Increase YouTube Engagement: How to Keep Viewers Coming Back
on Aug 26, 2019 (Last Update: Jan 08, 2021)
YouTube is unstoppable. Since its launch in 2005, this social media platform has done nothing but grow. Today, there are a total of over 1.3 user accounts. Thirty million users visit the platform every day, watching 5 billion hours of video on a daily average.
As astounding as these numbers are, a lot of creators on the platform struggle when it comes to viewer engagement. A lot of subscribers and video views are great to have. However, if nobody comments on your videos or gives you feedback (i.e., likes or dislikes), you might be in a bit of a pickle.
If you have your own YouTube channel, you're probably in the eternal rat-race for top rankings in the platform's search engine results page. The very top of the very first page, to be exact. You got your SEO for YouTube skills perfected. You're promoting your videos in any means. You're uploading consistently; your thumbnails are beautiful - you're doing everything "by the book." You even choose your channel niche/idea based on the most profitable YouTube niches research, but somehow, your videos don't get ranked high enough. They're not getting enough exposure. YouTube's algorithm doesn't seem to like your content enough to want to push it forward.
Frankly, you can make the most exceptional content. You can use the highest-tech, top-notch quality camera, editing software, and lighting gear. You can have millions of subscribers and hundreds of thousands of views on your videos and you can even learn how you can buy subscribers on YouTube - but they all amount to nothing if you’re not going to master getting more video engagement methodologies.
How Does YouTube Measure User Engagement?
The most common misconception among newbie YouTubers (or, "NewTubers") is that the more subscribers you have and the more views you have, the better. This claim isn't entirely wrong - having a lot of subscribers and video views feels (and looks!) terrific. The problem is that YouTube doesn't care about these factors alone.
YouTube's algorithm's primary concern isn't you, the creator. It's all about the viewer. The algorithm scans the endless amounts of videos and channels and looks into them very carefully. If it finds something that seems popular because it has big numbers on the subscribers and views counters, the algorithm's interest is piqued.
It will then take a closer look at your audience engagement and your channel engagement rate - User engagement is a compilation of critical metrics that the algorithm uses to measure and assess your content's popularity and quality.
These key metrics include:
- Watch time: the total amount of time spent watching a specific video.
- Session Watch Time: the total amount of time spent on the YouTube platform. Meaning, you want your videos to keep viewers logged on to the platform for a long time.
- User Interaction: the algorithm measures interaction by the number of likes, dislikes, new subscribers and comments you have on your video.
Watch time and session watch time are valuable. However, most creators (especially the new ones), seem to ignore or underestimate the significance of comments, likes and dislikes on their videos and also tend to ignore important audience engagement metrics.
YouTube Video Engagement Understandings
Generally speaking, comments are the foundations on which you can build a community around your content. That means that buying any comment for your videos might not have the effect you need. People aren't entirely stupid. They can tell when comments on videos are "faked" or bought.
You can overcome this hurdle by buying custom YouTube comments. Real users generate these comments, and you're the one in charge of deciding what each comment will say. This way, they won't be generic and "spammy," but will have meaning and value in other peoples' eyes.
As with anything in life, you need to be careful not to go too far. No one knows what the "golden ratio" is for comments, likes, and dislikes. The consensus, however, a 0.5% comments per view is considered as a good engagement rate. That means around one comment per 200 views.
Another vital thing to remember is that your comments count, as well. Meaning, whenever you reply to someone else's comment - the algorithm sees it and likes it. YouTube is a social media platform, after all. For the algorithm, answering user comments means you're an interactive, engaging creator. Therefore, people will benefit from your content not only because it's excellent, but also because they can form a social connection with you. Not only that: you can also use genuine user comments as inspiration (or actual content) in future videos.
Likes and dislikes are important engagement signals that notify YouTube that your video is worth watching - either because it’s controversial (lots of dislikes) or because it’s so well-liked by the community.
Every single like and dislike counts on YouTube and there’s absolutely no shame or foul play in buying YouTube likes. For the algorithms, likes and dislikes mean that your content is engaging - for better and for worse.
As for the ratio between likes and dislikes - it is still heavily debated. Nevertheless, if you'll look at the most popular videos, you'll see that there are fewer likes and dislikes compared to views.
Likes To Views Ratio
As for likes to views ratio, the current average engagement rate stands on 4%. That means 4 likes for every 100 views. So the rule of thumb here, as well, is not to overdo it. Always have less engagement than views, and try to keep the comments number lower than the likes and dislikes meter.
Watch Time/Session Watch time
While they’re not quite considered as engagement signals, watch time and session watch time are super important when it comes to YouTube success:
While watch time refers to minutes watched on your video alone, session watch time refers to how much time a user spent on YouTube as a whole after watching one of your videos. This is important to YouTube because the longer you stay logged in to the platform, the more ads you’re exposed to - and the more money YouTube makes because of that.
Watch time and session watch time are also important for ranking and content discoverability on the platform. The longer people watch your video, the more the algorithms will “push” and organically promote your content to new audiences and drive more traffic to your videos.
Why Increasing YouTube Engagement Is So Important
If you don't have any likes, dislikes, or comments or “new subscribers” (meaning people who subscribed to your YouTube channel after watching any of your videos) on your videos, but you have a lot of views and channel subscribers - something isn't entirely "kosher." After all, there's no possible way that thousands, or even hundreds of people watched your video - but not a single soul had an opinion on it.
