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The Clientside Podcast

Growing your Youtube channel with Tom Martin

The Clientside Podcast

45 min Tom Martin

Tom Martin is certified by YouTube as an expert in both audience growth and digital rights. He has led the YouTube strategy for some of the world's largest and most successful media companies, gaining them millions of subscribers and billions of views. He's also consulted with YouTube creators and Fortune 500 companies to improve their results on YouTube via his company channel Fuel. He specialises in both YouTube SEO optimisation and channel strategy and has dedicated his time to making sure other YouTube creators can learn from his experience. He's also the author of "YouTube optimisation:The Complete Guide", which is available on Amazon.

Listen on your smart device or read the transcript below

"Just having good content is not enough anymore because if you don't get it discovered in the first place, if you don't keep people watching, if you don't keep people coming back to watch more of those videos, then YouTube will stop sending you traffic. That growth stops pretty soon."

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Podcast Transcript

Andrew: Welcome back to "The ClientSide Podcast". I'm back with a fresh episode, episode number 35, and unfortunately, we've managed to miss another episode after a positive COVID test a few weeks ago. It meant that a few things were put on hold. But here I am. I'm back feeling great, fully recovered, and I'm delighted that you've tuned in to listen to today's show. So the podcast is sponsored by the digital agency I founded called A Digital. We're based here in the UK and specialise in building websites and e-commerce systems using a variety of platforms. I'm also the author of the best selling book, "Holistic Website Planning", which you can find on Amazon, or if you're curious, head over to the book's companion website, which you can find at If you're new to "The ClientSide Podcast", then welcome. We'll add the notes and written transcript from today's show to our website at, where you can also find over 30 episodes, all with transcripts recorded from guests, from around the world covering all sorts of different topics. As usual on the podcast this week, I'm joined by a special guest who's here to share their marketing experience and advice to help you grow your business and maximise the returns from your marketing activities. Tom Martin is certified by YouTube as an expert in both audience growth and digital rights. He has led the YouTube strategy for some of the world's largest and most successful media companies, gaining them millions of subscribers and billions of views. He's also consulted with YouTube creators and Fortune 500 companies to improve their results on YouTube via his company channel Fuel. He specialises in both YouTube SEO optimisation and channel strategy and has dedicated his time to making sure other YouTube creators can learn from his experience. He's also the author of "YouTube optimisation:The Complete Guide", which is available on Amazon. So, Tom, welcome to the Client Side podcast. Thanks for joining me today.

Tom: Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.

Andrew: Just give our listeners a bit of an introduction to yourself. How have you become so involved in YouTube? What's led you to become the go to person for building YouTube channels?

Tom: My story is kind of a very different from most YouTube stories because most people will say I was just making some videos and uploading them. And, you know, then I came back a few months later and they had had a few thousand views and it was all great. I'd never, I'd never ever uploaded a video to YouTube and I actually went for (I was already working at the BBC in London and I had a totally separate department) and I saw a job come up in the YouTube department. I went for it. No experience, as I say, had never uploaded a video to YouTube in my life, to the point where the day before I got an interview, I recorded a video of my hand moving on my Nokia phone. This is how long ago it was! And uploaded that to YouTube privately, just in case they tested what buttons I needed to press to upload a video, which of course they didn't. I somehow managed to get a second interview, totally blowing my way through that and was thrown way in at the deep end. So within maybe the first month or two of joining, I had to kind of create a strategy for this whole network of YouTube channels that existed and were about to launch. So, for example, within about 30 days, I had to launch the official Doctor Who channel. We've never having seen an episode of Doctor Who in my entire life. Luckily, there are a lot of Doctor Who nerds at the BBC, so, of which I became one, of course. So they kind of guided me. And yeah, you know, it took me about two weeks to learn what buttons to press had to Google every single thing that I was asked to do. Can you get me this playlist set up? Yeah, Google had to do that.

Andrew: Well, I guess YouTube became your friend very quickly, then in a two way street in that sense.

