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How One YouTube Creator Grew His Subscribers to 375,000+ in 4 Years

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Hootsuite interviewed Hafu Go, a Canadian YouTuber who grew his YouTube audience from 0 to 375,000 subscribers in 4 years.

Hafu Guo standing in front of fence

Hafu gave us a super transparent look into how he gained his first 1,000 subscribers, his average retention rate, and why he thinks you shouldn’t waste time sharing your videos on other channels. Read on for the exact tactics and formulas he has used to earn millions of views on his videos.

1. Choose a single-topic channel

What’s one tactic that’s helped your channel grow the most?

The first thing was honing in on my channel focus. The best YouTube channels have a singular topic. That’s just the nature of YouTube’s algorithm, which promotes videos to people based on their watch history. If they’ve watched one video from your channel before, and your next video is the same type of video, YouTube will promote that video to them. But if it’s a different type of video, YouTube won’t promote it to them (even if they’re a subscriber).

person standing in front of blue sky with clouds

Here’s how you can pick your niche: Come up with all the things you’re interested in and make 10 different videos about them. Don’t expect these videos to get any views; it’s just for your own discovery. In the process of making the videos, you’ll discover if you enjoy making a cooking video better than a tech review video. So from there, you can pick a topic.

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YOUR ACTION: When you’re first starting your channel, create 5-10 different types of videos to test which content resonates best with YouTube’s algorithm and which content you’ll enjoy creating long-term.

2. Research your video topics before filming

How do you come up with topics for successful videos?

Here’s an arbitrary formula for getting views:

TOTAL VIEWS = TOPIC * CLICK THROUGH RATE * RETENTION

Choosing the right topic probably has the biggest impact on views. There are a couple of strategies for choosing topics. For example, you can choose a topic based on SEO (search engine optimization). You can also choose a topic based on trends (for example, a 24-hour challenge). If you’re able to catch a trend at the very beginning, you can get lots of views. But if you chase trends, you need to be very fast. You need to get a video up on the first day of the trend.

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One trick is to look at the views-to-subscriber ratio. Let’s say there’s a YouTuber who has 100K subscribers who made a video with 2 million views. That’s a signal that the topic is interesting. On the other hand, if someone with 2 million subscribers makes a video with 100K views, that means the topic is not interesting. So, look for videos with a high views-to-subscriber ratio.

YOUR ACTION: When you come up with a potential idea, search the idea on YouTube first. Look for the top video for that topic and then see how many videos there are. Ideally, you want to find a topic where the top video has high views, but with only a few videos on the topic. Then your video will have a better chance at getting views.

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If you’re creating videos for trends and SEO, make sure to optimize your video descriptions.

How can new YouTubers with no subscribers get views?

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On YouTube, you can get views from search traffic and browse feature traffic. Search traffic is when people search for keywords on Google or YouTube and find your video from that search. Browse feature traffic is when a user is scrolling on their homepage or app and starts watching your video.

When you’re just starting and don’t have strong videography skills, making content for search is a good strategy because it doesn’t rely on your video quality. You can still get views even if your video is subpar because people are searching and interested in the topic. Once you’re good at making videos and you can make high click-through rate, high-retention videos, then you should go for a browse strategy. This will help you get more views and reach a wider audience because you’re not limited by search terms.

on campus with Hafu Guo

When I was first starting on YouTube, I went on exchange to one of the best universities in China called Tsinghua University. Before I left I searched YouTube for vlogs about the school but couldn’t find any good ones. So when I went there, I started creating content about the school, my experiences there, and what exchange students should know. That’s how I got my first 1,000 subscribers.

3. Optimize for click-through rate

How do you optimize your videos based on click-through rate?

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Click-through rate is dictated by two things: the title and the thumbnail.

For your video titles, make them 50 characters or less. And always make it clearly state what’s going to be in the video. That’s the best practice right now—not using clickbait titles.

You can also test titles in everyday conversation. For example, tell your friends that you’re making a video about a topic and see if they say, “ah, cool” or if they say, “oh, I want to watch that”. Do this test with a couple of different titles with different people and use the one that gains the best reactions from your friends.

With thumbnails, keep them simple. A rule that you should follow is to limit your thumbnail to three main objects. So if it’s a travel video, the objects could be you, the place behind you, and some text or a graphic pointing out something.

Day 1 YouTube Challenge

Should the title of the video be in the thumbnail?

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Never repeat information in the title and thumbnail because the audience always sees them together. So you don’t need to re-type your title in the thumbnail. They should complement each other, not repeat each other.

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YOUR ACTION: Keep video titles short and sweet (<50 characters) and make them clearly describe the content in the video (no clickbait titles). Limit video thumbnails to three objects, such as a person, location, and a title or graphic.

