[Case Study] How Gary Vaynerchuk increased his Youtube subscribers by 71% in 2013

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris /

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Note: Pick up the free checklist to go along with this case study. It gives you a step-by-step guide to implement Gary’s strategy.

Intro

How do you get 800,000 Youtube views in less than a year?

This past June I noticed some changes on Gary Vaynerchuk’s Youtube channel. He never had paid too much attention to it so it raised some eyebrows when he started putting noticeably more effort into it. After several months of monitoring his progress, I couldn’t help but notice some eye popping numbers.

In this weeks case study we’ll take a peek behind the scenes of exactly what Gary did to increase his viewership 50% and his subscriber rate by 71% in less than 12 months.

If you don’t know who Gary is…what is your problem!?

Seriously though, Gary is a rockstar. From 1996 thru 2005 he ran the day to day operations of Wine Library, a family owned liquor store in New York. In 2006 Gary started the online wine show “Wine Library TV” and over the course of the next 4 years grew it into a world renown brand. Gary now spends his day running Vaynermedia, a social media consulting firm for Fortune 500 companies.

Today I am going to reveal the results of the strategy that Gary has implemented on his own personal Youtube channel over the last 12 months and show you how to do the exact same thing..

The Numbers

First lets start with the numbers.

On December, 9th of last year Gary had a total of 663,672 views on his Youtube channel. On December 4th on this year Gary had accumulated over 800,000 additional views to bring his view total to 1,468,460.

To give you a comparison in the same time period of the year before Gary had up 538,240 views. That means Gary increased his viewership from the year before by an additional 266,548 views. That is a year over year increase of 50%.

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It didn’t stop at viewership totals though. His annual subscribers increased by their normal 5,963 from 2012 to 2013 PLUS an additional 5,953 subscribers for a total year to date subscriber increase of 11,916 additional subscribers, a 99% increase year over year.

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The big questions is, how!? What did Gary due that caused all of this growth and more importantly can I do the same thing?

The Techniques

I’ve distilled Gary’s strategy down to five main points. I’ll go into detail on each of those below. You can also download a checklist to help you implement these strategies on your site.

1. Make more videos

In 2012 Gary uploaded a total of 12 videos to Youtube. This year…172. Gary went nuts. The shear volume of content alone was bound to get more views. We all know that attracting eyeballs goes much deeper than just uploading more content. However, when we examine the number of views received each day in 2013 versus 2012 you can see how this was one of the top contributors to his large growth.

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(34% increase of daily video views in 2013)

Takeaways: Just like written word blogging there are two MAJOR elements to garnering more traffic: 1) Quality 2) Quantity. If you post the most useful, helpful and shareable content online but only do it 3 times a year your traffic will suffer. On the flip side, if you post crap content every day of the week. you will be ignored. Gary hit the intersection of these two perfectly.

2. Repurpose your videos

Gary was able to do 1 ingenious thing, repurpose his content. Many of the videos that he posted in 2013 were made in previous years but he never had taken the time to upload them to Youtune. Throughout his days at Wine Library TV he used other hosting companies.

Lets look at the type of videos that Gary created:

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Gary instituted a 2 prong approach this year. 84% of his efforts were targeted at two specific types of videos. The first and most important part were very personal short messages. These were usually rants on one very specific topic. The second type were his keynote speeches.

Personal Videos

Raw personalized videos were the cornerstone of Gary’s Youtube renaissance in 2013. Gary has always had a straight shooter approach when talking with his audience. All the way back to his first video on Wine Library he’s been open, honest and direct. This year he dialed it up even a few more notches. He recorded many new videos but he also uploaded several of his older rants from years past.

Keynote Videos

Gary has spoke at events all over the world for 5+ years. Gary rounded up 10 of his most popular keynotes and put them on his Youtube channel. These have driven 292,027 views in 2013.

He also cut the keynotes up into short bite size sections to create a customized playlist called ‘Shorties”. The shorter videos are 30-60 second clips of some of the best sound bites from his keynote presentations. It is the exact same content in the 30-60 minute keynote presentations only put into a different, more consumable, form.

The “Shorties” consist of just over 17 minutes of total content but have accounted for and additional 336,219 views. That is 114% MORE traffic from the exact same content just repackaged into a different form.

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Takeaways: Don’t take the easy way. If you are a speaker, don’t just upload your full length videos to Youtube. Some people will sit down and watch the entire thing, but most of us don’t have time for that. Break it up, do the work, pull out the most interesting 30 second clips and make it into a playlist that is easy for your audience to consume. It worked for Gary and more than doubled his views.

The big takeaway here is 2 fold: 1) Do the obvious. Record your videos and upload them 2) Find creative ways to repurpose the exact same content in a more easily consumable form.

If you are a public speaker do both things. After All, even though Gary’s views on his full keynote speeches was lower than the shorties they still brought in over 200,000 views. Youtube is free. Do both.

3. Put them Everywhere

Gary is a master of ‘speaking the native tongue’ as he calls it. What I mean by that is that he does a great job of using Twitter and Facebook in the way they are best received by their user bases. They each have their own nuisances, which if not adhered to will stunt your growth or prevent it all together. When we step back and look how Gary used his more established social platforms to grow his Youtube channel this provides valuable insight into the growth of his Youtube channel.

Twitter is Gary’s #1 platform. It is bigger than his website, Facebook, Instagram or Youtube channel. As of today he has over 1 million followers.

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When we do a detailed analysis of some of his most popular Youtube videos we can see one of the major contributing factors to their success was Gary cross promoting these videos on his more established channels. Lets take his most viewed video on his Youtube channel. It was uploaded in 2012 and is entitled “A rant from the heart, hip and head“.

Sidenote: What I love so much about this video is that it breaks every law that the ‘experts’ will tell you to follow and yet is Gary’s most popular video ever. It has terrible audio quality, the lighting is horrible and nothing is planned out.

What makes this video his most viewed ever?

1) Quality: It is Gary at his best. Ranting from the heart about a major insight that he has and noticed in the startup world.

2) Quantity: He promoted the crap out of it!

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Gary used his established Twitter audience to get this video out. He did this in two very distinct ways:

1) Individual: He responded to individual tweets (see red arrows above) with a link to the video. Instead of writing out a 140 character responses, Gary directed people that chatted with him on Twitter, to the video that he made.

2) Mass: Since the video has been created Gary tweeted out the link 10 different times to his Twitter audience. Those tweets along reached an audience over over 9 million people. In addition to the first layer of 9 million people the link has been tweeted out over 1,352 times to more than 22,000,000 people.

3Here are the numbers (according to opensiteexplorer.com)

  • 1,558 Facebook shares
  • 662 Facebook Likes
  • 1,352 Tweets
  • 676 Google +1’s
  • 171,632 views

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Takeaway: When trying to grow your Youtube channel be sure to use your current strengths to promote your videos. If you have a strong blog, write a post about your latest video. If you send out weekly emails, link your Youtube videos inside of your newsletter. If you are like Gary and have a strong Twitter following, use that to promote your videos.

4. Annotations

Annotations are very important. If you are not using them, please stop reading and go insert them into your most popular videos ASAP. Annotations are clickable links that are placed inside of a video. This allows the viewer of the video to act on a call to action immediately and from within the video. These can be used for any number of things:

1) Subscribe to your Youtube channel

2) Signup to your email list

3) Follow you on Twitter or Facebook

4) Buy your product

5) Watch a previous video

It is one of the single best things you can do to take a viewer and turn them into a long term follower and customers.

Gary implements this strategy very well. Here is an example of one video that gives the user two strong ‘next steps’ to take after watching the video.

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Takeaway: Use annotations in your videos to engage with your users. It is much more expensive to get a new customer than it is to re engage with customers that have encountered you in the past. Gary makes multiple efforts throughout his video to capture each viewer and turn them into repeat viewers.

Improvements

(Disclaimer: Gary has been teaching. preaching and growing businesses much longer than I have. The following aren’t criticism’s but areas that I perceive he could use improvement in based on my own limited practice and observation of other successful businesses.)

1. Lead Capture

While Gary does a admirable job in driving subscribers through annotations, Youtube subscribers are not the ideal way to drive repeat traffic from viewers. For hardcore Youtube users the subscribe route works well, but for the average Youtube user does not check their subscribe feeds on a regular basis. The other negative to relying solely on subscribes to drive repeat traffic is that Youtube has recently changed the default email setting to ‘off’. That means that unless I deliberately go into my subscribe setting for YOUR channel and chose the ‘Please email me new updates” checkbox, I will not be notified of new videos you’ve uploaded

The more optimal and foolproof way of doing this is to take a mulit-faceted appraoch. When it comes to direct marketing Email and SMS still blow every other form of communication out of the water for recurring reminder updates.

Improvement: Based on my own experience, Gary could expect an email signup rate of 1-3% for every viewer. This would equal an email list growth of over 40,000 people in the last 24 months had this strategy been used.

2. Ask me to buy

I am very surprised that Gary missed this opportunity. Perhaps he plans to do this in the near future but he missed a big chance to capitalize on the massive amounts of momentum he had built up over the last 12 months by not asking us to buy.

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Gary released a new book entitled “Jab, jab, jab, right hook” last week. The premise of the book is to run your business by throwing a series of jabs (or giving) and follow those by a right hook (ask to buy). That is exactly how Gary has been running his Youtube account. Over the last 12 months Gary has been doing nothing but giving. He’s done this to the tune of 172 videos! He’s collected 1,000’s of new subscribers and nearly a million new viewers but he did the cardinal sin, he forgot to ask us to buy from him.

As of the date of this post 12/11/13 Gary has yet to throw a right hook on Youtube.

Improvement: Ask is to buy the book! Here are 3 immediate right hooks you could throw.

1) Make a video asking us to buy the book.

2) Make it the cover video on your Youtube channel

3) Put an annotation in all 212 of your videos with an external link to the Amazon page of your book

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Takeaways

1. Get your talks on Youtube. If you speak, be sure to speak to the event organizer and get a copy of the video of the event. Is the event not recording your talk? Setup your iPhone and do it yourself. The video quality is not near as important as the content itself. Remember, Gary’s most popular video ever is shot with an iPhone in a plane, at night with his earbuds as a mic.

2. Chop your long form content up into bite size portions. Not everyone has 30 minutes to read your 5,000 word blog post or 1 hour keynote. Make it consumable for everyone. Gary more than doubled his traffic by doing this.

3. Always give a call to action. It is exponentially cheaper to get sales from a repeat customer or to get a view from a repeat viewer than it is to acquire a new one. Capture your viewers so that next time you publish your content you can let them know.

4. Don’t be afraid to sell hard when the time comes. If you have given content away for week, months or years don’t be shy about selling hard when your time comes. And don’t’ do what Gary did and forget to sell on a channel that you spent a lot of time and effort to build up. Even if it isn’t your primary form of communication let all of your followers know when it’s time that you have something they should buy.

Learn more about creating and using video for your business here.

Question: Do you have a similar experience to Pat? Tell us about it below.

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  • Rob Barense

    All good stuff ! Keep up the good work !

  • Solid visuals! Came over from Mixergy. Awesome job there, too. Cheers.

  • Love how you threw in the improvements

  • Survivalcavefood.com

    Very good information. Thanks for posting!

  • Yogesh Naresh Vedd

    Gary, that was awesome strategy but it took a lot of time to get to that.
    I have a new strategy that works much faster when all is done for you to take your business to the next level.

  • Thanks for creating and sharing this amazing information! You do such a great job. Keep up the good work. Can’t wait to see what’s next! Shout out to Nashville btw.

  • Loved this one: “Chop your long form content up into bite size portions. Not everyone has 30 minutes to read your 5,000 word blog post or 1 hour keynote. Make it consumable for everyone.”

    You just inspired me to do the following: go through my most valuable articles and try to explain each of them in a 2-minute video. I guess that strategy can bring some nice traffic from YouTube 🙂

  • This is extremely insightful. Consistency makes a big difference. I noticed the same thing on my Twitter account after pumping out more tweets than usual. The best takeaway for me is – “Chop up your long-form content into bite sized portions” thanks again!

  • Victor Maia Mignone

    Awesome case, very detailed. Congrats bro!

  • Wynand Jacobs

    Cool summary. Thanks Bryan