YouTube has become a giant of internet-based video content over the last decade, thriving where competitors such as Blip have failed. The platform has become a crucial media channel for numerous internet celebrities—some of whom have become heroes to a generation of viewers by sharing their video content creations there.
The challenges in building a brand and monetizing on YouTube
While YouTube gives content creators a great platform for attracting fans and sharing videos, many content creators are left wondering if there’s more that can be done to engage with fans and turn their YouTube stardom into a livable income.
A few of the challenges that content creators on YouTube face include:
Reliance on ad revenue
Lack of control over and access to fan data
Limited interactions with fans on the platform
Reliance On Ad Revenue
Ad revenue is a major source of income for many YouTube content creators. While each ad play is mere pennies (or fractions thereof), those pennies can really add up for channels with larger fan bases. However, ad revenue isn’t always reliable on YouTube.
Consider, for example, the recent scandal about certain advertisers pulling their online ad budgets from YouTube:
According to an article by Business Insider, advertising companies cited concerns that their ads might “appear next to videos containing hate speech, promoting terror organizations, or other obviously unsafe content for their brands to be associated with” as a reason for pulling ad spend from YouTube. If too many advertisers start pulling ad budgets away from YouTube, it will become harder for content creators on the platform to monetize their videos and earn a living.
To overcome this, many content creators are having to find new ways to monetize their content and engage with fans. However, given the lack of information that YouTube is willing to provide its content creators with about their audiences, creating a great strategy is tough. Which brings up the next point:
Lack of Control Over and Access to Fan Data
YouTube gives content creators access to a fairly limited set of data. You get a few basic reports, such as:
- Age Range. In the Creators tab, you can see some demographics for broad age range categories (13-17, 18-24, and 25-34 years old, etc.).
- Playback Locations. A high-level view of the country some viewers were from.
- Traffic Sources. A view of whether traffic to videos was direct, from Google search, in a “suggested videos” list, or other sources.
- Devices. A breakdown of video views by specific device types (mobile phone, computer, tablet, etc.).
There are two major problems with the analytical data YouTube provides. First, it isn’t really all that specific.
For example, the “playback location” stat only tracks view location by country. There’s an enormous difference between getting 100,000 views for a video from the USA and getting 50,000 views from Tampa, Florida, 30,000 views in L.A., California, and the rest of the views being scattered randomly throughout the country.
With this info, you know you have a large fan base in a specific city that you can reach out to or plan or attend events near.
The second problem is that you don’t own this data. If YouTube ever goes under or your channel gets deleted, you lose ALL of the data.
Limited Ability to Interact with Fans
Go to any video on YouTube and parse the comments section, and you can see how limited the interactions in comments can be. Over the years, the comments section has had functions removed that further limit interactions.
Gone is the ability to post a video reply, and the process for making a text reply is, in general, bulky and inconvenient. There are some moderation controls on YT, such as the ability to add moderators, approve or hide users, and block certain words or hold all comments for review.
The larger your channel on YouTube is, the more time, energy, and resources it takes to moderate fan interactions.
Content creators on YouTube need a solid, reliable, and transparent way to get the data they need, interact with fans, and monetize their hero status. They need a mobile app for their YouTube channel that they can direct their fans to.
Why build your own app when you’re already on YouTube?
There are several reasons why a YouTube content creator with a large following should have their own app:
- Your Fans Deserve a Better Way to Interact with You. To your fans, you’re a hero, and the Fan/Hero relationship shouldn’t be held back by clunky comments systems or a few bad apples. On your own app, you’ll have total control over the fan to hero relationship, allowing you to provide a superior user experience to your fans.
- To Add More Monetization Options. On YouTube, your biggest revenue opportunities are usually ads on your videos or even directly in the video itself. However, modern audiences hate sitting through ads, and will quickly leave if ads are too frequent or long. On your own app, however, you can add things such as an online store or paid subscriptions that allow adless viewing of your content so you can monetize without the need for advertisers.
- To Own and Control Your Fan Data. With the right data collection systems in the app, you can get as specific as you want about your fans: who they are, where they live, what they like, and more! Better yet, all of the data you collect on your own personal app will be yours. You won’t lose access to the data because YouTube goes down or your channel accidentally gets deleted.
Considerations to make when building an ideal mobile app for your YouTube channel
Before building a mobile app for your YouTube Channel, there are many considerations that have to be made, including:
- Goals of the app. Do you want to monetize your videos, have an online shop for fans to purchase branded t-shirts and other goods, or promote special events such as live streams?
- Budget. Just how much will building/maintaining an app cost you? Can you run this maintenance yourself, or would you want to have a partner to run the maintenance for you? How would this partner be paid, would it be via a subscription, or would you want to split online shop profits?
- Promotion. How will you guide fans to the app? What’s the plan for promoting the app to your audience so they can be a part of your extended fan community?
- Where Will the App Live? What platforms should your app be on (iOS, Android, multiplatform)? To reach the broadest audience, going multiplatform is a popular solution.
- Live streaming and app alerts. If you do live streams on YouTube, will your app let your fans watch them in the app itself? Adding this kind of functionality can be huge for making your app the most convenient way for fans to keep up with your activities. Also, adding app alerts and push notifications for when you’re about to start a stream can be helpful.
- Access to data. At the end of the day, who owns the data your app will collect about your fans? You, or someone else? Part of the problem with being a creator on YouTube is that Google owns all of the data, and they can withhold it from you at any time (and often do).
Custom-building your own mobile app for fans sounds like a great idea. However, app development and maintenance is a complex, time-consuming process that requires expert attention. And, who has the time to build their own custom fan app while also keeping up with a busy video production schedule?
Finding a reliable partner to help out with your mobile app’s development and maintenance can be an enormous help for a busy content creator. But, who can you rely on?
FanHero is here to help you succeed with mobile application dev, maintenance, and more. Not only can FanHero build your app for you while taking your goals/needs into account, all of the data the app collects is yours, and you get the support of a dedicated growth team to help you out!
Get closer to your fans and be their hero with your own custom mobile app!