YouTube Marketing For Dummies
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YouTube has a lot of options to offer a marketer — so much so, it can feel overwhelming, making it hard to know where to start. The top questions from marketers at companies big and small come up time and again. This cheat sheet aims to answer some of your common queries about YouTube marketing and give you a few easy jumping off points to reach your target audience.

How to positively participate in YouTube comments

Many people think of YouTube as a video site or a search engine, but YouTube is also a social media channel and community site, with an active and engaged base of people liking, sharing, and commenting on videos. Scroll down to the area beneath almost any video on YouTube, and you see a list of comments and the ability to add your own comment.

Popular YouTubers often encourage their fans to comment on their videos, asking them to tell them what they liked about their video, what they didn’t like, what they want to see next. YouTubers also answer questions to encourage fan engagement. Similarly, marketers can make use of comments, sourcing input from your audience.

Set aside some time each day to look through new comments on your videos and respond as required. When participating in comments, you should

  • Aim to create a rapport with your audience by being personable and approachable. You can thumbs-up comments you like or add a heart to your favorite comments.
  • Pin a comment to the top. You can pin a comment so it appears at the top of the comments section. It can be your own or a fan’s, and can be a helpful way to ensure an important comment is seen first.
  • Address questions clearly and comprehensively. You can point people to other resources outside of YouTube if that helps.
  • Keep it fun and light. Trying using things like emojis in your comments but don’t overdo it.
  • Keep it professional. Even though you’re aiming for a casual and fun style of engagement, keep the balance of professionalism in check.
  • Respond in a timely manner. Whenever you can, respond promptly, even if it’s to let the commenter know that you’ll get back to them later with more information, such as when you need to research a response to a customer service query.
  • Don’t ignore any comments that ask a question. If you get the same questions over and over, you can make videos or resources that address those questions.

How to optimize your YouTube SEO

A common question is how you, as a YouTube marketer, can maximize the search engine optimization (SEO) for your videos and YouTube channel. YouTube marketers are keen to know the secrets of SEO because the promise is lots of video views without needing to pay for media. In addition, the reality of YouTube is that most people will be finding your videos by having searched for them, so ensuring that you’ve done everything to increase your chances of being found is crucial.

A lot of YouTube marketers may have experience with SEO for Google’s search engine, but YouTube and its algorithm work differently. With Google, to move up in the ranks, your website needs to be technically crafted in the most search engine-friendly and accessible way, contain great quality content, and have links from lots of third-party websites pointing to it. With YouTube, you aren’t creating a website, and you aren’t necessarily linking people to your videos from lots of other websites. It’s more of a self-contained experience, and all you’re doing is making great content. So, how do you maximize your video SEO?

You need to remember three key dimensions for YouTube SEO.

Fullness of features

When you create a channel and upload your videos, YouTube offers you all of the clues you need in order to maximize your video SEO. Every piece of functionality is there for a reason, so ensure you complete every input box, check every option, use every tool and feature available.

It’s easy to be lazy when uploading a video, ignoring some of the optional fields, but this is a mistake. YouTube wants your help in understanding how to categorize and understand your video, and how you’d like it presented to possible viewers. So, use every single feature every single time.

Quality of content

YouTube is only ever concerned with one thing: great videos that people want to watch lots of. That’s why the metric of watch time is the most important metric for success. If someone abandons your video early on, it likely won’t be surfaced in the search results. If people watch most of your video, it’ll have a greater chance of being shown to more people. Look at your watch time report in your channel’s analytics and especially look at your Audience Retention report to see where people stop watching your videos.

If you always focus on making better performing videos against these metrics, your videos will be discovered more in search results.

Try this now: Search for a how-to video on any topic. You’ll see a list of results, some of which have more views than others, and yet videos with fewer views may be listed first or higher on the search results page. Those videos have more watch time and better audience retention. It’s not all about the views; it’s about the quality of the content.

Consistency of growth

YouTube wants to reward channels that have more than just one good video, so consistently uploading videos and growing your core metrics, such as watch time and subscribers, can help your videos appear more in the search results pages.

Subscribers are a great indicator of consistency of your channel’s growth. For example, YouTube shows your videos on the homepage of your subscribers, and the SEO benefit may be that your videos surface in the search results more to those who have subscribed and to people who are similar to your subscribers. YouTube is always running experiments to determine “If you liked this video, you might like this video.”

