What most people don’t realize is that YouTube is a marathon, not a sprint. Slow and steady growth is the path to victory for most people, not overnight success.
We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?
In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Costa.
Jim Costa has been a professional video producer, filmmaker and photographer for over 3 decades. He has worked in all aspects of network television, commercial advertising, broadcasting and online media. He had produce thousands of productions including: Corporate Videos, Promotional Videos, Broadcast Television Shows, Legal Videos, Professional Sports Videos, Radio and Televison Commercials and Live Event Videos.
Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?
I was born and raised in New York City where I was saturated with every kind of media known. I developed an interest early in life when I was able to tour the NBC Studios in Rockefeller Center.
As a result, I’ve been creating photos and short films since I was a child. When I was young I used to build model rockets by Estes. They had little engines in them and I launched them into the air several hundred feet up. They contained a parachute that allowed them to safely return to the ground. Once put back together with a new engine, the models could be launched again, over and over.
I used to practice my photography timing using them. I owned an old Kodak 110 cartridge camera at the time. What I would do is when the rocket would launch, I would try to take a quick photo of the launch. Sometimes I would be late and the image would just have a trail of smoke, while at other times, I would get the timing just right and you would see the rocket about to take off with a small fire trail under it. It would resemble the Space Shuttle taking off if I did it correctly. This peaked my interest in photography.
My family supported my photography hobby and an aunt would later buy me a Nikon FM 35 mm camera that I used to walk around the city with taking photos. Today, of course, everyone has a 4k camera in their pocket as part of their phone, but back in the 1970s and 1980s, walking around with a camera was rare. It gave me the opportunity to capture New York at a time when it wasn’t really done. This also gave me the opportunity to hone my skills. I kept doing this all throughout high school where I was a chief photographer all four years taking images of the yearbooks.
As far as filmmaking goes, I had an aunt and uncle that lived on Long Island in a very nice suburban area, Smithtown, NY, and let me come visit for the summers so I could get out of the city and hang with my cousins.
My cousins and I used to stay up way past bedtime and watch SNL on Saturday nights with the sound almost entirely turned down and, because of our interest in the show & cast (and similar shows such as SCTV), we watched, “:Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video”, the SNL style movie staring many of the cast that was released in 1979. Of course, no one had video games or smart phones like they do today & the internet didn’t exist so as kids, we needed to entertain ourselves. The idea came to make a “movie” like “Mr. Mikes Mondo Video” full of SNL type skits. We took an old 8mm movie camera that we found at a garage sale and wrote out little scenes and filmed them with the camera. Of course, we had zero knowledge of scripting, filmmaking, editing, lighting, audio, etc.; just a few ideas of fun and silly little scenes we wanted to capture. Everything was done in one take with no sound or editing (other than in camera). We had to pool our allowances to buy the film and have it developed. Once done, we had a little “premier” for the adults and, much to my surprise, they laughed in some of the right places and clapped and enjoyed themselves. Everyone was watching the projector screen, but I was watching the audience. Seeing our families enjoy the show, I was hooked right then and there. I knew at that moment, that making movies (and later videos) was what I wanted to do with my life and I’ve been singularly focused on doing so ever since.
I was fortunate enough to graduate high school just when the use of video recorders was beginning so I immediately started using one to shoot in the city. Again, this just didn’t happen back then. Such activity was reserved for broadcast or local TV stations.
I had known I wanted to get into the film and/or broadcasting industry young, so I did my research when in high school and found that, at the time, the best film program available was at SDSU. I applied to the school and was accepted. I took what money I had and bought a one way plane ticket to San Diego. I had 2 bags of clothing with me (one in each hand), my camera bag over my shoulder and $502.00 USD in my wallet with no idea what was going to happen when I got off the plane as I had no place to live, no job, no car, nothing; just a dream to follow. How I muddled through is a story unto itself. However, I started my career shortly after arriving, while attending school full time and obtaining two degrees in broadcasting. The rest, as they say, is history. I use this story to jumpstart my online presence. It’s what makes me unique and sets me apart from everyone else. There’s a reason why YouTube starts with “You.” That’s what’s it’s all about.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?
