Video is a great way to interact with your audience. Finding creative ways to reach your followers on all of the platforms they’re hanging out on and redirecting them to your YouTube channel can mean the difference between success and failure. So how do you cater to all of the different algorithms that each platform puts in place to ensure you get maximum reach?
The key is trying different things and seeing what works. You have to remember things like using a YouTube direct link won’t go over too well with Facebook, and if you do that, you’re going to be penalized in terms of the reach they’ll allow you. So get creative, use URL shorteners, and always engage your audience so they know you appreciate them.
Rich: James Lamprey is the founder of funfoodsyt.com and is an influential content creator on YouTube and Facebook. He has over 23 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. His videos are viewed and shared across many platforms. His Facebook videos alone have been viewed over 100 million times. James frequently shares his knowledge of social media success at industry conferences. James, welcome to the show.
James: Thanks for having me Rich, I’m happy to be here.
Rich: Let’s get started with how you got started in all of this. How did you segue from the food and beverage industry to building your business on YouTube and Facebook?
James: It was by accident, really. I started YouTube back in 2010, and I used to just put up travel videos and stuff like that. One day, I started making food videos, just fun food videos, and people were receptive to it and they enjoyed it. From there, I never looked back and just continued doing it, and I love making people happy, and I love doing it myself. It kind of flourished into a business all of its own. I didn’t start out to make it a business, it just turned into one.
Rich: What was your goal then, if you weren’t trying to make this into a business? Was it just something that you wanted to do fun, or did you think it would build some other aspect of your business?
James: Very early on when I just started doing travel videos, I started because before I even traveled myself, I looked online for a video, and the first video I saw was a YouTube video, and it was some guy in Germany. I just searched the hotel that I was going to stay at, and the guy videotaped everything from the hotel, down the street, and I saw there was a McDonald’s and a Burger King, and I was like, “Wow, I’m not going to starve to death going to this foreign land.” So, it’s pretty cool that someone did that. I wanted to share my experiences so that other people would have that experience as well, just to help other people out when they traveled.
And then, I started doing it more and more, and people wanted more videos. And I just started making food videos because I enjoy that as well, and that’s something I can do every week where I can’t travel every week. It’d be very expensive, unless you had a sponsor every single travel, then you could do it. It would cost a lot of money to travel every single week. But I can make food every week, I can make it every day, actually, I enjoy eating it.
Rich: Tell us a couple of the things that you make on your show that you really enjoyed.
James: I enjoyed the giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, that was one that I did very early on, even though the quality wasn’t good. Like I said, it didn’t start out as a business so I didn’t understand lighting or sound, or any of the stuff that you needed to do. But that video took off, and just by sheer luck and the fact that there wasn’t any other videos like it out at the time. I kind of just lucked out from the SEO side of it. That was sheer luck, I shot it with a $69 camera from Walmart, no sound equipment, no lighting, nothing. And I look back and I cringe when I hear myself talk in that video, but that was one that was fun. I enjoyed the Mountain Dew ice cream video. That was a whole lot of fun, and that was recent, about nine or ten months ago. That took off, did well. And of course, deep fried butter on a stick. That was just fun.
Rich: Just to clarify, this is not a healthy food video channel, we just need to be clear on that right?
James: Yeah, definitely not a healthy food thing. You don’t want to go here to lose weight, it’s one of those fun little things.
Rich: Awesome. Did you start creating content on all different platforms all at once, or did you just start in one place?
James: No, I started on YouTube alone, and just recently in the past couple years have I started Facebook. Yet even though I started it later, it really took off, only because I’ve learned a lot of the things I’ve learned from YouTube, and I was able to put that into my Facebook videos. Even now it’s ever changing – as you know – social, whether it’s Facebook or YouTube, everything changes so constant you have to stay on top of things. You always have to keep learning and they change things all the time.
I’ve tried a lot of different things, and mostly trial and error. If you try something and it doesn’t work, you change it up and you try something a little different. That’s how I’ve learned a lot on my own. I also have friends who are content creators, and we talk, we see if it works for them, and we help each other out.