Tom: Yeah, absolutely. So I kind of learned the buttons I like to say within the first couple of weeks. And then really, I've just been trying to master the platform for the last ,wow, nearly 10 years now. I'm a dinosaur in YouTube years. That's a hundred years. And so, yeah, and you've got to remember at this time there were, there was no real YouTube education. Now there are these big named experts, especially based in the states. They have massive conferences and massive YouTube channels and books and all sorts of resources. Youtube has its own resources. But back then it was maybe a couple of little websites, a couple of guides here and there, so it was very much kind of self-taught and some education that YouTube gave us directly back then. And so, yeah, it was kind of a very much in at the deep end had some good results early on that helped me not to get fired. And, you know, launched some new channels kind of transformed the strategy of some other channels, like the Top Gear channel. It was doing pretty well, but we managed to take it to an actual like top one hundred YouTube channel in the world within the first year. It was it was growing at an incredible rate of about a quarter of a million subscribers per month.

Tom: So, yeah, and then, as I say, just been trying to master the platform since then, ended up running the whole operation for the BBC for about five years. Then it went to be head of YouTube and social media at group level for another big TV company called Endemol Shine. They make big formats like MasterChef, Big Brother, big dramas like Black Mirror and Peaky Blinders, but their biggest property was actually Mr Bean. So I helped to transform the fortunes of the Mr Bean YouTube channel and Facebook page. We have some really incredible, incredible numbers, numbers that would make your eyes water. So yeah, that's the kind of numbers that I'll put on my gravestone when I die. Here lies the man who made a ridiculous amount of money with Mr Bean. So yeah, and then in 2018, I was kind of tired of growing channels for the people that I were working with and making them a lot of money, but not making myself any more money. So I decided to kind of strike out there. So now I have a consultancy and an agency and also a small distribution company where we do some interesting stuff with our own YouTube channel. So trying to kind of put my money where my mouth is and grow YouTube channels for myself as well.

Andrew: Amazing. Quite a journey. And I guess in some ways you are blessed by having some fantastic content at the beginning. You know you've got Dr Who and Top Gear, some of the BBC's biggest exports, obviously popular here in the UK where we can watch them. But I guess, you know, going back 10 years, iplayer would certainly be in its infancy. I can't just remember when iplayer a launch, but I guess, you know, YouTube really been one of the original video platforms. It was the ideal platform for distributing those, programmes. So I guess you had the luxury of having great content, not having to think too much about the content, and you could really focus in on on how to get that reach and the distribution across YouTube.

Tom: Yeah, I think we were definitely blessed with these amazing brands. This was the golden era of Top Gear, the Clarkson years. And so, yeah, you know, this definitely blessed us. But I suppose one thing that you soon learn on YouTube and this has become the, an increase in trend over time, is that just having good content is not enough anymore because if you don't get it discovered in the first place, if you don't keep people watching, if you don't keep people coming back to watch more of those videos, then YouTube will stop sending you traffic and that growth stops pretty soon. So yes, absolutely blessed with amazing content, but it hadn't done so well kind of before I joined the team and we put a bit more strategy and thought into what it was doing. Before that, it was just like, get a click, chuck it up, Hope for the best. You know, we put in a a regular schedule. We made sure we were focusing the content more to what had worked well in the past and doing less of what didn't work, as well as the kind of, you know, putting more thought into thumbnails and titles and descriptions and tags and all the kind of optimisation stuff that has now kind of become my second nature. But yeah, so lots of lots of growth very quickly. And yeah, but also, yeah, absolutely blessed with some amazing content.

Andrew: So, so you've got your content. I mean, a lot of people obviously who are working with YouTube, they're having to create their own content. At least in terms of planning that content, they may have, you know, video producers or content producers who actually go ahead and create some of that content. But what does a strategy look like? I mean, I suppose we really need to ask ourselves, what does the algorithm look for? And perhaps it's the algorithm that determines the strategy, not necessarily the company that's thinking, "Oh, we can do X, Y and Z with video." Which comes first? Is it a case of understanding the algorithm and then creating a plan to effectively game the algorithm? You know, we want to get the results from it? Or is it a case of thinking, right, well, let's plan our content and we'll start and roll that out and we'll see how it works, which comes first?

