The most recent statistics on online video and YouTube are mind-blowing: Nielsen reported that Americans streamed 15 billion videos in the most recently recorded month (May 2011). While traditional TV viewing was up only 0.2% over last year, Internet video viewing was up 35% and mobile video viewing went up 20%.
Before you throw all your marketing dollars into YouTube, however, you might want to consider this other statistic: 35 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube… every minute. In the time it takes you to read this article, about two weeks of fresh content will be posted. Watch the video below and add another three days.
In other words, there’s a lot of competition for those eyeballs. So, how do you maximize your YouTube marketing results?
#1: Create compelling videos.
Most of us will never create a “viral” video with millions of views because we don’t own a piano-playing cat or a sneezing baby panda, but thankfully those aren’t required for success. In fact, most of us couldn’t handle a million new customers all at once, anyway. “Now serving 3,424,022. No? Now serving 3,424,023. Please, everyone, form a straight line. No pushing.”
Instead, you should create content that addresses your audience’s needs. Your goal should be to create videos that are helpful, valuable and compelling to your prospects and clients. If you can blog about it, you can create a video about it. Your video content may consist of how-to’s, answers to frequently asked questions, expert interviews, screen video captures, slide shows and more.
Mari Smith provides some great suggestions on content creation in How to Integrate Video Into Your Social Media Marketing.
While many people may have questions on the technical aspects of video creation, I’ll leave that to people more skilled than myself. Be sure to check out video guru Steve Garfield’s site and Dave Kaminski’s WebVideoUniversity.com.
#2: Make your video findable.
Your videos should be findable both within and outside of YouTube. Videos often appear on the first page of search engines, and are a proven method of leap-frogging your competition to the top of the search results page. The fact that Google owns YouTube can’t be overlooked.
To make your video more findable, you’ll want to focus on three key areas:
- Title: Make sure your targeted keywords are in the first few words of your title. Another trick is to add a colon after your initial keywords and rephrase your title for maximum effect. For example, your video on saving money for college might be called “College Savings Plans: The 529 Plan and Your Child.”
- Description: Two things to keep in mind here: 1) start your description with a full URL, and 2) don’t be stingy with your description—more is… well, more. Be as descriptive and keyword-rich as possible. This will help you get found more easily by people searching YouTube for your type of content. You can also include more URLs throughout your content.
- Tags: Be sure to include any and all related keywords in the tags field.
These aren’t the only variables in getting found, but they’re the easiest to manage and control. Page views, subscribers, comments and likes can all affect your video’s visibility.
#3: Brand your YouTube channel.
Even without spending the big bucks for a brand channel or becoming a YouTube partner, you still have the opportunity to create a branded experience on YouTube.
Consider your YouTube channel your “home away from home.” In other words, you can turn your channel into a destination. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Create a custom background and choose your colors to match your branding. As with every social media platform, the more branded and “lived-in” your profile appears, the more credibility you appear to have… warranted or not. A generic or default design makes you appear fly-by-night.
- Choose “Player View” as your layout. Unlike the Grid View, the Player View features one big video that can be set to autoplay. Because total views can positively impact your visibility, you want to make sure your featured video is set to autoplay.
- Create Playlists and feature your best content in the right column. Playlists are a way of organizing videos on YouTube. Although you can create playlists of any video—whether you made it or not—for your channel, consider creating a playlist of your most popular videos, or ones that best represent your products and offerings.
For example, if you offer bicycling tours of New England, you might create a playlist that consists of “Bike Tours of Maine,” “Bike Tours of New Hampshire,” “Bike Tours of Vermont,” and so on.If you own a pet store, you might have a Care & Feeding playlist with such hits as “Taking Care of Your Iguana,” “Feeding Tips for Your Parakeet,” and “What Will Your New Pet Snake Eat?”Just as you have a home page on your website and silos of information for your different products and services, you can replicate this on your channel through clever use of the Featured Video and Playlist.
#4: Use annotations to build subscribers.
You can add annotations to your YouTube videos that include clickable calls to action. These annotations appear on top of your videos for a specified length of time and can include links to other videos, playlists or channels, or include a subscribe option.
This is also helpful if you have created a video with out-of-date information. Rather than deleting the video, you can create a new video. Then go back to the original video and embed a link that takes people to the updated, corrected version.
(If you make Facebook how-to videos, you should expect to use this trick quite a bit.)
#5: Post a bulletin and alert your friends and subscribers.
At the top of your channel is the Post Bulletin tab. You can create a bulletin and a link to a video that will appear on your subscribers’ and friends’ home pages. This is a great way to draw extra attention—and traffic—to your video.
#6: Use YouTube Ads.
Julie Perry, the social media director at BLASTmedia, calls these the “last frontier” of online advertising.
She reports, “People are coming [to YouTube] and directly entering in search queries of what they’re looking for… You can bid on those keywords just as you would Google pay-per-click. But instead of a text ad coming up on the right-hand side as it does on Google, you get a video and a thumbnail of a video.”
“The best part is that you can bid on keywords for pennies on the dollar compared to what you pay for a Google text ad or even a Facebook ad.”
Julie also talks about another type of YouTube advertising, “Once you have your video submitted as a Promoted Video, it then has the opportunity to run what are called ‘CTA’ ads. CTA stands for ‘call to action.’ They’re clickable and they allow you to click right over from a video to a website.”
For an in-depth interview with Julie Perry, check out Killer YouTube Marketing Tactics for Small Business.
#7: Leverage other social media platforms.
YouTube is a social media platform, not an island. Here are some ways to extend the reach of your video and make it more shareable:
- Blog it. Every time you post a new video, you should create a blog post around it. Use a keyword-rich title, and fill your post with appropriate, complementary content. This will deliver your video to your blog subscribers and increase its chances of being found in a search. Plus, you can add your own sharing buttons on your blog, making it easier for other people to share your content.
- Post it to Facebook. Whether on your profile page or on your business page, you can reach a much wider audience on Facebook. Plus, video is a great way of increasing your EdgeRank.
- Tweet it. Good content goes farther on Twitter.
- Submit it to StumbleUpon. This social bookmarking site has always been a powerful referrer, and recently surpassed Facebook (yes, that Facebook!) for driving the most U.S. web traffic for social media sites.
#8: Review YouTube Insights for more, um, insights.
YouTube has some powerful analytics that give you insight into who’s watching your videos and how they discovered them. You can gather information on an individual video or on all the videos you’ve uploaded.
Reviewing your most-watched videos or the videos with the most community feedback (comments, likes, etc.) can point to what type of content resonates most with your target audience.
By creating content that resonates with your audience, building up a branded channel and using bulletins and ads, you can greatly increase the return on your investment in creating online videos.
However, this is just the start of increasing your online visibility through YouTube marketing.