Just For Laughs Gags YouTube Channels: Lessons Learned While Growing an Audience [GUEST POST]

NMR guest writer Carlos Pacheco has a combined 15 years of marketing experience, both online and off. He’s currently the Digital Director at Just For Laughs Gags, an internationally recognized comedy property, a Search Marketing expert and a social media addict. He lives in Montreal with his pug Ridley and his girlfriend Tara.

These days, it seems there’s a new YouTube Star born every other minute with the rate of channels amassing millions of views. It all seems so easy.

The thing is, it’s not easy, and a lot of people think these are overnight successes, which isn’t the case at all for most of them. It takes a lot of work, trial and error. There is no real formula for continued success, but what I’ll do is share some insight on the channel I manage and how we have been able to keep growing and surpass over 600 million views.

Your brand has a voice:

This one is unique to content producers and owners who are sitting on their libraries.

If your content has been on TV at some time, you have fans. No matter how small your audience is, there’s someone out there who loves your content and wants to see it again and share it with their friends.

The Gags as a TV show/concept is not new; it’s been around for 12 years in Canada, so when we uploaded our library of content, we had an established audience. This obviously helped us right away since our Canadian fans could easily and instantly share to friends in other countries what they’ve been laughing about for years. This has helped the brand grow exponentially, and I constantly receive emails from TV networks all over the world who want to license our content on their channels. This never would have happened without YouTube.

Appeal to a wide audience:

One of the trademarks of the Just For Laughs Gags is that there is no voice or language to our content.  Being “silent” has helped us break away from the English-speaking markets. Yes, the US is our biggest market, but Japan is close behind followed by India and Saudi Arabia. This has been one of the Gags’ best assets. As mentioned in the point above, it’s helped us get discovered in countries that we never considered because no translation is needed.

Create good content:

It’s not news: there are 72 hours worth of content uploaded to YouTube every minute. Do you think that those hours are composed of well-produced content? YouTube is disrupting TV, and the only way that it’s going to do this is by having well-produced content that A: engages its viewers and B: keeps you watching.

YouTube is so hungry for quality content that it had no choice but to create its own premium channels, and it’s just now launching projects to help creators do it.

Be consistent. Give your videos time to get noticed:

One of our best assets is our exhaustive library, of which most has yet to be uploaded. In addition, since we are constantly filming, there is no real end in sight.

However, the worst mistake we made is that when we joined the partner program we got really excited and started uploading as much as possible onto YouTube. During a period of three months, we uploaded over 2,000 videos, which means that a lot of gems got buried…YouTube always prioritizes new content, so as soon as you upload a new video, the original one gets less of a chance to get noticed.

Another factor that didn’t help is that we had a lot less subscribers back then, and we didn’t give ourselves time to grow. Our reach today is much larger, which guarantees a minimum amount of views for every upload. The frequency of upload is unique to every channel; we now upload between 2-5 pranks a week depending on the channel, which gives each video a good 24-48 hours to be watched and shared by our fans.

How Owning your content opens the door to more money.

I’ve yet to see anybody really talk about this little known secret, and it’s something I constantly recommend content makers investigate. Basically, if you or your company has trademark rights to your content, you can work with YouTube to setup a CMS (Content Management System).

This becomes extremely useful for a reason that not a lot of people talk about, and that’s UGC (User Generated Content).

Just do a quick YouTube search for Best of Just For Laughs. You’ll see that some results are from our channel, but that a heck of a lot them are compilations created by other YouTubers. Newsflash: people borrow your content, and most content owners would just ask YouTube to issue a pull-down…not us.

Since we own the copyright to our content, any upload that appears on YouTube is automatically identified as ours. As a content owner, we have the choice to claim our content, take it down or release the claim. We’re obviously not going to release claims, so we’ve set up parameters within the CMS to claim and then monetize that content.

Simply put, every time someone else uploads our content on YouTube, the Gags received a share of the ad revenue.

Seeing this, I wonder why more content owners and producers aren’t putting their content online. Think of all the trademarked content that’s out there gathering dust, not on TV and not taking advantage of this. If you upload a concert clip you recorded from your favorite band on YouTube, that band gets the ad revenue from that content. I think the same could be applied to live shows like those from stand-up comedians. I would bet that nobody’s told them about the potential added revenue they’ve been avoiding by telling people not to record their shows.

There you have it. These are just some of the things we’ve learned working on the Just For Laughs Gags over the last year. As I said before, YouTube success is not overnight and is not easy. There is no set formula for YouTube stardom. I recently attended a panel where Ben Relles, the head of programming at YouTube and founder of Barely Political, spoke with some YouTube stars and the secret of success. He said “YouTube is still very much the Wild West”; there’s still a lot of room for creative ideas and for great content, be it old or new to get discovered.

Just for Laughs Gags and its sister prank YouTube channels have recently teamed up to be part of the Revision3 network.

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