Tom: Yeah, it's kind of it's kind of both. I'd say that probably the content strategy comes first and then the kind of algorithmic factors would affect the execution of that strategy a bit more, if that makes sense. So I'd say the number one thing that you really need to think about is when creating content is not so much like, yes, it's important, like what are we experts in, whatever the niche may be or you know, what can we talk about with confidence and in an entertaining way. And not what just, what have we got to promote? What web services ,widgets do we need to promote this week, this month? But really flipping that on its head and saying what the people actually want to see? What have they put their hand up and said, We want to see videos about X. We want to see videos that, you know, deal with Topic X, and I think that's really important. And that's for a number of reasons. One, it means there's a guaranteed audience. So you know, you're not making a video about something that literally no one in the world cares about, but it's what you want to talk about. Unfortunately, that's your tough luck. And that doesn't mean to say that you can't make those videos about those subjects, but don't expect anyone to watch them. And secondly, we want to know exactly what people want to see. And when I say that, how do we know? Well, we can do keyword research to find out exactly what people are searching for on YouTube. And so with that, we know to make content that we know people are searching for. But then we can also optimise that content so that it gets discovered when people search for those terms. So really, I'd say when you're first getting started, is do the keyword research to find out exactly what people are searching for the size of that opportunity, how competitive that space is. And then also, you know, the exact language that people are using to search so you can then optimise what you're doing to show up for those searches.

Andrew: Yeah. So quite quite a bit of overlap then with what you might do as far as a website and search optimisation, they're very much the same kind of thing, but I guess there are dedicated YouTube keyword research tools are there?

Tom: Yeah. So the fundamentals of keyword research are exactly the same for YouTube, pretty much as they would be for SEO for a website. The only difference is what you do once you have that information, the kind of on page optimisation, shall we say, would be different for YouTube. But yeah, I was a blogger way before I was ever anywhere near YouTube, so I kind of pioneered YouTube keyword research based on what I'd been taught for how to do keyword research for Google, essentially. So what you might use for your SEO keyword research, some tools actually have YouTube data inside them. So, for example, Ahrefs has YouTube data. Keyword tool.IO has YouTube data. I'm not sure about SEMRush. I think they were, about the last time I used it, they were about to start implementing it. I'm not sure it's been a while since I use that. What I would say is those kind of datasets like kind of question the reliability of those just personally speaking from my use and again, to caveat, I haven't used these tools for maybe 12 months. Specifically the data that I was seeing inside of Ahrefs I didn't find particularly reliable when it came to YouTube. They're Google data, for me, is the gold standard. But the YouTube data is not something I would personally take much note of. is pretty decent. But the gold standard, in terms of kind of YouTube keyword research, is a tool called vidIQ. It's a sweet of YouTube tools. I suppose it's the closest thing to Ahrefs for YouTube, but it also has a lot of kind of efficiency tools like bulk changes that you can make and dashboards and a lot of other stuff. And now even has an AI engine. It will give you ideas for content directly, but its keywords always really for me, is the most impressive feature. And it will give you, you know, as accurate as you'll get in terms of data for what people are searching for on YouTube.

Andrew: It's interesting you talk about, you know, having content that people aren't interested in yet. I play devil's advocate a bit here. There is so much content on YouTube that you would think, Well, who's going to be interested in that? And you look down and it's had millions and millions of views. So so obviously, content matters to a point, but at some point, presumably optimisation just trumps the content. If you can get that distribution, you're going to almost certainly find an audience. Is that fair to say?

Tom: To a certain extent, so I would say it was kind of like a force multiplier of the quality of content, so yes, you can you can optimise something within an inch of its life, but ultimately, first of all, you need to get someone to click, so it has to have a decent thumbnail and title. But then beyond that, they need to watch for a decent amount of time. So if I'm YouTube and I'm sending loads of people to Video X and it's getting loads of hits, but people are only staying for 30 seconds, YouTube will see that as a low value video and then they'll stop sending people to that video. So yes, you need to optimise to get discovered and to get clicked. But if you're not optimising to keep people watching for extended periods of time, then you know that's not going to help your videos or your channel. Ultimately, in the long term, because YouTube, you know, the number one factor really for YouTube is that watch time, that audience retention. So, you know, if you've got a 20 minute video, but people are only staying around for 40 seconds. Youtube's quickly going to stop sending people to that video. So, yeah, you know, optimisation is not a silver bullet, but it will definitely elevate average content and really good content it can send into the kind of stratosphere.

