When we consider social media as a business development tool, we mostly think of platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. YouTube rarely gets a nod. It’s just a platform for sharing cute cat videos, right?
The power of YouTube for business marketing is increasing daily. Based on Alexa traffic rankings, YouTube is the second most visited site on the web, right after Google. The platform gets over 30 million visitors a day, and not all of them want mindless entertainment. Many of them are looking for highly engaging, visual information.
If you want to boost the credibility and visibility of your business and generate leads, then creating and sharing video content on YouTube is a great way to go about it. Chances are you’re completely new to this idea and not sure where to start. We’ll say right upfront that it’s not quite as simple as recording a clip of your boss on your camera phone and hitting upload!
Fear not. As a video production agency we know how to do YouTube marketing really well. In fact, we’ve even got our very own channel. Based on our experience, here are the 10 most important things you need to get right when launching your own YouTube channel.
1. Choose an interesting subject
This sounds super obvious but it’s not that easy. As a loyal employee or overly obsessed business owner, you might think that watching the office wall paint dry is scintillating viewing. All well and good but it’s not about you – it’s about your target audience.
What are your customers and prospects interested in?
Once you’ve investigated their viewing habits and found an interesting subject that your business could talk about with some expertise, do some competitive research. Check what other YouTube channels cover the same subject and make sure that you give your angle a unique spin.
And don’t forget your channel title! This is crucial. It needs to hook the viewer and provide some information about the channel. It’s a really important element of YouTube marketing. But don’t worry, titles aren’t cast in stone. You can always change them down the line once the analytics start coming in.
2. Make your content engaging
Before you pull in the big guns and allocate 90% of your marketing budget to video content creation, ask yourself – is what you’re about to shoot something your audience wants to see? Why should they watch it? What’s in it for them? There has to be an end-user benefit otherwise engagement will be very poor.
In other words, make it helpful, entertaining or shocking. You want to grab attention so don’t waffle and waste your viewer’s time, get straight to the point. An optimised start depends on your title and thumbnail so make sure both are highly compelling.
Stay focused on one subject – but, tease ahead to something that’s coming up. Go all out and promote comments and discussions, reward community members and contributors with a Creator Heart for comments you like, and screenshot and shout out comments in later videos.
Always close with an end screen that clearly highlights the call to action. And then throw in some bloopers to keep them watching as your next video begins.
3. Optimise your channel
An optimised channel is critical – you want to show up in YouTube searches and suggested videos. To ensure that viewers find your content, you need to work with the YouTube algorithm to boost visibility and deliver a memorable viewing experience.
Before you start throwing keywords around wildly, take time to develop a good YouTube SEO strategy that is aligned to your wider marketing objectives. Remember, your YouTube channel needs to inform and support your other activities – not stand alone.
Your YouTube home page is the first thing that people see. Use it to brand your presence on YouTube and customise your channel. How? Upload a custom background that is simple and relevant, create a custom header and link to your other social channels.
The content you create for YouTube is your greatest optimisation weapon because it contains reams of valuable metadata. What is metadata? It’s all the information you enter to define your video – the title, descriptions and tags. Optimise these bits based on keyword research and your video content will rank better in both Google and YouTube.
Descriptive playlists are also important. Playlists are a YouTube feature that allow you to group videos (on your channel or others) based on topics. Choose a keyword rich title and video description to increase your content’s visibility in relevant playlists. More on this later!
4. Do your keyword research
Keyword research is core to your video SEO strategy – and thus, to the success of your YouTube channel. You can’t optimise your YouTube channel successfully without investigating what people are searching for in and around your subject area. You can then check out your competitors’ tags and see how they’re ranking for those keywords. Remember, your titles need to be better than theirs!
As a rule of thumb, don’t split up terms into separate tags, avoid misspellings and synonyms, and always refresh tags in line with new trends.
5. Upload content carefully
Each time you upload content, you need to optimise it for greater visibility. This includes customised thumbnails, tags, video descriptions, titles and transcripts.