I run my online and in person business the same way that I want to be treated by any business. When I’m buying something I want to get at a reasonable price. I want the quality to be high and, if I need help, I want to be able to get it easily and get the issue resolved quickly if there is some problem. Unfortunately, in life anyway, this is a lot to ask. In my business, however, it is my philosophy and the standard operating procedure I use to interact with my clients and customers. This of it like the Golden Rule, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”
Years of disappointment with other companies and employees have lead to me under promising and over delivering for my clients. I want them to think that I’m a genius who is the best and fastest photo or video shooter and editor they’ve ever come across. I achieve this simply by treating them as I hope to be treated myself.
We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?
I run a video blog on YouTube where I teach people the skills I’ve acquired over my long career. I think of it as my legacy. One day, hopefully long from now, I will leave this Earth and I don’t want my knowledge and skills to leave with me. I want to leave something behind so the next generation can take over where I left off.
My blog specializes in free tutorials for those who want to learn to take better photos, videos, to create their own short films and others on tech topics such as software tutorials. It’s 100% free for anyone to use and I’m happy to do it as it increases my visibility and credibility for my business and passes my knowledge along to a vast, potentially worldwide audience. To date, I’ve posted nearly 200 of these tutorials. I offer people the “What” and the “Why” information on my video blog that they need to know on the subject of the tutorial.
The “How,” well, that’s where I come in. I can be hired to do the work or to teach you how to do the work yourself.
Remembering that I think of my video blog as my legacy is really the key point here. I try to present the information in a sensible and easy to understand manor for anyone, including beginners. There are going to be more complex topics, of course, but I’ll lead up to those over the course of several tutorials so my viewers have a basic understanding to begin with and, through successive tutorials, build upon that knowledge to gradually learn more complex topics.
Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?
Don’t expect to be an overnight viral success. The last I heard, YouTube, for example, has about 500 hours of new video content uploaded to the platform every minute! The chances of ever being found on the platform are almost zero, unless you have a specific plan. Social media success is slow and steady. I like to say, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
If you really want to be successful online, you absolutely must work at every day. It’s a full time job like any other and takes a full time commitment to achieve success.
It’s not any different than running your own business or improving your skills in whatever it is that you do. Do you want to make it as sports star in the pros someday? You’ll need to start young and play all through college, practice often, stay healthy and maybe, just maybe, if you’re very good and extremely lucky, you will one day play with the pros.
If you want to be a famous artist you need to learn to draw, then paint, or sculpt, practice for years, study the masters in school, get into galleries, etc. before you have any chance of making it big.
Anything worth having is worth the time, money and effort you put into it and you’ll get out of it what you put into it in time.
Success derives from small, steady, incremental moves taken consistently over time. Failures are a chance to learn, not give up. Stubbornness is an unwillingness to learn and to grow and to make changes or adjustments as needed. I’m a smart guy and I know a lot, but I know the one thing that matters the most in business and in life; I don’t know everything. If I need help, I ask for it as there will always be someone smarter, better, faster, more skilled, more experienced, etc. than me.
Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?
I think of success when I look at the comments on the video tutorials I post. It seems strange, I know, but I target my video blog to a specific audience (the audience mentioned above — I’ll get into how I target them in more detail below). I receive highly detailed and very specific comments and questions on my videos by people looking for help on whatever they are doing or the problem they are having. In a few cases, a some of my tutorials have hundreds or even thousands of comments. I view that as a huge success because it means that right audience is finding my work online and trusts me to help them to solve their problems. I do my best and I can’t tell you how many times someone has contacted me later to thank me for solving the issue they were having.
I also look at the growth of my social platforms as successful. I started with nothing, no followers, no subscribers, nothing. Growth shows me that all my efforts are worth all the time and effort I put in. More and more people have started to come to me for help and look up to me. I find that really gratifying. I’ve even had people offer to buy my social media platforms from me. That says a lot about the success I’ve had on those platforms.
What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?
One of the best things about running my own business is striking a good work/life balance. Running a successful business means making enough money to support it and my family.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Money is freedom; freedom to work or not work if that’s what I want. Freedom to travel. Freedom to pay your bills and not have to worry about which to pay or not to pay each month. Freedom to spend as much time with my family as I want whenever I want. Freedom to do, well, anything and everything or nothing at all if I want.
