How to Build a YouTube Community Around Trends: TubeTalk 185 with Dan Currier

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Did you know that a one-off viral video can actually harm your YouTube channel if it doesn't fit in with your usual content? Find out the right way to jump on trending topics in this week's TubeTalk.

If you check with anyone that's been successful on YouTube, the two words you will hear constantly hear are trends and community. If you want to know how to use trends and community to grow your YouTube channel, well, this is the right episode for you.

At vidIQ, we use the power of the community and leverage trends to bring our audience the most up-to-date and useful content we can. Our guest, Dan Currier from Creator Fundamentals does this superbly well. He's going to teach us the exact steps that he uses to build amazing audiences for his clients. In this podcast you will learn:

  • How to jump on trends that specifically benefit your YouTube channel
  • Why creating content on the back of one viral video may not be the best strategy
  • To create trending content that benefits your community

Dan Currier TubeTalk

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How to Build a YouTube Community Around Trends: Full Transcript

Liron Segev: Dan, welcome to the show.

Dan Currier: Thank you for having me.

Liron Segev: Who is Dan in a tweet? How would you describe you?

Dan Currier: In a tweet, I certainly have a lot of passions and a lot of different projects I'm working on on YouTube. I have a YouTube channel called Creator Fundamentals that is all about simplifying YouTube to help other creators grow on the platform.

Liron Segev: Fantastic. How important it is to understand this thing called trends on YouTube? We keep hearing about a viral video, and hashtag challenges. What are those keywords which have been flying around for us as creators who have our channels, what should we be looking for? Should we be riding those trends? How do we detect them early? Where do we even begin?

Dan Currier: I think one of the biggest things to understand when it comes to trends is not every successful attempt to jump on a trend has a net positive gain for your YouTube channel. What we see is a lot of our creators who try to jump on a trend, something popular that's going on, and oftentimes they'll hit on something but it's not really aligned with the niche that they're focusing on for their channel.

While it may sound and feel like a good thing in the beginning, you're getting a lot of new subscribers and views and your live statistics are off the charts and it's a really good feeling, long term it can have some really detrimental effects on your channel. It's definitely important when we think about trends that we are looking at trending topics in line with the topics that we're covering on our channels.

Liron Segev: Okay. There's a couple of things to dive into there. Just because something is trending and something is doing well as a general rule might not necessarily mean that we should be jumping on that trend. Is that right?

Dan Currier: Right. Ultimately, what happens is when a situation like that occurs, say for example you have a YouTube channel with 5,000 subscribers and you hit on a viral video that's not related to your typical content and you bring in 2,000 new subscribers in a week. Well, now you find yourself in a situation where you have those original 5,000 subscribers that are looking for one type of content, a new 2,000 who are looking for a different kind of content and it puts you in that odd position of are you going to be true to the original audience or are you going to continue to make videos related to the viral content in an effort to appease the new audience.

It puts you at odds, it splits your audience, and a lot of times it just causes problems with your entire strategy. The long term effect of that can really knock creators off their game in terms of the type of content they should be making.

Liron Segev: Is this true across the board? In other words, regardless of your channel size or your niche, if you tack onto something that isn't within your core audience or your core values, could those hurt your channel even when you're a bigger channel?

Dan Currier: Yes. Obviously, if the trend that you jump on, you know, as related to your entire audience. If you have 100,000 subscribers and something hits and you get a couple thousand from it, obviously it's not going to dilute your audience to that degree. It would probably be a little less of an impact on your overall growth. At the same time, you're still bringing in that audience that ultimately is probably not going to be served any value from your future content because they came in on a topic you don't typically cover.

Liron Segev: Okay. That makes sense. There's a core audience. Yes, there may be a bit of dilution on the fringes, but if you get back to doing what you're doing, you'll probably will retain that momentum and that audience will forgive you a little bit because you've built up some sort of a trust, some sort of authority. If you make this a habit, I think that you're going to feel it very much in your analytics.

