Episode 220 | Posted on

The Road to Millions of YouTube Views with Jeremy Vest

Whether you’re an artist, brand, or agency, you should be creating videos. And lots of them. Mark Zuckerberg famously predicted that the Facebook news feed will be mostly video in five years. That was a while ago now, so that day is coming sooner than you might think. But today we’re not here to talk about Facebook, we’re here to talk about YouTube, the number 2 search engine, and how to get more reach and watch time on YouTube.

According to Ahrefs, YouTube was 2019’s most visited website in the world, with an average of 8.6 billion monthly organic visits! A fundamental tenet in marketing is to be where your customers are. And your customers are on YouTube, that’s just a fact. So what do you do to reach them on YouTube?

Fortunately, I have some answers for you, because we have YouTube expert Jeremy Vest in the house! Jeremy is the Director of Marketing at vidIQ. He’s created video marketing strategies for a number of Fortune 100 companies and famous YouTubers. He’s had clients with billions of views and millions of subscribers. He’s YouTube certified and he speaks at VidCon, Social Media Marketing World, VidSummit, among others.

Whether you’re new to YouTube or you’re a seasoned veteran, this episode offers game-changing advice. Even if you have zero presence on YouTube, it’s not too late for you! You’re about to learn what it takes to makes a video go viral, how to SEO your YouTube uploads, what the YouTube algorithm is looking for, and so much more.

On with the show!


Jeremy, it’s so great to have you on the show. 

Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Let’s talk about YouTube and let’s get really down into the details of it because there’s so much nuance to YouTube, SEO YouTube Marketing, and just getting one of these details wrong could mean a significant missed opportunity. Millions of views perhaps, many countless hours of missed watch time. Let’s start with some of those big mistakes that you see that are costing folks the most potential money.

I think the biggest mistake, especially for businesses and brands, is just not understanding or caring about the people that are going to watch the videos. Let’s say watchability is probably beyond SEO, titles, and thumbnails. It is making something people want to consume. Especially when I work with brands, a lot of the times they’ll just create content they want and don’t really care about the end-user experience. I would say the biggest mistake I see, from YouTubers, brands, and small agencies, is not creating the content people care about.

What’s involved in creating content that people care about? I would imagine talking to the people that are your target audience and finding out what they care about, perhaps? 

If you know your people, you probably know what they consume online. One of the easiest ways to get started in this whole philosophy is to answer questions people are asking on Google and now on YouTube. 

I know you do a lot with Google SEO. There are so many cool things with YouTube on Google now. They have timestamps snippets. They have all kinds of answering questions snippets. If you’re answering questions that people are asking on YouTube, you could show up on YouTube results, Google results, and all over the place. Answering questions that people are asking is probably the easiest way to ease into YouTube.

A great example of how-tos happen on Google is to type in, let’s say, “How to tango?” You’ll get a featured video as the first featured snippet and it takes you right to the spot in the video where you learn the tango. It’s smart enough to know where in the video or where on the page (if we’re talking about different types of content like HTML pages) to drop users and searchers right into. Pretty cool. 

And a couple of weeks ago, they announced timestamping. You can actually put timestamps in your description of your YouTube video, they’re now using that as snippet as well. 

The biggest mistake I see from YouTubers, brands, and small agencies is that they’re not creating the content people care about. Click To Tweet

Awesome. If we talk about more mistakes you see people are making, do you think they’re maybe getting the target audience wrong? Are they not doing proper keyword research? Are they not thinking about the buyer journey? What are some of the other things that you see are happening?

There are so many things. One of the things I see a lot of is just weird. When you go by car, people research the car and the price, and they go to buy a car. For some reason, when people make videos, they just get really weird. Most people just have all the wrong signals. They are creating it to maybe get views or get subscribers. If you just really look at creating content to help or entertain others and that is your number one goal. You’ll probably do okay. Otherwise, if the content’s not watchable and if you’re not creating content for the target audience, the people you care about, then you’re probably just not get any views.

Another mistake I see a lot is people just give up. So many people I know have been doing this for 10–12 years. I have a friend, I helped him start with his YouTube channel by 8000 subscribers. He just crossed 550,000 subscribers and for the first 4½ years, he got to 10,000 subscribers. From year 5–6, he went from 10,000 to over 500,000. 

I think one of the biggest mistakes is people just don’t know who their target is. They don’t know what people are searching for, the SEO keywords, and they don’t know why they’re doing what they do. But if you have tenaciousness like GaryVee, who created a thousand episodes on Wine Library TV before anyone even knew his name. A thousand episodes before anyone really even knew his name. 

I think tenaciousness is probably the biggest asset that all my famous YouTuber friends have because they just know who their audience is, they know what they do, they don’t deviate from what they do, and they just keep on delivering week after week.

It’s like 10- or 15-year overnight success, right?

Exactly. Everyone’s an overnight success after 10, 15 years on YouTube is pretty funny. 

What would you say somebody who’s starting out now? If they don’t have an audience and they don’t have a history of creating videos, have they missed the boat? Is the window pretty much closed?

I can tell you right now that is a huge myth. A friend of mine is a plumber. In January, I started just for free, helping him, giving him purpose, and understanding exactly what he’s trying to do. Really making him understand that the people that watch the video are people that want to become plumbers or people that want to fix their toilet in their house.

Publish content that can elevate livelihood whether it’s to give the audience solutions, laughter, or afterthoughts.

Once he really understood his target audience, who is watching his videos and what matters to them, he went from 100 subscribers to 12,000 in less than a year. It’s estimated that he’s going to hit about 85,000 subscribers by end of 2020. 

