Across the Youniverse: Which Tips *Really* Drive Traffic To Your YouTube Channel?

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a pretty good chance you got here by googling some form of the phrase ‘driving traffic To YouTube channels’.  That means you probably saw the same thing I did – 10.2 million results, with headlines like ‘Create A YouTube Traffic Jam With These 4 Simple Optimization Tips’.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 1.37.22 PMYikes.

Full disclosure: I’m not a YouTube expert. In fact, I barely know how to upload a video.  I am, however, a former TV reporter who spent years sending videos to YouTube the way I was taught (which turned out to be the wrong way – especially if you actually wanted people to see it), and someone who did the chore without giving it much thought.


Now that I’m working for a digital marketing firm, I was asked to whip up a blog series on how to get more web traffic to YouTube. Rather than add to the noise of 10.2 million articles that all give some version of the same 3-7 ’best tips’ to grow traffic, I decided to put on my reporter hat, read a bunch of these articles, find out which tips are given out the most, and try them out myself, using esd’s own YouTube channel.  So, without further ado, let our grand YouTube experiment begin!


Tip #1: Spread Videos Yourself On Social Media/Crowd Sourcing Sites


Out of all the tips on all the lists I read, this one came up the most regularly. I hate to be a bummer, but apparently when it comes to marketing, all the aggregators, algorithms and AdWords in the world wide web just can’t compete with good, old fashioned, do-it-yourself spam. Got a video you want people to see? Post on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! Then, head on over to crowdsourced sites like Reddit and post it some more!!! (I know, I know, it’s not that exciting – I was just trying to cheer you up.)


However, just shotgunning your link willy-nilly across the Internet isn’t enough.  Your posts need to be targeted to audiences that actually get value from your video.  They’ll be most likely to click and give you those sweet, sweet views. Subreddits are a great avenue for this, as are specific interests on Pinterest.


So, how effective is it?  Let’s try it and see. For my experiment, I started by checking out our company’s YouTube page.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.47.08 PMIf you look closely, you can see tumbleweeds rolling across the screen.

As you can see, many of these videos only received 20-30 views, and the most recent one was over five months ago.  Clearly we’re dealing with a page that could use some love – which is perfect for this experiment. And just to be sure we have a control, I posted a video and gave it 72 hours to see how it did.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 12.09.39 PMHow to get more YouTube followers? Faster loading times couldn’t hurt. Come on, Google Fiber!

As expected, with no outside promotion, a no-frills three-paragraph description, and a few simple keywords, the video I posted, ‘What Does Three Feet Mean to You? #My3Feet’ got 1 whopping view in three days (and it was mine, to make sure it worked). Take THAT, Taylor Swift!


Now, let’s fire up the promotion machine. Taking to the web, I promoted the video on Reddit using the subreddits /r/news, /r/sanantonio, /r/bicycling, and /r/urbancycling.  I did a similar targeted post from my Pinterest page (which I just created – sorry, Pinners). I also sent the video link to SA’s Office of Sustainability and asked them to share it, then posted it thru esd’s Facebook and Twitter pages, my personal Facebook page, some local cycling Facebook groups, and my professional Facebook and Twitter pages from my journo days.  With each post, I wrote a single, specific, short description to tailor the message to that page’s audience, then, with no further attention (other than posting semi-snippy replies on Reddit to people hating on cyclists), gave the video the same three days.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 5.16.48 PM

View count increases by 10,700% just hours after media blitz!

The results are, unsurprisingly, staggering. Creating those targeted posts took me about an hour, and for that, I increased my views by more than 437; a more than 43,600 percent increase! For a site that was averaging 0 views/day just half a week earlier, that’s pretty impressive – especially considering I only did it one time. Imagine what the numbers would have been had I promoted it further across the entire 3 days! The lesson here: while established stations may be able to rely on subscribers and keywords to spread their content, beginners must be their own click engines. People want to watch you – they just don’t know it yet.


And that’s just the proverbial tip of the ‘YouTube Tip’ iceberg. Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll continue to go down the list of common YouTube tips for increasing viewers, doing similar experiments and rating their results, ultimately creating (drumroll please) THE ULTIMATE LIST FOR YOUTUBE TRAFFIC DOMINATION! So please, stay tuned.


Oh, and if this blog helped you, please share it with your friends and coworkers. If it didn’t… well, share it anyway.


And join us on Facebook and Twitter.


And (of course), subscribe to us on YouTube. You can even take part of our little experiment. Thanks for reading!


JT Street is a media specialist with esd & associates with over 10 years of experience in radio, print and television news. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @thatjtstreet and on Facebook at 

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