Andrew: Right, OK. And you touched on thumbnails then a second ago is is having a good thumbnail purely about getting eyes on your video? Or is there some sort of AI that's looking for for a thumbnail that is different, that is stand out? What is what is the goal that people should be thinking of with with creating thumbnails? Is it just something to stand out or is the algorithm actually able to to determine how effective that thumbnail is?

Tom: Yeah. So yes, yes, in a couple of ways. So first of all, the AI is literally scanning the image to make sure there's nothing sensitive in their text, swear words, shocking images, nudity, that kind of stuff. So yes, that the algorithm is literally reading that image, but probably more importantly for this audience is, it's constantly evaluating evaluating the click through rate. So if a video's got a good click through rate, it will show it to more people. If it's got a bad click through rate, it will show it to less people. So, yes, it's again, it's all great getting in front of people, but if they're not converting and watching, then YouTube will stop. They'll put a stop on that reach, and instead they'll start showing other videos to potential, to clickers as well. So it's kind of hard to say what you should be aiming for in terms of a percentage click through rate. The best thing to do is kind of judge what your click through rate is now and try to improve on it. Most click through rates that I see are going to be somewhere between kind of 3 and 5%. If you get into like 10% and above you're doing really, really well. What I would say, though, is, you know, I wouldn't totally live or die by it because perversely, the better a video does YouTube show it to a broader audience, so the click through rate is going to suffer.

Tom: So it's a bit of a crazy chicken and egg situation. But if you're looking at the click through rates of a video, kind of. A few, maybe say a month after it's been released, when the kind of viewership is levelled off, you're going to get a truer idea of what the real click through rate is and then you want to try and improve on that. And of course, you can update your thumbnails once the video's published. So if it's not doing great you can update a thumbnail and then that could give it a boost. I've seen really transformative results just by changing a thumbnail and a title alone. That's another thing to consider is the click through rate is also a product of how good the title is as well. So, you know, a thumbnail is very rarely going to be seen in isolation. Just like the title of a YouTube video is very rarely going to be seen in isolation. They're very often together on a page or device, whatever that's going to be. So that's very important as well. But yeah, click through rates increasingly important. In terms of the history of YouTube, it's a relatively young feature that we've we've got access to. We operated on YouTube for years without even even having access to that inside of YouTube Analytics. So it's great that we've got that and it's something we can try and improve on.

Andrew: Right? So it sounds like, you know, if you are going to make a success out of YouTube, it's not a set and forget. I think there's probably a couple of aspects to it. One is frequency, and I'm curious to know whether frequency has an impact to your frequency of publishing videos, whether that has an impact on visibility, but also the frequency of actually going into your account and perhaps reviewing those stats. And as you say, if you have to sort of wait a month or so after a video has gone live to see things settle down before you can go and get a truer picture, then that idea of just publishing to YouTube and thinking, "All right, that's that box ticked for the week. I've got my video up." There's clearly a lot more to it if you are going to see success from YouTube.

Tom: Yeah, absolutely, and you know, I don't think it's set and forget, and I don't think it's a case of constantly have to be refreshing stuff, it's probably somewhere in the middle. So what you probably do is kind of do your big keyword research up front, ideally. The problem is, if you've already got a YouTube channel that's 3 years old and you've never done any keyword research, you've probably got quite a bit of tidying up to do. So that's where the refresh more likely comes in, is when you've got a catalog of videos that have never really been given, the TLC that they deserve. Is when you go up and do a kind of big, tidy up job. But generally, you know, we we don't we don't come back to videos on a kind of regular, you know, we don't have a calendar event that says, come and tidy this video up in six months or something like that. It's generally on a bit more of an ad hoc basis. But yeah, it might be that, you know, something, something pops in the news, which relates to something that you published in the video a while back, but that, that newsworthy topic wasn't the kind of focus of the fun now on the title. So you might go back and update that phrase. Say, for example, you are a medical company and you had something about contagious diseases that you published before coronavirus. You might want to then go back and dial up the mention of coronavirus and stuff like that. It's a pretty extreme example, but well all I can think about from the top of my head.

Andrew: But I guess you know on the same example. There'd be topical phrases and words like Omicron, which we would have never heard of, certainly in the context of, you know what, what we all know, now it's been been announced. So so I guess that's where you have the opportunity to go back and refine those keywords and arguably give it a second lease of life, if you will.

