Offering an in depth look into shows presented at the Digital Content NewFronts in New York this month, Digital LA gathered seven panelists to shed light not only on their programming, but how they plan on gaining and retaining viewers. Moderated by Digital LA Founder Kevin Winston, the panelists included David Beebe (Fishbowl Worldwide Media), George Ruiz (ICM), Sarah Penna (Big Frame), Sarah Malkin (Maker Studios), Adam Wescott (EQAL), Jennifer McDonnell (DECA) and Rachel Wexler (Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro LLP).
Panelists agreed that 90% of the new premium quality YouTube channels will not be renewed (see 9:23 in the live stream below)—though they still believe this is only the beginning of a long and profitable venture by YouTube. In responding to a question from the audience about what these channels will do when the money runs out, Ruiz responded, “It’s not going to run out, it’s going to get bigger. This is just a start—a hundred million dollars is an accelerator to this industry.”
After offering the audience a recap of the NewFronts and discussing Petsami, CuteWinFail, Geek & Sundry, Bammo, MomsView, u look haute, and Momversation, the panelists began discussing the importance of community in becoming successful online. Since attaining success on and off YouTube requires a loyal and engaged audience (which is the selling point to brands), here are the tips and tricks shared by the panelists:
1. Asking and seeking viewer comments, then using them. Not only is it important to incorporate comments into the show, but they often offer valuable feedback that can lead to improvements.
2. Consistency and frequency. A set schedule combined with a standard level of production quality not only lets viewers know when new content is being released, it keeps them coming back for more.
3. Engage the audience on all platforms. While the programming is on YouTube or a specific destination, it needs to be promoted on all platforms. Twitter and Facebook are crucial is helping new viewers discover the channels.
4. Collaborations and cross-promotions. Since discovery is the biggest challenge for the channels, collaborations and cross-promotions are vital. Ruiz, discussing the Geek & Sundry show Sword & Lazer, mentioned how the show did a cross-promotion with Goodreads in order to help build its audience.
5. Engage with the audience, not with the haters. Responding to comments and even following fans of the show on Twitter can help build a loyal audience. The more they feel a personal connection to your content, the more likely they are to spread the word to potential new viewers. As for the haters, people are going to hate no matter what happens.
It’ll be interesting to see which shows on the panel survive to reach a second year, but with 212,725 subscribers it would be shocking if Ruiz and long time client Felicia Day don’t get renewed.