Most brands aren’t even aware of the fact that they are using video marketing platforms incorrectly. Instead of using YouTube to simply catalog all their video content, YouTube can be used to compliment that content, find new customers with it, and grow an online presence for the brand creating it. Video marketing correctly is like hitting a moving target, especially if you are a brand, small business, or startup. If you are, or even if you are a video creator, these industry tips should help you understand video marketing on YouTube as a platform.
While attending Vidcon 2016, I realized that there was no shortage of new and exciting information for branded YouTube channels. There was almost too much new information in the form of updated strategies, resources, tools, and data from the research done by many YouTube experts.
I went to the YouTube convention known as Vidcon for the second time. Last year was my first time attending and I was completely blown away by the scale of the thing. There were so many people! People of all ages, sizes, shapes, and colors were here because they are passionate about YouTube.
For most brands, however, sharing that passion for YouTube is most likely non existent. And let’s face it, it’s easy to see why. Most brands do not feel like YouTube is for them. If they do have a YouTube channel, it’s basically used as a storage method for the brand’s old video content, like one of those binders we used to use for holding all of our DVD’s. They weren’t too organized, or even labeled most of the time. It was just a place to hold your content, whether it is music or video.
With all of the new information I was learning, I saw the need to break it down in a way that brands can use to take action. That being said, there is much more information to take a deep dive into. So I recommend reading the source articles listed at the bottom, which will provide even more insights into how these results were reached and methods applied.
In an effort to save you time and money, here are just the tips. We will go over the following:
- Views & Subscribers
- View Duration
- Session Duration
- Channel Design
- Channel Structure
- Closed Captions
- Takeaways for Brands On YouTube
VIEWS & SUBSCRIBERS:
“Success for a video, is defined by achieving viewership equal to or greater than 50% of the subscriber base in the first 30 days” says Matt Gielen of Frederator Networks. This means that as soon as you upload the video, the clock is ticking. Yes, even in “unlisted.” Once it is uploaded, begin sharing your video immediately, often, and with purpose. But ultimately, your views will be affected by the number of subscribers you have built up to the point of your latest upload.
Matt and his team refer to this as View Velocity. In his experience, “there is a direct correlation between the percentage of subscribers who viewed a video in the first 72 hours and a videos life to date viewership.”
But does that concept carry over to the rest of your videos?
The short answer; yes. The more detailed explanation can be found here, but in the interest of giving you the tips, just the tips and nothing but the tips… I will keep it short and simply say this. If you get your subscriber count up, it will affect every video that is on your channel. The higher the subscriber count, the more likely your new videos will be to succeed.
VIEWS & SUBSCRIBERS TIPS:
- Tip #1 – Tell viewers to subscribe to your channel in every video. Tell them exactly how they can do it too, with specific direction to “subscribe for more content like this.”
- Tip #2 – Be consistent with uploading new content. This will encourage viewers to subscribe if they feel like you are going to be a reliable source for them to watch content in the future.
- Tip #3 – Add a watermark to your channel that says the word “subscribe”. This makes your watermark appear to be a CTA from YouTube, which is better than simply using your logo.
VIEW DURATION/ SESSION DURATION:
The research at Frederator also suggests that longer videos can and do have a big impact on views, view duration, and session duration. People are watching more and more videos statistically, so it makes sense that these longer videos, when watched to completion, will improve your rankings by the YouTube algorithm.
Basically there is a direct correlation between the “average view duration” and “lifetime views” for the video, so it seems that some longer videos are actually a good idea, only if they are engaging until the very end. If it’s a bad video, extending the badness is not going to help.
There are several ways brands and companies can do this, but here are just a few below.
VIEW DURATION & SESSION DURATION TIPS:
- Tip #4 – Have a “best of video” – include the best of many videos with the links of those videos included to allow the viewer to watch to completion, then watch one or more of the videos featured in the “best of.”
- Tip #5 – Create an “extended cut” version of a video in addition to the final video. Add both to a playlist to give the viewer a chance to see both.
