Tips for Using Youtube Effectively

Video is one of the most popular activities that people take part in online.  According to a study performed by ComScore with data used from its video metrix service, over 80% of the U.S. internet audience viewed video online and as of August 2012, Youtube had over 150 million unique viewers.  Needless to say, video attracts people online.  It is easy to digest.  It has the potential to be entertaining and informative.  People love it because it requires little effort or commitment on their part.  Businesses love video because it is a powerful vehicle to reach consumers.  If you haven’t been that involved with video on Youtube, there is no time like the present to start.  Having intriguing, entertaining and/or informative videos can help drive traffic to your website, social properties or convert prospects to customers.  Being a part of Google, Youtube has a ton of great features to help businesses use video to their advantage.


Define Your Audience

Before you even start making a video, you should think about who it is intended for.  What is the genre for your piece?  Is it marketing related?  A tutorial?  Will the people watching it be employees, customers, a mix?  These are important questions to answer as they will determine the length, tone and content for your video.  Just like with any other message, thinking about who will see it is the first step to creating something meaningful.


Length for Your Video

Once you know who your audience is, think carefully about how long your video will be.  For marketing related pieces, try and keep it at or under one minute.  There are exceptions to this rule however the longer you make a video, the greater the chance that someone will stop watching it once they see how long it is.  If you cannot make the content compelling enough, don’t let it drone on for too long.  If you are new at making videos, it is best to keep marketing or promotional videos short.

The Dove True Beauty campaign made a video that follows this rule well.  It is short, punchy and interesting.  It also does a fantastic job of getting the message across that the campaign was trying to convey.

The exception to this rule would be the production of tutorial or informational videos.  You should still keep length in mind however there is room to wiggle here because people will be using the content to try and learn something.  Try and keep time constraints in context to the activity you are performing.  In other words don’t make it longer than it needs to be.


Promoting a Youtube Video

Once you have your video completed and uploaded to Youtube, it is easy to think you are done.  In the world of promoting content online, this could not be further from the truth.

There are a lot of things you can do to gain exposure for your video on the internet.

  • Share links to your video on social media
    • This is a great way to get some free exposure.  If you have social networks setup for your business, share a link to the video on those.  If you don’t have business related networks and don’t plan on having any, share it on your personal network.  Encourage people to give feedback on the video and share it with their own networks.
  • Embed the video
    • With Youtube, it is incredibly easy to embed your video on another web property by either using a link or using the embed code found under “sharing”.  Put the video on your blog, on your website, or upload it to your Google Places listing.  You can put it anywhere that allows for upload of a video.
  • Make video responses
    • Just like commenting on someone else’s blog can get you some exposure for your own website, commenting on other Youtube videos can get you some exposure for your video.
  • Promoted Videos on Youtube
    • For virtually every method of gaining exposure for content online, there is a free method (if you know what you’re doing) and a paid method.  Youtube is no different and you can pay Google to promote your video in Youtube search results.  The is very effective for driving traffic to your piece however it will not keep people on the video so other rules still apply.  If you are looking for traffic quickly, paid advertising is the way to go.  Cost for this service can vary and it should be noted that even if you pay, there is no guarantee that you will be shown at the top of results.  This is because you could be outbid by others paying for promotion for the same keyword phrases.

Optimizing your Videos for Search

All the greatness of SEO still applies to Youtube videos even though they aren’t “websites” in the traditional sense.  They are however content with other content attached (i.e. comments, descriptions, tags and titles) that can be setup in such a way that makes them easier to find when someone is searching for content related to them.  If you are targeting specific keywords with your video, make sure those terms or phrases appear in the title of the video, the description, and make the actual video file name that you upload to Youtube the same as the keyword phrase you are trying to rank for.  An example could be a video about installing an engine in a snow mobile.  Your file name might be snow_mobile_engine_install.MP4.

One of the more powerful factors in getting your video to show up frequently in search is getting people to comment on it or share it.  These factors make a difference in search and the more you can get them to happen, the better off your video will be.  Naturally you don’t have much control over this other than making your video fun to watch and sharing it as much as you can on your own networks.  You can also encourage people to share your video or reward them for doing so (as a part of a contest or something of that nature).

Embedding the video in your website and/or your blog is also a way to help it in search.  It can also have the desired effect of drawing more traffic to your website.  You can also upload videos to a Google Places listing and other external properties that you may have setup.

Video is an excellent way to reach your target market.  Aside from social networking (which also contains a lot of video) people spend much of their other time online watching videos.  It is one of the fastest growing forms of media and Youtube is one of the most popular channels for watching video.  There are dozens of free and paid methods for gaining exposure for your videos.  Are there methods not listed here that you have had success with? What has been the best way for you to promote video?

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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