Now, this is a plumber, right? The thing I would say is that you have not missed the boat. I know a lot of people that are getting to 100+ thousand subscribers that just started YouTube in the last two years. However, it’s so competitive now that if you’re not really deeply niching down,  really focusing on a specific thing, the odds of you wrecking for a whole lot of things are very narrow and small.

Let’s talk about niching down. I think that’s pretty important, some keyword research would fit into the equation here. Many folks don’t even realize you can do YouTube-specific keyword research, some of it even for free. Going into Google Trends and going from the web search option by default to YouTube search. Now, you can compare keywords to each other which are actually YouTube searchers and YouTube search volumes.

I love Google Trends. Google Trends, you click on the dropdown menu for YouTube and you can compare interest over time for any keywords. It’s a really cool tool. 

Another thing I like to do—this is kind of wonky. On Youtube, if you do an underscore and you type in the term, then you put a space between the underscore and the term, it’ll show you all of the terms before. What people are searching for before the term. You can also do that after the term. It’ll reveal the questions people are asking without you having to know the question, which is really powerful.

I think that if you really understand what people are searching for, you’re going to get there. I have a whole philosophy that I have been teaching for about seven years now. I call this the nested strategy. Essentially my concept is really simple. 

When I did the YouTube strategy for Gillette about seven years ago, we did How to Shave. The reason we didn’t do Razor is that a Razor is a Tech Scooter little kids like to go on. There are a whole lot more kids on Razor Scooters putting YouTube videos up than there are guys shaving. We didn’t go for the big terms, we went for a great term that had a lot of longevity.

Seven years ago when this all went down, the Dollar Shave Club went viral and got about 20 million views. Our 250 or so videos that we did on how to shave, we did how to shave your head, how to shave your back, how to shave your beard, your goatee, on and on and on for 250 videos, they got over 80 million views in over 100,000 subscribers for Gillette.

The reason that this happens is every video, out of the 250 videos had the words “How to Shave.” That is really my philosophy to you. Figure out what your how-to-shave is, and really just focus down. 

I have a fun little channel I’ve been playing with and I would break all the time. This is my experiment channel, but now I’m good. I want to ring number one in the world in the next few years for Best Motivational Video. It’s a huge monster term. We’re talking about millions and millions of searches a year. I’m just going to go for the next couple of years, make content on Best Motivational Video. Eventually, if I really focus and understand what people are searching for and really make videos that people love, I would get there.

Very cool. I hope you do. I love to hear what makes up a YouTube strategy. Is that like a big deliverable document I can share? I do offer this to clients, YouTube strategy and the YouTube audit. It’s a pretty substantial document filled with ideas of different types of campaigns. Might be video competitions, might be ideas for getting types of emcees or spokespeople, celebrities to get involved in the campaign, perhaps their ideas for quizzes and personality tests or things that dovetail with the videos. Maybe there are spoofs or parodies on other existing memes or successful reality shows.

There’s a ton of different ideas in that YouTube strategy. For me, a 30- or 40-page document. I also have a YouTube Audit, which is an analysis of all the technical nuances. Maybe they’ve not done a very good job with cleaning up the transcript of the closed caption file, the SRT files. There are errors in that automated YouTube algorithm. Maybe they haven’t uploaded foreign language translations in their most popular languages for their customer base.

Answering questions that people are asking is the easiest way to ease into YouTube. Provide solutions because someone is always looking for an answer. Click To Tweet

Maybe they haven’t selected great keywords to put into the title of the video or maybe the description is not very good. Maybe they haven’t defined tags, maybe they’re not using hashtags, etc. That’s a YouTube audit and that’s very tactical, but then, combine these and it’s like a one-two punch. You’re having a superpower to have this intelligence and insight. What is your YouTube strategy looked like? How comprehensive is it? What are the deliverables? Walk us through that, if you could.

Sure. My YouTube strategy and audit combined is about 115 pages. I can’t walk you through all of it. It’s just like you said, it’s tactical and practical. The tactical is all the audit stuff, just laying out every section from cards to in-screens, to every opportunity that’s missed into the actual strategy. What I have been focusing on lately is I’ve realized that I’m a counselor. I’m not a strategist. It’s so predictable.

I’ve worked with thousands of people at this point in the last 12 years on YouTube strategy. I’ve really broken these 10 things that people are doing wrong most of the time. I’ve broken down into 10 steps. I’m running a book that’s coming out this spring called Creator Unlocked. The concept, whether you’re a business owner or a video creator, is to really hone in on the 10 strategies that people get wrong.

The first one is actually knowing what you’re going to do. Knowing your superpower. A lot of people put up content that isn’t that great or they’re not that passionate about. The truth is, with over 500 hours uploaded every minute on YouTube, unless you’re exceptional, you might as well not do it. And I mean that with sincerity. I’m sure everyone listening to this podcast right now is exceptional at something.

On my channel, I love skateboarding. I helped Braille, which is the largest skateboarding channel in the world. I helped them, for free, do some strategy and stuff to create. I started doing skateboarding videos on my channel. I’m like, “What am I doing? I’m old and I shouldn’t be doing that.” I love skateboarding but I wasn’t born to help people skateboard. That was my calling in life, it’s not my superpower. My superpower is actually YouTube strategy and helping people understand and unlock their true potential of video. 

And YouTube counseling.

Exactly, YouTube counseling. Knowing what you love versus what you are born to do is really hard. The reason I say I’m a YouTube counselor is I’m more about, “So, what’s your superpower? What were you born to do? What is your messaging?”

Once you can really understand what you’re born to do, what that means is my messaging has unlocked your full potential with video. It took me a year to get to that point. Tim Smoyer is a master to YouTube spread your message. You really need to answer what your channel is about and why that matters to the person viewing your channel. 