Tom: Yeah, yeah. Another thing that you can do as well, again, it depends how much time you've got and how much you want to nerd out over it. But for example, there was a Top Gear video, and we were just doing a general cleanup when we noticed this. It wasn't like we just decided, right, today we're going to clean up this one video. But we noticed that there was a massive spike. So basically, YouTube can, if you don't know, YouTube can give you an exact graph of how people tend to watch your videos. And there was a massive spike at like a 1:08 of this nine minute video and it was it was some kind of lac video, Cadillac video But you know, the eighth minute there was a massive crash and the Stig was a big character in the show, crashed this really expensive supercar. But the title and the funding of this video did not mention that whatsoever. But that was clear. That was like the sexy part of the video. So we changed the title of the video from like. I'm just going to make this up Ferrari test lap to Stig crashes Ferrari at 90 miles an hour and we change the thumbnail to just a picture of the car, to the car kind of smashing into a bed of tires. Luckily, he was fine, of course, but like overnight, that went from, you know, maybe 1000 views a day to twenty five thousand views a day and just skyrocketed and continues to just make incredible amounts of views and money. And that's just from that, that small change in context, it's the same exact video. You know, we did not change the video, but we just changed the way that we marketed the video, shall we say. So anyone can do that to any video at any time.

Andrew: Right, OK. And as far as people, content creators who are who are publishing content up to YouTube, what should they be aiming for? Are they aiming for views? I mean, you talked about click through which I mean even a 10% click through. If that's doing really well, it's still very small, isn't it? But but should people be aiming for views? Should they be aiming for likes or should they be aiming for subscribes? I guess there's an element of what are you managing your channel for? What are you trying to achieve with with your channel? But is there any particular focus that people should give as they're thinking of managing their account?

Tom: Yeah. Ultimately, it would depend on what what is important to you as a business. So, you know, the kind of example I always look at or use again, it's an extreme one, but you know, if I do a general entertainment video and he gets a million views, but it does nothing for my business, then it's worthless. But if I do a video about, Yacht luxury, yacht insurance and I sell luxury yacht insurance, and it gets 25 views, but two people take out, you know, $100000 yacht insurance policy with me, then that's more valuable to me than the million views. So really, it's important to know what other kind of metrics that are important to you as a business. But generally, in terms of growing a channel, if we just talk generally about we want to grow our YouTube channel, yes, views are important. Subscribers are important. Subscribers are probably less important as time goes by because YouTube tends to recommend what is best for YouTube and not what is best for your channel or any one channel. But really, like the kind of biggest, the biggest things that you could do to grow a channel is to improve your average view duration, your average view percentage, because really, that's what is important to YouTube. And although this is not really something that you can track inside of analytics, it is to get people to watch more of your videos in a single session.

Tom: So at the end of the video, you need to think about what's the video of mine that makes sense for them to watch next and have a really strong call to action to get them to watch that video. So you've got to the end of this video, and I hope you like that if you want to know more about this topic, I've got another really in-depth guide and you can click here. And for people listening on the podcast, you would actually point to an empty space and then you would place a clickable widget over that space later on. But essentially, if you've got people watching for more minutes, for a higher percentage of your videos and you're encouraging people to watch more videos, you're delivering on what YouTube really wants, which is to keep people on the platform so they can serve more ads and collect more data because that's all they really care about.

Tom: So everything they do in terms of user experience in terms of the algorithm is to ultimately keep people on the platform for longer so they can make more money. And so basically, if you can keep YouTube happy by providing that, they'll keep sending you traffic. And this brings up another really interesting point, especially for those people who are kind of using YouTube for business is that, you know, often the attitude is okay, this is a kind of a free marketing channel, and we'll just send people to our splash page or landing page, or we try and get people to book a sales call or giveaway a free e-book, or we'll give away a free 20 minute discovery call. But the problem is, unless you find a really good balance, you know, if I'm YouTube and I'm sending your agencies YouTube channel traffic every day. And every day, I notice well when I send it to those guys, they send people off of YouTube. But when I send it to Channel X over here, they get people to watch more videos. So ultimately YouTube learns, OK, send it to the people that keep people on YouTube longer. So it's really about striking that balance. That's not to say you shouldn't be having calls to action to go to the website, pick up the phone, but it's just about doing it in the right way and also striking a good balance so that that's not the only call to action that you have at the end of the videos or in your descriptions or in the middle of your videos.