While I do a lot of the photography and video production work myself, I also run a large portion of my business specifically online so it is on autopilot 24/7/365. This means that I can take the time off of work that I need without the worry that I’m falling behind as I’m still growing my customer leads list and selling the online training courses I offer and making the money I need to live and to support by family and business while devoting a fair amount of time to them. Family, after all, is the most important thing.
How do you reduce or mitigate stress?
I enjoy the outdoors when I can. I’m fortunate enough to live in a beautiful part of the USA so I take time to enjoy nature. I love to hike through the many state and federal parks in the area. I also spend time on the river in the warmer months. In winter, there are ski areas to enjoy. My family and I also travel several times per year and are planning on returning to Europe next summer now that much of the pandemic travel restrictions are behind us and foreign travel is allowed again.
I also have passions that I indulge. I love art, for example, and I attend gallery openings and new exhibits when I can. There is a major university in town where I live and they have a program known as “Master Works on Loan.” What happens is, when an art collector buys an expensive piece of art here in the USA, they are required to pay a large amount of tax on the purchase. This fee can be avoided by allowing the artwork to be displayed publicly for a period of time in the USA. My local museum participates in the program so it displays many fine works of art that the public would ordinarily not be able to see. I try to attend often to view every new addition.
Thanks to the the extra time created by the pandemic, I took up cooking and have been preparing some fancy meals. Most of my eating before hand, particularly when working or traveling for work, involved ordering my food through a clown’s mouth and deciding if I wanted fries or not. I gave all that junk food and soda up and I haven’t looked back since.
I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “Five Strategies to Cultivate a Large & Engaged Social Media Community?” Please share a story or example for each.
Well, I employ a very specific strategy to grow my social media audience on both YouTube and Facebook. It’s more than 5 things, but the system works so I’ll share it in full with you now starting with YT.
Most people think that Sub-For-Sub is a great way to grow a community on YouTube. This is when you say to someone who has their own channel, “I’ll subscribe to your channel if you subscribe to mine.” This is stupid because all it does is artificially boost your channel subscriber numbers. It does not grow a loyal and engaged audience. It is against YouTube’s rules as well, so it’s not the best idea. As such, it’s a loosing strategy on YT. If you want to grow your channel and a business, you need a comprehensive plan to do so (even if your channel itself is to be your business). The list below is all the things I do to grow my YT channel. Follow these tips and you’ll grow organically, daily.
There’s lots of ways to grow your YouTube channel. Most of them are terrible because success on YT is a numbers game that goes beyond the number of subscribers you have. It’s easy to buy subscribers, but why would you want to? Most subscribers offered by these companies are just bots. It’s much better to have a smaller channel with 50 true subscribers who watch your videos all the way through and interact with them (by liking them, commenting on them, watching multiple videos in a row on your channel, etc.) than having 50,000 subscribers who never tune in at all.
YouTube’s algorithm looks for the things listed above (likes, comments, watch time, etc.) when promoting your videos to other watchers, not the number of subs you have. They refer to these interactions as “engagement.”
What most people don’t realize is that YouTube is a marathon, not a sprint. Slow and steady growth is the path to victory for most people, not overnight success.
While you may get lucky and have a video go viral, the truth is, it’s not likely to happen because there’s over 500 hours of video uploaded to YT every minute. It would be a miracle if anyone ever found your video in the first place. You can increase your chances of people finding your videos and of success by doing some (or all) of the following that I do.
I leverage YouTube to grow my video production, filmmaking and photography business. Basically, I provide informational and training videos on topics related to my business and skills and monetize the viewership. It works like this: The focus of my video blog is helping viewers to become more familiar with photography, video production, filmmaking, and technology to improve and better their lives and improve their skills in these areas. Along with the videos on my channel, I then offer free information, via an email sign up, to receive .PDF files. People enter their email address and get the freebies. I am then able to grow my email list and market directly to people interested in my videos and my business services: Photography, Video Production, Editing and Filmmaking. This works because if they stopped to check out one of my videos and then liked it enough and were engaged enough to request my .PDF downloads they are more likely to return to my channel in the future and to become customers of my business. These are valuable warm leads, to be certain.
It is possible to connect to customers by creating a “personal brand.” If you’re a small business owner, you can be the “face” of the company by posting video content you’re in. If you’re a YouTuber posting content, it can work the same, you are still the “face” of your brand because you are the one presenting the info on your channel if you appear in the videos.