Thumbnails are the small clickable images that a viewer clicks on to watch your videos. YouTube’s standard is to automatically select a thumbnail for you from your video. This is not ideal as they’re typically blurry and YouTube’s unlikely to choose the most appealing still. Customised thumbnails work harder as they reinforce your videos’ titles and act almost like a book cover. When shooting your video, make sure you take a series of still shots that can be designed into clickable thumbnails.
To boost optimisation even further, don’t forget to tag your video content. According to YouTube, tagging can significantly boost your video in YouTube search results. When viewers type in keywords related to your tags, up pops your video! Use as many tags as possible, just make sure they represent the video content and aren’t misleading.
Bear in mind that your video’s title, transcript and description are just as important as your tags and thumbnails for optimisation purposes. When all work together, and feature your chosen keywords, your content is primed to engage viewers and boost your search rankings.
6. Use playlists
YouTube playlists play an important part in optimising your channel – but, it takes time to build up a body of your own video content on your channel. So, make the first video your own and then build playlists that link to other people’s videos – you’ll still be rewarded for session time (the amount of time viewers spend watching videos). Of course, don’t link to just any old stuff. You will be ranked according to association as well as session time so choose carefully. And don’t forget to add links to your own videos and playlists too.
For example, if your company sells sports equipment, you can create a playlist with videos about technology and sport, another one with videos about fitness regimes and say, one more that features top athletes. By organising similar content into various playlists, you’ll attract viewers who are interested in a specific topic – and chances are, they’ll spend more time watching videos on your channel. The duration of your audience’s watch session time is crucial for your channel’s rankings – the higher it is, the higher you rank.
7. Have a distribution strategy
Once your channel is up and the content is ready, you need to tell people. YouTube is not great at popping up new content until it reaches a certain engagement threshold. So you‘ll need a distribution strategy that really pushes your channel into view and gets people watching.
Social advertising is a great way to build anticipation and awareness of your YouTube content. Link your channel to your own website and social media platforms with a brief description of what it’s about. You could even create a dedicated Facebook fan page that has the same look and feel as your YouTube channel. Use it to tease upcoming videos, answer questions and offer giveaways to boost audience numbers.
Join the YouTube community as a viewer. Watch other videos, interact with people and add genuine comments. You could even approach channels that you like with similar subscriber numbers to yours, and suggest a partnership. Get your distribution right and your audience numbers – and watch session time – will grow.
8. Post regularly
You don’t want to overwhelm people with relentless uploads – but, neither do you want to fall off their radars. In our experience, posting video content at least once a week and at most twice a week, has the best results. This schedule keeps viewers engaged and also gives us time to create great content, and build the necessary anticipation to drive awareness.
9. Ask people to subscribe
There are those who view your YouTube channel, and then there are those who subscribe to your channel. Subscribers have far more influence on your channel’s success because they tend to spend more time watching it than the unsubscribed viewers. And remember, audience watch time is critical to your rankings.
So, how do you get more subscribers? You ask them. Add call-to-action annotations to your videos. They pop up during a video and, when used correctly, can boost subscriptions by getting viewers to click on them. Of course, you can also simply place a link as the call to action in your video that once clicked, will create a subscription.
10. Check your analytics and adapt and update
Audience retention rates are the best metric to use as a guide. Pay close attention to the numbers, analyse the metrics and then refine your approach. This is not some one-off effort, you need to do this consistently to keep your video content fresh and relevant. Based on your channel’s performance and how its audience analytics compare to the YouTube average, you can tweak as you go. Don’t be afraid to experiment and change what is not working.
How long people watch your videos is the most important indicator of engagement. Do they click out half-way through or stay glued to the end? Another good metric to track is ‘shares’. Are people sharing your videos with their wider circles? If not, why not? There is so much choice out there, and attention spans are abysmal these days, if you’re not helping, entertaining or shocking your viewers – they’ll move on.
If you’d like to harness the power of YouTube marketing for your business, make sure you work with an agency that knows their tags from their titles. Give our director, Jamie, a shout today.