre8tors Club I got a pretty excited. I used to run the YouTube channel of a large beauty brand and there is a lot that can be learned from one the largest beauty channels on YouTube.
Here are some tips that I gleaned from the CGH channels:
Consistency, both in content and publishing frequency, is probably the biggest piece of YouTube success. As a website, the number one source of views on YouTube comes from subscribers. But subscribers don't just happen overnight.
Would you stay subscribed to a channel that only published one or two video ever? Or a channel that randomly published completely disjointed videos with no common theme? My point is that one goofy thing is not a golden ticket to YouTube success.
To build subscribers, people need to know what to expect and when to expect it. Since YouTube was founded, viral videos have changed a lot. One-off viral videos can make the news and, sometimes (like that coat wearing monkey in IKEA), win the hearts and minds of the common people. But, when Time.com published a list of the top ten viral videos of 2014, about half of them were the result of large existing fan bases and were not the typical "viral video."
Yes, the Alaskan news reporter who quit her job on air, and "The Lion King" Broadway cast were much like the viral videos of the past that came up overnight and went away at the end of the news cycle. However, Jimmy Fallon, Funny or Die, and Johnny Oliver are hardly unknowns. Each channel has a history of publishing content frequently with a consistent theme.
Cute Girls Hairstyles has built up over 3.3 million subscribers by posting at least one new video a week, and a Hair Styling Tutorial every Sunday. They have also made content, such as Nail Art tutorials that are topically relevant, and videos of family life that help make the channel more relatable.
Normally, I would advise content to stay thematically similar on each channel, but videos of puppies and mermaids are almost guaranteed to hit the soft spot in the hearts of subscribers.
Keep It Organized
YouTube wants users to keep watching videos after they finish yours. Not only does YouTube have a line of related videos, they will now automatically play a video after yours completes. Watch time of both your video and subsequent videos is a part of YouTube's ranking algorithm.
Playlists help insure that the next video people watch is yours and can be used to keep similar content grouped together. This is very important when you have several types of content. Cute Girls Hairstyles broke content down by type.
They also broke content into two channels: Cute Girls Hairstyles, made up mostly of tutorials, and Brooklyn and Bailey, a video blog channel that has over 1.3 million subscribers. By breaking into two channels with different focuses, they are able to meet the expectations of subscribers to each channel. But by using playlists, they were able to effectively cross promote the videos from the second channel.
Be Social: Collaborate and Cross Promote
YouTube is two parts search engine to three parts social platform. It's not a content delivery network--at least not without existing distribution. I'm talking to you, [name of multinational holding company redacted], YouTube is not a CDN.
Cute Girls Hairstyles does a phenomenal job of collaboration and cross promotion!
Starting with the featured channels section, they feature and are featured by a number of top YouTubers. Also notice that the first channel list in this section is their second channel.
They are part of a number of cross pollination videos with other YouTube channels within the beauty vertical and other relevant niches. An example is this video from Babble Dads: Learn How to Fix Your Daughter's Hair
Collaborations like these are not a new concept. Since guest appearances between early television shows, they have been an effective way to share audiences.
Clearly, there is always a lot to learn from a large YouTube channel and this is only a surface level analysis, but it should help you as you work on building your digital brand.