Andrew: Yeah. Wow. Really, really fascinating. And I mean, you talk about that monetisation example there. I think that is a big problem for a lot of companies who are using YouTube. They're using it in a way that is ultimately building brand awareness, and they're using it as a place to host corporate videos, which may or may not be particularly exciting that probably then get embedded into into a web page somewhere. So companies aren't necessarily that concerned about their YouTube channel. As such, they're more concerned about what the content is and what the video is doing. But I think potentially that is one of the barriers that a lot of companies see to YouTube. You know, you'v got certain production barriers as well that might exist in terms of planning, filming, editing some of the content. And I know there's obviously the studio within YouTube, which allows some of that editing to happen within the platform. But, I think that's where a lot of companies struggle in that they're sort of using it to create that awareness, but converting it back into that example where you said, Well, have I saw two instances of luxury yacht insurance that can be very difficult to track back, can't it? And that's potentially something that a lot of companies are really struggling with and why they don't maybe exploit YouTube more than they could do.

Tom: Well, you know, I suppose it's, you know, if you're smart about and you're using kind of deep links and tracking links, there's no reason why you couldn't try and at least to have some decent level of attribution right back to where those clicks have come from. There used to be actually an integration between Google Analytics and YouTube, which I think has been removed only about six months ago. So you could actually have some kind of Google Analytics code running on your YouTube channel. I think that has gone pretty sure it has. So you could, you could do that kind of stuff. But yeah, as long as you are using kind of trackable links and also maybe your monitoring, and I'm not a website expert, but yeah, monitoring where your traffic is coming from and seeing how those traffic sources convert, you know, how does a YouTube visitor convert compared to a Google visitor or a social media visitor, or you send them to a unique landing page set up that can only be found through links that are on YouTube. So then you can say, "Well, we know that we're getting X amount of hits on these YouTube only landing pages and they convert X percentage." So we know that a YouTube viewer is actually a valuable audience member for us.

Andrew: Ok, interesting.

Tom: I wouldn't, I wouldn't claim to be an expert in that kind of tracking you, that I'd leave that to you guys.

Andrew: Yeah,sure.

Tom: I don't think it's any different, really. You know, you can put in custom links, and it's actually a lot easier to link off to your own website now than it used to be used to have to be kind of verified via Google Webmaster tools and all that kind of stuff. There are a lot more lenient now, and you can pretty much link off to any website as long as it doesn't break their kind of community guidelines so long as it's not porn get rich quick, gambling.That kind of stuff.

Andrew: And you know, you touched on your background from from blogging earlier on. Obviously, you can leave comments on YouTube videos. How relevant are those? Do you want to? Should people be actively encouraging comments? Is there a problem with comments spam? Obviously, we've heard in the news recently how YouTube's taken off the downvote option for, you know, the reasons are saying that they want to protect creators mental health.There's no doubt going to be implications elsewhere within the platform for that, and I'm sure they've got all that worked out. But are comments something that would generally support visibility of a video encouraging people to comment? Is that a good thing to do?

Tom: Yes. I think likes, dislikes, comments. They're all kind of part of the general signals, just like there were so many signals that Google would use, like dwell time and readability and whatever it is that Google look at. But yeah, it all be part of the signals to say, is this a value to our audience? So yes, it is important to have comments and foster engagement and discussion in comments section. Yes, likes and dislikes would count towards that as they are engagement. How much they actually move the needle I'm not totally convinced and I'd say over time, probably less so the days of saying smash that like button and it would like to send a video viral. Probably not the case. You know, it should all still be encouraged, but probably not at the expense of other calls to action that are more important. So subscribe. And even more important is like watch another one of our videos, which is probably the most important call to action that you can do. In terms of spam or, you know, YouTube comments or kind of famously known as, you know, the cesspit of the internet, really. And not necessarily, undeservedly so. But really, that all comes down to your brand and how you want to run your community.

Tom: So you can, for example, set up block lists of certain words so you can copy and paste every swear words under the sun into that. Potentially, you could put your competitors names in there. You can put topic you could put coronavirus in their Trump, whatever you don't want, whatever. You don't want conversations to disced into .

