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5 Steps to Getting the Most out of YouTube

August 15, 2011

Getting the most out of YouTube

There’s plenty of compelling YouTube stats floating about regarding its use, its reach, and its benefits to search. It’s quite obvious that it can be an important marketing channel with lots of opportunity, if approached right. So what is the right approach?

As with most things in our industry, there is never one clean-cut answer… That would be way too easy, right?! However, there are plenty of lessons to share regarding what has worked well and what hasn’t. In my opinion, simply using YouTube as a dumping ground for every single video your company produces is a misguided approach. To get the most benefit out of any marketing channel, you need to play to its strengths.

With that, here’s five steps to help you get the most out of your YouTube videos.

1. Figure out how to enchant people

Last week, I read an article by Greg Jarboe about Creating YouTube Ads Worth Spreading. I recommend reading it if you haven’t already (but come back when you’re done!). One part in particular stood out for me which supported my views on playing to a channel’s strength. In YouTube’s case, enchantment plays a big role.

As pointed out by Greg:

“…video content that can enchant people must provide intrinsic value to your viewers. This can come in one of four forms:

  • Inspiration– “YouTube has brought to light thousands of inspiring stories of courage and bravery”
  • Entertainment– “Some videos are plain-and-simple guffawingly funny” 
  • Enlightenment– “These are documentaries similar to what you’d see on PBS or the Discovery Channel”
  • Education – “Educational videos show how to do things”

This provides the ideal starting point when planning and developing your YouTube approach; to me it forms the backbone. I would argue that for most companies looking to develop videos for YouTube, Education will most likely take the leading form of enchantment where content is concerned. But of course, we can’t rule out Entertainment or Inspiration either.

2. Develop the content that people are looking for

The second step is to figure out what content are people looking for, that would translate well into video format. This step is absolutely key.

Going with an educational video example, there’s plenty of ways to get this information:

  • What are the most highly searched for learn-related queries? Phrases like “what is…”, “how to…”, “learn about…”, “tutorial on…” all provide a good starting point.
  • What are the most common questions your sales, service and support people receive?
  • What are the most viewed FAQ’s on your site?

This should provide you with a healthy list of video topics to focus on. It’s often good to prioritize the highest volume search phrases first. This is the point that you optimize your video to high heaven, developing your video to specifically address that topic and integrating the search phrase throughout the script.

I’ve found that YouTube content that was built based on a pre-defined customer need heavily outperformed content that had already been produced and then retrofitted to try to match a need after the fact. I tested two videos and compared them over a three-week time period. One was developed to address a popular search phrase from the outset. The other was retrofitted to a popular search phrase after it had already been produced. Both had no other “promotion” to drive people to the video, other than search optimization.

Compared to the video that was retrofitted, the video that was optimized from the outset had:

  • Six times more views
  • Five times more likes
  • Double the comments
  • Ranked 15 positions higher

3. Lose the stuffy, corporate facade

Now don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and a place for company-branded animated PowerPoints and scripted monotone explanations. YouTube is not that place.

And that’s why we love YouTube. Good YouTube videos don’t have to be a high-production glitzfest. The more real and personal (warts and all), the better. That’s not to say that it should be all Blair Witch Project camera action, or devoid of all brand elements to the point that it looks like a completely independent third-party endorsement of your own company. The trick is finding that balance, and testing that balance to get it just right.

4. Ask for comments and feedback during the video

Applying traditional search optimization for video is a great place to start, but it will only get you so far. Ranking the highest when it comes to video requires doing well in social factors as well. The more people who like, share/embed and comment on your video, all seem to contribute to getting your video to the top. And of course it always helps to get more people to view your video in order to get more people to interact.

So throughout your video make sure you encourage interaction. Ask people to leave questions or comments, subscribe to the channel, or even provide a video response. Always remember that social media isn’t about shouting, it’s about interacting.

5. Promote

As mentioned, getting more people to watch your video helps to drive the view numbers, which helps to get people talking and sharing your video, which helps to drive more even more view numbers, and so forth. It’s all circular.

There’s a number of ways you can promote your video, be it sending out Emails, sharing through social media channels, promoting it on your website… One particular way I’ve seen strong, sustained results has been through YouTube Promoted Videos.

YouTube Promoted Videos is like doing PPC inside YouTube. It’s a really nice way to complement your SEO efforts and help to get even more people to your video.

With YouTube Promoted Videos you get to appear in the search results for your chosen keywords, as well as in the related/suggested videos list. Showing up in related videos is a really nice feature that speaks well to a typical YouTuber’s behavior of watching several videos at a time, in a given session.

The trick of course is keeping people on your video and trying to get them back to your site (or at least somewhere where there’s less distraction!), before they hop off to a video about dancing cats. And that’s the added benefit of promoted videos on YouTube. YouTube Promoted Videos also opens up the option of overlay ads within your video, that can take people back to your site. Don’t just take people back to your homepage though. Try and find a page related to your video’s topic where they can learn more or show them in even more detail, how to do that particular thing.

The Experts

Finally, a couple of recommendations of people who know their YouTube stuff. Greg Jarboe is of course a fountain of video marketing knowledge, and a fantastic speaker on the subject. And also Manny Rivas — I read a ton of his posts when researching for our YouTube efforts. Make sure you check them out.

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