4 Steps to Finding Your Fans on YouTube

Want to interact and engage with your fans on YouTube? Not sure where they are to begin with, or even how to talk to them? Here are some key steps to help you find your fan oasis and feel comfortable when you get there:

1.  Assess your current level of knowledge

How much do you really know about your fans? Some questions to think about:

  • Does your fan community have a specific name for itself? Can you guess where these names originated?

Whovians  |  Cumberbitches  |  Sneakerheads  |  Beliebers

  • What kind of language do your fans use to talk about themselves and the subject of their fandom?

Do they use words like emptiespickupscanonfanonFinnchel, acronyms like DFTBA, or phrases like “all the feels”?

  • Where are the online centers of the community?

  • Who are the community organizers and leaders?


2.  Find the “fan dictionary” – learn the language


In order to search for your fans, you will first need to learn the language and keywords that can point you in the right direction. A good place to start is with the meme “you know you are an X if…” where X equals either the name of your fan community, or simply “fan of Brand Y.”

Then, dig into the results. Seek out words that are community specific, like mpreghypebeastcrossplaysquee, or bounding, and look them up. Looking up a definition for a community specific word will quickly lead to glossaries and dictionaries for the community. One community specific word will lead you to others

Some fans will use words that are about established online behaviors across fan communities. Many of these are acronyms like RPF (real person fanfiction) or OTP (one true pairing). Look those up as well if they are unfamiliar to you.

Once you learn their language, fan content will become a lot easier to follow.


3. Find the center of the fan universe

Joss the way we like it

WHEDONesque, the center of all things Joss Whedon

Where do your fans congregate? Where are the central hubs of information? Where are the historical records kept?

All of these questions will help you in your quest for understanding.

Fan centers and knowledge bases are usually online and have evolved into existing in a variety of places like: r/MakeupAddiction, everywhere on Tumblr, wookiepedia, as well as dedicated fan sites like Mugglenet or Nerdfighteria and of course, on YouTube. YouTube tends to be a major hub for fan made work.

Within these spaces find fans by searching for the community specific keywords, brands, and known influencers.

What kind of hubs fans are on to communicate with each other, how they store information and where they store information are all clues about the community’s thoughts on professionalization. 


4.  Follow the influencers

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Influencers tend to know other influencers. They socialize with experts of similar taste and knowledge. Let the experts lead you down the rabbit holes of the internet to uncover the leaders of your fan community.

On YouTube, these rabbit holes present themselves in the related videos column, as well as in the content of videos themselves. An effective way to figure out who knows whom is through a kind of video called the “TAG.” Much like the childhood game or a chain letter, vloggers do a video answering questions or performing tasks, and then they tag some of their friends who also vlog to do the same kind of video.

Actually following or subscribing to earned media will help keep you up with trends in the fan space.

It is important to watch the videos and read the comments for insights about who knows whom in the community. This will also help to understand the style of the community as well as the enthusiasm and willingness to participate on the part of the fans who engage with knowledge bases and influencers.

So now what do I do?

Once you have this information about who your fans are, how they communicate, and where they conrgegate, then this information can be used to open up a dialogue with the community or influencers in the community. The beauty of being on a network like YouTube is that they are great for back and forth conversations, calling back to something that someone else did.

Some of these successful tactics include:

  • Referencing popular pieces of earned media in paid media campaigns
  • Including fans in paid media or doing brand integrations with earned media makers.
  • Using your most passionate fans as a focus group


Thanks for reading! Subscribe to our blog for more fan community building tips and unique insights into fan behavior on YouTube.

(photo collage via digital spy, ikeepemclean, The_Doodler, and whatleydue)


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