Rich: Very cool. So you start on YouTube, at what point did you decide you need to branch out and start being on other channels? What was the tipping point for you?
James: The tipping point had to be, all together, about three years ago. I just made the decision. My YouTube channel was growing, and that kind of gave you that little fire, like I could really grow and be much bigger, and reach more people if I branch out. To be honest with you, it was somebody sharing a video of mine on their Facebook page which helped my YouTube channel out a lot. This girl had mentioned she saw a video, she said, “Oh my gosh this is the best thing ever, I’m going to share it with all my friends on Facebook.”
The next day, my YouTube channel blew up, and I was like, wow this is a pretty cool platform, we could use that to cross promote things and get people from one social site to the other. Of course, Facebook as you know doesn’t pay the average creator, they pay some of the really really big brands, but not the average one. So I wanted to get them over to my YouTube site because that’s where I get paid, I monetize that, or my website for that matter, but not on Facebook. I don’t want to show my whole content on Facebook, but I want to show a highlight of whatever I made, and try to bring them across to the other platform. Hopefully one day Facebook will change and start paying, then I can make full content on their platform.
Rich: That makes sense. Just to walk through it, you’ve got a new recipe, what was the butter recipe that you mentioned?
James: The deep fried butter on a stick. Actually, I had seen something about a state fair serving deep fried butter, and I said, wow, that’s interesting. I never would have thought to eat butter, especially deep fried butter, how healthy is that? But I said, you know what, that’s interesting, and it really is an attention grabber, so I said, let me try it.
I fooled around with a couple different recipes, but it’s essentially a pancake batter. You take a stick of butter, a full stick of butter, you put a stick through it, you freeze it, you dip it in the pancake batter, and you fry it. Most of the butter drains out because it’s in a deep fryer, so you just do it until pretty much that pancake batter looks like a corndog. It’s basically a hollow corndog. And then I drizzled it with almost like a cinnamon bun sauce, and ate it right on camera, and people still get freaked out when they see me eat it on camera. I get lots of comments and it’s fun, I enjoy watching the comments when people talk about it.
Rich: So you created this video, and then you upload it to YouTube first?
Rich: And then, do you take the same video and upload it to Facebook? Do you share the YouTube video on Facebook, or do you create a shortened version that goes to Facebook? How do you do it, and what have you found as far as success goes?
James: I do not share directly onto Facebook, and I wouldn’t advise you to share it on Facebook because if you just hit that ‘share’ button and share it to Facebook, Facebook doesn’t want to promote YouTube videos. That’s their enemy, they don’t want to promote another platform. So what I suggest is actually making a totally separate video. You have to understand your audience and how they consume the media as well.
So on Facebook people view your media not with sound, so you have to convey your story without sound. And they also consume your media by a larger format, usually on their phone and it it has that vertical format. So you want to make a separate video altogether. So when I edit my video I edit one for YouTube, and one cut for Facebook and other platforms as well.
So you make a separate video, you do a separate dedicated upload, you don’t want to share on Facebook, you want to do a separate dedicated upload as a separate video. Because they value that as original when you do that. I usually do a shorter format, it’s usually under a minute long, and usually my YouTube videos are about 5-7 minutes long. So I do a shorter format and I direct them back to my YouTube channel or to my website where they can get a printable recipe.
You’ve seen Buzzfeed videos and overhead all you see is the hands making the food, and that’s pretty much what I do. And I put on the screen, “sugar, salt, etc”, and I’ve learned through the years not to put the exact quantities on there because then they’ll have no need to come to your YouTube channel or your website to pull up the recipe because you just gave it to them.
And also how I direct them back to my site is I don’t use a YouTube link, I use either a bit.ly link or a Google shortener, because once Facebook sees that YouTube link they kind of throw that to the bottom of the algorithm and you don’t want to be found in that bottom because most of your followers won’t see it. Just like all these platforms do now – Twitter, YouTube, they all do it – they don’t roll it out to all your followers at once. So when you put up new content they roll it out to a smaller number and see how it goes first, and if it picks up steam then they’ll roll it out to the next 50% of your followers. And if that keeps going they may roll it out to more and more. Now I don’t know these numbers exactly, just based on my experience.
