If you've looked into growing your YouTube channel, you've probably come across tools like TubeBuddy. While the paid platform isn't the only tool touting YouTube growth, it's probably the most popular.
Let's take a look at TubeBuddy and examine how these kinds of tools work, if they really help you "grow your YouTube audience," and who might actually benefit from using them.
What Is TubeBuddy?
TubeBuddy is a platform designed to help people who put content on YouTube grow their channels and reach more people. In practice, it's a paid Internet browser extension. Which means you pay a monthly (or yearly) fee and install TubeBuddy as an extension on your preferred Internet browser. The platform currently supports Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge Internet browsers (sorry, no Safari) and can support Opera with a little extra work.
Once you install TubeBuddy, you mostly interact with it while on YouTube itself. Basically, you'll see some extra options and boxes to click on while you're on YouTube. That's not to say you'll never want to visit the actual TubeBuddy site.
When you're on the site itself, you can still access some additional stats, educational materials, perks, and account settings. There are even some features like Channel Valuation and competitor comparisons (which are only available to certain levels of paid membership).
But most creators will spend most of their time dealing with TubeBuddy when they're uploading a new video. So let's look a little more closely at how it works.
How TubeBuddy (And Similar Platforms) Works
The majority of TubeBuddy's "grow your channel" value comes in helping you craft video titles, descriptions, tags, cover images, and other assets in order to "rank" better in YouTube. To keep it simple, TubeBuddy helps you make sure your video shows up more in the top of search results and suggested videos.
There's all kinds of math that goes into determining which videos YouTube suggests to viewers. But there's no debate about how important these suggested videos are when it comes to YouTube channel growth.
In nearly all cases, the most popular YouTube videos get their majority of views from people other than subscribers. And while subscribers are always helpful in getting a video off the ground, a video's longevity is related to how relevant it is to an audience that hasn't seen it yet. And YouTube decides a video's relevance with a lot of factors — many of which you can control if you do things like name your videos the right way, place the right words in the descriptions, add the right chapter titles, use the right tags, use compelling thumbnail images, and more.
Without going too much into the specifics of how this works, just know that platforms like TubeBuddy are critical for the "research" phase. And in addition to spitting out rankings and suggested keywords for your video, the platform does a good job of helping you craft more engaging assets.
For instance, let's say you made a video where you wanted to talk about your livestreaming setup. You may initially be inclined to title the video something like "A tour of my livestreaming setup." But unless you're already a super popular streamer, a lot of people won't react to that title. By coming up with a few alternatives, you can enter certain key phrases into TubeBuddy and see which ones hit the "sweet spot" for search results. And in the end, you may end up with a title more like "The best streaming gear for small streamers," provided your video reasonably covers this topic. Understanding these factors can certainly help you shape content in the future, too.
Some Other Important Features
If you have more than a few videos, another big feature from a platform like TubeBuddy is the ability to do things like edit descriptions in bulk. This saves a ton of time if you want to add a new link to the description of all of your videos, or remove some old tags, update a description of who you are, or just do anything else that generally feels like a time suck. You can also create upload templates and other things to just spend less time repeating the same tasks.
If you have the "Legend" license you can also do things like A/B test your thumbnail. If you're not familiar with A/B testing, it can be an absolute lifesaver when it comes to going with the right creative. We'll do another post on A/B testing in the future, but just know that it helps you let data decide what the right move is. And that's always nice.
There's also a cool feature called "Brand Alerts" that helps you get notified if somebody is posting a video talking about you or your brand. This may not be as immediately useful for say, somebody primarily focused on just releasing music videos. But it can come in handy when you're paying attention to the types of videos getting uploaded. It's also just helpful in general if you're keeping tabs on something like a specific new video camera and you just want to know any time somebody uploads a video about it.
Do These Kinds Of Things Really 'Grow' Your YouTube?
Yes and no. The short answer is that simply signing up for a platform like TubeBuddy won't help you grow at all. They aren't running ads on your behalf and plugging your videos or channels into any sort of network. Telling people these platforms grow your YouTube channel is really just catchy marketing tactics (and clever SEO).
But the long answer is yes — if you actually use them. Platforms like TubeBuddy simply provide tools. They're super powerful tools. Like, the difference between using a manual screwdriver and a power drill. But ultimately, if you don't educate yourself about the platform and dive in to the research, you're not going to get your money's worth.
And while TubeBuddy certainly has some affordable pricing schemes, if you don't actually commit to learning the tools and using them, it's a waste of money. TubeBuddy also isn't going to make it any easier for you to actually film the content. You need to be committed to a content schedule first and foremost before worrying about your SEO or many of the other tools TubeBuddy provides.
Who Is TubeBuddy (Or Any Of Their Competitors) Right For?
To be clear, you don't need something like TubeBuddy to grow your account. There are plenty of successful YouTube channels that don't do a third of the things TubeBuddy suggests or helps with.
But there is something to be said for tools that save time. Especially when the platform they're built for has such high monetization potential.
So here's our advice: consider using these tools when you find that you have a good understanding of what they do but not enough time to really do them for yourself. If you just started your channel, there are a lot of things on the list that should come before worrying about YouTube SEO etc. The biggest one, of course, being content.
But once you have a few dozen videos under your belt and you've found you're truly committed to created good content on YouTube, take a look at one of these platforms. There are several pricing options, including some for people with under 1,000 subs. And there are always seemingly discounts going on.
If you're just getting started, put the blinders on and just focus on making videos. All kinds of videos. Put them out consistently. Try to get better every time. But if you've already got that process down and you're ready to start thinking about the next step, well, start looking at your options.