Video builds trust and credibility with your audience because it can establish you as an expert in your field and builds long term relationships when viewers like you personally and what you have to say within your videos.
Also, if you can create engaging content that draws attention on social media platforms such as YouTube, it will rank on YouTube when other people are watching similar content (from another channel). This will garner more views and more exposure for you personally and for your business.
Additionally, if your video ranks well on YT, it will also rank higher in Google and, if you’re lucky, you can appear on page 1 of Google Search and you’ll be set as this will truly help your growth. Ranking on both YT suggested videos and on Google search, are free advertising for your business and services.
I’m skilled in technology and my video blog focuses in these areas as well. I create videos to teach technology topics such as software programs and apps, for example. I’m fortunate enough to understand technology, but I realize that many others aren’t, so it I do what I can to help. This audience is tangential to my primary audience/customers, but creating content in these areas expands my reach.
When people watch these, they have the option to download my free .PDF files. I have different ones.
And the accompanying video explaining my training course available to learn how to edit with Adobe Premiere Pro. You can use the above .PDF file when editing video in the program.
After they sign up, I send them the freebie .PDF files and once I have their email, I can market my training programs and business services to them. The freebie listed above teaches people shortcuts for the video editing software, Adobe Premiere Pro, & if they are interested in it, I can then market to them my training course on the software. I have other freebies related to photography and video production and I can send them information on that training and/or my business services as well.
For example, I create television and online commercials and advertisements for businesses, but I also offer another course on how business can get free advertising. I use my channel and the tutorial videos on it to promote that course as well.
I do use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, KIK, MeWe and Instagram to cross promote my video releases. Everyone should do this as this leverages your other fans from other platforms and turns them into YT viewers, and visa-versa.
I release new videos every week on Wednesdays like clockwork. Once published live on YT, I link to the videos on my other social media sites to draw traffic to my channel and, ultimately, to my business and services. Having a regular release schedule is critical. You must think of your channel content like your favorite TV show. It airs at the same time every week on the same day and on the same channel. Your channel releases should do the same. It gets people/subscribers on a regular schedule and looking for your new content regularly, just like on TV.
I also use FB & Twitter to promote my business in another way. I offer information on these platforms that is related to my business. For example, I have a private FB group that is only open to people in my profession. I link to videos and articles that would help filmmakers, photographers, editors, video producers, etc. I share the videos and articles on the topic of films, video, editing, photography, audio, etc.; all designed to grow my audience because these are a group of people interested in my business and products and they are my ideal audience. Every week, after releasing new videos on YT, I immediately post links to all my social media platforms. Again, it’s all tied together into a cohesive strategy to draw people back to YouTube to grow my channel and ultimately, my business.
I consider these folks “warm leads” because to gain access to my private FB group, people can only learn about it from watching my YT videos all the way through because I mention joining the group only at the very end of each tutorial or by referral from someone already in the group. They can recommend people to join and will be accepted.
My advice to creators: Before you create your video content, or another form of content for any other platform, determine what your end goal with that content truly is. Don’t make content for contents sake. Have a clearly defined purpose and follow through with it to increase your success.
You can tell a compelling and memorable story with video content that boosts viewer engagement by grabbing their attention right away. This keeps the viewer interested through the entirety of your message. As such, I immediately tease the topic of the video tutorial at the start of each tutorial. I then move into an introduction of myself with standard opening. From there I ask people to stay through the end of the video to learn more about my business and services. I also ask them to like, comment, subscribe, etc. then I move right into the main topic; the meat of the subject. Upon completion of the topic, I move into advertising my business, services, and other social media platforms. Then, I promote other tutorials on my channel, and I end with promoting my private FB group.
Generally, I follow this scripting format on all tutorials with little variation. It has taken me a long time to develop it and modify it to something that accomplishes everything I need it to do while not boring my audience.
Video content that appeals to emotions resonates with an audience. This, in turn builds trust and credibility and makes your business more personalized and humanized and less “business-y.” No one wants to feel like you’re selling to them, even if you are. Once trust is built, it will boost your click through rate and conversion rate in YT. In other words, it makes viewers, both old and new, more likely to click on and view your video on your channel over the videos by other people on different channels.
