Compared to video marketing on your own website, video marketing on YouTube can feel a bit like the Wild West. Your audience is far broader, and it can be harder to anticipate their needs and preferences. Video marketing, then, requires a different approach when it’s on YouTube.
Set Up your Brand Channel
Let’s start with the correct administrative step. Fergus Baird suggests that you create a Brand Account on Google, as opposed to an individual account. This way, access to your company’s YouTube channel won’t be restricted to a single participant. Video is rarely a one-person enterprise, so you’ll want to be sure to start from a position of collaboration by creating a channel for your business that can be accessed by your production partners.
Do Your Research
Next, a little opposition research will help you get started with your production. Check out your competitor’s channels, and any other major videos that they’re involved in on YouTube. You’re looking for high and low view counts, which are metrics that indicate successful vs. unsuccessful content. The last thing you want to do, after all, is post a video that’s both ineffective and derivative.
Paying attention to competition on YouTube will also show you when a competitor has ‘cornered the market’ on a particular idea or type of content. If your competitor has twenty videos with an apparently low-production value that tie their brand into slapstick comedy, then you know what to avoid, and how to distinguish yourself.
Manage Your Expectations
Next, manage your expectations of how YouTube’s audience (very generally) interacts with videos. For one thing, expect less feedback. Evaluate feedback very differently on YouTube than you would on your own website or elsewhere. “The emphasis of YouTube is on watching videos, not discussing them,” writes Ana Gotter. Visiting the comments section of any major YouTube video will confirm this. There will be comments, but they’re often… I’ll diplomatically say ‘unrelated.’
The feedback that’ll matter to you more will come through analytics. YouTube allows you to see your view count, shows how many viewers watched your video in full or in part, and much, much more. This statistical feedback will give you a better impression of your video’s success than the typed feedback below it.
So create a Brand Account on Google and monitor how your competition uses YouTube—and make sure to put your trust in your videos’ analytics, not the comment sections below them.
Now, how should you approach your actual video production process?
The Details Matter
Start with the first thing YouTube audiences will see—the title of your video. A title like “Why You Should Consider Buying FootBuddy’s Shoes” can doom a video, and render all the time and money you spent producing it wasted. So keep your title short. Use good keywords to promote its visibility (Search Engine Optimization, at your service). And give a clear description and preview of its content. Consider also including a reason to watch. “How to Build a Birdhouse in Five Minutes” is a title that’s short, descriptive, transparent about its content, and compelling.
Choose a Relevant Thumbnail
Next, address the second thing your audience sees: the small image called a thumbnail that provides a visual preview of your video. The best way to do this involves consistency across videos. If you have a main character in all of them, keep her on the left side of the frame in each of your thumbnails. Audiences will come to associate that visual format with your brand.
You’ll also want to pick a thumbnail image that evokes an emotion. Surprising images are great here, as are positive and humorous ones. And don’t forget about the classics, A.K.A. the brain’s greatest hits—show smiling faces and focus on their eyes. With a good and consistent approach to thumbnails, your well-titled videos will stand out.
Create Content with Purpose
Video content should be engaging, entertaining, valuable, and useful to your audience. Of course, not every video can be all four, but those are your goals when it comes to content creation.
Content marketing doesn’t follow the more direct promotion route of traditional marketing. It aims to provide that valuable, engaging content for viewers first and foremost, with the brand serving as an overarching theme/background. Millennials, in particular, don’t enjoy direct promotion—and they’re a massive demographic that spends a considerable amount of time on YouTube.
Melanie Moore incisively sums up the kind of audience that gravitates towards YouTube videos and content marketing: they are “…looking for the entertainment value of video paired with the utility of conventional formats.”
So use visual storytelling, emotion, humor, a personal touch, and any other techniques that your analytics link to success—and keep your brand a relevant element too. Give your customers the fun value they came for, but be sure to keep your brand’s influence noticeable. You can’t expect results from your marketing if your customer doesn’t know which brand created the content they enjoyed.
Use Your Data
After you’ve made a few videos for marketing on YouTube, you’ll have a pleasant challenge: how can you make the most out of the views your videos are getting? One great way is to remarket to people who watched your videos.
Use YouTube analytics to create lists of viewers, and retarget them with the Adwords Display Network. If people watched your videos—especially if they watched several of them, in full—they’ll be far more receptive than the uninitiated to your targeted ads.
Learn from Your Mistakes
Finally, keep trying.
If you release a few videos to little or no response, don’t give up the fight.
Modulate your content.
Find the elements of your videos that are holding you back.
If people tend to only watch the first forty seconds of your two-minute videos, take a look at those first forty seconds: why are people clicking away?
If visitors tend to watch one of your videos all the way through, but they don’t watch any others, what happens at the end of your videos? They’re with you until then, so the early content is good—but you’ll need to change that ending, because it’s putting people off of your brand.
Video marketing for YouTube is a different game than video marketing intended for other locations. You’ll be dealing with different audiences who expect different things, and feedback will come in a different form. Luckily, with the right titles, thumbnails, and content, you’ll be able to leverage views into repeat viewers and even generate targeted ads. With strong YouTube video marketing you’ll reach more prospective customers, easily and effectively.