YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, after Google. It’s one of the largest social networks in the world, up there with Facebook. Thousands of hours of content is uploaded every day. If you want to carve out a chunk of that pie for yourself, you need to have the force of weight to push away the others.
It’s a constant surprise to see just how few YouTube creators pay attention to their profiles. There are so many ways you can make yourself stand out, if you don’t ignore them.
By this, I mean technically great content. For your video, make sure you’re using 1080p video in a high quality encoding. Don’t be satisfied with anything less than 720p. This might mean investing in a better camera, or it might mean encoding your animations in high definition.
For audio, you absolutely need high fidelity, crisp sound. Don’t be satisfied with background noise. Don’t produce audio that sounds like it was recorded with a webcam inside a tin can. You’ll probably need to learn some post-processing in order to master your audio levels, so you don’t have volume spikes or inconsistency.
For writing, you need something compelling. The first 15 seconds make or break your content, so don’t stretch on with a long intro. Start with a bang and grow from there.
Great content and good content are not the same thing. Great content is technically excellent. Good content is emotionally and intellectually compelling. Pay attention to the narrative arc within your video, even if you’re just explaining how to get better at making YouTube videos. Lead logically from A to B to C. Ask questions. Be engaging.
Don’t worry too much about length. A two-minute video, a five-minute video and a ten-minute video can all earn the same number of views, likes and shares if they serve their purpose. Take as long as you need to explain everything you need to explain in satisfactory detail.
While you’re at it, create a simple, recognizable, branded video thumbnail image. Make sure that users can identify your videos individually when their thumbnails are placed side to side, but make sure they’re all recognizably your brand when mixed in with the general YouTube mess.
In addition to the thumbnail, there are other meta fields you can optimize through standard SEO techniques to bring in more users. YouTube is, after all, a search engine.
Whenever you post a new video, write a blog post about it and embed that video. Post a link to that video on each of your social network profiles, and share the blog post as well. Identify related blog posts on other blogs and post the video in the comments.
Reach out to other YouTube channels and talk to them about cross-promotion. Channels with similar content who are not competitors can be partners. A few strategic partnerships can double your subscriber base each time.
On one hand, allowing video embeds is how spammers can send fake views your way, which puts you at a slight risk of negative video SEO. On the other hand, disabling embedding cuts out your promotion and growth possibilities dramatically. You should not only allow embeds, but encourage them. When your video is promoted off-site, it can gain that much more traction.
Television programs have schedules. Your blog has a schedule. You schedule your social media posts. Scheduling YouTube videos is no different. You can take advantage of our culture’s natural desire to stick to a schedule by creating regular programming.
Out of ideas? Ask for questions and post a Q&A video every Friday. Look through your blog comments for something to discuss and cover that topic on Comment Mondays. Create a long-running informative series about your industry and post new videos every Wednesday. Regularity and a schedule is the key.
Don’t forget that YouTube is a social network, even if it’s full of some of the most insipid commenters you’ve ever seen. Most of the worst people are sticking to the most popular videos; your audience is better than average. Moderate your comments, encourage users to comment and respond to those comments. Know and engage with your audience.
If you find that your videos have become the target of dedicated comment spam or comment abuse, escalate the issue with YouTube. If they can’t help you by moderating your comments or banning the offenders, go ahead and disable your comments. Post a link to a blog post embedding the video and funnel comments to your site, where you can control them more directly.
On your own channel, you should feature videos. Typically, you will want to feature your best video, and rotate that video every few weeks or months. You don’t want your channel promoting ancient content, so don’t stick with the best video for too long; users will think you haven’t updated.
You should also feature other channels. This ties back to the partnership bit mentioned earlier. It also allows you to point users towards the content you use as inspiration, which encourages subscriptions. They like channel X, they see you follow channel X, they’re more likely to follow you.
Annotation links can be used for a wide variety of tasks. You can use them to overlay corrections for minor mistakes, particularly when those mistakes are too small to warrant reshooting the video and uploading it again. You can also use annotations for in-video advertising. Mention a product you sell or a blog post you wrote? Link to that product or blog post with an annotation.
Annotation links are also perfect for the video endcap. Make sure your users always have something new to see when they finish a video, to keep them trapped on YouTube with you.
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