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What I Learned from Getting YouTube Certified


Big news, guys! I am now officially YouTube certified. This means I’m pretty much the foremost expert at growing your audience on YouTube.

Well, what it really means is that I learned channel management best practices about the YouTube platform, and analytics tips to help creators find success there.

Here’s my highlight reel of things I learned, and some tips.

Watch Time Is King

What I Learned from Getting YouTube Certified

This means that a short and sweet video — if it leads to more watch time across YouTube — is just as good (if not better) than a longer video.

YouTube views watch time as the most important metric, not views, and content is rewarded for having solid watch times by being served up in search results first thanks to YouTube’s algorithms. 

youtube analytics
YouTube offers many options for optimizing your content with analysis.

As the instructional video put it, YouTube is interested in highlighting “videos that start and continue journeys across site.” 

Some tips for improving your YouTube channel’s watch time include structuring your watch session in a way that incentivizes users to make it all the way to the end, and providing
subscribe options as often as you can 

Do It the Primal Branding Way

To succeed on YouTube, the social network recommends using five principles based on Patrick Hanlon’s book Primal Branding.

The five principles go as follows: 

1. Creation Story – This is the story about you what life experiences contributed to who you are and how you got started on YouTube. 

2. Creed – What do your fans believe in? Why does your channel bring them together? 

3. Leadership – Remember to use your passion to create leadership on your channel. 

4. Rituals – What is something you could do in each video to put your unique signature on it? 

5. Language – Make fans feel like an insider by using lingo that only they will know about.

By layering these principles throughout your content, YouTube believes that you’re building more than watch times: you’re building a strong, passion-based community.

YouTube Knows Exactly When People Stopped Watching

The Audience Retention report that YouTube offers is really something else. It can be endlessly helpful towards understanding why your audience keeps dropping off after a certain amount of time and what you need to tweak to stop this from happening. The report tells you:

  • Average view duration for all videos on your channel
  • Top videos or channels listed by estimated minutes watched
  • Audience retention data for a specific video for different timeframes
  • Relative audience retention for a video compared to the YouTube average for similar videos

If you have a YouTube channel and you’re wondering why some videos are so much more successful than others, this is a good place to start troubleshooting.

Guest Spots, Backstory, Trending Topics, etc.

YouTube recommends that you stay conversational, targeted, consistent, and interactive to build a sustainable fan base and viewership. It suggests several tactics to achieve this, such as: 

  • Add a guest spot. If your guest has his or her own social audience, your content gets to spread further than it otherwise would and touch people who probably have overlapping interests. 
  • Make individual views possible. Make sure your new viewers can appreciate each of your videos individually, without having to watch past episodes to understand what is going on. Give enough backstory.
  • Enhance discoverability with trending topics. One way to make sure your videos are discoverable on YouTube search is to hop on a trending topic, like a holiday or the World Cup.
  • Or with common searches. You can also make videos that are perpetually relevant and often searched for, like “how to tie a tie.” Figure out if you’re doing this right by typing one keyword into the search bar to see what top search queries are.

What YouTube Tips Do You Have For Me?

So, I learned a lot, and also, YouTube Live is really cool. But that’s another story for another post.

Need more video tips? We’ve got some new social video cheat sheets on deck with your name on them. Click below to check it out.

Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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