- Tip #6 – Compilation Video – Create a video based on a theme found throughout many of your videos, and add those videos together in a way that makes sense for the viewer, and will keep them interested. You could even figure out the order to place these videos by looking in the back end of your Youtube analytics to see which videos perform better. Then simply place the highest viewed videos in the beginning and work your way down.
Matt Gielen breaks down these session concepts very well, so I will not attempt to do so here. However, I will say that these concepts make perfect sense when it comes to the actual goals of YouTube as a platform:
- “Make people come back to YouTube often”
- “Keep them on the platform for an extended period of time”
Typically, a brand would like to continue using this platform, like any other… To drive traffic to the website or landing page. But is this actually what YouTube wants the viewer to do? The research suggests otherwise. So, if the goals of the platform and the brand’s goals are not in alignment, how can this work?
With all of the information received here at Vidcon 2016, not to mention from other sources online, we find a delicate balance is needed when deciding what viewers should do after they watch one of your videos. Remaining cognizant of the YouTube “commandments” shown above, I can recommend these video marketing tips:
- Tip #7 – Keep viewers on YouTube most of the time by using Playlist links when possible in Video Descriptions, Interactive Cards, and when sharing links.
- Tip #8 – When attempting to have the viewer leave the YouTube platform, to visit your website for example, have them do so via the videos Interactive Card.
- Tip #9 – Upload your videos as “private”. Share your video through your other platforms, within the first 72 hours of the upload.
While the importance of metadata in the videos is dropping slowly, it is still crucial for a brand’s YouTube video marketing strategy. This is because most of a brand’s content would need to be found for years to come, and should not rely on initial exposure of their videos only.
Research on which keywords to use can and should be done. There are a few ways to accomplish that, which you can find here. If you already have a good idea of what your channel and videos keywords should be, they can be used as what Jeremy Vest of Vidpow refers to as Root Channel Keywords. Use the “root channel keywords” in your channels keywords, video keywords, words spoken in the video, tags, descriptions, titles, playlist title, and closed captions.
Your video has to include content, both video and audio, that utilizes your channel’s “root keywords” as discussed earlier. Again, while Metadata certainly has a lesser role in the actual ranking of your video by the YouTube algorithm, it does have a very important role in discoverability of your channel and videos. Understand that YouTube will rank the video higher if more viewers watch your video longer, but including your channels meta tag information will help viewers “discover” your video in the first place.
METADATA & DISCOVERABILITY TIPS:
- Tip # 10 – Become a content hub for the keywords you would like to rank for by using keywords for your channel. With consistent use of these keywords, your channel can be a centralized location for a particular topic, or keyword phrase.
- Tip # 11- Place those same keywords in every video that is applicable, which should be most if not all the videos on your channel.
- Tip # 12 – Rank for something broader than what your individual video is about but is still a part of your brand’s youtube channel keywords. Do this by adding those keywords in your metadata.
What does the design of your channel “say” to the viewer? If they are a new visitor to your YouTube channel, proper design could mean the difference between them becoming a subscriber. Right then and there, arriving on your channel for the first time, this viewer might just hit that “subscribe” button. We already went over how important this can be for a brand, below you will find the tips to help make that more likely to happen.
How does your channel art contribute to the way a viewer will navigate through your channel? Well, Tim Schmoyer of Video Creators has a lot to say on this subject. He believes that the power of Youtube is the ability to use it to “spread your message”.
When it comes to designing your channels artwork, he believes that your brand’s message should permeate every element of the brand’s YouTube channel. As a brand, making a viewer feel like you created your YouTube channel just for them is the key to viewers becoming subscribers, and hopefully a fans of your videos.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when designing your channel art:
- What is the target audience?
- What is the value proposition of your channel and videos?
In the example above, we see that for the luxury home builder Whitestone Builders, has its message front and center in the banner art. They want the message to spread that they are “Expert Home Builders”, so it literally says it there on the artwork. It is best to design for all devices, so using a template for this is recommended. Here are some tips for improving your channel structure.
CHANNEL DESIGN & STRUCTURE TIPS:
- Tip #13 – Channel Icon – Make the channel icon a face, if it makes sense to. It is the graphic most seen across the platform, and a friendly face is more likely to be engaged with. If a face does not make sense for your business, a logo that is square and fits nicely in the icon area works well too. This is a great branding asset when commenting on videos.
