“Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your ears”

I’m reminded of those memorable words proclaimed by Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ (Act 3: Scene 2), and although your particular online video strategy might not be targeting Romans directly, you are certainly wanting to encourage your audience to ‘lend you their ears’… and their eyes… and their valuable attention for the duration of your video content. So, how do you build and audience… and not just viewers for your brand’s YouTube videos?  The first step, is to encourage them to subscribe to your channel.

The simple fact is that your channel subscribers will be the most engaged viewers of your channel. They subscribe to your channel on YouTube because you’ve provided them with valuable content in the past, and there is the promise of new content, that they will be interested in, being shared by you in the future.

It’s all about building communities online, and your YouTube audience can become one of the most influential online social communities that you can engage with.  Here’s what the YouTube Playbook has to say about building communities;

“Communities are critical to building an audience on YouTube. After all, YouTube is a social platform. Liking, sharing, and commenting are key social features.” – YouTube Playbook (youtube.com/playbook)

So as a professional looking to engage your target market on YouTube, how can you actively build your audience, and increase your channel subscribers?  Well, here are my top 3 tips.

1. Just ask them.

Yes. It really is that simple. The first step to increasing your subscribers on your YouTube channel is to actively ask your viewers to subscribe. Include it in your sign-off, or mention it when you’re referring to up-coming video blogs or other content.  It really is as simple as saying something like, “Take a moment to subscribe now to us on YouTube to stay up to date with new content as we release it”.
Now, watch your subscriptions soar!

2. Get creative with Annotations

If you’re not familiar with YouTube’s Cards and End Cards tool yet then you need to be. One of the viewer actions that can be easily drawn out with YouTube cards is a channel subscription. However, being creative with the location on the screen, the timing and included text on the subscribe card can make or break the effectiveness of the overlay. Don’t make them too big, too in-your-face, or too often, or it will appear spammy. Ultimately you want to drive a genuine, engaged new subscriber, not someone who will quickly unsubscribe because they’re not loving your content.

3. Engage Your Network

You’ve probably already got a whole bunch of people connected to you and your business online, so why not get them to subscribe to your channel on YouTube as well.  Utlising and driving new subscriptions from your existing facebook followers, email list, or even family and friends can be a great way to quickly increase your subscriber base and therefore your video content reach in a very short period of time.
All you need to do is include a subscribe URL into a facebook post, or an email newsletter and you’ll be on your way.  To create your individual YouTube channel subscribe URL link just follow the following format http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=USERNAME  (be sure to replace USERNAME with your channels username or ID)

And why not take this one step further and include a subscription button directly on your company website… try this code for starters.

<iframe id="fr" style="overflow: hidden; height: 105px; width: 300px; 
border: 0;" src="http://www.youtube.com/subscribe_widget?p=USERNAME" 
width="300" height="150" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>

Which will end up looking something like this;

So, there’s my top 3 tips for building your audience and boosting subscribers on your business YouTube channel. But remember… if someone takes action and subscribes to your channel, they are going to be expecting more of the same great content from you. So keep it up, and stick to your content strategy so you keep growing your subscriber base, not losing them.