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If you publish a video on YouTube and nobody watches it, does it even exist?
This is my current challenge: how to generate more views and grow my YouTube channel subscriber base to increase my reach. I don’t yet have a massive following on YouTube, so I have decided to leverage the networks I already have good traction with — LinkedIn, Twitter, and my email list — to grow a bigger following, hopefully leading to more leads and more clients. I ultimately want to widen my distribution network, so reaching more people with my videos gets easier in the months and years ahead.
This challenge of growing my YouTube channel led me to create my content distribution flywheel, a concept inspired by Rand Fishkin’s blog on marketing (and other) flywheels.
Below are the steps in this flywheel to follow for effectively distributing your own video content.
1. Create a 1-minute snippet
Each time I create and edit a YouTube video, I create a one-minute-or-shorter snippet to share on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I share this shorter video version on these platforms because I don’t want to negatively impact user engagement by driving users away from these other channels too quickly. Creating and sharing a native video or a one-minute to 30-second clip is a great way to generate a decent amount of views of the snippet while encouraging users to watch the full video on YouTube.
2. Distribute content on different channels throughout the week
It’s important to space out the distribution of content across social accounts. This staggered distribution increases the chance of your snippet being viewed by more users. Even if you have the same followers on all channels, they may not see your post on a specific platform due to network algorithms, the time of day they log in to their account, or for numerous other reasons. Sharing content throughout the week also helps prevent content fatigue, where your followers might be bombarded with the same content across all channels in one go and stop seeing its value.
My content distribution sequence is as follows:
First, I publish the snippet on LinkedIn.
After publishing my full-length video on YouTube, I then share the snippet on LinkedIn. I usually do this on a Monday. I’ll include a little write-up about the video and add a link to the YouTube video as the first comment on my own LinkedIn post. This is a great way to include actual links without adding them to your posts, so LinkedIn can’t penalize you by limiting views on your post (LinkedIn does this to prevent too many users from clicking on links and leaving their platform.)
Then I write a Twitter thread…
On a Tuesday, I share a similar post on Twitter. However, I like to add the post as a Twitter thread. What this means is I will use the seven or eight points of my video, break it up into multiple tweets, and in the final tweet, include the link to the video: “Hey, if you want to see this as a video, come check it out on YouTube.” This is a great example of creating different types of content you know works best on certain platforms.
Below is an example of a Twitter thread I developed for a content piece on growing your company’s newsletter.
Despite my reservations, I don’t skip Facebook.
This platform is the one I struggle with the most, and probably because I haven’t posted there that often. I have a Facebook page, and I’ve posted there in the past, but I think we all realize by now it’s a pay-to-play platform. Even the likes of Nike and other big brands aren’t posting native content on Facebook anymore. Every piece of content they post will have a marketing budget behind it and spend on Facebook ads to reach their existing followers. Although I struggle with this platform, I still post native video content on a Wednesday to encourage my Facebook followers to watch the full video on YouTube. But the views aren’t coming yet. We’ll see how that goes in time.
Thursdays are for Instagram Reels and Stories
On Thursdays, I use Instagram (IG) Stories and Instagram Reels to distribute content. I’ve had some success so far with IG Reels. The very first reel that I ever posted did close to 2000 views. Instagram has recently come out and said they’re no longer just a square photo-sharing app. With TikTok as hot competition, they’ve realized that video is now THE thing. You can see this by more IG reels and videos being pushed into your feed and into the explore page. I also post videos to my Instagram Stories, but mostly only get engagements from the people that follow me. Reels, on the other hand, seems to expose me to a much broader audience on Instagram.
Last but not least, I use my newsletters to tell email subscribers about new content
I learned a great trick from Brian Dean from Backlinko. Whenever he publishes a piece of content on his blog or creates a newsletter, he keeps it clean. His newsletters are very concise. He includes a short introduction, a link to a relevant content piece, and a few bullet points to summarise what you can learn from it. He then invites readers to reply and send him feedback. That’s his formula: Keep it plain text, don’t include images, add one call to action and one or two links that redirect to the same piece of content, and that’s it.
I have a small newsletter list that I’ve grown over the last couple of years, and I’ve started following Brian’s formula for my own newsletters; I also include a linked video image for the video I share that week to increase engagements and get subscribers to click through to my YouTube channel.
3. Don’t forget to share your content with your team
I let my team know each time I post new content on one of these social channels. We have an internal Slack channel set up for sharing our content posts to encourage likes and shares to give our content an extra boost right at the beginning. We use that channel quite extensively, and it’s definitely worked out for my posts, so I recommend you set up something similar for yourself.
My content distribution playbook
I’ve got my entire distribution playbook built out as a Notion Board and am happy to share it with you — go and have a look. I’ve included a checklist of the social networks I’m using, tips on publishing content, and insights on which types of content work for each network.
You will also find a calendar demonstrating how I share each video over seven to 10 days to get the most bang for my buck. Because let’s be honest, it’s not that easy creating these YouTube videos, and it’s important to try to squeeze as much juice out of each one as we can.