- Tip #14 – Banner Image – If possible, try to have the target audience and the value proposition on this image. Tell them what you’re all about, and when they should come back.
- Tip #15 – Channel Trailer – A new visitor is very likely to watch this first video on the channel. Make this video about 30 – 45 seconds ideally, addressing your target audience directly and pitching the “value proposition” of your channel, while also including your brand’s story/message.
There are 2 types of titles to consider for your YouTube strategy:
- Titles that help you find what people are looking for
- Titles that arouse interest
Titles are more important for brands than for Vloggers, mainly because a Vlogger is relying on the audience they have built. Brands tend to rely on the search intent of viewers. Sometimes it’s not all about keywords though. It’s only a part of the strategy for YouTube titles. Sometimes the video title can be the most “shareable” words of choice.
Video Title: “Types of Videos Your Brand Needs To Succeed”
Write a provocative first sentence to the the description, maybe two. But also make sure to add your YouTube link above the “show more” button. Anything written below this button is typically never seen by the viewer, but is recognized by the Youtube and Google algorithms and can serve your video to the viewer based off of the content found in the description. Links within descriptions are up for debate as of right now, since there are many experts that have mixed feelings about them. All of these theories have been neither confirmed or denied by Youtube, so I will present them for you here.
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?
Note: These are not actual quotes, simply the main takeaways from each expert according to their own video marketing research.
- Jeremy Vest – Use transcriptions along with original text to have up to 5000 characters in description full of keywords and root keywords. Use the YouTube URL shortener to send to more videos, and use IC to send to websites and external sites. Duplicate content in the description is not recommended as a long term strategy.
- Matt Gielen – Copy and paste the (un-clickable) links for viewers to copy and paste into their browsers, avoid having external links that are not sending viewers to another video or playlist. Do not have “clickable” links in your description so that you do not tempt a viewer to leave the Youtube platform when possible.
- Tim Schmoyer – Write descriptions that have “shareable” content. Make sure to get your message across in the video description, especially above the “show more” button. Continuity between your channels message and the message of your videos is key.
TITLE & DESCRIPTION TIPS:
- Tip #16 – Increase Session Duration by removing any external source links, including Bitly links and other trackable URL shorteners.
- Tip #17 – Add your brand name at the end of video titles to increase discoverability.
- Tip #18 – Add plenty of text to your description, explaining what the video is about and with any keywords that the video and channel would like to rank for, including the “root keywords”
- Tip #19 – Remove any duplicate text from your video descriptions. Google’s algorithm already ranks duplicate content on pages lower. Therefore, it is safe to assume that this change may be coming to Youtube as well.
Your video has metadata in the closed captions as well. On its own, YouTube will add this to your videos. However, the “automatic closed caption” transcription is usually incorrect. This is often the case if your audio is not ideal quality, or if you’re using terms that are not easily recognized. What should you do if you would like to correct this?
Of course, you would like to have the correct keywords in the closed captions too. It makes sense, right? You just spent so much time researching these keywords, adding them to your video, and then added them to the metadata for your video. It makes sense that the closed captions would need to have the correct keywords as well. Uploading the proper transcription file is recommended to increase discoverability of your videos.
CLOSED CAPTIONS TIPS:
- Tip #20 – Add a clean .srt file with the correct transcription to each video. Publish this version.
- Tip #21 – Unpublish the Automatic Closed Caption that is automatically set.
We are discovering the power of ‘binge watching’, due to the fact that most of us tend to do it with the video content we are most engaged with. For example, when I discovered “Game of Thrones” or Breaking Bad” I lost hours, days, and even weeks watching the next episode in the series… I couldn’t get enough. The same principles apply when it comes to video marketing, and making your videos a part of a Youtube playlist. Keep the viewer watching more videos by using some YouTube best practices and tips listed below.
- Tip #22 – Title your playlists based off of the your channels “root keywords” or popular keywords on YouTube (check the YouTube search bar).