Rich: And your conversations with other creators like yourself.
James: Exactly. So Facebook isn’t going to call me up and tell me how they work their algorithm, I wish they would, but they won’t.
Rich: They’re not giving you the teacher’s edition.
James: No, definitely not. So it’s just from my experiences and I always tell people always try different ways. See if this works, if it works, great. If it doesn’t, understand why it doesn’t work and try something a little different. Don’t change everything at once, change one or two little things, and go from there.
And also the way I make the format. For instance on my YouTube channel, people are used to consuming the content on a rectangle format, 1280 x 720. But on Facebook they consume it vertical so you want that 1080 x 1080 format. And another reason you want to do that is because if you take your phone out and you scroll through your feed, it takes about 3 seconds to scroll through a feed. And with autoplay you’re getting a view automatically. You look at the bottom of the feed to the top of the feed, most people scroll slow enough that 3 seconds is what they count as a view.
So Facebook says, “Ok, he’s getting a lot of views because he just uploaded is video”, but really no one really watched it, they’re just going through their feed. But it helps you because then they roll it out to the next batch of your followers and so forth. And then that gives you that edge up. So that’s another thing you want to look at is how you format your videos.
Rich: Ok, I want to go back to something you said a little bit earlier that I thought was interesting. So you’re saying on Facebook you don’t link to your YouTube channel, but what you do instead is you use your own domain in some URL shortener and you include that in your Facebook post, even if you’re pointing over to your YouTube channel. Because what you want to do is basically hide the fact that you’re sharing a link over to YouTube, is that what I’m understanding?
James: That’s one way. I can link back to my YouTube channel but I won’t use a YouTube link itself. Now it may work out better the way you said it, use it to a separate page on your own domain. And that actually gave me an idea, I’m going to give it a shot sometime to see if that even helps more. But I link it back to YouTube directly but through a shortener.
Rich: Ok. And I just love to brand everything so I usually go to my website and use Pretty Link instead. It’s the same basic idea, we’re just masking that YouTube link.
Rich: Alright. So how are you making money at all this, I’m just kind of curious? Because obviously it takes time, energy, you’ve got to buy the ingredients. So how are you making money at this.
James: There’s a lot of different ways and I always say try to do all sorts of ways. Obviously you have Adsense which is only a small part of what you do. You have your associate links, you have brand deals. Because I do kitchen and cooking stuff, you get quite a few offers on things like blenders and mixers and all sorts of things related to food. That’s where my audience is and it’s good dollar amount stuff. It’s not like if you’re doing some other type of content and you might not get that dollar amount. Now of course doing technology they have iPhones that cost quite a bit of money, so that would help you out a lot.
So it adds up quite a bit. Those affiliate links, brand deals, so you actually have separate videos for these brands. They reach out to you most of the time themselves. If I have a brand that I use a lot, I’ll reach out and contact the company and say, “Hey, I really like your brand and I have this type of following, maybe we can work together sometime and I think it would be beneficial to you as well as me, and we can work together.” And I try to reach out to them if it’s something I really truly love.
Rich: So it sounds like a big part of your ability to make money is based on your audience size at YouTube. That seems to be the corner of the realm, so to speak. So you’ve talked about Facebook, what other techniques are you using to get more people watching your videos and possibly subscribing to your channel?
James: Well we talked about Facebook, but also using Twitter. So when I put a video out I automatically share a picture of the video ad well as a link back to that video on my YouTube channel to try to let people know I have a video that just came out. I also use Snapchat and Instagram. I use just about every platform there is, and one of the things I’ve done through the years – and I’ve learned this as well – the reason why my stuff is call “funfoodsyt” and not “funfoods”, is because early on I had “funfoods” for a lot of things but I had to change it just to keep consistent because some of the platforms other people have snapped up that name. I wasn’t quick on that and I’ve learned through the years that “funfoodsyt” won’t confuse people, when a new platform comes out I immediately secure that name right from the start even if I don’t have any intention on using that platform.
