A lot of people expect to drop their content online and for views to just start rolling in. That’s not how it works. Same with crowd sourcing. The attitude can be summed up in a question I asked my Video for the Internet class this week:
INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM — DAY
The room is half full, at the tail end of a ten-minute break. ADJUNCT PROFESSOR JAKE, 32, debonair and impossibly windswept, leans back casually in his chair surveying his domain. STUDENTS (late teens to mid twenties) are scattered around a large table. The room is silent except for TINY CLICKS as they hover over their phones and laptops.
ADJUNCT PROFESSOR JAKE: What do you guys think of Kickstarter? Have you ever donated to any campaigns?
ANONYMOUS STUDENT: No. They can give me money though.
ADJUNT PROFESSOR JAKE: That attitude right there is why a lot of Kickstarter campaigns fail spectacularly.
The class LAUGHS uncomfortably.
BACK TO BLOG
People who ignore the existence of online communities tend to think of online audiences as something magical. View counts are just numbers that come from the internet. However, the internet itself doesn’t actually consume anything. It’s just a very populated gateway. If you just launch your project on a website, it’s going to sit there and not do anything. You have t let people know it’s there. Review sites and blogs and yadda yadda. That’s why YouTube is so amazing. It’s a place rife with communities full of people who are already going to a site to watch and discover content. If your stuff is good…they want to find it. So how do you help them find it?
Some creators go to the comments of very successful videos and say “Check out my channel!” and provide a link. Those usually get flagged as spam though. More acceptable is creating a video response to a successful video. Video responses appear below the video and above the comments on a YouTube page. If they correspond directly to the video, sometimes people will click on them. If they’re completely unrelated, people often won’t. My buddy Craig was ingenious, pulling clips of other YouTubers winking from his video responses to close each video. His videos always get tons of video responses because everyone wants to be a Wheezy wink. Others also send personal messages to YouTubers they like or have heard of with links to their videos. This is hit and miss too.
The best way to slowly yourself into online communities is to actually participate in them. Watch videos, leave comments, like things, use your Twitter and Facebook to promote things you like. The internet is great at linking people together over common interests. The more videos you comment on, the more your username is out there. If someone leaves a comment on my video that piques my interest I’ll always go check out their channel and see what they do. I’ve subscribed to quite a few people I found in the comments of my videos or in the comments of videos I’m interested in. And they’re not “Hey! Watch what I’m doing!”-comments, they’re just interesting or express interests I relate too. If you can’t think of anything else to write in the comments of a video, just quote back your favorite line from the video in quotation marks with a single qualifier like HILARIOUS or I LOVE IT after that. People love that. It lets them know what you’re connecting with. Finding common ground is what the internet is all about. And if people like what you like, there’s a good chance they’ll also like the content you create. But you can’t find them if you don’t engage. Participation is essential.
Thanks for reading.