Primalbranding by Patrick Hanlon

There’s a book called Primalbranding and it’s really complicated. Basically, you really need to get to the heart of what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to entertain or help people. Once you understand that, you really got to understand that the universe of keywords that people are searching for that topic.

Once you get to that point, then you can go make your content calendar for the year. I have a philosophy that I like to say is, “Building a brick wall one brick at a time.” For me, a brick is a video with about 10,000 views. A hundred bricks are a million views. I really don’t do a viral strategy for most of my brands. We like to just build this brick wall.

With vidIQ, we took vidIQ in the last 18 months from 100,000 subscribers to 405,000 subscribers. The way we did that is we have a hybrid strategy where we made content that people were asking for and 20% of the time, we actually have a viral strategy where we would rank for PewDiePie, or Mr. Beast, or T Series, and that was a phenomenal deal.

I know I’m jumping all over the place but at the heart of my strategy for my customers is understanding what your superpower is, your messaging, the keyword universe, or what your how-to-shave concept is. From there YouTube starts getting pretty easy, but that’s a really hard point to get to.

It’s a great framework and I love that you share that with my audience. Now, one thing that comes to mind that you may be familiar with is Gay Hendricks has this Zone of Genius versus the Zone of Excellence. A lot of folks, I would imagine, get stuck in that Zone of Excellence. They’re just really good at it but it’s not their superpower.

It’s not where they’re in a maximum flow state. They’re just really good at it and really competent. It maybe not even light them up. That joy doesn’t come through the videos. They’re really good at what they do. They are excellent but not in that Zone of Genius.

Create videos that answer people’s questions. This is a tried and tested strategy when optimizing for YouTube.

What would you tell somebody who is stuck in that Zone of Excellence to do? If their Zone of Genius is something that is untested, it’s something that they’re going to take this leap of faith potentially that they may end up on the street. It’s not their bread and butter. It’s not their core business. That’s a huge ass to say, “You know what? Just go for it. If you only have one life, just go for it.”

I personally believe in tools. I love LinkedIn video, I love Instagram video, and TikTok, and these things are just tools. They’re a paintbrush, pen, ink, and chalk, and the whole universe of the online. Your website and social media platforms you use—is just a distribution platform. It’s just a way to get eyeballs to you.

If you’re doing something you don’t absolutely love or it’s not the thing you should be doing, my recommendation is to slowly get to where you want to go. One of the easiest ways I found if you’re a solopreneur is to use your name as your YouTube channel. What if you sold your business? What if your business went bankrupt? What if you went from skateboarding to teaching motivation? If you’re you, that’s just part of your journey in life.

I always say, “Design forward.” Make sure that whatever happens on your YouTube channel, or LinkedIn, or Instagram in the past doesn’t have to be your future. I do believe in niching  but also people can evolve well. My opinion, especially if you’re a solopreneur, is to be you and to evolve. Instead of looking at it like it’s a this or that, or do or die, personally with a family, with two daughters and a wife, I would like to dip in my toes a little bit and make sure that people are resounding with the thing that I’m doing.

Personally, I think it’s more of an ebb and flow. Everyone is rigid for some reason. Most people I work with are very rigid especially when it comes to video content. I would say just bob, weave, flow, and 20% of the time get weird and experiment.

That’s great. I love all that. I especially think it’s very important to nurture your personal brand and not get too caught up in the company brand. I made that mistake early on when I started my first agency, Netconcepts. It was all about Netconcepts and I was not really nurturing my own personal brand, Stephan Spencer.

I didn’t even start the stephanspencer.com website for years after Netconcepts. When I went to sell the agency in 1999, four years in, we already had clients. We had some serious catching. Nobody wants to buy it because my name and the company’s name were inextricably linked. I didn’t differentiate the two as a company brand and a personal brand. They’re like, “You’re coming with the company, right?” “No, I’m actually moving to New Zealand.” “Yeah, we’re not interested. Why do we even buy?”

That happened to me too. I had Vidpow, a digital video marketing agency. Everyone wanted to buy me and I wasn’t for sale, so it took 18 months to dissolve and slow down the business. That’s really what I learned my lesson on personal branding as well.

Tenacity is the biggest asset that all famous YouTubers have. It means that they know who their audience is, they understand what they do and they don't deviate from it, and they just keep on delivering week after week. Click To Tweet

Sometimes it takes the School of Hard Knocks for us to really get it. The second time around when I did sell the agency, I did have a revised strategy in place and I had a whole team and I had a CEO. It just was a much more put together business that was able to stand on its own without me. But then, I also have my own personal brand that I’ve been nurturing for some years, too. I love that.

Also, I love the idea of really niching down and also being able to be fluid about it. Here’s where it gets tricky is if you got so many interests. I have another podcast besides this one, Marketing Speak, I have another one. It’s called Get Yourself Optimized. It’s originally called the Optimized Geek. It’s really a passion project for me and anything that has anything to do with up-leveling your life, your business, your career, your mindset, your relationships, your spirituality, any of it. That is very broad. That is the opposite of niching down. 

If I did niche down to, let’s just say, biohacking—I’ve had some great episodes in biohacking with Dave Asprey. It’s the small slice of the bigger pie. I would feel really constrained to not be able to bring on a financial guru because it’s so off-topic.

What would you say if I have that says the YouTube channel instead? Should I create multiple channels? Should I still keep going with what lights me up? Should I niche down to what I think is the most lucrative and the most exciting of all those niches that I cover? What would you recommend to me and to my listeners who might be in a similar boat?