Dan Currier: Yeah, and a lot of times especially on small or midsize channels, when you do, if you haven't experienced a trending or a viral type video and that takes off, you're almost compelled to want to follow it up with similar content. It could be two or three videos. If you're doing it right, you're following that up with related content to ride that trend and get the most out of it. If you're riding that trend away from the kind of content you actually want to make, it can hurt you.

Liron Segev: Well, the one thing you seem to have done really well is understand this and apply it to your own channel. You've got this great video called, ‘How to Get 1,000 Subscribers and 4,000 Watch Hours’ with about 400 odd thousand views on that particular video. This was done about a year ago, I would say, which is a really good time. Within a year, over 400,000 views. Amazing stuff. Tell me about that video. How did you come up with this? What was your research like? Was this a trending thing that you were going after or was it a specific question? How did this happen?

Dan Currier: All right, there's a couple of different things here. Part of it actually ties into the other topic that you talked about, which is community. I'll explain that in a minute. Basically, what happened prior, obviously, I do content for YouTube creators. It's all about educating them and keeping them up to date on news.

One of the things that was going on was a delay in a number of creators who had reached 10,000 views, which used to be the requirement for the YouTube partner program, but had not been monetized. YouTube was putting out very vague information and basically stringing these people along because it had been months since they reached it but they weren't approving anybody. This started to get me thinking that a change was in the works because of the lack of information and the time that had passed.

I think one of the important takeaways in terms of trending is to understand your niche, be aware of current events that are happening, and recognize when certain changes or news articles are going to receive an emotional response from the audience. Where we were at this point, I could feel the frustration building. A lot of people kept reaching out to me asking me why they hadn't been monetized. Then YouTube came out with the news that they changed it from 10,000 views to 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours.

Now, the way that this actually ties into the community aspect is I have a number of different things I do to get news alerts and stuff. I have certain things that I've set up on Twitter to try to tag certain people to get information as quickly as possible to be able to jump on these things.

In that particular case, it was actually a member of my community. Somebody who was subscribed to my channel who reached out to me and let me know that that news article had dropped. Along those lines, one of the things that I had committed to do prior to this whole thing, which is a good tip for anybody is set up your studio. Set up your space in such a way where you can make content without a lot of preparation.

Meaning, if you can get a dedicated space to set up to be able to pop in and do a video quick, if you have content that obviously is related to that. The value, the way that I was able to capitalize on this trend is essentially being the first person to market, so to speak, where I knew there was going to be an emotional response. I knew this was a very important news topic.

As soon as I heard the news, I literally turned on my camera and made a video. Now the one that has 400,000 views was actually the second video because I decided right away that I was going to make two videos. The first of which was meet everybody where they were and it was a frustration video. It started off in YouTube's effort to screw small YouTubers because I knew that's how people were going to feel. In that first video I kind of met them right at the front door with that emotion.

That's another important concept or key with trending content is when a topic evokes emotion, you know there's going to be a large audience involved in that. I decided to meet them where I knew they were on an emotional level. Then that first video, I walked them through that emotion and ended that video with the idea of, you're going to have to come up with a way to move forward if this is important to you.

The next day I released the ‘How to Get 1000 Subscribers and 4000 Watch Hours’ to tap into those people who were frustrated but wanted to continue. That second video came out with the pity party's over, time for us to get to work. Then I outlined the ways that they could do that. I also, just from a content perspective, that particular video also referred to several other videos on my channel where they could get different information on aspects of moving forward. All in all it worked out pretty well.

Liron Segev: It was reading the audience, reading the sentiment before an announcement was made. By the time the announcement was made, you already prepped, you ran your research, you knew what's going to be the pain points, and then you knew how to fix those pain points and this is exactly what people would be searching for. These are some great points. You said you used social media?

Dan Currier: Yeah, variety of other things. There are lists on Twitter where you can tag a bunch of things so you can pop in there and see kind of a news feed from those particular tags. Like you said, I get Google alerts and I try to touch base in other news resources to try to stay on top of that stuff.

