Earlier this year, I launched a YouTube channel that I host. As someone who always saw herself as a “behind the scenes” person, the idea of hosting a channel was the farthest thing from my mind. However, as no one else would step up to host the channel I conceived, I was forced to go through the labor which began with outright refusal to film myself, followed by a great deal of reluctance at the thought of filming myself and finally resignation to the idea of filming myself. With the resignation came acceptance, then, to my surprise, enthusiasm and HackingAfrica was born, kicking and screaming into the world.
HackingAfrica is a blog and vlog through which I share African-centered stories at the intersection of innovation, technology, entertainment, entrepreneurship and economic development. Given my niche focus, I knew to expect viewers interested in issues that deviated from pop culture.
Prior to my vlog, I had never filmed a thing nor been a part of content creation in any capacity. In fact, I had never even willingly thrown myself in front of a camera for family photos. (Yep, I’m one of those people you have to snipe with a camera–much to the chagrin of many of my editors who want more pictures of me for bios and the like.) So creating vlogs for HackingAfrica would certainly prove to be an interesting adventure (for me anyway). Since I had made up my mind to create a vlog, I was committed to my decision and determined to find a solution that worked for me. So to kick things off, I reached out to MicroFilmMaker Magazine for inspiration, which, as it turned out, was provided in abundance.
I read articles on lights, lighting techniques, camera equipment, filming with an iPhone, sound, microphones, location and more; all of which I set out to apply. After a series of hilarious attempts, I finally landed on the equipment (an iPad AIR, a Tablet Tripod Video Camera Photo Booth Mount by ChargerCity and a Ravelli APLT2 50″ Light Weight Aluminum Tripod), location (my couch), lights (1 650 watt incandescent bulb in a flood lamp and a 600W Day Light Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit by LimoStudio) and background (my living room) that worked for me. Success!
The goal of any YouTuber (as folks with YouTube channels who are committed to creating content regularly and are either making money through ads or are trying diligently to get to that point are called) is to get as many views, likes and subscribers as possible and that is of course my goal. So one day, I sat down to review my YouTube analytics in order to measure performance and understand what I can do to better connect with viewers.
YouTube Analytics is a wonderful feature hidden within “Video Manager” in the Analytics section of your channel. The entirety of YouTube’s analytics can be broken down into three different sections:
There are a lot of articles and videos that walk through each of these reports and their meaning therefore, I will only be discussing how these reports can be used to identify trends, better understand your channel and more importantly provide the insight you need in order to refine your content. I’ll be using my channel, HackingAfrica, as an example.
Analyzing the reports for the lifetime of my channel revealed the following key things:
- People are watching for a minute and a half on average (most videos are 3mins long).
- Demographics are 80% male, 20% female.
- Viewers are predominantly in the US, the UK, Nigeria, Canada and South Africa.
- Innovation & technology videos resonate most.
- HackingAfrica is found primarily via:
-My blog, hackingafrica.com
-Other YouTuber’s playlists
These findings were revealing because I had never really considered the demography nor location of HackingAfrica’s viewers. Rather, my focus was always on appearing natural in recordings. Given the findings above, here are insights I came up with on how to improve my channel:
- Clear and Concise.
Focus on sharing the heart of the story in under a minute before going on to share my view on the story. This way, people are engaged longer.
- Subject Matter.
I have a range of material spanning dairy farming to animated movies and the videos titled “Animated African Movies Made in Africa” and “Made-in-Nigeria Cars Taking a Strong Foothold” received the most views. Therefore, create similar videos (to these two) that promote innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. Cut back some on agricultural videos.
Given that other YouTuber’s playlists are a key source of traffic for HackingAfrica, partner with other channels to cross-promote each other’s channels. Who knows what other collaboration efforts could emerge from this!
The issues I discuss on my channel are obtained from news sources such as CNN, Africa Business Magazine and Ventures Africa. So, reach out to news agencies to discuss disseminating their content via my YouTube channel. That way when they have breaking news in my genre, that information can be shared with me and I, in turn, can direct traffic to them through viewers on my channel.
- Audience Demographic.
I have no issues with my demographic. However, assuming that I would like to attract a higher male population, I could title my videos differently by using words such as “hack” or “tools” in the video title. Research shows that male viewers tend to gravitate to these words more given the reference to coding and home improvement. On the flip side, if I want to attract a greater number of female viewers, I could create some videos on fashion, lifestyle and beauty – in addition to my current content.
A few last tips – to further improve your channel, carding and annotating (those pesky pop up boxes that cover the video you’re watching, asking you to subscribe to a channel or click through to another clip) are key so leverage these in all videos. The main difference between cards and annotations is that cards display on mobile devices as well as desktop while annotations display on desktop only. YouTube states that cards will eventually replace traditional annotations – once the site is confident that cards can do everything that annotations currently can and even more.
Also remember to create a call-to-action at the end of the video and to also share your social media handles verbally on the video (as well as with a text overlay) so that people know how and where to find you. A call-to-action is an invitation that prompts your visitors and viewers to take action. It is, quite literally, a “call” to take an “action” such as subscribing to your channel, sharing the video with friends or even clicking the links provided in your cards and annotations.
The HUGE thing I’m learning in all of this that I can pass on to you is to bring your personality to your content! There’s only one YOU and that YOU may be the sort of person an entire group of people would like very much to hear from!
To find out more about my work with Hacking Africa, be sure to check us out at: www.hackingafrica.com