What’s really interesting is a niche is interesting. If you and your listeners really knew your superpower and what you’re born to do. Let’s look at it this way. A home repair guy could be talking about plumbing one day, electricity the next day, flooring the next day, and tile the next day. However, you can do this by answering questions people are asking about home repair. If home repair was your focused root keyword and you talked about plumbing one day and electricity the next day, you’re cool and you’re fine.

My recommendation to you would be able to find an umbrella where everything can fit under something and then you’ll be fine. There are a lot of very broad but narrow channels and what I mean by that is you could be talking to a finance guy one day and rocket scientist the next day, but if you’re talking about something that falls under an umbrella of a term that people are searching for, you’re okay.

My friend, Answers With Joe, Joe Scott, talks about weird science stuff. It could be a Tesla, or it could be electricity, but it all works together because all of the content is very similar and it’s answering similar science questions.

I would say that as long as you put all of it under an umbrella, especially if that’s what people are searching for, you can really talk about anything as long as it fits that thing. Does that make sense?

It does. I’m curious what your thoughts of Joe Rogan’s podcast and his channel on YouTube, and what the umbrella for that would be?

Anyone that’s famous, I would say, honestly, anyone over a 150,000–200,000 subscribers on YouTube play with a different set of rules. They can pretty much do whatever they want and the reason for that is there’s a concept with channel authority. 

Stick to your niche and don’t try to be everything for everybody. When you are consistent with your brand, people can understand your message better.

A lot of people say subscribers don’t matter. I don’t know about that because I can tell you that if you have 200,000 subscribers and I have 2 subscribers, you’re probably going to rank above me in every single term and fashion on YouTube.

There is a threshold in your industry, whether that’s 10,000 or 100,000 or 500,000 subscribers where you could do more than you want. Peter McKinnon, I love his channel and now that he’s got a trillion subscribers, he doesn’t need that umbrella. He has an audience that loves him. It’s not even about SEO anymore. A lot of people can reach that threshold. But to get to that first 10,000 subscribers or 100,000 subscribers, the deeper you focus on content people are actually consuming, the faster you’ll get there. 

That makes sense. Is this something that’s going to require up a budget or a huge amount of person hours or both? What’s the scope here of that kind of outcome?

It’s all relative to your idea of success. I painted this brick wall behind me with the skateboard and got this wall over here from Amazon, I probably got a total of $300-$400 on my studio, got a $100 light here, $200 mic and I can do anything I want. From 4K to fancy to not fancy, it’s all just relative to your threshold. I would say this. A smartphone, with a $10 Lav mic on a tripod, let’s just say that’s $50 of investment besides your phone with a $10–$15 light would be phenomenal. It’s so much better than doing nothing.

I think people get so caught up in the tech, in the money and all of that. Realistically, let’s say mine is $200, you don’t have an investment. You don’t have to. People that aren’t shooting because they don’t have this or that will never make it. Their mentality or their mindset is not a winning mindset, it’s a fixed mindset. If you have a constraint of why you’re not doing videos has nothing to do with the videos or the equipment you have. It just has to do with fear and the fact that you’re not creating content.

Even if you’re talking about cinematography and you have a $400 cellphone, if you’re not making videos, you’re not going to win. I would just say, every single excuse can always be overcome with creativity, not money. If you look at a lot of the Unicorn companies in America right now, none of them really have a lot of money. They just had creativity. Excuses and money are not what makes successful YouTubers.

It’s like the expression or the wisdom I heard from Tony Robbins around perfectionism. Essentially, being a perfectionist is like having no standards. Your standards are so unreasonably high, you’ll never do anything. 

Exactly. I speak all over the world on Video Marketing and YouTube, it’s really fun but it’s also frustrating. The reason it’s frustrating is I know at least 50+% of the people in the audience will never turn on the camera or they’ll never do it with the confidence that they deserve. 

You were born with some type of greatness as Tony Robbins and Les Brown would say. It’s almost a requirement that you share that greatness in the world so that people can improve themselves or be entertained or whatever your superpower is. To deny, everyone is kind of ashamed. It’s weird but so many people just get caught up in their head. They don’t have the right equipment or this, or that, or another excuse.

Every single YouTuber I know that started out is horrible. I know zero YouTubers that just started that was good. YouTube has been going on for a long time now, over a decade. Some of these people are phenomenal now. 

The truth is, with over 500 hours uploaded every minute on YouTube, unless you're exceptional, you might as well not do it. Click To Tweet

Go look at Evan Carmichael‘s first video, he was horrible. I love the guy and he’s my friend. He’s phenomenal now, but you just have to suck. The more you embrace just being horrible, turning on the camera and getting 1% better every week, the faster you’re going to get to where you want to go. 

The same goes for anything. With podcasting, for example. Any podcaster who’s worth his or her salt, started out badly and was not polished, maybe said a lot of “ums” and “ahs,” didn’t have the best guests on, and didn’t have really great intros. And you got to start somewhere. So, why not now? Why not today? Why not just wherever you’re at now?

Absolutely. For some reason, people just get weird about the video. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a new platform for some. As Evan Carmichael says, “Everything in life, you have to put in the wraps.”

So true. Where do the other social platforms fit into the next year? Do you need to build out your Twitter presence? Do you need to work on Instagram, Facebook? Do you need to pay for advertising on these platforms? How do all these fit into the bigger picture?

You got to know where your people live. Gamers live on Twitter. I didn’t actually know that. I’m not a gamer. But doing research, I realized, “Hey, every gamer I know is all over Twitter.” They’re also on Twitch, not necessarily YouTube.

