YouTube Tips: The Spirit and the Letter

Have you ever heard the expression, “They followed the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law”? Basically, it’s a phrase that means that while someone may technically have stayed within legal boundaries, they weren’t following the law in a way that accomplishes what the law was meant to accomplish. For instance, if someone were arrested for vandalism for smashing a car window, that may be the letter of the law, but if they were rescuing a dog from a hot back seat, it could be that the officers followed the letter of the law, but not the spirit. (Possibly not the best example, but just an example.)

Often, in places where YouTube creators discuss their progress, I see a lot of creators who read up on things they “should” be doing and follow them to the letter, but don’t really understand the spirit behind those suggestions. There isn’t much exploration as to why a creator should do the things that are suggested by YouTube or other creators, and they find they are annoyed by the lack of progress they see. “I’m doing everything right!” they say.

For instance, I see a good number of smaller YouTube creators who will collaborate pretty regularly. While the suggestion to collab is a good one, there are reasons behind the suggestion itself, most importantly perhaps being the cross-pollination of audiences. I often will see small YouTube channels collaborating regularly with the same channels over and over again, where both channels share essentially the same audience. Or the collaborations don’t really highlight the talents of both (or either) of the creators. Collabbing for collab’s sake isn’t going to build an audience, and while it may be fun (which in itself can be a perfectly valid reason to do it, so I’m not advocating stopping if you like to do it), it may not garner the results you want.

Recently, livestreaming has gotten a lot of attention, and my subscription feed is now chock-full of YouTube creators making livestreams. This can be a good practice, as your watch time can increase significantly if you’re interacting with your audience directly, and as it is an event when a stream is happening, that watch time happens right away, which is goof for your channel’s statistics.

However, if you are simply starting a stream for no reason and just wait around for people to say something to you, then the point of the stream is lost, and you may wind up turning off viewers from returning the next time you stream. I’ve seen far too many livestreams which consist of a creator staring at their comments stream, saying, “What do you want to talk about, guys? Is anyone there?” That isn’t really good content, and it’s not going to entice viewers to return the next time you livestream.

Remember to always ask the why behind the practice that’s suggested to you. Best practices are often deceiving, because simply performing them because you were told they are “good for your channel” doesn’t mean they’re good all the time, in every situation, for every channel.

You may do everything right, but are you doing the right things?

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