So, give people more content so they subscribe to you and demonstrate to YouTube’s algorithm that your channel is consistently growing and delivering a great experience. It’s likely you’ll be rewarded by being served up in the search results more.

How to get more YouTube clicks with thumbnails and titles

The single most important thing beyond making a great YouTube video is to make sure that you have the best possible thumbnail and title. Think of how you use YouTube. Whether you’re on your computer or your phone, you’re scanning YouTube’s homepage or the search results for what you think will be the best video for what you’re interested in at that moment. The thumbnail and the title are the two most important pieces of information helping you in making that decision to click.

What works for your videos when it comes to thumbnails and titles depends entirely on what your video is about and who you want to attract, but, you can quickly start to figure out what works well by testing different options.

For your thumbnails, choose a visual that is a clear representation of what your video is about. The visual should be easily visible when it’s small, such as when it’s being viewed on a mobile device. Thumbnails that feature people’s faces, animals, and bright contrasting colors tend to stand out.

The easiest way to decide what your thumbnail should be is to search for a video similar to yours. Look at all of the thumbnails that YouTube displays and see which ones you are most enticed to click on. Ask yourself why you were drawn to that thumbnail. You can also look for patterns and trends in people’s thumbnails and borrow from their conventions. A popular approach is to include some text within the thumbnail to give some extra information that encourages the click.

Titles are equally important. People are often searching YouTube by entering text, so having a title that more closely matches what they searched for may increase a thumbnail’s chances of being clicked. A common mistake is that marketers don’t spend enough time thinking about what someone may search for — specifically, what words they may use.

Matching your title to what people are searching for is a great signal that you’re the best answer to their need. An easy way to determine the best possible title is to search for similar videos and see how other people have titled theirs. If you can borrow from their approach but also improve it, your title can win the clicks, beating out other videos.

How to use YouTube as a marketing channel

You have a lot of choices with YouTube, and to use the channel effectively as a marketing tool, you do not need to do everything. All you need to do is make a choice about how you want to use YouTube. If anyone else in any other department asks you why you aren’t doing something else on YouTube, you can explain the rationale behind your choice. After all, only so many hours, so much budget, and so many resources are available. The goal is never simply to have a YouTube strategy or even a video strategy; the goal is to determine whether YouTube videos are efficient options to help you deliver to your business goals. With that in mind, understanding how to use YouTube as a marketing channel boils down into four streams.

Just run some ads

You don’t need a full content strategy where you upload videos every week to your YouTube channel if you don’t think that will help deliver your business goals or if you don’t have the resources. Instead, you can create simple video ads and use the Google Ads tool to run them on YouTube. You have lots of great options when you set up your campaign to make sure that it’s efficient, and you’ll get tons of great insights from looking at your results. It’s as simple as that. Just run some ads on YouTube. Don’t worry about the rest if you don’t have to.

Benefit from association

There are two ideas as to how you can benefit from association.

The first is if you like to control where your ads run because context is important to you, you can run your video ads on YouTube with a detailed level of sophistication to control your placement. You can get specific with the context of where and when your ads will run.

The second is that if you’re the kind of marketer who cares about sponsorships, affiliations with celebrities, or other brands because you want to benefit from the association, you can work with YouTubers and channels with established audiences.

In both of these cases, YouTube offers you more control and opportunities than just running ads, so if you’re a more advanced marketer, use YouTube as a channel where you maximize the benefits of association.

Become your own content creator

If you have the budget and resources available, and if you are confident that creating content can help drive your marketing and business goals, then you can start to create your own content. Most businesses should start by making help videos, those how-to videos that people will find when they search YouTube.

If you need to provide customer service, video is a great tool to use because it answers the same question many times without requiring more effort from your customer service team.

If you are an authority on something with a credible brand, you have every right to make content on the topic at hand.

If you’re doing something special, if you have a unique story to tell, if you want to be a cultural contributor, or any other motivation of creating content, you can use YouTube as a content marketing channel, so become your own content creator.

Go all out and make it your focus

YouTube can be a business opportunity in itself. You can create content, grow your audience of fans and subscribers, and start to make money from sharing in the ads YouTube runs against your channel. YouTubers have made millions each year from this model, and there is no real barrier to entry. All you need to do is start creating content, so, go all out and make creating videos and YouTube your focus.

