Twelve Secrets to Scaling Your Roku TV Channel Quickly and Cost-Effectively.
In our Roku TV channel development workshops we take aspiring channel developers and publishers through the process, start-to-finish, of conceptualizing, developing, launching, managing, and promoting their Roku channels. Many new channel publishers launch a channel and then leave it up to Roku to grow their channel for them, and while Roku does a great job of promoting new channels, leaving your channel’s promotion solely in their hands is like putting all your promotional eggs in one basket. Yes, channels will grow naturally — organically — as the platform grows and more viewers discover it; and EVERY channel will grow over time — some faster than others depending on the content and how frequently it’s updated — but you can be proactive, too, and scale your channel faster with these twelve “Guerrilla Marketing” techniques, most of which cost you nothing:
Facebook has more than 500 million users — that’s more than 10 times what Roku has in viewers — and since Roku viewers are (obviously) at the cutting edge of technology, technology will play a pivotal role in promoting your Roku channel. If they have Roku, chances are they have Facebook, too. There are several pages on Facebook devoted entirely to Roku, just as there are several Roku channels with pages of their own. A Facebook PAGE allows you to promote your channel by announcing (and hashtagging) your channel updates. You can also post the occasional video link — not too many though, the whole idea is to get people to go to your channel to watch, not to keep coming back to your Facebook page to watch — especially if your channel is monetized with AdNexxt or other video advertising. Stick to simple announcements like:
“Check out the new video from XYZ exclusively on [your channel]”
(Include Roku’s Add Channel link, and some relevant hashtags)
“We just posted 12 new videos to [your channel]!”
(Include Roku’s Add Channel link, and some relevant hashtags)
(Link to one video)
Keep your updates consistent. Keep them short and sweet. Recommend your page to all your existing Facebook friends and ask them to share. Open up conversations with channel viewers. The more you interact, the more Likes and followers will grow, and so will your channel views.
Just like Facebook, every channel needs a Twitter account. Follow all the steps above, but take it one step further — add your @Twitter handle to your channel’s splash page and to short channel IDs you can run between videos. Encourage viewers to follow you on Twitter for updates. Post your updates and they’ll keep coming back. Otherwise, most viewers have no way of knowing your channel has been updated without actually, physically, going to it. Give them a way to be alerted of new updates and they will come back again and again.
(Of course this means constantly and consistently updating your Roku channel which, above all, is Rule #1 to a successful Roku channel: Keep it flowing!)
Don’t forget to hashtag the shit out of your Twitter postings. Try to find ways to use trending hashtags in your tweets as well. Find a “spin” on your tweets that relates to something trending.
3. Roku Advertising
If or when your channel is getting a decent, consistent traffic flow, Roku may contact you about advertising partnership. This is a great opportunity to promote your channel as Roku often gives your channel prominent placement or ad impressions on it’s home screen in exchange. They may offer you X number of ad impressions in exchange for using their ad network (at a healthy split in your favor, too!) in addition to any other ad networks you’re already using. Don’t wait for them to contact you though, be proactive and reach out to them!
Maybe it goes without saying, but every channel needs a website. We all know how to promote websites now. It’s easier than ever. If your channel features compelling content that people often use Google to search for, then your channel needs a website. People searching for that content will discover your website and ultimately, your channel. Your website should include links to “Add” your channel on Roku and you might want to go as far as signing up for a Roku affiliate account to offer website visitors a link to BUY a Roku if they don’t already have one. (Every little bit helps.)
As Roku publishers we have a responsibility to our own channels but also to the Roku community to promote the device itself. The more people who discover Roku, the more channel viewers over all. While there is some healthy competition between channels, our biggest competition is getting people to buy our device over the others. Let’s face it, without Roku viewers, NONE of us would have this great opportunity to publish and profit from our channels.
Your website should also prominently display your social media links — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
5. Mailing List
What good is a website without a means to gather visitors’ information and market to them? I strongly suggest adding a mailing list or newsletter component to it. Get visitors to subscribe to your “newsletter.” Your newsletter need not be anything more than your regular Twitter or Facebook updates copied and pasted into an email. Your website is there to turn visitors into viewers, and everything else is to keep viewers coming back.
How does one use Instagram to promote a Roku channel? It’s simple: by posting images of your latest updates; screenshots of new content, photos of the stars of new videos you’ve posted, or actual viewers watching your channel. There’s really a lot of fun and creative stuff you can do with Instagram to promote your channel. You can even use the video feature to capture clips of your new content. Be sure to tag all your posts, too. Open up conversations with your Instagram followers. Follow everyone!
And remember, Instagram will automatically post to your Facebook and Twitter for you! (Twitter automatically posts to Facebook, too.)
But wait — isn’t Roku the anti-YouTube? NO! Even YouTube has discovered the opportunities available to them via Roku and has launched their own channel. Roku has proven it’s here to stay, man. You can use YouTube to promote your Roku channel by featuring SOME (not all) of your video updates on a corresponding YouTube channel. In the comments for each video, you simply state there’s EVEN MORE on your Roku channel (followed by the Roku Add Channel URL.) If your videos are popular or go viral, you can even earn a few bucks from YouTube as well. I recommend adding a splash screen to the front and back-end of your YouTube submissions that promotes your Roku channel.
“Check out our Roku channel for 100s more videos like this!”
“Add us to your Roku for even more great videos like this one.”
“Find us on Roku under MUSIC”
YouTube isn’t our competitor. It’s simply another video platform for presenting our content to the world. We just don’t use it to present ALL of our content if we’re trying to promote our Roku channel.
