The best reason to use YouTube for your video content, and the reason so many businesses do, is the sheer number of people who use it. More than one billion people – more than a third of people who use the internet, and more than a seventh of the population of the entire world, use YouTube every month. With that many people, no matter how niche the video, there will always be plenty of people out there who want to watch it. The trick is to get them to find it, around which entire industries have been built in the last few years. Luckily, there are a few easy first steps that will go a long way towards ensuring that people find your videos – and watch them.
The first impression someone has of your video will probably be in a search menu, or a suggested video feed – or even in an email newsletter or a link from your website. Making sure you have an interesting, eye-catching title goes a long way towards getting clicks. It’s tempting to try to make people want to watch your video, by writing in all capitals, or having a title like “MUST WATCH IMMEDIATELY,” but the fact is that YouTube users are so constantly bombarded by titles shouting at them in capital letters that they no longer really have any effect – and even the ones who click on it often turn away away immediately. In order for someone to watch your video all the way through, it has to be more or less what they expected when they clicked on it; a clear title that describes what the video is actually about is less likely to frustrate people. Make sure you include the key words you think viewers will be searching for when you want them to find your video – a video about sewing techniques should have the word “sewing” in the title!
The thumbnail is the small picture that someone sees before a video starts playing – usually, it’s a still frame from somewhere in the video, which YouTube selects for you using their algorithms when you upload a video. However, you can choose a different frame, or even upload your own custom thumbnails. These can be anything you want, although the same principles apply as when you’re creating a banner – make sure it stands out! YouTube search pages can be a riot of colors and exclamation points, so many businesses have found that simple thumbnails work best – white text on a black background, for example, can be surprisingly effective in a sea of reds and blues and greens.
When you upload a video, YouTube will ask you to choose a category and add “tags,” words that you think people might be searching for and find your videos helpful. The biggest key when setting tags is to make sure they’re relevant – try to imagine what someone might be searching for who would then want to watch your video. If you think someone typing that word into google would be happy your video came up, that’s a perfect tag – but, importantly, if you think they wouldn’t find your video helpful on that topic, don’t include it! YouTube aggressively filters out irrelevant search terms, and if you just add a ton of commonly-searched phrases to your video’s tags, it will see that you are trying to trick people into watching your content, and stop showing it, even to the people who would have wanted it! To use an example from earlier – the video on sewing techniques would want to include “needle” and “thread” in the tags, but not “Katy Perry.”