Finding YouTube Video Topics for Higher Ed

Looking for content ideas? Here are some tips for finding topics for your higher education YouTube channel.

YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, only after Google. People are watching more than a billion hours of video every day. Gen Z and teens especially rely on YouTube to learn, co-watch and review products or brands. A recent study by Pew Research Center confirmed YouTube as the teens preferred channel – around 95% of teens use YouTube almost every day. So, what does it mean for higher education? What kind of content should brands be producing? How do you find topics?

The answer lies in finding a balance between being relatable, highly authentic and catering to your audience’s interests. My teammate Hannah has already written a blog post highlighting popular YouTube themes for higher education. Continuing from that, in the following section I go into specific tips that you can use to search for topics for your higher ed YouTube channel:

Tip 1: YouTube ‘Research’ tab

At the outset, finding out your most popular search queries and most valuable traffic sources is important, but so is finding out what your audience’s interests are. YouTube recently introduced a Research tab in YouTube Analytics that you can use to explore what your audience, and viewers across YouTube, are searching. It also allows you to discover content gaps, and is a starting point for research to create new videos that viewers are interested in.

This feature could be especially useful for a niche YouTube channel. I believe our college or program-specific YouTube channels would benefit more from this feature than an umbrella channel like CSU YouTube which features content across myriad themes from research to events to student and alumni success.

Head over to your channel’s YouTube Studio. Under the Analytics section you should be able to view the Research tab.

Tip 2: YouTube autocomplete

YouTube’s search bar can be used to conduct a simple, yet powerful keyword research around your brand. YouTube search autocomplete is the most obvious view of search queries that are actually happening on YouTube.

YouTube is so vast that you can be absolutely generic or go as deep as long as it serves your interests. As an example, you can type in your brand name, hit a space and type in the letters a, b, c and so on to drill-down by each letter of the alphabet.

Tip 3: AnswerThePublic

A free keyword tool that visualizes frequently asked search questions, AnswerThePublic listens into autocomplete data from search engines like Google and quickly builds out every useful phrase and question people are asking around your keyword. This is an extension of the YouTube autocomplete tip except that it aggregates queries from all search engines.

Tip 4: Google Trends

If you have a faster turnaround time or have a large video team personnel-wise, you can make use of the trending queries in Google Trends. Google Trends is a website by Google that analyzes the popularity of top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages. It shows  the relative popularity of  the chosen search query over the selected time period. Trends has recently started to show YouTube-specific queries that you can make use of.

Tip 5: Use a keyword research tool

As is evident from the previous tips, keywords are important in helping you capture your audience’s search intent. YouTube keywords can be placed in your video title, description, captions or tags that give YouTube’s algorithm clues as to what your video is about. Using a keyword tool certainly helps you establish a streamlined process to help research ideas that have the highest search volume, and have the lowest competition in your geography.

There are YouTube-specific tools such as VidIQ and TubeBuddy that you can bring in to help achieve success on the platform.

Bonus Tip: Use your own video comments

The comments on your own videos can be an excellent source of inspiration for your YouTube content pipeline. Sometimes the most popular (most-liked) comments on your past videos might signify a pent-up demand for a particular video topic that you could tap into in the future.

In addition to the above, it’s also important to understand what your competitors or peers are doing. Analyze the most-viewed videos from your peers around the topics that you are planning to create. Learn how they framed the title, the description or other video elements to push your content toward success.