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Leo Wattenberg

Hero, Hub, Help: Strategies for a successful channel

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If you're running a channel, there are, somewhat abstractly speaking, three kinds of content you can create: 

  • Help content, which is content designed to be found via search. This content typically doesn't drive any meaningful amount of subscribers as people will watch your video to get a certain piece of information and then typically no longer care about you. This content gives you constant views over long periods of time. 
  • Hub content, which is content designed to get people to return to your channel. This is probably the most important content you can create for your channel as this is what gets you subscribers. This content gives you a lot of views shortly after upload. 
  • Hero content, which is content designed around a certain event. This content uses tentpole programming to make videos that are hyping the viewers up for a certain event, once the event is over, this content doesn't see any videos anymore for a while. This typically is a lot of work and rarely employed by YouTubers and is more relevant for brands. This content gives you a fuckton of views for a very limited amout of time. 

Your channel doesn't need to use all of these strategies, you can come by just fine with using one. But if you are looking towards certain goals (eg. 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours in the past 12 months), choosing the right content strategy can help you a lot. In the following, I'll go a bit over what to look out for when using these content strategies.

Help content

Help content gets people to your video via search mostly. As such, SEO is more important than usual here: You may want to be found via a broad spectrum of search terms, so you'll need to find a way to incorporate a broad spectrum of keywords into your content (most likely description). Note that you can't just put "keyword 1, keyword 2, keyword 3" in the description; YouTube may ignore such blatant attempts at gaming the algorithm and/or may give you a strike for doing so.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you probably won't be the only search result and that your viewers don't know you. So, starting a video with "hey guys and welcome back to..." is probably the worst thing you can do with this kind of content. You want to give your viewers the impression that you're doing exactly the kind of video they were searching for, without any sort of padding at the beginning. 

An example for help content is - obviously - Tutorials. For tutorials, make sure that your video can be followed step by step as viewers may pause your video to do whatever you're doing at home and may need more time for it. In other words, don't have a video structure that's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 3b, 6, 7. 

Hub content

Hub content gets people to subscribe to you and keeps subscribers happy. Note though that both things - getting new subscribers and keeping subscribers happy - should be done in different formats. A format is some sort of series with recurring elements. An example for a format to keep your existing subscribers happy is the "reacting to your comments" format or "behind the scenes" formats, a format to get new subscribers can be a "here I am doing something impressive" kind of thing. Naturally, formats that are designed to reach new subscribers should follow some of the rules for help content - good SEO, little padding at the beginning and such - while formats designed to keep your audience happy in theory can be named "channel_reacts_4.webm" without much performance loss. 

Note that hub content is there to keep people coming back, so these formats have to be recurring on a regular basis: Being consistent in both content and schedule is rather important. If someone subscribes for impressive things, they want to see more impressive things; it takes a while to convert them from simply being there for the impressive things to being there because they like you as a person. Note that in order to make people care about you, you should have your format appear at least on a weekly basis, as everything else may cause people to forget why they subscribed to you in the first place. Unless you want to make hero content, but more on that further down.

Formats are a thing you can experiment with: Launch new ones, see how well they are received, make more of them if people like them, or stop making them if people don't care about them anymore. To maximize your success with new formats, try to understand who your audience is: How old are they, which gender do they have, where do they live, and so on. You can find this information in your Analytics, namely in the Demographics and Geography reports. Most importantly, and this isn't something you can simply read out, try to understand why people like your formats and try developing new formats that have some elements that work while also being overall very different. If you do it right, you can make vastly different formats and properly diversify, while still keeping most of your subscribers watching every video (or at least not getting annoyed by the formats they don't like). 

Overall, for most intents and purposes, hub content should be the core of your channel. 

Hero content

So, hero content is very different from the other two. It helps you get views and subscribers alike, but doesn't really care about SEO and also doesn't care about being consistent. Instead, it relies on hype, shareability and big events. These events are traditionally sport events like the world cup or superbowl, and you'll find advertisers releasing content regarding the event leading up to it, climaxing in the event itself and then either completely stopping or trying to keep people around with hub content. 

Hero content requires a lot of commitment and a "massive orchestration". For example, if you just say out of the blue: "there will be a boxing match between me and this other guy", maybe your and the other guy's fans will be happy with that content, but you won't get people to talk about it. If you however prefix this boxing match by several weeks or months of your channel and the other channel "beefing", "exposing" or insulting each other, suddenly your little collaboration becomes a huge event, maybe even large enough to warrant dragging your friends and family into it, forming teams, and selling tickets to a stadium. And at the end of the day, this benefits all involved: Your fans will have seen you slap your "enemy" in the face, your haters will have given you views and money to see your "enemy" slap you in the face, you'll still have most of the benefits of normal collaborations in that an audience following an entirely different creator now knows about you, and if you orchestrate it to end in a draw, you even get to do another hero event later on. 

Note that hero content only works because it's extraordinarily special. Unlike hub content which you ideally want to have on a weekly basis, hero content requires a lot of cooldown between the events, so that hype can develop again. Traditionally, this means you can do a recurring hero event once a year (superbowl), or even less often (world cup). However, you can tentpole towards different events, so for example, you may have a big hero series in the summer regarding all sorts of summery things, and another one in winter regarding all sorts of wintery things. 

But, again: Hero content requires a lot of work and is better suited if you have a media company at your disposal. 


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The hero content ending in a draw seems familiar, oddly recent.

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