But there’s another side to this… what’s the harm in presenting ALL of your content on YouTube if you’re getting paid for it? NONE. In fact, it’s a great way to make money off those people who DON’T have Roku and/or no desire to get one. Hell, you’re uploading content anyway, may as well MAXIMIZE your content’s earning potential by distributing on YouTube as well. Create a YouTube “channel,” sign up for monetization and you’ve created a SEPARATE income stream. YouTube may not pay as much as video advertising networks like AdNexxt and others, but it pays something, which, last I checked is better than nothing.
8. Channel Fusion
Channel fusion is basically fusion marketing for Roku channels. It’s when two channels get together and help promote each other’s content. By partnering with another channel that has similar content, you can link the two channels together.
With Roku, one channel can run a video provided by another channel and link it to that second channel. Viewers to channel #1 see a video from channel #2 superimposed with “Add this channel now.” They click and add channel #2. Channel #2 does the same for channel #1, and BOOM! it’s channel fusion. This technique leverages both channels’ viewership to scale each other faster.
Again, we need to maintain friendly competition between channels — our goal as channel publishers is to scale our own channels, but we also have a responsibility, at this stage in the game, to SCALE THE PLATFORM, too.
9. Marketing and Promotional Materials
Right before the CMA’s, I gave away 50 Roku 3’s with a Raw Country sticker on them. You can bet I earned 50 new Raw Country viewers. Of course, that cost me almost $5,000 but in the end it was worth it because I gave them to the right people. That’s not to say you should invest in a truckload of Roku devices and give them away. No, you don’t have to spend that much.
If your Roku channel is related to something else you do professionally, you should add that Roku logo to your business cards and marketing materials. If it’s the only thing you do, don’t be above printing up some flyers or stickers to hand out and promote your channel.
Many channels are niche- or community-based, in which case, get out among your niche or community and PROMOTE IT! You can get 5000 business cards now for $99 delivered — print up and pass them out everywhere. Who cares, where, EVERYONE is a potential Roku viewer.
Here’s a simple trick to make ADDING your channel easier: The Roku Add Channel URL is quite ugly and cumbersome to add to any marketing or promotional materials. Instead, buy a domain like, “Add[YourChannel].com” and FORWARD IT to the Roku Add Channel link. Godaddy offers free domain forwarding with a $13 domain. It’s well worth the investment to be able tell people this quick, easily-remembered link to adding your channel. Use your new URL everywhere, in place of the Roku link.
10. Special Events and Conferences
Armed with everything above, including marketing and promotional materials, it’s time to hit some EVENTS. Every Roku channel serves a niche, whether it’s entertainment (movies or music), food, travel, paranormal, educational, etc. — and EVERY niche has its expos, conferences, or other events. A simple search of Google, and you can find every event related to yours.
By attending events, you can hand out marketing and promotional materials directly to your potential viewers. You don’t necessarily have to pay to exhibit at an event, you can often get away with paying for admission and then network with people. Pass out your business cards or stickers or posters, whatever you have. Hit the parking lot, too. And pay close attention to where everyone’s going AFTER the event.
If you exhibit, then set up some TVs streaming your channel(s), pass out promotional items, AND gather names and emails, social media, etc. for your mailing list. DO NOT EVER do an event without gathering names and contacts.
If you can’t make an event, consider piggybacking on someone else who IS attending. Maybe that channel fusion partner is going — it’s in their best interest to promote your channel as well. Or maybe the event itself needs items for gift bags, in which case you can send 10,000 cool widgets with your channel name and URL on them to be included in those bags.
Maybe that event needs a speaker in which case, you get to go for FREE.
11. Other Media
Depending on the type of content you produce (or acquire) for your channel, you may be able to gain exposure for your channel through other media, like broadcast or cable news, business shows, niche-related shows, local TV news, or even local and national publications. If you have content that’s newsworthy, or a channel story that’s newsworthy, submit press releases to relevant media, do interviews, get the word out, put those other media to work for you and your channel.
The idea of a local person launching a new TV channel to millions of potential viewers IS news in many communities. Contact your local TV and newspapers, announce your channel launch and/or your availability as an “expert” on your channel’s subject (if applicable). I’m frequently asked to appear on panels for various TV shows related to my channels (as well as to Roku in general).
12. Roku Channel Guides
I love these people! If you search Google for “Roku Channels” you’ll find several Roku Channel Guides who maintain updated lists of all the available Roku channels, public AND private in many cases, with links to ADD those channels. These channel guides monitor Roku for new channels and do a great job of describing each channel BEYOND the basic Roku description. It makes sense to reach out to them — they’re all super people and usually happy to edit a description that may be less than favorable, with a reasonable explanation. They also TWEET regularly about new channels, so it makes sense to follow them and tag them whenever you launch a channel or make updates. Thousands of Roku viewers rely on them and follow them for current updates to the platform. While you’re at it. you may want to follow @RokuPlayer, too — that’s the official Twitter account of Roku.
Of course, there’s more than 12 ways to promote your Roku TV channel and as the platform grows and technology grows, more and more ideas will be introduced. These twelve, however, should give your channel a nice kick in the butt and get you scaling it faster, in most cases, at very little cost to you other than the time, energy and imagination they require.
Time, energy, and imagination — notice I didn’t say “money” — THAT is the “Guerrilla” way. ROK-ON.
Phil Autelitano is founder/CEO of Mediarazzi and AdNexxt. @PhilAutelitano