Like Musical.ly for instance, I have “funfoodsyt”, but I have no interest in doing videos there. But I secured it just in case because you never know if they might change to a different type of platform.
Rich: That’s good advice. So you’re obviously in the business of creating content and that is the focus of your business. What have you learned or what advice could you give someone who maybe their business is something else but they want to kind of tap into the power of YouTube and creative content?
James: I would say definitely do it, get into it, you can study a little bit, but the best learning you get is from doing it. And the technology we have on our phones you can do it right from there. The quality of the camera on your phone is so much better. But if you’re in marketing or something along those lines, and you want to market a product that you sell or a brand that you want to push, it’s a great platform. And if you can grab attention – just like any marketing for that matter – you can do it.
And if someone is trying to go from the outside into YouTube, but any entertainment industry – whether you’re a singer, or ‘how to’, or anything at all – I always suggest YouTube as a great platform, but it’s a social platform, so you also have to be social. So you can’t just put a video out and hope it does well. You have to respond to comments and questions and really make sure you’re giving some value to the people watching.
Rich: How much time every week do you spend engaging with your viewers, the people who are leaving comments on your videos?
James: Well right from the start when I put a video out at let’s say 2:00PM Sunday, and during that time between 2:00 and 3:00 I always answer as many comments as I can within that hour. YouTubers like to call it the “power hour”, it’s the first hour after they upload a video. You want to answer as many comments as you can and you want to engage with your following and show them you care that they came here and waited for the video to come out at 2:00.
And that’s my biggest advice as far as that goes for at least that first hour. Now it doesn’t mean I don’t answer anymore comments after that, but sometimes depending on the video and the reach you get and the amount of engagement you get, it may be hard to answer too many comments. If you get 2 million views on a video, you’re probably not going to answer every comment because you most likely have 100,000 comments and that’s just not realistic. But you try to get as many as you can and I look for the ones that are good, because I don’t want to encourage the bad ones.
Rich: What’s one thing that you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out?
James: Because I didn’t start it from a business, a lot of these kids and people starting out right now, they understand that YouTube can be a business and is a business. I wish I knew more about SEO to begin with. I got lucky on SEO, my giant Reese’s video at one time if you searched Google and just searched the word “Reese’s”, it came up ahead of Hershey which is the company that made Reese’s.
So I was getting a lot of traffic at that time and I had no idea how to capitalize on it. And I wish I knew how to because I didn’t at the time. And then other big YouTubers saw that and of course they capitalized on it because they had the following of 2-3 million people and they made the exact same video. And as we know, recipes are not copyrighted to anyone can make a recipe. So anyone can do it, it’s just who gets there first and who is able to really capitalize on it. And they did and I dropped down, but at that time I was just thrilled.
And I got quite a bit from that. The timing was great, it was around Halloween time and Hershey was actually advertising so I guess they were made that they were down to #2.
Rich: Awesome. Well James this has been great. I’m sure that people want to check out your channel to kind of try to dissect what you’ve been doing all along. Where can we find you online?
James: All across all platforms it’s @funfoodsyt. If you go into YouTube and you just search the word “funfoods” my picture will pop up and you’ll see my stuff right there. You can click on that or you can go to youtube.com/funfoodsyt, and it will come up directly and just search “mountain dew ice cream” and it will pop up.
Rich: Awesome, and we’ll have all those links in the show notes as always. James, it’s been great. Thank you so much for your time today.
James: Thank you for having me, Rich, I appreciate it.
James Lamprey has turned fun recipe videos into a business by creatively using YouTube videos to get his content to the masses. Check out his YouTube channel to see how his creative content creation has earned him over 80,000 loyal subscribers. You can also find him all over social media like Twitter, and Facebook, as well as his website where you can learn to make your own Gobstoppers (and who doesn’t want to do that?!)
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, creator of the Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference, and author of a new book, The Lead Machine. He loves helping businesses fine tune their strategies for digital marketing in the areas of search, social and mobile.