Making optimal use of YouTube is less expensive or difficult than many entrepreneurs realize.
9 min read
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Companies of all sizes are taking advantage of a free and accessible marketing platform to grow their businesses. Sounds great, you say. But how does it work?
It’s easy: you make interesting, useful and entertaining videos, upload them to YouTube and watch your brand explode. If you’re looking to hook people and get them engaged, there’s no better way to do that than with video. And without a doubt, YouTube is the best way to get video in front of an audience.
If you’re looking to build brand awareness, increase your market reach and drive sales, then you should be all about YouTube. This video-sharing website has more than 1 billion users who watch more than five billion videos. Not only that; YouTube is also the second-largest search engine. Its videos are easy to search by keyword, both on the site itself and through Google, its parent company.
Simply said, if you aren’t using this tool, you’re missing out. If you think it’s too hard, too expensive or too daunting to get started, you need to read on. Here are the nine most important tips to make optimal use of YouTube and see results fast.
1. Look at what your competitors are doing.
The first step is to take a close look at your competitors’ YouTube channels. What type of content are they sharing? You likely have a similar target audience and marketing goals, so you can glean a lot of information and learn valuable lessons by evaluating what their channel is doing.
A basic competitive analysis of other channels can help you understand their strengths and weaknesses, which can help you determine what areas you should focus on and how your channel can fill any voids. How many followers do they have?
Scan the comments section below each video to get a sense of viewer reaction and engagement. How many views, likes and shares do their videos routinely get? What is working well and what isn’t? And most importantly, where can you improve?
2. Have a clear focus for your channel.
Before you launch, have a clear idea of your channel’s focus and purpose. This will give your channel clarity and help you determine a marketing strategy. What are you trying to achieve and what are your end goals? There are gobs of YouTube channels out there and tons of businesses trying to use this format to sell themselves. What makes your channel unique and stand out from everyone else?
Your channel plan should include your channel’s purpose and the vibe you want to create (will it be authentic, vibrant, smart, sassy?). Think through your channel’s overall marketing strategy. Undoubtedly, this will include increasing awareness of your brand, so you want to create content that appeals to the range of people who are potential customers.
Your content should strongly tie to your industry and create interest in your product or service without being overly pushy. Offering content that’s genuine and of value will always garner viewers.
3. Find your niche.
Finding your niche is the foundation of YouTube success. Tapping into a niche will ultimately help you grow your brand. But determining this can be tricky when you’re getting started. What specific subject or area is your channel going to focus on? And who is the intended audience?
You also need to take into account the demand for the subject you’re focused on. If no one is searching for it, your channel may get few hits. But if your niche is too broad, it’s harder to stand out and your content could be easily lost in the mounds of similar channels.
So do your research. How many viewers are active in the niche you’re interested in? Is the topic oversaturated? And once you start posting videos, take a close look at your actual audience — who’s watching your videos? Be open to fine-tuning your channel as you go.
4. Determine your video genre.
Every video you upload to your channel has to have a purpose and an intent. Once you know who your audience is, you should determine what type of videos you want to include on your channel. Popular video genres include:
- Video-game walkthroughs
- Tutorials (on virtually any subject)
- Product reviews
- Fan videos
- Reaction videos (people love watching others being thrilled or disappointed)
- Cute animal videos
- Celebrity gossip
- Video blogs (vlogs)
Any of these formats may work, but the videos that get the most attention on YouTube are ones that are funny, weird, unique or useful. Spend some time watching popular videos that are trending on YouTube to get ideas of what may work for you.
5. Create quality videos.
Creating quality videos doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. In fact, you may be able to get away with using your smartphone and some video-editing software to create click-worthy videos. But YouTube is a competitive space, and if your videos are low-grade, it doesn’t matter how awesome your content is — no one will watch it. If you want to up the ante, here’s some equipment to consider investing in:
A high-quality camera, camcorder or webcam action camera (like a GoPro). Whatever you choose, it should record at least 1080p for quality videos.
- An external microphone. There are many different options on the market. Make sure you pick a microphone that suits your needs.
- Lighting. How an area is lit can completely change the mood and ambience of a video. Softboxes can create natural lighting, while a ring light is a favorite among beauty vloggers.
- A tripod or gimbal stabilizer. These tools help you avoid unsteady footage that can make viewers feel uneasy.
- Video-editing software. An all-important tool for creating quality videos. Good video-editing software allows you to trim, freeze frames, create bounce-back effects, use animations and more.
6. Make your videos searchable through keywords.
About 70 percent of YouTube videos are found through browsing. This means someone types in a few keywords related to the topic they’re interested in. Then they scroll through the search results for videos that pique their interest. The first step to getting noticed is making sure your videos come up in those searches. To do this, you need to effectively use keywords in your video’s title, description and tags.
The title of your video tells viewers what the video is about, so it should be catchy but closely aligned with the video’s content. Make sure the title is relevant and gives viewers the answer they’re looking for. Focus on showing the value of your video in a clear and concise way.
Search engines will also use the information and keywords in your description field to search for relevant videos. Users will see a snippet of the first few lines of the description in the search results, so aim to describe and sell your video upfront.
7. Include multiple calls to action.
The more people engage with your video, the better your video’s ranking in search results. And, of course, you want them to click the link that will take them to your webpage — where you hope they’ll become steady customers. But the first step is getting viewers to respond to your video. That is why your channel and each of your videos should include multiple calls to action.
This means clearly telling viewers what you want them to do:
- Please rate this video.
- Follow me on Twitter.
- Find me on Facebook.
- Subscribe to my videos.
- Visit my blog for more great videos.
- Embed this on your site.
- Please post your comments.
- Send this video to your friends.
- Check out my channel.
8. Be consistent.
Setting a consistent publishing schedule is key for staying top of mind for your viewers. Say when you’ll publish new content and stick to it. This is a simple and fast way to grow loyal and engaged viewers and build a community of supporters.
Consistency also plays into how easy it is to find your video. The more active your channel and the more often you put out new content, the more your channel will benefit from YouTube’s algorithm, and the more likely your videos will be ranked higher in searches.
Related: 3 Secrets to YouTube Marketing
9. Promote your videos.
Once you publish a new video, make sure you’re promoting it and getting it out to as many viewers as possible. Email is a great way to reach out to your established audience and let them know you have new content ready to be viewed. Take advantage of the existing subscriber list you’ve been building for your brand and ask new viewers to sign up.
Design your videos with shareability in mind — people will always share videos they enjoy and see value in. Build excitement by cross-promoting teasers on other social media such as Facebook and Twitter. And finally, make sure you’re using a good thumbnail image for your video. This will help your video stand out and get more clicks. Pick an image that works well on both desktop and mobile devices. A custom thumbnail grabs people’s attention and makes them want to watch, increasing viewer engagement.