How to manage negative YouTube video comments

Sometimes negative comments appear against your YouTube videos. One of the unfortunate realities of comments on YouTube, and indeed comments on any social media sites, is that people feel a sense of freedom to say unpleasant things that they may not normally say in real life. People can be unnecessarily critical, offensive, and worst of all, they can express sentiment that could be considered hate speech. You can address negative comments on your YouTube videos in several ways.

Don’t feed the trolls

A troll, and the act of trolling, is when someone is commenting to provoke or annoy you or other people commenting, and a popular adage on the Internet is “Don’t feed the trolls.” The idea here is that you simply don’t respond, because responding gives the troll attention, and attention is the fuel for them to continue trolling even more. Don’t take the bait, and the troll will go away. It may be tempting to delete the comment, but that’s just another way you can feed the trolls. Essentially, you’d be censoring someone, and that’s just as bad as trolling.

Respond to valid but unpleasant criticism

Some comments on your YouTube videos, while critical and perhaps presented in an aggressive way, are worthy of response. Unlike a troll, who is looking to goad you at all costs, you may find criticism that, once you strip away the unpleasantness of its delivery, has at the heart of it a question or comment you’d like or need to address. In this scenario:

  • Don’t respond immediately, especially if you’re feeling affected by the comment. Instead, return to it later when you’ve had a chance to cool down.
  • Keep your answer short but address the points raised as best you can. Stick to the facts.
  • Take the high ground and don’t respond in kind with criticism. “Kill them with kindness” is another adage that works well here.
  • Retain your professionalism. If you’re representing your company, be polite and professional at all times.

Report inappropriate comments

Some comments cross the border of acceptability, and YouTube has a comprehensive policy detailing what they consider against community guidelines. If you think a comment is inappropriate, you can use the flagging feature to submit the content for review by YouTube staff. When you flag something, it won’t be removed immediately, as it must be reviewed by a YouTube team member first who will determine whether it violates their policies.

How to create viral YouTube videos

Viral videos, those videos that take the world by storm being spread far and wide such that they are seen by millions of people, are something of a myth.

The science of viral marketing doesn’t work the way most marketers think it works. Creating a video, posting it online, sharing it with a few friends, and asking them to pass it on in the hopes it’ll go viral rarely, if ever, works in reality.

Indeed, it’s questionable whether marketers should be concerned with creating viral content in the first place. If millions see your video, but you don’t sell any more of your product, then what will you have achieved? Nothing important.

Viral videos aren’t an advisable focus for any marketer when it comes to YouTube, but having said that, if you want to maximize the shareability of a video, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • The story: Research studies consistently find that the most shareable and viral videos tend to be stories where you create a deep emotional response in the audience. For example, videos that tell stories of personal triumph in the face of adversity. People are more likely to share these types of videos when they make them feel something that is a part of the universal human experience. This makes sense, because viral videos are shared beyond their country of origin, going beyond just your local culture, and instead tapping into something everyone on planet Earth can relate to. If you’re going to make a viral video, make sure you tug on the emotional heart strings. If you can do so without using dialogue, it’s even better, because telling a story with just visuals will increase its chances of being enjoyed by everyone regardless of the language they speak.
  • Seed money: If you want your viral video to have a chance at successfully taking off, you will need to use some paid advertising budget to seed the video with people. When you post your video on YouTube, there’s no guarantee anyone will see it, so using paid media helps get your video in front of people. It also gives you early results as to whether people watch it, where they drop off, whether they share it, and their general reaction in the comments. You may find you’ve created something exceptional, with your paid media enabling the video to start to get traction under its own steam.
  • The ten-word test for shareability: A viral video is a video that many people share to many more people, so a great test is the ten-word test. When you’re creating the idea for your video, or even if you’ve already made it, ask yourself, “What are the ten words I’d use to describe this video when sharing it with a friend?” If those ten words are compelling enough that you think the person receiving the video is likely to watch it, then you’ve done a good job of creating something that has viral potential. If you can’t convince someone with those ten words to watch your video, then it’s likely the video won’t be a big hit. Take a look at the YouTube Trending page for some inspiration. It’s not quite the same as a list of viral videos, but it does show what people are interested in watching at that moment in time, which can be helpful to consider when you’re asking yourself if people will share the video you’ve made.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Will Eagle spent four years at Google creating brand and marketing strategies that leverage YouTube. He assisted Fortune 500 clients in developing and executing their plans. He has lent his talents to several leading marketing firms and has been a guest lecturer at various universities.

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