In other words, likes and comments are the algorithm's only way of knowing if your audience liked your video and wanted to interact with it. The algorithm "scans" your video and sees that lots of people watched it, but none commented on it or liked (or disliked) it. In this case, it will choose to "ignore" your video in favor of other videos that have more engagement on them. As a result, your video gets pushed ‘down’ inside YouTube’s platform and gains little to no exposure.
Why Is It Hard To Get Viewers to Interact With Your Video Content?
Getting people to interact on your videos is a tough task to handle, and it's an obstacle that all NewTubers have to overcome. Sadly, it has little to do with the creators themselves. You can produce the best content, but you also need someone to light up the spark and get the ball rolling.
There are very few people who like being the first to do anything. Most humans are followers, by nature, rather than leaders. Social Proof theory validates this claim through social psychology. It explains why people are more inclined to "follow" rather than "lead," especially when it comes to consuming content (or any product, actually). If it had been easy to make people want what you're offering, marketing wouldn't have existed.
According to Social Proof theory, people will be more likely to interact with your content if they've seen that others have done it before. The logic behind it is that if other people have seen your content and liked it or commented on it, it means it must be worth it.
The easiest way to do that is to buy YouTube likes (and dislikes) and comments. Doing so will help you in two crucial ways. First, the algorithm will see that your video is engaging. Second, your audience will feel "safer" about interacting with your content because they won't be the first to do so. However, there's more to this equation than just numbers.
6 Ways To Increase User Engagement On YouTube
On YouTube, audience engagement has a lot more weight than creators think. Ignoring such an important aspect and only focusing on subscribers and views will stop your progress towards success. And for this reason, we've gathered for you below a list of how to increase engagement on YouTube, watch, learn and implement -
1. Have An Active Comments Section
To improve user and audience engagement consistently, make sure to prompt your viewers to start a discussion in the comments, for example:
- Ask them for their opinions
- Ask them thought-invoking questions, and don't forget to reply to their comments and participate
- Convey to your audience that their feedback is valuable and meaningful in every video.
In this screenshot, we can see creator Erin Folto Designs replied to one of her fans’ comments. This can trigger a pleasant response in the fan and make them want to watch even more of Erin’s content because they feel valuable and appreciated - after all, she took the time to reply! So to sum it up, if you really want to learn how to engage your audience on YouTube, then constantly replying to your viewers comments is definitely one of the best ways to increase their engagement.
2. Focus On Your Audience, Not On Yourself
When YouTubers focus on themselves, they find it increasingly hard to engage with the audience. When you’re making videos, you’re making them for other people to watch - not just for yourself. Be active - listen to what your audience is telling you - and react accordingly. If they want to see a certain video from you - make it! If they want you to engage and participate in conversation with them - do it!
3. React To Viral Trends
Trends on YouTube are a great source of content for your viewers. Not only will they provide fun video ideas and content for your viewers, but they’re also a pretty solid way to increase brand awareness. It’s like a snowball - the more people know about your brand, the more they’ll engage with you. After all, how do you expect people to like, comment and share your videos if they have no idea who you are?
That said, you shouldn’t jump on every single bandwagon when it comes to trends. Make sure these trends are something your audience will want to see you do and that they fit the overall content of your channel.
An example for a viral YouTube trend is the Ice Bucket Challenge from six years ago. Everybody took part in the challenge - famous or not - and a lot of YouTubers made videos reacting to the challenge to jump on the bandwagon without torturing themselves.
Another common YouTube trend is Vlogmas videos. These videos are usually created by non-vlogging YouTubers (meaning educational creators, for example) during the month of December. This is a huge trend on YouTube and has been for years now.
4. Collaborate With Other Creators
One of the best ways to grow your audience and increase engagement with your videos is to collaborate with other YouTubers. The logic behind this is simple - audiences trust the creators they’re loyally following. If you collaborate with another creator, their audience will immediately trust that you also have great content - it’s instant social proof.
However, you shouldn’t collaborate with just about anyone. Find people in your industry to collaborate with and make sure they fit your brand just as well as you fit theirs.
5. Use Calls-To-Action (CTAs)
Calls-To-Action (or CTAs) are a powerful tool for increasing video engagement and getting more YouTube subscribers. Basically, with a CTA you’re telling your audience what you want them to do next. So, by asking (using your words, of course!) to subscribe, like and comment on your video, you’re letting your audience know that you want them to engage with your content. Consider saying “If you liked this video, please comment and like it!” or some other variation of this phrase at the end of your video, so people will know what you want them to do next.
In this screenshot, you can see that the creator added a very clear CTA to subscribe to his channel. Then, he added another CTA and linked to his top trending playlists so if people want to watch more content from him, they can easily find it in the description box.
6. Use End Screens
YouTube End Screens are a great long term way to increase your YouTube engagement. If used wisely, it can generate more views on selected videos and playlists: Just recommend a related video (similar to the one your audience watched currently) by choosing it as your ‘related video’ end screen.
This, in turn, increases the number of new organic views in your other videos (and your total channel views), which will lead to higher session watch times (extremely important ranking factor), more likes on your videos and more new channel subscribers.