I call these digital natives. You got to know where people are being digital natives. Honestly, my biggest audience by far is not on YouTube, it’s on LinkedIn. When I post a LinkedIn video, I get 10 times more views than I do on YouTube, personally. It’s because my audience is very large on LinkedIn. If I was really being true to myself, I love YouTube but I’m going to get there, build an audience. But if I really just wanted to be successful quickly, I would go all-in on LinkedIn and focus on that.

The truth is until you really know where your people are, first off, you got to know what your passions are and what you’re going to do and your messaging. From there, match who your people would be from that. From there, understand what their native platforms are. It could be TikTok, it could be Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn. There are so many places where people live.

My personal opinion like GaryVee of the GaryVee content model is you should live online primarily on your website and then you should use all these distribution points to let people find what you do. I personally believe that everyone is a digital media company and every one of these platforms is just simply like an artist uses a paintbrush, chalk, and ink. 

I have a friend last year, that had too many subscribers on YouTube, never had a website, never did Instagram, or Snapchat, or anything else. YouTube deleted their channel. He went from making over a $100,000 a month to making $0 a month.

Wow. Talk about getting a rug ripped out from under you.

And he was mad. Do you know what I told him? I said, “You didn’t build a business.” You can’t rent a Ferrari forever. You have to understand that it’s your universe. You need to bring people to your website, to your universe, every other platform. You’re just happy to be there and you’re renting it. 

You should not ever complain if Snapchat, or Instagram, or YouTube has made a policy change. It’s their world, we’re just playing in it. It’s their plant box. We can’t even complain. We really can’t complain because yes, they can always be doing a better job, but at the same time, we’re playing in their backyard. We don’t own the playground.

James Schramko refers to this as “own the racecourse” because we’re all in these different racecourses and they can change the rules and kick us off, and what do we do? Very powerful. Now, what would you say are the appeals for lesser-known amongst traditional marketers? Communities, tools, websites such as Twitch, such as TikTok. Some of my listeners probably never even heard of TikTok or they haven’t heard of Musical.ly. They’re not really sure what the heck is this all about. Can you give them a little bit of a taste of what the appeal is or these two different platforms?

Sure. TikTok has now over 500 million users. That’s one of the biggest appeals. It is the new Vine, if you ever heard of Vine back in the day. It’s really just short, stupid, silly videos. However, GaryVee is in on all the weird platforms. He basically says, “If you are first to YouTube or to Google, you probably would’ve made a lot of money.” Imagine being first to a platform that’s not currently doing what you do but you know it’ll probably get there.

LinkedIn video is just blowing up and it’s so massive and there’s so much distribution, it’s really great. TikTok right now is like 13-year-old goofy, silly videos that you just roll your eyes at. That’s pretty much how it is. However, Gary’s there and they’re starting to show a lot of DIYs and how-to videos now. A lot of things are starting to change quickly.

If you look at a lot of the Unicorn companies in America right now, none of them really had a lot of money. They just had creativity. Excuses and money are not what makes successful YouTubers. Click To Tweet

My two senses, most of the people listening probably will never do TikTok but they probably should and they might not see rewards for three or four years, but if they’re answering questions people actually care about, eventually, the platform will probably catch up to what they do.

What about Twitch?

Twitch is a live gaming platform owned by Amazon. If you are in gaming in any way, shape or form, whether that’s hardware, or software, or a gamer, then that is definitely your gem. Think about one of the largest companies that sell stuff in the world, Amazon, owning this. Just imagine how many relationships and opportunities if you were in that gaming space that could open up with Amazon themselves.

Right, so there are some very prominent gamers that moved off of YouTube where they were making a lot of money every month off of advertising onto Twitch. What was the impetus to do that? Was it a big money-making thing? Or was it like, “No I want to back the winning horse and I realized that this is where things are going to head and over time, YouTube is going to be worthless to me than Twitch.” What is the thinking of that?

From what I know—I played in the gaming space a little bit with some large creators—most of these are one-off deals. A lot of it is money-motivated obviously. YouTube has not been the best place for gamers unless you’re PewDiePie. There are other gamers going to other places, like Ninja just went to another platform. There’s always going to be a change and I do believe all of it, ultimately, is money-motivated.

So going off to some obscure, lesser-known platform possibly was kind of a bribery deal, right?

It could be. I mean, if you don’t have to work again, you’re probably going to be cool with that.

Right. Let’s talk about LinkedIn and how to leverage that platform from a video standpoint. I know that you can upload your video, first to YouTube, get YouTube to do the automated transcriptioning, then you download the SRT file, then you upload the SRT file with all that timestamp closed captioning transcript to LinkedIn along with the video itself and that does help you. That would be an example of something tactically that would be good for LinkedIn. Can you give us some more tactical and strategic stuff for LinkedIn?

I start with strategic. Most people on LinkedIn, over 99% of the people that use LinkedIn don’t use the post end videos. You already have a 99% higher probability than everyone else just by posting stuff. It’s a big platform and a lot of people are not uploading videos. So, you’re going to win just by uploading videos.

However, if you upload videos that have emotion, you’re going to do great. People on LinkedIn are boring as crap. They are talking fancy words and they’re not using ums. Humans love humans and every brand you’re trying to get after or win as a client, all of them employ humans.

It’s so weird that in a lot of B2B and a lot of people that do business with other businesses just forget that everyone behind the Burger Kings of the world, all are humans and they all have emotions.

I used a thing called the Hero’s Journey and essentially, all of my posts are, “I messed up, I sucked, I learned, epiphany, lesson,” and people love it. They share them. I’ve got about 500,000 or 600,000 views this year on LinkedIn from that concept.

