YouTube playlists: an amazing source for content ideas

by on 16th March 2016

Having to come up with ideas on the spot is really tough. In fact, I think it’s a bit of a myth. Everyone I know who’s been great at improvisation in some form or another has always managed to achieve that through hard work, and building up a library of material ready for that next ‘on the spot’ moment.

A great way of thinking about this is the songwriter’s notebook. It’s exactly the same thing – jotting down thoughts and ideas as you go. I think exactly the same methodology can be applied to your content marketing and ensuring you’ve always got a bank of relevant material at your fingertips.

Continuing on our recent theme of investigating what works in content (you can read that here, here and here), I wanted to take a look at how we might start to build up a library or idea bank of content that works as a collection.

Tapping into a concept that’s going to work well as a series is a massive win. Being able to produce a number of concurrent pieces gives a huge amount of value for your idea buck.

So how do you get started when researching themes or collections? Exploring anywhere on the web that collates content is a great place to start, my personal favourite being YouTube playlists. Why? It’s super easy to do and with a fairly minimal time investment you can get a decent amount of ideas very quickly.

Let’s take a look.

Exploring Top Playlists

As many people may know, I’m a huge fan of motorcycles. So, for this example a quick search on YouTube with my results filtered to playlists, and sorted by view count gives me an instant list of themes within this interest group:

motorcycle racing playlist

Super simple filters here:

youtube filters

That’s taken all of a few seconds and I’ve instantly got a set of 23,500 playlists that I can take a steer from. Just from flicking through the early results, I can already see strong interest in a number of themes which could lead me on to consider topics that I probably wouldn’t have thought of such as:

  • Dirt bike racing – the underdog of the motorcycling world
  • Road racing vs. short circuit racing
  • Classic historical motorcycling races
  • 50cc racing in the 1970’s
  • Motorcycle drag racing
  • Classic tracks, corners and track speed

Obviously the above will need developing further, but that’s six ideas for collections of content right off the bat. And they’ve all been inspired by clear evidence of their popularity.

Investigating with Auto Complete

Google’s auto-complete has long since been known as a quick way to see what queries might be popular in search. It’s no different on YouTube, and it can serve as an excellent method for getting some quick direction on content ideas.

As an example, starting to type in ‘motorcycle mechanics’ yields the following suggestions:

  • Motorcycle mechanics
  • Motorcycle mechanics for beginners
  • Motorcycle mechanics 101
  • Motorcycle mechanics institute
  • Motorcycle mechanics basics
  • Motorcycle mechanics tutorials
  • Learn motorcycle mechanics

That’s a very quick way to get a directional steer on what might be of interest to a motorcycle audience. Looking at the search results for ‘motorcycle mechanics for beginners’ and again sorting by view count, I get a pretty quick view on what topics within motorcycle mechanics might work:

motorcycle mechanics

Interestingly of the top six results, four of the videos are about clutch adjustments. Now, it wouldn’t be too difficult to take a transcription of a video and using that as a basis for your research have a series of illustrated guides put together.

Some of the other ideas this search spawned:

  • Harley Davidson clutch adjustments (Harley’s featured heavily in the top results!)
  • How to clean a motorcycle carburettor
  • How to change your motorcycle oil
  • How to check a motorcycle battery
  • How to change a motorcycle air filter

Again, minimal time investment and at least five validated ideas off the bat.

Reviewing the Structure of Popular Channels

As per the above examples, digging around search results on YouTube can be a fantastically quick way to get some inspiration. Going a little further, it’s also very revealing to see how popular and well-established channels organise their own video content into collections.

Changing tack to another one of my loves, guitars, let’s see how one of the most popular publications ‘Premier Guitar’ organises their video content:

premier guitar playlist

As we’re looking for themes in content, it’s super interesting to see how they’ve playlisted their videos. From the excellent ‘rig rundown’ series taking you through some of the world’s leading players set ups (highly recommend watching the Brain May episode!), through to top industry events, DIY maintenance and equipment reviews, there’s a ton of insight to be gained.

Hope this tip helps with your next brainstorming session and happy exploring!

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