In a few short years YouTube has gone from being an entertaining curiosity filled with funny videos to the world's second largest search engine. During that span the company (along with Google) managed to harness its initial popularity to create an increasingly lucrative marketing hub as more viewers and advertisers migrated from television to the digital platform.
No longer strictly the domain of film geeks and funny video aficionados, the network, which boasts more than 2 billion video views monetized per week, can also provide a low-cost to no-cost way to create a social marketing channel for your business.
If you aren't effectively leveraging the network, you're missing the viral video boat. However, as with most things in life, success isn't often attained with a haphazard, slapdash effort. Being successful on YouTube takes planning.
These 10 easy steps are a good place to start.
1. Know what "success" means.
What are you trying to achieve?
- Video views - Do you just want a lot of people to see your video?
- Conversions - Do you need people to click through to another website and complete an action?
- Deeper engagement with your brand - Do you need to use your video to provide potential customers with more opportunities to interact with your brand?
2. Research keywords.
Just like when you are creating content for your website, in order to be discovered on the second largest search engine, you will need to know what people are looking for. Use YouTube's Keyword Tool to find popular searches within your space. Optimizing your digital media content for search is just as important as it is for your written content on a blog or website. You have to be strategic, do your research, and know who you want to target. Google includes YouTube videos in their search results, so cross-referencing your Google keyword research with the research you did for YouTube, can be an important step to take in the planning process.
3. Know your competition.
Search on YouTube to find other videos that already rank well for the keywords that you would like to rank for. See what it is that you are up against and seek out strategies to out-do them. This phase should also help you in your keyword research. Use this research to look into some opportunities that your competitors may not be taking advantage of. Are there any keywords that receive a lot of traffic that could possibly be easier to rank for than the ones you were initially looking into? Are there any long tail keywords you could target that might cater to some more specific questions a viewer has?
4. Create a kick-ass video.
You don't just create viral content because you want to. Viral content - unless it happens by chance - must be well thought-out and gripping! The most sharable content happens naturally, not intentionally. This may sound counterintuitive, but sticking true to your brand and designing digital content that has a purpose for your specific audience will be informative and engaging. It may not reach millions of viewers, but it will reach the RIGHT viewers. No one is going to pass on a video to their friend(s) if they don't really care for it themselves. Here are a couple of ideas.
5. Fill-out your video details.
Always keep in mind your standard SEO practices when it comes to posting your finished product. Make sure all of the necessary fields are filled and focused on the targeted keywords. Put important keywords at the front of your video titles, and include them in your description and tags. Do not over-do it, just put keywords that are relevant and are backed up by your research. Keep important information above YouTube's "Show More" fold so that users don't have to undertake extra navigation to see necessary details. Allow your videos to be embedded. Otherwise, viewers won’t be able to share them on their websites, and the videos will only be able to be seen on YouTube. Again, it all comes back to what you know about SEO; if there is any part of the navigation that disrupts the user experience, you could lose your audience, as well as your ranking.
6. Use the "Featured Videos" section.
If you are certain that your video will be a major hit, use YouTube's paid "Featured Videos" service to get your video seen by many people in a short amount of time. Once the video takes off, your organic traffic will usually out-do your paid traffic. Just as you can pay to increase your chances of coming up when people search for you on Google, you can up your odds with your videos as well.
7. Insert links in your videos.
Use annotations to insert links to other videos to maximize every viewer. These can pop up throughout the video and lead audiences to another video, or even your website and blog. However, do not over-do this either. Make sure that annotations do not impede the viewing experience. If you have one video that you want to concentrate driving views to, use YouTube's InVideo Programming to add a featured video overlay. Also make sure to include a branding watermark so that people can easily navigate to your YouTube page. There is a lot of potential that lies within just one video when it comes to additional navigation options. Analyze which ones would make the most sense for your business, and be sure to take advantage of them.
8. Interact with high value users.
Find users on YouTube who are active and adding value through their participation in the social network. Get your video in front of them - without spamming so that they can do part of the work for you. Your video will also benefit with more traffic thanks to increased comments. YouTube will be soon be implementing new features to increase the amount of social interaction on the website (for example by making it easier to find your friends).
9. Use social media.
With built-up and relevant social media accounts, get your video seen by more people. By "relevant" I mean that your friends and your user history should be somehow related to the topic of your video for it to get more qualified traffic. My favorite sites for video sharing are Digg, Twitter, and StumbleUpon. Now that Google+ is integrated into YouTube it is a fairly simple to reach out to people who might enjoy your content.
10. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Go back and start over. Look at what you can improve about your video production and continue to keep your video channel page fresh with more videos!
To learn how YouTube counts video views check out this previous blog post.