Columbia College YouTubeIs there a formula for YouTube success? An ideal video length or upload schedule? A specific approach a creator should take to writing metadata like descriptions and tags, or a fool proof strategy for sharing videos on Twitter or Facebook?

A group of students at Columbia College Chicago analyzed the 240 most-subscribed to channels on YouTube in an attempt to answer these questions and more in their 2013 YouTube Study. Their findings, which have been compiled into a massive 175-page document, may not give you all the answers but they’re certainly a step in the right direction towards finding out what (outside of awesome content, of course) makes a YouTube channel successful.

Wojciech Lorenc, assistant professor at Columbia College, reveals some of the findings in a post on ReelSEO, reporting that on average the top YouTube creators:

  • Edit their videos down to 4 minutes 19 seconds
  • Upload 1.25 videos per week
  • Speak at a rate of 150 words per minute
  • Edit at a rate of 9 cuts per minute
  • Type 56.6 words in the video description
  • Post on their Facebook pages at the rate of 0.7 posts per day and tweet at the rate of 2.93 tweets per day

The students that helped out with the study, including Chanel Armstrong, Courtney Aubrecht, Gabriel Gitlevich, Quinton Hampton, Melinda Heaney, Adan Hernandez, Danielle Lucovich and Leland Tellefsen, also break things down by genre and offer analysis and insight into the specific behaviors of some of the top creators, including The Fine Brothers, Sxephil, Shaycarl, Vsauce, Shane Dawson, Annoying Orange, Jenna Marbles and more.

Of course, I think it’s important to remember that content is, first and foremost, what makes or breaks a YouTube channel. Great content rises to the top while “meh” content gets lost in the shuffle (after all, there are over 4 days worth of video uploaded to YouTube every minute). That being said, it’s definitely interesting to take a look at the specifics of how these top creators are doing things.

Download the full study, check it out and let us know what you think!