YouTube 101: What You Need to Know to be Awesome at YouTube
This was written by our former intern, Terral Miller, a YouTube rock star! Terral is currently a sophomore at Louisiana State University and we were happy to have him as a part of the FSC staff this summer.
With the advent of so many other social media sites, many people forget about one of the original social networks – YouTube. The great thing about YouTube is that virtually anyone with access to a computer and Internet can post their own videos to the rest of the world. However, building a solid channel to host all of your videos may not be as easy for many of us. Many companies have been tasked with creating a YouTube Channel for their business. More often than not, the channel is created, videos are posted, and then the channel is left to collect dust. As most of you may know, you cannot manage social media with a “set it, and forget it” mindset. So here are a few tips to making your YouTube channel a winner.
“Overalls:” The Four Things to Keep in Mind for Your Channel, Overall
First, let’s talk about what I call the “Overalls.” There are four main points you must keep in mind while evaluating any YouTube channel overall: Layout, Playlist, Channel Information and Feed Activity.
1. Layout — The Layout of a YouTube Channel is your first chance to leave an impression on the viewer. Let’s be honest, most people are very quick to judge if a Web site is worth their time or not. Generally, most of us will instantly leave a Web site that is not visually attractive. The Layout can be broken down into two parts: Visuals and Functions.
Visuals – The visuals primarily consist of the background and Avatar for the channel. Whether you are designing a YouTube channel for a business or even personal use, you should attempt to match your channel with your Web site. With so much competition in every market, standing out is more important now than ever. Creating your own image and brand is essential to standing out. Once you have your own distinct image and brand, flaunt it wherever you can! Unfortunately, unless you have Photoshop, designing a custom background may be tedious, mostly because it is difficult to predict how the background will lay out with the rest of the content on the channel. However, if you do have Photoshop, there are tons of YouTube channel background templates that you can download that make designing a YouTube channel simple.
You can think of the avatar as your YouTube channel’s profile picture. Choose an image that is bold and easily recognizable since the avatar will be scaled down considerably.
Function –The Function of the layout is just as important as the visuals. YouTube allows channel managers to pick which tab they would like as the default tab. When choosing a default tab, I feel that choosing the Featured Tab is almost a must. The Featured Tab highlights all of your best content, and also allows for the most customization. YouTube supplies four different layout options for the Featured tab: “Creator, Blogger, Network and Everything.” Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, but in my opinion, “Creator” and “Blogger” are the best picks. “Creator” allows you to display all of your playlists on your featured tab. This is a very useful layout if you have numerous playlists that are fairly diverse. “Blogger” allows you to choose one playlist to display on your featured tab. One may pick the “Blogger” layout if you are lacking content, or if you simply have one standout playlist that you want everyone to see.
2. Playlists – Playlists are essential to keeping viewers on your channel. Getting viewers to the channel is only the first step to building a great channel. Keeping the viewers on your channel is much more difficult and requires solid content that is interesting to your viewers. The best way to organize and display your content is by making Playlists. Do your best to have at least one highly viewed video in each playlist that will act as bait to reel people into your channel.
3. Channel Information — Channel info is extremely important, especially from an SEO standpoint. You should optimize the tags and keywords for your channel so that people will be able to find it whenever they make relevant searches on YouTube and even Google. Add a description to your channel to give your viewers a little more insight about your company. People are on YouTube to watch videos, not read, so keep the description short and sweet. Make sure you link all of your other social media sites to your YouTube Channel! You want to make sure your viewers can easily find your other social media sites in case they are interested and want to follow you on other platforms as well.
4. Keep Active! — So far you have learned how to reel in viewers and keep them on your channel, but can you get them to come back for more? You need to keep your channel fresh and exciting if you want return visitors. A few ways to do this are: liking other related videos, commenting on your own videos as well as other related ones, posting on other related channels and always remembering to reply to all comments on your channel and videos! YouTube is a fairly tight nit community. You will be shocked at how often people will post on your content if you simply post on theirs.
General Videos: What to do Other than the “Overalls”
Now that we have gone over the channel as a whole, we must not forget to keep in mind the actual content – videos. Even if you have the most visually attractive and well-designed channel, if your content is poor, odds are that you will still find yourself with low visitation. The most important aspect for your videos is obviously the content. Do your best to keep your content original and interesting.
1. Tags. Tags and…TAGS! — Tagging your video is incredibly important for generating natural traffic. Without tags, your videos will not appear on the “suggestion list” for other related videos and your videos will appear lower on YouTube’s search results than they should. If you are having trouble thinking of quality tags for your video, think about what people may be searching to find your video. For example, If you are working on a car dealer’s YouTube channel, you would want to include tags like : auto, new, used, cars, buy, review, and even the city you are located in.
2. Title and Thumbnail — Your video’s title and thumbnail will be the first two things viewers will judge when they are searching YouTube for videos to watch. Pick a thumbnail that will catch the eye of viewers scrolling down a page full of search results. Similarly, create a custom title for all of your videos that somewhat explain the content and is also unique and interesting. You want your thumbnails and titles to both stick out since there is so much competition with other videos on YouTube.
3. Annotations — Annotations are the perfect way to add branding to your videos. Under “Video Manager” you can edit your videos to contain annotations that are extremely easy to work with and diverse. In fact, YouTube offers you six different types of annotations to play with! While they may be a little confusing at first, it just takes a little playing around with to catch on. You will find that annotations are a great way to add some branding and customization to your video, even if it has already been posted to your channel.
A Little Lagniappe
Last but not least, check out YouTube’s incredibly specific and detailed “Playbook” that goes over just about every single aspect of YouTube. You can download the 90 page playbook. While it is very lengthy, YouTube did a fantastic job at organizing all of the information in an incredibly easy to navigate layout.