Liron Segev: If somebody has a chef channel, a cooking channel, or someone's a vlogger or someone does, I don't know, check how tos, do we all fit into that same boat? Should we also be keeping an ear or an eye out on what's happening? Will that help us?

Dan Currier: I think it's going to vary a little bit obviously based on the niche and the type of content that you're making. I would say any niche or topic that you're focused on that has the potential to have breaking news or news that people would want to hear about right away has the potential to be trending in that particular category.

I know a channel that does auto related content and there was a new car that was coming out. They jumped on the news of that particular vehicle and put together a string of videos based on that vehicle that just exploded their channel and got them a ton of activity. It was also in line with the topic. In that case, it was a trending topic that brought in an audience completely related to their channel and they saw a big boom from it.

Liron Segev: Wow. Love it, love it, love it. Again, going back to understanding that you're in a niche but your niche doesn't start and stop in YouTube. It's bleeds into absolutely everything else. If you can understand that, you can probably predict those trends because you're in it and you're feeling the frustration or you're feeling the joy or you're feeling the anticipation of something being released and just use that to your channel's advantage. That makes complete sense.

Dan Currier: I mean, and at this point I think YouTube is pretty much a not so microcosm of life in general because of its size and its mass and the amount of content that is uploaded every hour. Anything that happens in the outside world is going to find its way to YouTube because a highly significant portion of the outside world tunes into YouTube.

Liron Segev: Clearly, absolutely. I think my point, and your point is as well, is that once we look beyond just the borders of YouTube and beyond this whole, why am I not on the trending page? Well, trending pages are there because they are already trending. If you can understand something before it happens, well, that's where the gold is. That's where you win in a big way.

Dan Currier: To a large degree, the trending page itself is like the Rolls-Royce of success. Well, it's okay if you go out and find yourself a couple of BMWs, it's still going to do well for the growth of your channel. You don't necessarily ever have to find the trending page to be highly successful in terms of getting content to trend within your own niche.

Liron Segev: Okay, brilliant tips, great advice. Keeping your ear to the ground is always, always helpful. Now, the one thing we did touch upon very, very quickly is this whole community. I know from my personal experience before I let you run with this is things change dramatically when I started understanding that it's not me versus every other person in my niche, but rather than me can be included as part of coworkers, so to speak, of people in my niche. Then that mindset change alone absolutely changed my channel, changed in my attitude, changed basically everything. What do you feel about the community as a whole?

Dan Currier: I mean, to me, it all starts in the community. In fact, for me, this particular channel Creator Fundamentals actually literally started in the community. I was actually working on my other channel called The Average Dan that was kind of a how to channel where I would make videos to help people solve problems that I ran into and I couldn't find content on.

When I "got serious," and wanted to learn how everything worked, the first thing I did was join YouTube communities on Facebook. I got involved in groups, started interacting with other people who were trying to achieve the same type of goals that I was. Through that experience, I started to learn not only the value of going in and giving value and talking to people, but that there were a lot of people in the community that needed a source of information on what actually works and what doesn't.

I mean, everybody says it, community, community, community but it is, it is an absolute game changer when you realize how powerful it can be. For me, it started in Facebook groups. From that point on it extended to making the jump and actually attending conferences in person, which just takes the community aspect to a whole different level.

Liron Segev: Do you find that social media and the comfort of home and the computer is actually not a bad place to start?

Dan Currier: I think it's a great place to start because I think like you said, when you do start to meet people in person, you realize that the creator space is filled with people who are introverts and have social anxiety and all those things. It's surprising to some degree because YouTube provides, YouTube and social media in general provide an outlet for these people, myself included, where you can express yourself. You can get good at your craft. You can deliver information in a comfortable setting.