Andrew: Keep your channel clean.

Tom: Yeah, exactly. So, you know, it's it's like running a private members club. You set the rules, you set the tone, and it's totally up to you to kind of police that. As I say, you can set block words, you can mute and block kind of problem commenters and stuff like that. So, yeah, it's kind of like, it's your house, it's your job to keep it in order. And ultimately you, you'll again get out of that what you put into it. So if you foster a generous and happy vibe in the comments and foster lots of conversation, you'll get people asking more questions and responding to your questions. So yeah, generally it's worth the time. But in terms of how much resources you put into that compared to, you know, the algorithmic benefit, I I'm kind of skeptical on that.

Andrew: And of course, those comments are that opportunity to say, well, A to gather feedback, but also to ask people what sort of other content they might be interested in seeing as well. So there's real engagement opportunity with that.

Tom: Yeah. And often a great a great source of making new content is questions that you get in the comments. So you know, John from Coventry, asked this last week and so we're going to make a video about it. And you know, one of one great thing that you can do is actually screenshot John from Coventry's comment and say, "We got we got a question last week from John from Coventry, and he asked this, so we're going to answer this. And if you've got a question that you'd like answered to one of our future videos, let us know in the comments below." So you can, can be a bit of a kind of virtuous, a virtuous circle. And there are some there are some channels that are almost entirely built off of what people are saying and asking in the comments.

Andrew: So like pretty much everything in digital, something I say all the time, you know, nothing works in isolation. There's clearly lots of different moving parts around, getting the most out of YouTube. What sort of timescale do you think you've got to commit? I mean, clearly you can't just publish one video and expect to get success. So are you looking at sort of like a three month period where perhaps you're publishing a weekly video and then you're sort of checking in on the stats of that every week and just making little tweaks around that? Or do you really need to be in it for a bit more of the long haul?

Tom: Yeah, I think it's definitely a long term thing. So you basically need to be prepared to be uploading, I'd say, absolute minimum one video a week. Absolute, absolute, absolute minimum one video a fortnight. You know, for the next five years, let's say.

Andrew: Right.

Tom: And that doesn't mean that you're not tweaking things along the way. So like you say, after three months, I think 90, 90 days is a fair amount of time to see any difference in when you make a major strategy change. Are there any major updates? So you go back analyze, OK, these videos are working really well. These videos are not working so well. This format works so well. When we talk about this topic, people are less interested. So every time it's kind of , OK pivot or iterate whatever you want to say. But just getting closer and closer to what's worked in the past until you've kind of nailed that format and then really just hammer that as much as possible, really? You know, YouTube is one of those platforms where you kind of find the golden formula and you just double down on it and don't deviate it from it until it's not the golden formula anymore. You know, that might be three years time until that stops working and you say, OK, how has the platform changed? What what kind of algorithmic things have changed? How have audience tastes changed? And how can we kind of make sure that we're still relevant?

Andrew: Well, amazing. I mean, there's there's a whole host of questions that I I'd love to ask, but you're a busy man and I really appreciate you taking the time. It's obviously a huge area. There's loads of different directions that we could take in conversations around video, and when we haven't even talked about producing content and kit and things like that.

Tom: Yeah, well, I'd be happy to come back another day if wanted to do a YouTube pt 2 because as you can tell, I can talk about YouTube till the cows come home.

Andrew: Yeah, no, that sounds amazing. One of the things that I know you offer is a YouTube audit. Just just tell us a little bit about what a YouTube audit would entail, because I mean, I'm familiar with doing website audits. You know, we can look at keywords and so on. I presume it's something fairly similar. You know where you need to look for those key factors that, that YouTube are going to be looking out for. And and therefore, I guess you're pointing these things out and there's a list of actions that people would need to take.

