I’ve been in the YouTube space for a few years now (both on camera and off) and I have learned a lot about building a community for a channel/brand. What I find interesting is lately there have been corporations that have taken over (or bought) smaller channels or shows that are now trying to figure out the YT formula for growing an audience and building a brand. They want views and interaction, but they fail to realize that something like that takes years to build. The way it is built is through trust. That trust comes from the creator and the audience. When the audience feels that the creator has failed them by changing format, changing hosts, bringing in new shows and taking away shows, the trust is broken. So let me break it down for those that want the views and the interaction but don’t bother to hire a community manager – the best thing you can do to build your brand is to invest in your audience.
How does a brand invest in its audience? The most important factor is allowing time for the brand to grow. This isn’t going to happen overnight and it might not even happen in a year. Things take time and if you put in the time, you will see the benefits.
Treat your audience like they are part of the show. THE AUDIENCE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU ARE. If you fail to realize this, your brand will not go far. We live in a day and age where interaction with those beyond the lens is more important to the audience than passively watching a television show or movie. This is why twitch is the platform of the future, when people use it and do things well (such as Geek & Sundry and Hyper RPG) the audience will be loyal and will continue to tune in each week. The other benefit of Twitch is that the audience can monetarily support the show directly.
One of the best examples for how to build a community and to value a community is the team behind Kinda Funny. I have been following Kinda Funny for almost two years now and I feel they know their audience and interact with their audience better than any other community I have been a part of. One of the most important things they did this year was hire a community manager (Joey Noelle, hey girl!) – someone to be the go between of the community and the people creating the content. Kinda Funny is on twitch every day for their morning show and for Kinda Funny Games Daily and they will constantly read out “tips” from viewers as well as do giveaways, talk directly to viewers, and then answer questions in subscriber mode only. Their patreon is incredibly successful because they get to know their audience and they provide incentives that make you want to support them at any level.
I have been to a handful of Kinda Funny events (including their annual “concert/live show” Kinda Funny Live) and every time I go to a community meet up I know that I will feel welcomed even when I don’t know anyone. How many channels/brands/creators do you know that have meet ups without the actual creator being involved? Building a successful channel starts with the audience – never forget that because your channel and “views” live and die by their trust.