One thing to keep in mind is that growing your business and growing your YT channel are intimately linked. As you grow your channel, you also grow your business. Therefore, I spend a ton of time on growing my channel (and my business). The more viewers/subscribers you receive that are new, the more business exposure you receive. As such, I use a ton of other ideas to grow my channel.
I use all the additional techniques below to keep my channel growing daily. There are quite a few and all help to grow my channel every minute of every day.
Another way to grow your own channel is to follow other channels that offer similar content to your content and to interact with those larger YouTubers. If those folks like your videos or link to them, it helps to turn their audiences into your audience. If you comment on their newest video release immediately after it’s released, your comment will appear at the top of their comments and their audience will see your comment and may take an interest in your channel content.
For example, I got my first few sales for my newest training course very simply and free by doing the following: I created an introductory video for the training course that I posted on YouTube. I then commented on other people’s channel videos that were just released on YT on the same day, as I typically always due, from people in similar niches to the training program. My comment reflected their videos and linked to my introductory video and in about an hour I’ve received over 10 new inquiries on the program and one sale.
Those comments I posted on those other channels are there until that video is taken down so it’s likely visible forever.
Here is practical advice: Turn on notifications for channels that are much bigger in your niche. When they post a new video, COMMENT IMMEDIATELY. Try to be the first person to comment if you can because a lot more people will see your comment when you’re the first person to do so. This will lead to more exposure for your channel and the value you bring to people and will help your channel and your course sales or business grow.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to fill out all the back-end YT information on every video you post! The description, the keywords, the subtitles, all of it. YouTube asks for a lot of information on every video so fill it out as it allows them to properly categorize your video so it can be found later much easier by the correct specific target audience. You need to do all this before you make the video public; that is, available for anyone to see on YouTube.
You will also want to add other cross-referencing information to every video such as the Info Cards and End Screens. These links will link to your other videos on your channel. This is very important because it keeps people on your channel watching your videos and that tells YT that you’re producing great videos that people want to watch. It also increases your watch time which is another metric YT uses to judge what content to promote. If people fully watch one of your videos all the way through and then click over to another video on your channel, YouTube will promote your videos to other watchers which will grow your channel further because this tells YT, “Hey, this channel had great videos that keep people on YT. Let’s promote it to keep people on our platform and off other platforms.”
Along those same lines, another important aspect is the Thumbnail. You MUST have a great thumbnail to draw people in. Your thumbnail should have your face on it if you’re the “face” of your branding. It needs to have large text of 4–6 words that are easy to read (even on the small screen of a phone) and accurately lets people know what your video is about. Make the font easy to read and large so it stands out.
All my Thumbnails follow a similar format. I grab a screen shot that I shoot on all tutorials. I cut myself out in Photoshop and place my image into the thumbnail on the left. Text is always the same font as my business logo font. I make the size 120 pt. — 150 pt. and it summarizes the video topic. I usually, but not always, have a white background (maybe 90% of the time). Also, I always have an image in the thumbnail that relates to the video topic. Sometimes I do make that image/graphic the background just to change it up so the background isn’t all white all the time. However, it ALWAYS relates to the video topic in some direct way.
Additionally, the video title needs to be accurate and properly describe what the video is about and the first 3–4 lines of the description does as well. When people are searching for videos to watch, they see these things first so making a great/accurate first impression is extremely important. If your Title/Description doesn’t accurately reflect what the video is about, people will click away from it quickly and move on to a different video on a different channel. This hurts you in multiple ways because it lowers your total watch time (the amount of time spent by people watching a specific video) and retention (keeping people on your channel through as many videos as possible and for as long a time as possible).
Also, the first few lines of the Description are what people see in Google search, so it needs to be accurate. The title is what people see there also and in YT suggested so it needs to be accurate also and not just click-bait.
You should always research video topics before creating them and go for topics with a reasonable search volume, but low competition. In other words, something people are looking for from 1000–25,000 times per month, but with few videos on that topic, say under 100,000 so you have less competition and an easier time being found when someone is searching for the topic of your video.
You should also target high volume keywords/tags that are related to the video topic to make certain your video is properly categorized by YT and suggested to the correct audience.
Do these things on every upload and you’ll set yourself up for success.
If I’m working for a client creating their advertising or social media campaigns, I follow a very similar strategy, so their advertising is successful.
