Over the past decade and a half, YouTubers have been scrimmaging to decipher the ever-changing codes of the YouTube algorithm and social zeitgeist in attempts to gain viral attention and the lauded YouTube subscriber Play Buttons.
From monotonous videogame commentaries and over-embellished vlogs, to short clips of slapstick humour and absurdly avaricious mukbang eating challenges, creators have tried any and everything.
Here's how we beat the algorithm and organically grew a successful YouTube channel.
Where it all started
The year 2020 marks 10 years since our very first space balloon flight - a fun project between friends launched from Co-founder Chris' parent's back garden.
The viral attention of that first video lead us to create Sent Into Space which has grown year on year into a dedicated team of experts leading the global stage in Near Space flight. Whilst in our day-to-day we promote other brands and gain hundreds of millions of views for them across various different platforms, like many digital content creators, we often neglect our own social channels.
At the start of 2019, we decided to spend some time developing our social strategy targeting amongst other platforms, YouTube - the king of video. For us, having a strong and engaged YouTube following of our own is helpful to move from being a simple content producer to micro-influencer. For our clients conducting marketing activities by launching their products into space with us, the reach that we have through our own channel is an added bonus to give any digital campaign a kick start.
So how did we gain YouTube subscribers?
Firstly we worked with the medium. We uploaded a 360 video which YouTube algorithms like as it's still relatively novel. The algorithms also prioritize like-for-like content, so that someone already watching 360 videos is likely to be shown another 360 video once they've finished that one. Regardless of the specific content, people watching one 360 video are likely to want to watch more content in 360, just for the novelty. We also knew that the kind of 360 video we could produce was unlike anything that had ever been seen. Here's what we made:
Once you've made something amazing - that's part of the work done, but then getting it seen by an audience is another challenge. Getting rapid traction is a strong indicator to the YouTube algorithms that the video is worth watching. The best way we found was to directly put it in front of an audience who want to see it. This bit you can either pay for (e.g. Facebook ads to a relevant audience) or you can try to do for free through platforms such as Reddit. The latter is what worked best for us, using Reddit to access people interested in space imagery, which gives our best videos a huge boost in the first few hours.
What social media platforms did we gravitate towards?
Once people are watching your videos, the usual tips and tricks for gaining subscribers are handy to know to maximise the impact you see on your subscriber count. These are easily findable with a quick Google search or on the YouTube Creator Academy if you have access.
Well for us actually not much else was done. Just keep producing more consistently high-standard content. Know what the algorithms favour to get your view count up. Give your audience the type of content they want to see and let the algorithms do the rest of the work for you.
If you missed it you can see our best of 2019 blog post.
To see the kind of content we've been producing for other people, and if you've got an idea of your own you want us to send into space - get in touch.
Finally, a big thank you to all of the people who have subscribed to our YouTube channel over the last year - it's fantastic to have you with us on the journey to see where the next 10 years take us!