4. Constantly analyze and improve your video metrics

How do you measure the quality of your videos?

YouTube is great because it gives you a lot of data. One of the data points is audience retention, which is the percentage of your video that the average viewer watched. If a 10-minute video has a 50% retention rate, that means all viewers watched five minutes on average.

Learning how to create a high-retaining video is one of the hardest things about being a successful YouTuber. Even the top YouTubers are always analyzing their retention graphs to see how they can improve.

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Many things go into improving retention, like storytelling, sound effects, and graphics. One important factor is your intro. The first ten seconds should clearly state what you’re doing in the video and why people should watch the rest.

Note that a 50% retention rate is really good. 40% is average, 60% is what the top YouTubers are getting, so you should aim for 50% retention.

practising yoga with a monk in Vancouver

What’s more important: subscribers or views?

I think subscribers are a pretty useless metric now. Just because someone subscribes to you, does not mean your videos will be promoted to them. That’s how YouTube worked six years ago. Now, subscribers might have a slightly higher chance of getting your video promoted to them, so I think it’s more important to focus on views. People subscribe naturally to channels with consistently good content.

YOUR ACTION: After publishing your videos, pay close attention to your retention rate. Aim for a 50% retention rate, and take notes from your highest-retention videos to implement in future videos.

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5. Focus on video quality over cross-promotion

What’s a common mistake that YouTubers make?

What you should not do is spend time driving traffic to YouTube from other channels. That time is better spent making a better thumbnail or coming up with a better idea, because if your video is good enough, YouTube will eventually find the right audience and promote the video for you. Put otherwise, even if you drive traffic to YouTube and your video sucks, it’s just pointless.

The traffic you can get from Facebook and Instagram is so insignificant compared to if you spent that time making a better video. Especially for those who don’t have a large audience, if you spend an hour creating an additional video to get 1,000 impressions with a 2% click-through rate, that’s 20 views for an hour of your time. Instead, spend that time making a better thumbnail and you’ll get way more than 20 views.

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YOUR ACTION: When it comes to growing your channel, focus your time on the YouTube platform and your content itself. In addition to that, here are 15 more tips on how to get YouTube subscribers.

6. Prioritize good sound over a fancy camera

What’s your tech setup?

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I use very expensive equipment. Currently, I shoot on a Sony a7S iii. But I don’t think the camera is important when you’re getting started. I started with a used Canon t3 that I bought off Craigslist for $300. Once I found I liked making videos, I upgraded to the Canon t5i which I used to go from zero to 1,000+ subscribers. As you get more into YouTube, you can invest in whatever fits your financial needs.

What about sound and editing?

Sound is really important. You can have “bad” video quality (shot on a phone camera), but you should have good sound. There are two microphones worth investing in: a Rode shotgun mic, which is good for vlogging, and a wireless lavalier microphone, especially if you’ll be talking in front of the camera.

YOUR ACTION: Many new iPhones and Samsung models have excellent video quality (even better than many entry-level DSLR cameras). To maximize sound quality, attach an external microphone to your phone.

7. Go beyond your comfort zone

What’s your one top tip for aspiring YouTubers?

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When you feel like giving up, don’t! Go beyond and keep making videos. In the beginning, I took huge breaks between uploads because I felt like I wasn’t getting views proportionate to the amount of effort I was putting in. What I eventually learned is that you’ll get views when your video is good enough. The YouTube algorithm knows what a good video is. So, keep making videos and eventually, one of your videos will pick up and that will start your whole career.

YOUR ACTION: Be patient! It might take 2-3 months for YouTube to find the right audience for your type of videos. Once that happens, all your other videos will start getting more views. Focusing your content around a singular topic will help the YouTube algorithm find your audience faster.

Create and grow your first YouTube channel with Hootsuite. Upload, schedule, and promote your videos, and respond to comments quickly from one dashboard. Try it free today.

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What Are WhatsApp Polls and How Do You Use Them? All You Need to Know

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WhatsApp’s new features and updates which have rolled out over the past few months have made the messaging experience much better. Now, WhatsApp users can even create polls in personal and group chats to see what their friends and contacts think. Both iOS and Android users can use this feature. A poll could help take the opinions of group members on any topic or idea, or could be useful for making plans quickly. Just like your chats, the responses you send to a poll question will be protected by end-to-end encryption. At the moment, Telegram and Facebook Messenger allow group polls. You can easily start using this new WhatsApp feature on your smartphone.

Here is How to Create a WhatsApp Poll

Step 1: Update WhatsApp to the latest version

Step 2: Open the private or group chat in which you want to create a poll

Step 3: For Android, tap on the paper clip icon at the bottom of the screen. For iOS, select the plus (+) icon at the bottom of the screen.