Tom: You've described it exactly. So yeah, it's a little bit like an MOT. So we've got to kind of like 75 point checklist that we'll go through. That includes the kind of public facing stuff, the actual content itself, how the content is optimised or in terms of thumbnails, titles, tags, descriptions, artwork, tone of voice. And then we look at the back end and we look at the analytics, see how things are working, see how the channel settings are set up. Also, things like operationally and monetisation are things set up. So you're making the most money. So you haven't you're not getting copyright claims, that kind of stuff. Are you publishing in the right category? Are you publishing under the right license? You'll be amazed. Some of the mistakes people make, you know, quite decent sized channels that are publishing accidentally all of their content under Creative Commons license, so someone can just come along and pretty much do whatever they want with the content with impunity. Yeah. And then we will just kind of create a report, give you a score, tell you what's working well, what things you should change strategy suggestions and then we'll jump on a call with you. Pretty much like this. We'll jump on a call with you to discuss the results. Answer any questions you have. Discuss strategy for the future, that kind of stuff. Kind of checklist so you can make sure you've you've covered off all of the kinda main recommendations that we make.

Tom: Well, I mean, you know, this has been an eye opener for me. I'm no stranger to YouTube, but I'm certainly not an expert. You know, I'm someone that does occasional videos, uploads them. And in fact, if we're embedding them onto our website, we tend to put them into Vimeo because we get a little bit more control over how they're presented. But we'll tend to put them on YouTube as well, I presume, I presume there's no, you know, SEO gives you that risk of having duplicate content. Is that a thing with with video? Do you have that risk with video?

Tom: I don't think so. No, because just just the way that video works and also just the nature of having a video being placed everywhere, it's not quite the same as like a chunk of text appear in the same place. So no, I don't think you have to worry about that for sure. And in terms of embedding videos, it can sometimes be again, another good signal to YouTube. Ok, there are these high authority websites in a related niche that are embedding this video. So that's a positive and also the extra views that, the extra views that it brings as well can be really good as well. You know, I've seen again an extreme example, but I've seen like animal videos being posted on these kind of happy viral video type vlogs, sorry blogs and get hundreds of thousands of views from these page impressions. So, yeah, definitely a good strategy.

Tom: Fascinating stuff. Look, Tom, that's been an amazing conversation. Really enjoyed it, learned bits and pieces there as well. Like I say, no stranger to it, but there's definitely a lot more that we could do with with our YouTube channel. I know that and I'm absolutely convinced there'll be some really valuable content there for, for our listeners to take away. So,Tom, just to round things off, where can people find you online? Where do you tend to hang out if people want to get in touch with you?

Tom: Yeah. So probably the best ways, maybe Twitter my handle is channel_fuel, although I'm not super active on social anymore as I'm so old and jaded by everything. But yeah, probably if you really wanted to chat to me then, is the email address. If you needed any help with anything directly. If you wanted more of a kind of a DIY option, then I've got a book on Amazon. You can find out by going to and you'll find that there. Some of the screenshots and stuff are a bit out of date but the fundamentals are still pretty solid. So that would teach you how to write a good title, make a good thumbnail, how to write a good description, that kind of stuff, and all the other stuff that you should be optimizing for, basically.

Andrew: Fantastic loads of resources there. So we'll put links to those in the show notes that will be found at But in the meantime, Tom, thank you so much for taking the time to join me this morning. Really appreciate it. Great conversation.

Tom: Thanks for having me. Great to meet you.

Andrew: Well, that was a lot of stuff we talked about there, and I barely scratched the surface with plenty more questions, I could have asked Tom. But time was against us and we'll need to see if we can get him back on the show to talk about some of the other aspects of running a successful YouTube channel. As I mentioned to Tom, we've published content to YouTube, but I can't, in all honesty, say we manage our channel. And there are clearly opportunities for us to improve how that works for us that goes well beyond thinking purely about the content that we create and then just pushing it up to YouTube. A lot more involved and certainly lots of takeaways for me. Other avenues I was keen to ask Tom about were the impact of more video content on Instagram and TikTok, the latter of which is seeing huge growth at the moment. And of course, we never even came close to talking about the production side of things. Those will have to be something for another day, but there are certainly lots of things that I hope you found useful in today's episode. So we'll add Tom's links and some of the tools that he's talked about into the show notes, which can be found at a digital agency forward slash podcast, where you'll also find our back catalog of over 30 episodes of the Client Side podcast. So thank you for joining me today. Great to have your company! I'll be back in a couple of weeks time with another episode where I'll be joined by another guest, so I do hope you can join me then. So in the meantime, take care. Stay safe and see you next time.