Imagine if I was just talking about the new TPS chart. Or if I was just being boring like almost everyone else on LinkedIn. I would say that if you could emotionally connect to people. This is why GaryVee does so good on LinkedIn because he’s causing and being crazy on LinkedIn and really getting real with people. It’s like, “Why you won’t get a job on LinkedIn?”

When people are real and they share part of themselves to you and are vulnerable, you can absolutely kill it on LinkedIn as long as you’re providing value or entertainment. That’s really what I do. I expose myself a little bit—that sounded weird—get a little vulnerable on LinkedIn and talk about my failures and it really helps. “Oh, that person is human too, like me.” I would really study the Hero’s Journey formula and the more emotion you do on LinkedIn, the better you’ll do both with posts and videos. 

It doesn’t have to be the Hero’s Journey. I love Joseph Campbell, by the way. It could be just the three act structure, it could be just thinking about—


Having a story arc in your video and not just conveying information. People want to be swept off their feet or they wanted to be taken on a journey of discovery, fascination, fear, excitement, and whatever. They’re taking their time out of the next Netflix binge to watch a video. You better deliver.

Absolutely. Another thing about LinkedIn is that people aren’t watching your videos for a long time. So, get to the point quickly. A story is going to be better than just talking about something boring. Emotion, whether that’s storytelling or anything, it doesn’t really matter. Just keep it real and tell great stories, and that’s true for all platforms. 

Obviously, if a picture is worth a thousand words, that’s a video worth? Is it worth a million words? Being able to express emotional, non-verbal communication, which is greater than verbal communication, is why video and video marketing is the best way to market in the world online.

I think that person-to-person communication will never be rival, will never be beaten, and person-to-person recommendations will never be rival or beaten. But beyond that, I think with online marketing and online communication, video can’t be beaten. 

What would you tell somebody who is into creating screencasts, doing tutorial-type of videos, either on YouTube or LinkedIn, wherever, it does not matter. But that’s typically not a face-to-camera video, it’s more informational and not so emotional. There’s not really much storytelling going on there but they’re trying to teach somebody how to use a particular tool or to do pivot tables in Excel or whatever it is.

Oddly enough, I have a lot of experience in this. In 2008, I helped Adobe launch Adobe Television. We did some studies and we found that basically, every 3-9 seconds, people start checking out. I helped to create some of the first videos, kind of what lynda.com does now, where you have screen-person-screen-person. There are several reasons why you’ll want to do this, but the biggest is actually that about 60% of the time that you’re showing something on the screen, you’re actually setting up a concept.

If I’m teaching Photoshop and I’m teaching you how to use the pen tool, I’m going to have to spend one or two minutes talking about how it all works before you just start pressing the buttons or setting up a concept or theory. Actually, with screencast, the more you show your face, the more emotionally you get engaged. The eyes are subconsciously the windows to the soul. When people see your eyes, they’re able to connect with you on a deeper level and when you go back to the screen, then you can keep their attention more.

Also, physically switching from person to screen, person to screen every 3-9 seconds, will actually keep people’s brains just processing and moving along, and they’re not going to go just look to another phone as fast.

That’s great advice. Would you recommend that this face-to-screen, the transition back and forth, also includes not just you looking at the camera but maybe you drawing something on a whiteboard or a flip chart, or something like that to convey a framework or model of some sort?

he more visual you can get, it’s almost tactile. People can almost touch what you’re doing. The more visuals you can use, the more mediums you can use, is always going to keep people engagements up higher. 

This is true for YouTube videos as well. There’s a lot of how-to videos on YouTube and I would say, the more you can just visually explain things, the better your video retentions going to be.

Do you have a preference over whiteboards versus flip charts? Do you use them personally?

I have in the past customers, I would say that if the person is a good drawer, I think whiteboards and flip boards are great. If you’re using a flip board, obviously use a very, sharp or very thick Sharpie. It can really be picked up. 

I also like digital boards or digital whiteboards which are pretty cool because you can actually take the video file and overlay it without the person there. 

Another thing I like is actually a tv screen, a monitor behind you so that you have like a third shot of something instead of just explaining every drawing, you can show it behind you, kind of like a weatherman.

That’s cool. Another thing that might be an option is to have an app like on an iPad, a drawing app. Then, you are drawing the model on the iPad and you can show it being drawn on the screen. You can flip back and forth between you drawing it with the face and the actual screen from the iPad which convey it to over the desktop.

That’s very cool.

Awesome. Now, you mentioned, GaryVee has a model or framework. Since we’re talking about frameworks and models, can you elaborate a bit more on what that model is? 

Essentially, it’s pretty simple. He makes the video. Let’s say, he’ll make a video for YouTube. He’ll then cut up that content into 30+ different ways and put it on all the different platforms. 

He starts with the YouTube video and then, that video will go on Instagram, LinkedIn, in his blog, and on his website. It might even become an article. Basically, he’ll just chop it all up to where natively, each one of those platforms, it’ll perform very well, and he’ll make sure that natively, it’ll perform well. He’ll natively upload to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. 

You don’t just make a piece of content and slap it up everywhere. You do have to think native first. You always have to work within the framework of where you’re uploading. For example, if he put a video with that 20 minutes long on LinkedIn, people probably won’t watch a lot if because that’s not what people do on LinkedIn. They do that on YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu

Also, if you have that approach to things where you’re looking to repurpose, repackage, and make it more of a native experience, you can take, let’s say, an article might be the first thing you created and you want to create a video out of that. You could use a tool like Lumen5 to create a short social video out of those key points. You can also create an infographic out of those keypoints. You can then, perhaps create a SlideShare deck and upload that to LinkedIn. There are so many different ways of slicing, dicing, and repackaging your content once you found something, that’s really compelling and awesome.

