There are so many wonderful things about YouTube, but at the top of the list (by quite a margin) is the community.
It isn’t perfect, by a long shot. Trolls still do their best to spoil the party, and there is an ongoing issue with ludicrously noticeable (and, you’d think, preventable) spam comments. But, in my experience, the YouTube community is 99% full of lovely, helpful people.
Your audience will thank you for taking the time to make your videos. They’ll provide real-time feedback in the form of their own opinion on the topic you’ve just covered, and what element of your content they enjoy the most. They’ll inadvertently guide you towards your next video title and reveal what you do best (and, therefore, what to focus on).
But like so many new YouTubers, when I first got started on the platform, I completely overlooked the relevance, importance, and sheer power of the Community tab.
What is the YouTube Community?
The Community section of YouTube is like your own personal news feed. It’s entirely separate to that of your videos, but the content you post within the Community tab still has the opportunity to be seen by both subscribers and passers-by.
You can post simple text updates, polls, images, and videos. You can also mention other channels and interact with people who comment on your posts.
That’s where the Community tab gets its name – those who find your posts can give them a thumbs up and lend their thoughts, leading to some very useful exchanges between you and your audience.
If you want to see how people discover Community posts, head into your YouTube app, hit the Home tab and scroll down. Among the videos and ads, you’ll spot some community posts.
How to Get a YouTube Community Tab
If you’ve just started your channel, you won’t have access to the Community tab just yet.
YouTube asks that you have over 1,000 subscribers in order to gain access to it, I’m afraid. But that’s yet another reason to keep making videos and gently building your audience; the rewards will come.
Once you surpass the 1,000 subscriber mark, the community tab should appear automatically. To see if it has, just head to your channel and look for ‘Community’ in the list of tabs at the top (I’ll explain how to use it in a moment).
What has surprised me about Community posts
I’ll be completely honest – I didn’t really pay much attention to the Community tab when it first appeared on my channel.
People come here for the videos, I thought. After all, that’s what I do – I can’t think of a single moment in my history as YouTube viewer where I’ve even seen a community post, let alone interacted with one.
How wrong I was. As soon as I started posting regularly to my Community tab, something started to happen.
People were actually seeing and responding to my Community posts.
It demonstrated just how invested people are in YouTube, and how many people use the Home tab as their primary way to discover fresh content.
I have no idea how YouTube promotes or distributes Community posts, but I’m fairly sure they’re prioritised for your most active, loyal audience. Because that’s the other surprising thing I’ve discovered: Community posts appear to mainly draw responses from your most loyal, lovely fans. I’ve only received perhaps one or two mildly troll-like comments thus far.
My most effective YouTube Community posts
These are my top three Community posts so far:
- An announcement that I’d finally waved ‘goodbye’ to corporate life (879 likes, 100 comments)
- A behind-the-scenes photo of an iMac in my kitchen (302 likes, 35 comments)
- A ‘thank you’ following a barnstorming monthly report of new subs and views (237 likes, 34 comments)
I’ve been experimenting a fair bit with Community posts. And that’s the wonderful thing about them – you can try stuff out far more freely than you can with videos; you’re highly unlikely to lose subscribers or dilute your niche with an experimental Community post.
Through these experiments, I’ve discovered that people seem to really enjoy behind-the-scenes stuff, sneak peeks at upcoming videos (even if it’s just a photo of me filming something), and personal updates.
Polls perform particularly well, too, and provide a brilliant way to run ideas by your audience or gauge opinion on something. Indeed, I’ve regularly referred to the results of polls and feedback on my Community posts during videos.
So, how do you make the most of it as a creator?
How, when, what, and how often?
Publishing YouTube Community posts is super easy. I tend to post mine either from my smartphone or computer – YouTube gives you everything you need on both platforms to publish your thoughts, images, or videos.
On the YouTube smartphone app (not YouTube Studio), just hit the ‘+’ button and choose Create a post. Simple!
In terms of what to publish, here are a few ideas:
- behind-the-scenes photos from your latest video, while in production;
- updates on your channel growth (don’t be shy!);
- what to expect from your next video;
- channel milestone celebrations (birthdays, big subscriber numbers, etc);
- promoting your other online presences (go easy with these, though – YouTube wants you to keep people on the platform rather than divert them eslewhere);
- requests for questions that you can answer in your next video; and
- polls to help you decide which video to focus on next.
Just remember to include either photos or videos as much as possible – they’ll always drive higher levels of engagement. And never, ever, use stock imagery. Please.
In terms of frequency, I would simply post a Community update whenever you feel inspired to do so. There’s no need to be super consistent with them, and it doesn’t matter if you go a week or two without a post. Again, this is why they are wonderfully experimental.
I’ve also recently started publishing Community posts shortly after my videos go live. I need more time to analyse the data, but I’m pretty sure it gives the videos a nice boost, and all I have to do is grab a version of the thumbnail for the image, and write a few words about how awesome the video is.
The YouTube Community tab has become an integral part of my content production. It now features as a crucial step within several processes, whether it be promoting my latest video, researching the next one, or gathering ideas for future content.
It really is a wonderful place to spend time as a creator, but it is so easily overlooked.
Don’t do what I did – start using that Community tab as soon as it appears on your channel.
I’m sharing my secrets!
My latest Skillshare class, Video editing basics in Final Cut Pro X (for YouTube success!) is live and free to try: