• On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more people between the ages of 18 and 49 than all of the major television or cable networks.
  • By the time you finish this article, over 3,000 hours of new video will have been uploaded to YouTube.
  • There will be a billion video views on YouTube today.
  • Those aged 14 to 29 spent 75 percent more time watching YouTube in 2015, while traditional television viewership fell across every single demographic.
  • If you and your organization are not on YouTube, you’re missing out.

Over the past decade, YouTube has become a lot more than a repository for silly cat videos. YouTube, in fact, has become the single most watched media site in the world. The depth and breadth of material on YouTube is astounding. In the education sector on YouTube, people are teaching everything from car repair to computer programming to personal financial management.

Brands and organizations have concocted entire strategies around YouTube. These strategies often complement the organizational mission—and YouTube provides a very convenient channel to expand that mission beyond traditional audiences. The Library of Congress’ YouTube channel has more than 14 million views. Some organizations are even using YouTube for what would traditionally be internal education and training.

Avon’s Be a Breast Friend video furthered the company’s commitment to breast cancer awareness and has been viewed over 600,000 times. The WestJet 2013 Christmas Miracle video was viewed over 45 million times and has become a most powerful employee recruiting tool for the airline.

Figure 1: National Geographic on YouTube. With a YouTube network of 40 channels, National Geographic has uploaded over 85,000 videos across all its channels and boasts nearly 5.5 million subscribers on its main channel.

Let’s dive into some top educational YouTube channels and then discuss how you’d start a channel for your organization.


What teachers (and learners) are doing on YouTube

Each of the channels mentioned below has a distinctive strategy that has led to success on YouTube. While some are independent YouTube channels competing for eyeballs like any other media enterprise, others are a component of a larger media strategy.

Channel: Minute Physics

Subscribers: 3.6 million

Figure 2: Minute Physics on YouTube

Created by Henry Reich, Minute Physics is a joyful celebration of physics. Physics may not be your cup of tea, but Reich’s videos are viewed over 5 million times a month, earning him as much as $8,000 per month (estimated).

Channel: Mark Crilley: Author, Illustrator, Video Creator

Subscribers: 2.7 million

Figure 3: Mark Crilley on YouTube

All things drawing are featured on Crilley’s channel. Earning Crilley over $100,000 per year (estimated), this channel is about the best source of learn-to-draw videos on the Internet.

Channel: BBC Earth

Subscribers: Nearly 1 million

Figure 4: BBC Earth on YouTube

Perhaps direct monetization is not the goal of the BBC on its BBC Earth channel. YouTube provides a nice brand extension from its traditional broadcast properties. Videos on this channel have been viewed over 350 million times. This is significant in that the weekly global audience for the BBC is just under 350 million.

Channel: Rainbow Loom

Subscribers: 430,000

Figure 5: Rainbow Loom on YouTube

Rainbow Loom is a crafts company whose products allow creation of jewelry, toys, models, and artwork. YouTube provides the cornerstone of its active online network. The channel provides instructional videos on making crafts with Rainbow Loom products. This tiny company has had almost 100 million video views.

Channel: Kraft Recipes

Subscribers: 50,000

Figure 6: Kraft Foods on YouTube

Mighty Kraft boasts just over 18 million views. Considering the footprint of the company, perhaps Kraft needs to review its cooking-video strategy.

How to create a YouTube presence

To benefit from the huge audiences visiting YouTube on a daily basis, you need to have a presence on the platform. The mechanical process for developing a YouTube presence has been well documented elsewhere. YouTube strategy is perhaps more difficult to get correct. Below, I’ve discussed a few issues that may help you get your YouTube channel off to a strong start.

What is the purpose of your YouTube channel?

Many put up a YouTube channel out of a misplaced sense of vanity. However, if you’re constructing a YouTube channel for a company or organization, you have to consider what you want the YouTube channel to do for your brand. For my LearnToProgram.tv channel on YouTube, we want to find new users and “convert” them to our home site. For BBC Earth, it’s likely the goal to extend viewing time. Consider your organizational goals, and develop a YouTube channel congruent with those goals.

If you’re in the nonprofit or educational sector, this is kind of a “no-brainer.” For others, it may be more difficult to come up with the intersection of organizational goals and video content that makes the YouTube effort worthwhile.

Who is the audience for your YouTube channel?

If you’re a Texan, you’re probably familiar with the phrase “one riot, one Ranger.” (The phrase was said to be coined in 1896 when a Texas Ranger arrived to stop an illegal prize fight without any additional law enforcement support.) When it comes to YouTube, the rule should be “one channel, one audience.”

Before you start creating and uploading content to YouTube, you should determine who the audience is for your channel. Perhaps your audience is employees distributed across the globe. Maybe your audience is external and focused on clients and consumers associated with your brand. Maybe the audience is people with a specific affinity. You should be able to verbalize exactly who your audience is in a sentence.

For an interesting take on an educational channel directed at customers, check out what boating retailer West Marine is doing with its YouTube channel.

Figure 7: West Marine on YouTube

West Marine sees its customers as the audience for its YouTube channel. Notice the “how to” titles in the recent uploads.

What are the metrics that will determine success on YouTube for your organization?

You might have noticed that throughout this discussion I have used different measurements when examining the success of a channel. You might be after the most video views or a large subscriber base. For others, the sole measurement of success is monetization.

YouTube recommends that you start with modest goals and grow them over time. Many channels begin with a few thousand views for their first video and 50 subscribers as a starting goal. Those numbers will grow over time, and so should your expectations. Understanding your primary metric and measuring it is important because it allows you to quantify the time you’ve spent building your organizational YouTube channel.

How can you use content that has already been developed? What new content needs to be created for a YouTube channel?

A YouTube channel is dynamic. With your audience and purpose in mind, you should inventory your content. You may be able to launch your channel with the content you have on hand. However, you may find it difficult to sustain momentum without regularly releasing new content to your YouTube channel.

To sustain your initial momentum and grow your channel, I recommend that you create a one-year content plan so that your audience has frequent new content and a reason to visit your YouTube presence regularly.

Join Mark at The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions 2017 Conference & Expo in Orlando, March 22 – 24, 2017, for his session Better Video: Twenty Tips in 60 Minutes.