Again, going into the communities, the groups and stuff like that, you can interact with other people on your own pace without the awkwardness of meeting strangers in a loud room and that kind of thing. For sure, I mean, I think it's probably more. I would probably say there's more people who are introverted than not in my experience in the people that I've come across.

Liron Segev: I've done my thing, I'm on Facebook, I've joined some groups, I've met some people virtually. What's the next step? Should it be a meetup, local meet up? Should it be a big conference? What would you advise?

Dan Currier: For me personally, it was a big conference only because in the area that I live in, in Upstate New York, I don't have a ton of opportunities to have creator meetups. If you live in a city or an area that seems to have a YouTuber every three people like Utah, then definitely take advantage of meetups. Dip your toe in that experience and meet people in person and start to develop relationships above and beyond just helping to learn the craft.

The relationships that you make through the YouTube community can open so many doors for you. It's not just a matter of learning how YouTube works or those kind of things. There's really a lot of opportunities present themselves through the relationships that you form.

Definitely try to hit up meetups locally if you can. If you have never gone to a conference, I definitely recommend trying to take that leap in and actually attend one because it puts you in a whole different world. As creators online, not many of us can turn off the computer and go in the other room and chat about YouTube with our spouses or our significant others, our kids, our friends because they don't understand. Then you go to an event and everybody around you is talking about the same thing and it really flips a switch of what's possible when we start to do this thing online.

Liron Segev: I agree 100%. I mean, my first time I attended VidCon, which is the YouTubers' Disneyland as I can describe it. The first time I attended it, I looked around me and then I realized, hold on. I actually put up this tweet from VidCon, which was retweeted by VidCon which was quite funny. It was more colored hair and Gorilla tripods per square mile than anywhere in the world right now because everywhere you looked around it was just people with green, yellow, purple hair, which I have the green so I'm cool with that. They're talking to their cameras. Everyone's just relaxed because you're not weird just talking to yourself in the middle of the shopping mall vlogging. Everybody else is doing exactly the same. How cool is that? Have you been to VidCon?

Dan Currier: I have not been to VidCon. I have been to VidSummit and also Social Media Marketing World. Those are two very different conferences from each other.

Liron Segev: Next up on your radar has to be a VidCon just so you can complete the traffic.

Dan Currier: I know, right? It's funny though because I truly believe in the community aspect and one of the challenges for me living in Upstate New York is that all of the conferences are actually out on the West coast or a lot of the major ones. I'm actually trying to take the concept of community to the next step here in the Northeast and trying to create a creator event here that people can come to and experience that community without having to trek across the country.

Liron Segev: Let me ask you this. What has got you really excited right now about YouTube?

Dan Currier: For me, YouTube has really been the springboard of what's possible and what I can do in the creative space. When I first went out to that VidSummit, it was just one of the things that people get into. Especially when people are starting YouTube channels though, you'll ask them the question, do you want it to be a business? Would you like to make this your full-time career?

A lot of people because they don't have the confidence or even realize what's possible, it's just a hobby, you know? Then they make that, they get that first AdSense and they go, oh well, maybe something could happen here. Then when you really start to get the ball rolling, you're like, hey, I can turn this into a career. For me, like I said, it's a springboard. It's just the tip of the iceberg for me and what I want to do. Obviously, I want to be able to present the content on YouTube to all of the people that are coming into the platform and learning exactly how everything works.

I think it's a great opportunity and a privilege to be there at the front door to give them the tools to do that. Above and beyond that, I want to be able to help those who want to take it to the next level to advance their education through coursework and all that other stuff. Like I said, probably that when you said excitement, the thing that pops into the head is the conference that I'm planning because it's so far out of my comfort zone, and it's mildly terrifying but at the same time it's super exciting because I know what it's going to take and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to put it all together.

I'll probably be stressed out until it actually comes about. That to me, that's super exciting, to try to see that through and create the opportunity for people to get together here on the East coast without trekking across the country and be able to do that at a much lower cost than what it does take myself and others to make it out to California.

