Michael "Cartoonz" Hogman is a gaming YouTuber with a résumé of accomplishments the length of California. He is nationally ranked in games such as World of Warcraft, Overwatch, League of Legends, and Hearthstone, and this past year was the coach of one of World of Warcraft's top 3v3 teams competing at the Arena World Championship Finals at Blizzcon 2016.  Michael is also the author of an e-book series for World of Warcraft players, compiling knowledge from some of the game's top competitors.

However, Michael is best known for his YouTube channel, where he boasts over 100,000 subscribers. He has been creating gaming content since he was a teenager, and over the years has built an extremely loyal audience. I have worked with him on discovering unique ways to continue growing his audience and developing his personal brand.

After reviewing his recent YouTube traffic, Michael noticed something odd about YouTube's algorithm.

He says:

In the last couple weeks, I decided that I wanted to find a new way to expose my YouTube content to new audiences that might be interested in the games that I play. I discovered that some of my videos in the past with very bold, yet simple, titles had been the ones really taking off in viewership. Since I had already identified the title being what YouTube cares about most, it was just a matter of playing the game of trial and error!

After trying for about five or six times over two weeks, I finally found the pattern to getting every one of my videos to 20,000 views in under 24 hours, and eventually 100,000 views in under a week.  By adding "The" to the beginning and "World of Warcraft Legion" to the end of every video title, and then three or four interesting words about the actual topic, I was able to draw in more people who were being exposed to the video throughout YouTube. Once I knew how to get more traffic, I started putting way more time into the actual content to make sure it was actually good content. Luckily, my hard work paid off because not only has my viewership and revenue tripled in two weeks, but I'm regularly gaining over 400 subscribers a day.

That's right.

For whatever reason, adding the word "The" to each title gave YouTube's algorithm the right trigger word to see Michael's video as "the authority" and prioritize its searchability.

At first, I was skeptical, so I asked him to send me some screenshots of his data, and sure enough, he was right. He went from averaging around 15,000 video views per day to almost 60,000 views per day. In addition, his daily subscriber rate jumped from around 150 to some 375--more than doubling simply because he added one single word to his recent video titles.

This is the other side of personal branding and social strategy so few people take the time to learn about, let alone experiment with and implement: algorithm "hacking" (even though it isn't really hacking at all).

When it comes to personal branding, everyone is so focused on the quality of content--as you should be! But the truth is, that's only 50 percent of the battle. The other 50 percent is figuring out how to actually get eyeballs on your work, your videos, your photos, your blog articles, etc. And nine times out of 10, that means having a firm grasp of the platforms you're playing on, and understanding how to make their algorithms work in your favor.

This subtle change in Michael's YouTube strategy ended up making a world of difference for his channel's performance this month.  When it comes to social strategy, these are the things we work on discovering, and often times, they're what separate the "good" content creators from "the greats."