And what’s really cool about that model is it’s you first. Your universe, or your website, or your blog, is a lot of the times the first content. From there, you’re distributing like you should be using social media platforms to all the other places and you’re connecting to people on their level. 

A lot of people that are on Instagram everyday aren’t on YouTube everyday. So you do really need to think native first or you’re probably not going to connect with people on a deep level. 

Right. Another mistake I see happen is a lot of these websites have those social chiclets at the top of the page and that seems so ridiculous to me. It’s like you have a really hearty plant-based meal that you’re going to offer people and then you’ll say, “Would you like to see my candy store first?” Then, of course, they never come back, so putting those YouTube, Instagram, and so forth chiclets at the top of the page in prime real estate and giving in as much emphasis as your 800 number, I think is foolhardy.

It’s relative. If people are on your blog, they’re probably not Instagram natives. They probably won’t even be there. I think there’s a lot of truth to what you just said.

Awesome. I know we’re getting close to time. What would be some of the key things that you want to share with the audience, with my listeners? We haven’t covered this yet and you’re like, “This person needs to know X, Y, and Z.” I think, for one thing, they’re going to need to know about vidIQ because that is a pretty awesome tool. Let’s talk about the different things, the thing I didn’t ask yet.

One thing I wanted to say—this is really weird—let’s say I’ll be a big fancy YouTuber-only conference. I’ll talk to a hundred different fantasy YouTubers. Fifty of those 100 YouTubers know nothing about the algorithm, or tags, or thumbnails. Fifty of them are Jedi masters at all of this stuff. They just study everything and they just absolutely dominate their industry. 50% of people are just really good at turning on the camera and doing stuff. People love them and the rest doesn’t matter. And 50% of the people can do both. 

One thing I keep on repeating is turning on a camera is so much more important than anything else. Beyond that, you start seeing what people are searching for, really understand that so you can make better titles, tags, descriptions, and playlist. From there, every week, just literally get 1% better. 1% better on lighting, 1% better on audio, 1% better in editing, 1% better in storytelling. Doing three arcs, getting really fancy with storytelling, experimenting, failing. Just make sure you fail.

I have people all the time. I got a video with 47 views, I have to delete that. People need to calm down and just make stories and not worry about the rest of the stuff.

The rest of the stuff is important, especially your titles and your thumbnails. Those are extremely important. I’m a big thumbnail nerd. In fact, we have a Facebook group called Master Thumbnails. If any of you just want to go there, we just study the science of thumbnails every week. Everyone shares their tips and experiences. These things are important but the most important thing is storytelling.

That’s awesome. There are a few things that I want to unpack a little bit. Thumbnails, would you say they’re more important than titles? 

It depends on the size of your channel. If you’re over 100,000 subscribers, I would say it’s possible, but the click-through rate of your thumbnail is more important than titles.

For anyone under 50,000–100,000 subscribers, I would say that titles and answering questions people are asking, and being able for YouTube’s AI to know what your channel is about, and then your subscribers knowing what you’re about, is more important than thumbnails. Under 100,000 subscribers, I would say titles are the most important thing. A good video people watches are number one, titles are number two, and thumbnails are number three. That would be my opinion.

Great. I appreciate that distinction. Playlist. We haven’t talked about playlist yet. That’s a pretty awesome opportunity for folks to build out a playlist and I would say that that’s pretty underutilized. Would you agree?

Many people hate playlist like they don’t do anything and that’s really wrong. You may not see from the surface but let me give you a few tips.  If you set your playlist, you go to Settings and click Series Playlist. You can actually force anyone in your playlist, the next video being played will be your video, every single time.

There are some insane benefits a lot of people don’t know about playlist and making sure that all of your videos are in a Series Playlist. It’s absolutely critical because when people are watching in that playlist, the next video to play is going to always be yours. 

You know how hard it is to be suggested on the right-hand side. Having that assurance that the next video is going to be your video is huge. You could literally double or triple your views, just that one thing. 

Another thing about playlist that people do wrong is they don’t do an exact phrase. I’m not going to put, “How to Shave Your Beard by Gillette,” but, “How To Shave,” because people are searching for how to shave. In this case, having exact phrase keyword SEO in your playlist is absolutely critical or the odds of you ranking that playlist on YouTube search algorithm is almost non-existent.

Also, use the description area for SEO in your playlist so that YouTube can have a better understanding of what your playlist is about. 

Also, when you’re sharing content, always share a playlist and not an individual video so that, as YouTube called it, you can have a lean-back experience. Basically, what a playlist does is you watch a video and auto plays the next video, and auto plays the next video. That’s why it’s a lean-back experience.

Those three or four little things exact phrase keywords, using your description area, and doing series playlist could literally double your views for real. No BS.

That’s awesome. How well do these playlist rank in comparison to the actual videos? Are you going to have a shot of ranking at a competitive keyword in the YouTube search results with the playlist? Or is it really the prime positioning tends to go to the video themselves and then, second to tier stuff would be the playlist?

If you’re in a really competitive space, you’ll probably never going to rank for the playlist, but here’s a lot of ranking things that happened like the series playlist and being able to get the next video. There are a lot of things that are beneficial that are not necessarily just ranking your playlist. I will say, however, if you have a lot of authority or you made hundreds of videos on that subject, the odds of you ranking higher for that playlist are a lot higher. 

Also, a playlist is ranked the same way a YouTube video is. What I mean by that is you only want five or seven videos in your playlist. The reason for that is the view duration of the total playlist is what’s valued in seeing that playlist is going to rank. Let’s say you have 10 videos, people only watch two of the 10, and you have a 20% retention on the playlist, odds are, you’re never going to get that playlist rank. Let’s say you have five videos and people watch four of them, odds are the video playlist will probably rank. Just remember to use common sense and know that YouTube’s goal is to get people to watch videos longer. That way they can make more money and advertise there. 

