After speaking and moderating a variety of panels in the last 2 years on topics relating to YouTube and new media, one of the biggest questions that come up is “how to generate an audience?”. From a perspective of a marketer like myself, if I were to consult someone on building an audience for a new channel; my initial game plan would be something like:
- Analyze target demographic using a variety of analytics tools available online.
- Build content that I think would appeal to that demographics interests.
- Share all over with intention for it to go “viral”.
However, as I’ve met more YouTube creators and covered the space as a journalist, I found that most of the top channels consists of people who simply made content that they personally liked; and wanted to share with the rest of the world. Sometimes, I feel that one of the main reasons why many of the Google-funded channels failed was that too much was focused on creating “formulas” like the one above, instead of focusing on the heart of creating great content online: PASSION.
While I do believe a formula will come about down-the-line, I don’t think we understand the online audience enough yet to craft a “fool proof” plan to create successful content online.
But regardless though, I think the line between “creating content you like” vs “creating content for an audience” is quite interesting. On one hand, you’ve seen YouTube campaigns from Red Bull, Taco Bell, and Pepsi create videos with the intention to make it go viral, see amazing results in the end. On the other hand, there have been many that has tried and failed too.
When approaching many of the larger creators, their answer to how they became so big on YouTube is most of the time, a simple one: “I just created content that I like!”. While it seems a bit too simple, I truly think that this is the mind-set you need to have in order to succeed when producing any sort of content online; whether its a blog post, a video, or a picture. To paraphrase Gary Vaynerchuk’s thoughts on creating a successful and monetizable blog: Write stuff that you’re passionate in. Trust me, you can monetize that shit!
While I didn’t seek to take any sort of position on which is method is better in building an audience online, I do think that its important to be aware of the fine line between creating content you like vs creating content for an audience. If you guys have any general thoughts, please make some noise in the comments below.
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