The thing to understand is that YouTube wants you to remain on their platform (just like every other website). As such, if you can keep people on your channel (because they are watching more of your videos for a longer total time), YouTube will be happy because they can show more ads to people. If people click away from YouTube to another platform, say Facebook, YouTube makes less advertising dollars. As such, when people stay on the platform longer, YouTube rewards those channels that keep people on the platform by promoting other videos on their channel to keep people on the platform longer to see more ads.
Therefore, I focus on a specific niche and encourage my clients to do the same. It takes time to grow an audience, but once it gets going, it begins to grow exponentially.
If charted on graph, the growth your channel will see should resemble a hockey stick; a slow and steady slight incline to begin with and then, after a critical mass is achieved, exponential growth upwards. Hence, “Hockey Stick” (shaped) growth.
Don’t forget, YouTube is place people go to watch videos, but, more importantly, it is a search engine. In fact, it’s the second largest search engine in the world and it happens to be owned by the largest search engine in the world, Google. By properly optimizing all content on YouTube using the techniques mentioned, you create tons of free advertising for your business.
You might be wondering how I come up with ideas for tutorial topics in the first place. This is really where it begins.
Let me start by saying, if you want to use YT properly, you can’t just put up any video and expect success. I create tutorials and I target the topics of those videos to my specific audience.
What is my specific audience? People who may be interested in my online courses or who would want to hire me to shoot and edit for them. My courses teach you how to edit or how to get free advertising for your business.
I begin by researching the topic to see how much competition there is on YT and how many people are searching for the topic. I use a paid version of Tube Buddy for this research.
I look for topics for my tutorials that have relatively low competition and search volume. What does this mean? My topics have a low number of other other videos on the same topic, under 100,000 if possible, with 1000 to 10,000 searches for that topic per month for that same topic.
What this accomplishes is: I’m putting out topics that are being searched for by my specific audience but that don’t have lot of other videos about the topic available, so it makes it easier to be found on YT by those viewers.
When they find my video tutorials, if they like it and watch all the way through or watch other videos of mine, or like, subscribe or comment, it makes my specific, targeted audience loyal, consistent viewers who are more likely to hire me to work for them or buy one of my courses and return to my channel again and again and who will engage with my channel content by liking and commenting and subscribing, etc.
Once the video is done and uploaded based on the search criteria mentioned, I do all the back end YT info to optimize the video so it can be found on YT or Google search. My tags are specifically researched using Tube Buddy, as well, to relate to the topic and I add highly searched tags to the video.
I put as many of the keywords in the Description as possible. I even make the file name of the video and the Thumbnail related to the video as these details are meta data that can be used to further refine the categorization of the video by YT.
One other thing I do is I always add a transcript of the words spoken to every video. This accomplished multiple things. First, it makes the video accessible to the hearing impaired as the transcript can be used for the Closed Captions and second, the transcript is even more meta data that can be used to categorize the video properly. The transcript is full of key words that are searchable on both YT and Google.
I will say that I’m happy with my channel growth. I have about 6200+ subscribers as of this interview, but I average 750–1000 new visitors/views to my channel daily. Most business would kill to have that many new web site visitors per day.
A bit of background…
The Facebook group I’ll be referring to is the 3rd FB page I have. I have a personal page that is set to private and only immediate family and close friends are on it. I do that because of my public profile and I try to keep some things in my life personal and private. I have a business FB page named the same as my business, Jim Costa Films, that is public and where I share many of the same things as I do in the private group I’m discussing. However, that is available for prospects and clients and is geared to promote my business services specifically. I’m a professional photographer, videographer, editor and filmmaker. I refer clients to my business FB page to learn more about me and to grow my authority when seeking new clients.
Finally, I have a private FB Group, Video Producers and Content Creators. I started it by inviting maybe 20 people to the group and 8 accepted so with me, it had 9 people to start. As I write this I have about 11,500 members.
I run it very much like I run my YT video blog. I grow it organically, by adding value. How do I do this?
First off, it is private which adds an aura of exclusivity. I also ask 3 questions to gain membership to the group. The questions are voluntary and people can skip some or all of them, but asking questions to allow entry lends itself to more professionalism.
In the first question I ask what people need help with. I present it as my willingness to assist them, but, in reality, I use the responses to come up with future YouTube video blog ideas. Hence, it makes me look like the “genius” who knows exactly what people want. The truth. I just ask them what they want and give it to them later.