Right. It’s that watch time metric that’s so important. It’s not just the watch time on your videos. It’s watch time overall in a sitting, in a session. YouTube Live, are you bullish on that? Or are you thinking that’s probably something that focuses a lot of energy on?

I think YouTube Live is one of the most underestimated, most underused, and most misunderstood things in the world. In my industry, basically, teaching YouTubers how to do YouTube. Nick Nimmin is the fastest-growing channel in the world. He’s just crossed 450,000 subscribers. There is one difference that Nick does that no one else in the industry does. That is, he goes live between two and six hours every Saturday. I call this watch time bombs.

Think of it this way. You have a channel and it’s just putting along and you get 100,000 minutes watched every month. Cool. What happens with live streams is you may only have 100 or 200 concurrent viewers but if your average view duration is three months long, on a live stream it can be 20 minutes long. Let’s say I took that 100,000 minutes watch. All of a sudden, next month, I had 173,000 minutes watched because of my live streams. What we did with vidIQ about 18 months ago is we started doing two to three live streams every week. Again, we went from 100,000 to 405,000 subscribers in 18 months. 

Do I believe that these watch time bombs or watch bombs are part of it? Yes. I really do. A lot of people unlist their live videos. They get upset because people are unsubscribing. People are just really misunderstanding live streams. Think about it this way. If people aren’t really into you and they get annoyed when they see you live stream, they hit unsubscribe. Those aren’t real people. They didn’t actually care about you. That’s vanity metrics. 

We could lose 50 or 100 subscribers every time we go live. However, we have 405,000 subscribers. We would be arrogant to assume we can keep all those people. I would rather be live more, lose people faster, and get to the root of the people that really love us than worry about any of that stuff. When people are worried about that, when they talk about live streams in a negative connotation, they probably just don’t understand the true power of it. That is these watched time bombs.

Also, you get a ranking benefit while you’re live in the YouTube search results. 

You get a huge one. In fact, we did a live stream around PewDiePie and T-Series. We ranked number three in the world for the word “PewDiePie” for two weeks. There is a really interesting phenomenon with music right now. There’s a channel called ChilledCow. They have four or five million subscribers. Lo-Fi Hip Hop is one of the biggest terms in music. They have ranked number one in the world for that term since the day they went live years ago. Basically, they got to 5,000,000 subscribers just because they’re the only channel about Lo-Fi Hip Hop that is live streaming 24/7, so the search benefits of going live are off the charts.

That is awesome. Thank you for sharing such an awesome, amazing, knowledge bombs. If folks wanted to check you out online, watch some of your videos, check out vidIQ as a tool, maybe you have some online courses, or something that you could send them to learn more, where should we send them?

Definitely go to vidiq.com. You can download our free extension. Go to youtube.com/vidiq channel. There’s a lot of great information there. We are launching the vidIQ Academy next month. There’s going to be a lot of free courses and courses for our paid users. We’re going to have courses from Derral Eves and a lot of greats out there, so definitely check out all of that. If you want to see my personal nerd YouTube channel, it’s youtube.com/jeremyvest.

Awesome. Thank you so much, Jeremy. Listeners and viewers, please do something valuable with this. This is such an amazing content. Just to sit back and consume it is doing Jeremy and myself a huge disservice. We want you to take action with this. This is not informational. This is transformational content. 

We’ll catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak. This is your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.

If you enjoyed this episode and want to delve even deeper into YouTube, I highly recommend my interviews of Daniel Harmon, Derral Eves, Sunny Lenarduzzi, Tom Breeze, Jeff Martin, Sean Cannell, Jamie Salvatori, and Tommie Powers. Collectively, these folks are responsible for countless billions of views of YouTube. Rather than rattle off episode numbers, I’ll just direct you to marketingspeak.com/category/youtube.

Important Links

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Make something people would want to consume. The primary strategy should be offering content that can elevate livelihood whether it’s to give the audience solutions, laughter, or afterthoughts. 
☑ Create videos that answer people’s questions. This is a tried and tested strategy when optimizing them for YouTube.
☑ Define who my target audience is. Knowing who they are will give me better ideas on how to reach out and communicate with them more effectively.
☑ Stick to my niche and don’t try to be everything for everybody. When I am consistent with my brand, people can understand my message better. 
☑ Be consistent in uploading content. The more content I publish, the more Google finds my channel relevant for its searchers.
☑ Be smart about choosing my keywords. The goal is longevity and not popularity. Sometimes, choosing competitive, broad keywords can’t give my brand the growth it is aiming for.
☑ Create an annual content calendar so that I am set for a year and don’t have to spend more time researching what I should produce.
☑ Create a 2nd channel if necessary especially if my main YouTube channel is very specific. Usually, content creators utilize their 2nd channels as their more personal behind the scenes. 
☑ Continue growing my channel. YouTube success does not happen instantly. Gradually increase my views and subscribers by staying relevant to my audience.
☑ Check out vidIQ for tips and strategies on how to navigate YouTube marketing successfully.

About Jeremy Vest

Jeremy is the Director of Marketing at vidIQ. He’s created video marketing strategy for several fortune 100 companies and famous YouTubers. His customers have billions of views and millions of subscribers on YouTube. He’s YouTube certified and speaks at Vidcon, Social Media Marketing World, Vidsummit and writes for Social Media Examiner. He helps video creators & YouTubers with motivation so they can push their impossible.



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