YouTube’s algorithm is a modern-day mystery. Nobody knows for sure how it works, exactly, and there have been many attempts at “reverse-engineering” it. These attempts were successful, in a way – it gave researchers and industry people a speculative peek into the inner workings of the algorithm and its’ preferences.
The common denominator in these research findings is that the algorithm is all about the viewers, not the creators. In other words, the algorithm seeks out content that viewers actively engage and interact with, rather than subscribers counts and views counts. Therefore, YouTube’s algorithm is looking for highly engaging videos.
What Does “Engagement” Mean On YouTube?
Besides subscribing to channels and watching videos to generate “views” and watch time, YouTube considers user engagement to be interacting with your content, actively. Since YouTube is a social media platform, first and foremost, they take the social aspect of it very seriously. Generally speaking, we can divide engagement on YouTube into three levels:
- Subscribers and Views – some might refer to this as the more “passive” form of engagement.
- Likes, Dislikes, Shares, and Comments – these metrics indicate (both to the algorithm and the creator) how the audience is reacting to the content they are watching.
- Comments, Likes, and Dislikes on comments – these metrics reflect the social aspect of the platform. The more people interact with each other while watching your content, or on your video pages, the more compelling and engaging the algorithm finds it.
Why Is Engagement So Important For Your Success?
It Can Help You Rank Better On YouTube’s SERP
It’s no secret that YouTube encourages creators to upload videos that will generate engagement. Comments, likes, dislikes, and shares are all strong signals that people have an opinion about your content. Furthermore, the more shares your videos have, the more people want others to watch it and express their opinions on it as well.
Algorithmically, the amount of people interacting with your content is reflective of its quality and entertainment. Since YouTube is all about entertaining the masses, it only makes sense for the algorithm to promote highly engaging content on the search engine results page.
Last, but not least – YouTube’s end game is to keep you logged in as long as possible. The longer your sessions are on the platform, the more ads you are exposed to. The more ads you see (and sometimes click on), the more money YouTube’s people make. It is the capitalistic vicious cycle. Unbreakable and works every time. Therefore, when it comes to promoting content, the algorithm prefers highly engaging videos that will have the option to expose more viewers to ads and the like.
It’s A Great Form Of Feedback
Comments, likes, and even dislikes are the best feedback you can get from your audience – even more than watch time! The fact is, sometimes people fall asleep with a YouTube video running in the background and don’t watch it.
However, when they take the time (as little as it is) and make an effort to interact with your video – you know you’ve got their full attention.
By rating your videos with likes and dislikes, your audience is telling you: “I want to see more of this content, please!” or “please, stop making these videos, they’re not your best work.”
When someone leaves a comment, it could give you even more insight into what they thought about the video they had just finished watching. User comments can also give you ideas for future content.
What can you do to increase user engagement on your videos?
Ask for it.
CTA (call-to-action) is an efficient and valid means to ask your fans to engage with your content – as long as you use them wisely. Don’t be aggressive; be tactful.
Don’t start mixing CTAs into your video right off the bat – people don’t like it. What if they end up not liking your content, but they already liked your video because you told them to do that? They’ll feel cheated, probably. Give your viewers a chance actually to enjoy your content before you ask them to interact.
It’s a lot like going on a date and starting a conversation. During your video, ask your audience questions. Ask to hear their opinions about what you just presented in your video. Make sure that they know that your comments section is a place for them to voice their opinions and thoughts and communicate. At the end of the video, remind them of the questions you’d like them to answer.
Comment On Your Video And “Pin” It, So It Always Shows On Top Of The List.
Your pinned comment is your stage. That’s your place to ask those questions and display them permanently, prompting your audience to engage in conversation. Be the first to start a conversation!
Reply To Comments.
The worst thing you can do if you want more engagement is not engaging yourself. Having one-sided conversations isn’t fun for anyone. Instead of ignoring comments – try and reply to as many as you can, if not all. Or at least like them, if you don’t have time to sit down and write a reply. Doing this won’t only strengthen your bond with your audience, but will also build trust between you and them and help you establish your niche-authority.