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Step 4: Select ‘Poll’

Step 5: Type the question you want to ask, along with response options

Step 6: Finally, tap on ‘Send’ to share the poll

Up to twelve response options can be offered to recipients for each poll, and these are not time-bound. Users can also see the responses selected by others by tapping on ‘View votes’.

The Meta-owned messaging app has recently worked on several updates, rolling out new tools including the Call Link feature, the ability to message yourself, and Companion Mode. While some of these new features are not available to all users at the moment, WhatsApp does plan to make them accessible to everyone in the coming days. The most recent and talked-about feature apart from WhatsApp polls is Communities. These allow users to have separate groups under one “Community” to organize large conversations.

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“With Communities, we’re aiming to raise the bar for how organizations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else. The alternatives available today require trusting apps or software companies with a copy of their messages – and we think they deserve the higher level of security provided by end-to-end encryption,” stated WhatsApp in a blog post.

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Elon Musk Calls Donald Trump’s Twitter Ban ‘Grave Mistake’, Condemns Violence

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Twitter’s ban on then President Donald Trump after January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters was a “grave mistake” that had to be corrected, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Friday, although he also stated that incitement to violence would continue to be prohibited on Twitter.

“I’m fine with Trump not tweeting. The important thing is that Twitter correct a grave mistake in banning his account, despite no violation of the law or terms of service,” Musk said in a tweet. “Deplatforming a sitting President undermined public trust in Twitter for half of America.”

Last week, Musk announced the reactivation of Trump’s account after a slim majority voted in a Twitter poll in favor of reinstating Trump, who said, however, that he had no interest in returning to Twitter. He added he would stick with his own social media site Truth Social, the app developed by Trump Media & Technology Group.

Republican Trump, who 10 days ago announced he was running for election again in 2024, was banned on January 8, 2021, from Twitter under its previous owners.

At the time, Twitter said it permanently suspended him because of the risk of further incitement of violence following the storming of the Capitol. The results of the November 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden were being certified by lawmakers when the Capitol was attacked after weeks of false claims by Trump that he had won.

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Trump repeatedly used Twitter and other sites to falsely claim there had been widespread voter fraud, and had urged supporters to march on the Capitol in Washington to protest.

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The attack is being investigated by US prosecutors and a congressional committee.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday on Musk’s statement that Trump did not violate any Twitter terms of service when his account was suspended.

Earlier on Friday, Musk tweeted that calling for violence or incitement to violence on Twitter would result in suspension, after saying on Thursday that Twitter would provide a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts that had not broken the law or engaged in spam.

Replying to a tweet, Musk said it was “very concerning” that Twitter had taken no action earlier to remove some accounts related to the far-left Antifa movement. In response to another tweet asking if Musk considered the statement “trans people deserve to die” as worthy of suspension from the platform, the billionaire said: “Absolutely”.

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Change and chaos have marked Musk’s first few weeks as Twitter’s owner. He has fired top managers and it was announced that senior officials in charge of security and privacy had quit.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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WhatsApp Reportedly Testing Voice Status Update for iOS Beta: All Details

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WhatsApp, the Meta-owned instant messaging app, is reportedly working on a feature that will let iOS users share voice notes in their status updates. As of now, the users can only share pictures, videos and links in their WhatsApp status. However, once the new feature will be rolled out, WhatsApp users on iOS will be reportedly able to share voice notes or voice clips as well in their status updates on the app. According to the report, the messaging platform is testing the feature on iOS Beta for an upcoming update.

According to a report by WhatsApp development tracker WABetaInfo, WhatsApp users on iOS will be able to share a voice note of up to 30 seconds alongside text in their status updates, similar to what they can currently do in a WhatsApp chat.

The report has also shared a screengrab of the same, hinting at the upcoming feature, which shows a microphone icon on the bottom of the text status.

WhatsApp on iOS users will be required to click on the microphone icon and record their voice to upload it as their status update. They can even add text to it, if needed. It is worth noting that the voice status updates will only be shared with the people selected in the privacy settings. Also, these voice notes will always be end-to-end encrypted.

Not only iOS, but this ability is said to be also being tested in WhatsApp beta for Android’s upcoming update. As of now, this feature is still under development, so it would be very early to say anything.

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Meanwhile, WhatsApp recently rolled out WhatsApp Polls to users on both Android and iOS. The Polls feature was introduced alongside ‘Communities’, a feature that allows users to have separate groups under one umbrella to organise group conversations. WhatsApp Polls lets users create polls within the group with the ability to vote. Facebook Messenger and Telegram currently allow users to add group polls. WhatsApp’s poll feature will be protected by end-to-end encryption.

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