Because I ask people what they want and later give it to them, I never run out of ideas for new training and tutorials later, which allows me to follow my number one rule for content creation: A.B.C. = Always Be Creating. The more content you create, the more your audience will want. The more they want, the more they’ll keep coming back. The more they come back, the more you can create and the cycle starts all over again.
The second question is the most important to me. I ask if they want one of several of my free .PDF files on valuable information for videographers, filmmakers, photographers and editors. This is value added info for them, but I use it to grow my email list. I send the info to them via email, but now I have their email address so I can promote my online training courses to them and business services, new video blogs, whatever. This equates to my email/customer list grown outside of YT.
Most importantly, I own the list. No one can ever take that away from me. Social media platforms come and go. Does anyone even remember Vine and MySpace? My email list, however, stays with me.
The third question is simply do they agree to the group rules, yes or no. It’s important because I’m strict with the rules, particularly with spam, duplicate posts and “content unavailable” posts. Those annoy me to no end and are deleted.
I want the group to be professional so I do remove posts when needed. I approve every post made to the group and I do approve members wanting to enter. I approve most, but not all people seeking entry (and most posts as well). Acceptance depends on their responses to the questions. I’ve had people tell me to f*ck off so they get rejected, for example. I will also block people who were granted membership for posting some of their crap. I have, for example, gotten Tik Tok and Only Fans girls promoting their porn site. I could care less how people make their money, but my group is not the place to promote your porn site. I’ve also blocked some people who made racist/sexist comments, supported the January 6th insurrection, etc.
When arguments break out in the comments, I’ll step in as well to put a stop to it, but generally, I let people post what they want. I encourage people to ask questions, post job openings, post links to their work, etc. and the group averages 35–50 new posts daily and several hundred new members per week.
As far as adding value, I also post polls and ask questions, again to get video ideas, but also to grow engagement in the group to keep it fresh and keep members interested.
Most days I’ll post links to articles and other information useful to photographers, video creators, YouTubers, filmmakers, etc. It’s easy and useful to the people in the group. It’s also something they can easily find online if people weren’t lazy about it, but to the members, it’s wonderful to have this resource available.
I am also diligent about liking every post that I keep in the group. I do this because it makes people happy, makes them feel like part of a community, and grows the group engagement as far as FB is concerned.
Wednesdays are my YT video blog release day and I run the FB group the same. Every Wednesday I write a welcome email to all new members who joined in the last week. It makes people feel special and liked and a part of a community. All new members get tagged so they get a notice from the group about their mention.
I also post a “Work and Watch Wednesday” posting where I encourage people to post their latest projects. I post my video blog release here also to promote it. People can post their videos anytime they want, but I set aside Wednesdays specifically for it and I feature my new video release for that day.
The last “special” post for Wednesdays is my “Learn” post. Every Wednesday I promote my YT channel video blog with this post via Group Guides. The group has optional “Guides.” FB allows you to have up to 10 guides for your group. Guides are usually some sort of training. I do it a little differently. Each of my guides link to a playlist on my YT channel. Each playlist covers a different aspect of videography or photography such as lighting, audio, editing, etc.; 10 general topics in total. Of course the YT blog is free and available on YT anytime, but by promoting it on my FB page, it adds even more value to the group for members, but also is a free promotion for me. I have many tutorials on my channel (170+ at the time of this interview) so this is another way to grow my authority and advertise for free. It also tells YT that this guys channel must be good because people come to it from FB.
Tip: When posting a link to a new video on YT on FB, NEVER post a link to the video in the post itself. Instead, I post a pic of the thumbnail and a description in the main posting for the new video release and then in the Comments below the post, post the link to the actual video on YT (or to a playlist that contains the new video). Why? Because FB wants you to stay on they platform just like every other social media platform so if you post a link in the main text of the posting that takes you away from FB, that post will be limited by FB and not shown to as many people. Putting the link to the video on YT in the Comments avoids this problem. In the body of the post I’ll say something like, “Link to view in the comments below.”
Additionally, I usually post to a playlist to grow my engagement on YT and keep people watching multiple videos on my channel = more YT channel watch time as explained above.