- Tip #23 – Place the url for these Youtube playlists in other videos description using the YouTube URL shortener, above the show more button.
- Tip #24 – Add the most applicable, relevant, or popular playlists in the IC section for every video.
- Tip #25 – Research the most popular videos in the playlist, and place the most popular to the least popular videos in order on the playlist. If your videos have a particular sequential order, place them in the playlist according to that sequence.
- Tip #26 – Spend extra time making the thumbnail the best it can be for the 1st video that appears in your playlist – As it will be seen the most
- Tip #27 – Make several playlists that feature your best videos.
- Tip #28 – Group the longer videos in your channel together by creating “Extended Version” and “Compilation” playlists.
It seems that the secret mix of what a brand can do to succeed on YouTube isn’t so secret anymore. But since this blog is supposed to help save you time and money by giving you valuable Youtube tips from Vidcon 2016, here are a few more. Some are summarized in review while others are presented for the first time. Can you handle any more tips at this point? If so, here they are:
2016 VIDEO MARKETING TIPS FOR BRANDS ON YOUTUBE:
- Tip #29 – Have a single focus as a Youtube channel, using your “root keywords’ as a guide. The more narrow you can focus your channel and content on a single topic, IP, or a personality, the more likely you will gain support from the YouTube algorithm. This should be done for an extended period of time, and should be focused towards as large of a segment of the YouTube audience as possible.
- Tip #30 – Drive more “start sessions” to YouTube. Use your email blasts, newsletters, social media platforms, and any other external sources to your YouTube video within the first 48 hours for maximum “Viewer Velocity”. This also includes when a person arrives on YouTube.com independently. If your video is the first video clicked on from their homepage, it counts as a “start session” and will thus be ranked higher by the algorithm moving forward. The more start sessions a video can create, the more successful it will be over time and through the life of the video.
- Tip #31 – Find a specific day and time to upload, determined by when your subscribers are engaging the most with your videos. Once you have an idea of when that should be, announce it to your audience in every video, and wherever possible. Let them know when they can expect your latest upload.
- Tip #32 – Do not use a third party scheduler for your latest uploads, scheduled uploads, or set your newest uploads to “unlisted”. Upload as “private” then set live. YouTube will rank your video lower otherwise. Upload as private for optimum Viewer Velocity. Upload as private first, then make public after optimization.
- Tip #33 – Set your videos to “Public” when you have the most active amount of viewers and subscribers for your channel. Looking in the back end of your YouTube analytics will give you those days and times. Tell your audience when to come back to your YouTube channel.
- Tip #34 – Most of the time, viewers will discover your videos by seeing the YouTube thumbnail. Focusing on YouTubes best practices for thumbnails will improve your overall channel performance as well as the individual video’s performance.
- Tip #35 – Build lists off of the YouTube platform, such as social media followers, email lists, etc. When your latest video is ready to be shared within the first 48 hours, you can share the video with these lists to drive more “Start Sessions”.
- Tip #36 – Get your videos embedded on external sources, such as other blogs and related websites. Use your network to find other blogs and sites that will benefit by sharing your content with their audience. The more external embedded sources there are for your video, the more organic views it can receive.
- Tip #37 – Reset your latest upload on your YouTube channel page to be the “Featured Video” across all videos and set it as the video to show your new and returning subscribers.
- Tip #38 – Leave a Comment on your older videos. In the comment section of your videos, add a brief description of a related video, playlist, or CTA with a link to your latest video.
- Tip #39 – The YouTube algorithm determines the number of views each video and channel will get, keep in mind YouTube’s goals when optimizing your channel and videos.
- Tip #40 – Optimize your video to make the viewer watch the next videos(s) right after, using a Playlist, Interactive Card, YouTube link, or Annotation.
- Tip #41 – “The YouTube algorithm determines the number of views each video and channel will get, and using best practices specific to YouTube is key.
- Tip #42 – Successful YouTube channels are not created by high dollar content producers, embrace the less polished approach to achieve success on YouTube while staying true to the brand’s mission and standards.
- Tip #43 – Do not share YouTube videos to Facebook. Upload natively to Facebook instead.