Liron Segev: Yeah. It must be amazing value for someone who's local, who is maybe on the fence a little bit. They kind of want to do this, but they can't afford to justify that cost at the moment. A local event is absolutely what's needed to get you over that hurdle and to actually see just how big the space is and how welcoming the space can be if you just network with the right people. If you help each other, it's amazing how many doors open, oh, I know this guy who knows this person. Those little cups of coffees in the hallway, those are worth their weight in gold. The fact you're doing one local for your area, that's amazing. I mean that's absolutely incredible. Have you got a date of when you're thinking of doing this?

Dan Currier: Yeah, it's going to be called the people of video to focus on that entire community aspect, and it's going to be May 2nd and 3rd of 2020. I have a year to plan. I wanted to get it out there. Especially, because of the cost for people that don't have the opportunity, I wanted to make them aware of it as far in advance. If that's something that they're interested in, they can take the next year and plan for it. I have a group of people that every few months I go to New York City and I meet with a group of creators. We do this thing called the New York City video mastermind. It's just all of us getting together and it's a nice mix of people. It's myself and Ross Brand and Dan Norton, Jason Liebman, and John DiStefano from UDoIt.

A great way for all of us to get together and talk shop and let each other know what's working and what's not working from a business sense. I'm hopefully going to get all those guys up to Upstate New York as well as bring people in from the surrounding states to be able to meet people in person because I really do think that that was in person opportunities. Just open your mind to what is possible because when I went to that first VidSummit years ago, it was you get inside a bubble, you think you have a general idea of what you're doing and you start to get to a point where you think you're pretty good. Then you go to something like that and people are asking you what's your open rate is on your email list. Like, what? Email list, what's an email list?

Thinking about those things and how I learned about those concepts in those conferences and how I've taken those and learned them and implemented them since that time. It just opens your mind to just how much you can accomplish and really lets you see that light at the end of the tunnel that is making something that can actually support your channel and yourself in the future.

Liron Segev: For people who don't know the names that you mentioned, that Dan mentioned now, the channels are so fundamentally different to each other where one is a DIY working on woodworking house kind of channel. Dan Norton's all about video creation. It's so different but yet there's a common ground and common ground is YouTube. It's amazing how you could just strike up a conversation with people regardless of what they're into, but because you've got this common ground, you'll grab a cup of coffee and then you'll just talk shop and the same rules will apply some more, some less to your nation, your industry but this love for YouTube and helping each other is real. That's why these guys meets up and that's why they do it.

Speaking of New York, because obviously this is your place, I've got an important question. If you could put something on a huge billboard in the middle of Times Square, what message do you want everyone to understand or see?

Dan Currier: You know, there's a saying that I've kind of picked up not really only specific to YouTube, but I've carried it with me for years and that is life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I think that as, especially in YouTube, because people get frustrated when they don't see the results, realize that mindset is such a significant ingredient to success in anything. Having the positive mindset, understanding that the journey is a process and being able to roll with the punches so to speak, and just continue moving forward I think can be super powerful in YouTube and in life.

Liron Segev: Love it, love it, love it. I think mindset is what most of this journey is about. Once you have the right attitude, the right understanding that things really, really change. Dan, as we wrap up, if people want to get a hold of you, they want to follow you on social media, this is my plug myself moments. Yeah, go for it.

Dan Currier: You can find me on YouTube at Creator Fundamentals, at my website at creatorfundamentals.com. If you want to come hang out in Upstate New York, you can go to peopleofvideo.com, love to have you there. On Twitter and Instagram it's also Creator Fundamentals as well, so easy to find out there.

Liron Segev: Fantastic. The show notes will be here with all the links, so everything we've spoken about will be on the blog post so that if you missed anything, it's a simple click away. Dan, thank you very much for making the time and sharing your knowledge with us. We look forward to seeing you and seeing your event a huge, huge success because anything that we can do to promote people getting together and talking about YouTube, well, that's a great, great thing in my mind.

Dan Currier: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

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