I’m diligent about answering people’s questions, but I’ll also make suggestions on how to improve a video or some other post. Not in a mean way, but in a way to encourage people to improve and do better next time. This seems to be appreciated by those I respond to.
As mentioned, I do remove posts that are not appropriate, but it’s a judgement call on my part. Sometimes I let “spammy” posts stay if they relate to photography, video production or filmmaking in some way. It really just depends. I also encourage people to report posts so I can take a look at them and some of the reported posts stay and others go. This isn’t huge problem, but you’re bound to get some spam when there’s hundreds of posts per week.
As far as promotion goes for the Facebook group goes, I do very little. The group has mostly grown by word of mouth or promotion by FB itself. I have a post mentioning it pinned to the top of my business FB page so some people might see it that way. The only other thing I do is I promote it at the end of my YT tutorial videos as I have already explained. I do it at the end of every one. In fact, both the opening and closing of my videos is exactly the same in that regard. I promote my social media at the end of all my tutorials on YT so people know how to find me. It works. Because of the number of posts and my efforts at engagement (such as liking every post on the page), FB will promote the to my ideal audience for me.
What FB does is, when you are in a group, they will suggest similar groups. They usually insert something in your feed when scrolling that says, “Groups Like This One” or words to that effect. For my group, they promote the group to other people who are members of similar groups such as photography, video production or filmmaking groups, my ideal audience. It works similarly to YTs “Suggested Videos” that are videos with a similar topic to your video currently being watched. FB does the work for me so I don’t have to do it.
Another Tip: You may have noticed that this response is pretty long and detailed. I’m kind of known for that when responding to my audience. I do it on all social media and people love it and will often ask additional highly detailed and specific questions. I’m happy to answer them as it promotes my authority and expertise and often leads to even more back and forth which increases engagement. You will find that most people either don’t answer questions at all on their social media, or if they do, their responses are short and vague. Detailed responses grow a loyal audience. I’m happy to help a fellow photographer, videographer or filmmaker out, but I really do it for everyone. To my fellow influencers: I highly recommend doing the same with your audience.
What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?
I think the biggest thing is what I mentioned above. I personally interact with every post/comment across all social media. I do encourage people to contact me with questions, so I have a responsibility to answer them with through and complete answers that show that I listened to them, understood them and that I actually care about them and what to help. It’s a time consuming job and takes usually several hours per day to deal with, but my social platforms are growing every day because of the effort I put in for each and every fan.
As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’d like to see everyone get online and share their knowledge and skills. I firmly believe that everyone has something to share.
Find something you love and are passionate about, no matter what it is, & put it out there on the platform(s) of your choice. I firmly believe that all of us, every single person on Earth, has something to contribute to the greater good, if we want to.
Never stop learning. There’s far more that we don’t know about then things that we do know about so always look for something else to study or learn. Once you’ve mastered what you’ve learned, give back. Put it out there. There’s always someone who needs or wants to know what you know, but they’ll never find you or what they need to know from you if you don’t start to just put it out there.
If you’re not certain how to begin, you can start by sharing stores, either yours or the stories of those you want help. Discuss the narratives behind the people or the situation you’re working to better humanize the story. Nothing gets people’s attention like human drama.
Don’t get hung up on how many likes you get or followers or views or subscribers. Quantity doesn’t matter, quality does. If a million people view one of my YT videos and ignore it, I don’t consider it as successful as a video with a few dozen views where everyone who saw it was helped. YouTube loves videos like this, with lots and lots of views that they can add advertisements too, as does anyone who bases their success on going viral and being an influencer to your followers, subscribers, likes, etc.
Think about that term for a moment. What is an influencer, really? It is someone with 50 million followers who get little to nothing from your posts or is it someone who helped a couple strangers today? I believe that in the long run, it’s better to be good than to be popular.
Want to see a short video synopsis of my best tips above? Check out this video on my YouTube channel: “5 Tips To Build A Large, Loyal, & Engaged Social Media Community.”
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂
I’m influenced and inspired myself by Sunny Lenarduzzi, an entrepreneur from Canada who got me started on Youtube and who has guided me on my journey.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
I have my own YouTube channel with over 4700 completed projects on it and millions of views as, mentioned. I also have an Instagram photography/videography account and two Facebook accounts with sample projects on them. I’m also active on a number of other platforms. Find me here:
Private FB Group:
Business FB Group:
Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!