We’ve said it before – online video is hot! But the sad truth is that it’s not hot for everyone. While some videos get millions of views, others languish in single-digit Siberia (don’t ask me how I know). With more than 100 hours of video uploaded per minute, and more than a million monthly unique users, it can be hard to make an impact on the world’s second biggest search engine. Since there’s no point in creating a video unless it’s watched, here are five tweaks you can make to increase the number of YouTube video plays you get.
1. Optimize the Video
If you don’t have quality audio and video, then that’s the first area to address. Muddy sound and graphics or a terrible script will make viewers hit the snooze button. Sorry, there’s no room for bad video in 2014, so you might as well do it right. It’s better to upload one quality video than a dozen mediocre ones. But uploading the video is not enough. Don’t just use the default video options – you have to make your video findable so that more people will play it. That means looking after things like:
- The video title and description. This is a key part of video SEO as the title and description will show up in search engine results and social media shares. This will also help when YouTube shows related content to video viewers.
- Tags. These work just as they do for blog posts, helping people to find your video and ensuring that it will show up when browsing related content.
- Thumbnails. One mistake that some people make is to leave the default screen capture on their video after upload. Don’t do it – change this to the most compelling still image you have to make your video look attractive and get more people to click on them. While Google gives you the option of three thumbnails and turning on monetization lets you upload a custom thumbnail. See the video below for a detailed tutorial.
- Call to action. Your call to action isn’t just for selling products and services; it can also help you get more video views. Check out the video pros and you’ll notice that they often refer to other videos they have made. If people watch your video and enjoy it, they will probably search for the video you mentioned.
2. Transcripts, Annotations and Playlists
YouTube has a number of features that can increase the potential reach of your video and get more views for your content.
For example, captions and transcripts make your video accessible to hearing impaired viewers. Caption files include time stamps, while transcripts are just text, but both serve the same function: allowing people to read what’s in your video. And there’s a bonus: all that text can be indexed by search engines, which means more people can find and play your video.
Annotations are another interesting YouTube feature, which allow you to add more depth to your video and increase engagement with speech bubbles, spotlights, notes, titles and labels. You can place these at different parts of your video and change fonts, colors, sizes and positions. Annotations are a great way to:
- Provide relevant information that is of value to viewers.
- Add a fun element to your content.
- Link to other relevant videos.
All of these increase views – in fact, Convince and Convert says video annotations can make the difference between a lame video and one that has viral potential.
At the moment, annotations only work for those using embedded players or the web interface, but it probably won’t be long before the YouTube techs find a way to make them visible on mobile devices, too.
Playlists allow you to group videos together, which is an excellent feature if you have created a video series. Just like videos, playlists can be public, private or unlisted. Public, searchable playlists are an excellent way to boost video views. In addition, you can share your playlist on social media, ensuring that all videos on that list have the potential for more attention.
3. Be a Good Host
Your YouTube video doesn’t have to be all about you. In fact, a video that just features a single person talking can be pretty boring. As Jeff Bullas found, having guests on videos sent views through the roof! These days, it’s easy to record a Hangout on Air or a Skype call to create a video with multiple participants. And the good news is that all your guests will promote the video to their audiences, boosting views without you needing to do anything. Jeff Bullas also points out that this method increases your fan base and boosts your credibility, both of which increase video views.
4. Be Responsive
This is a simple tip, but it’s worth mentioning: the more videos you watch, the more people will watch yours, especially if you take the time to leave a comment. With comments linked to your Google account and the ability to showcase videos on your Google+ profile, adding a comment means more visibility for every video. For best results, comment on videos relevant to your own topic – that way viewers who are interested in a particular video are likely to watch yours, too.
Google used to allow video responses, but stopped that feature because they didn’t get the traction they expected. However, if you make a video in response to someone else’s video, you can include the link in your comment. Again, people interested in the current video may also be interested in yours also.
5. Share Everywhere
It may seem obvious, but the more you share your videos, the more people will watch them. As well as sharing it via social media and email marketing, try this:
- Share the link with guests (see tip #3) so they can send it out to their networks.
- Do a press release announcing that there’s a new video and including a text excerpt (or a detailed description).
- Create a video post on your blog and share that too.
- Create a video gallery on your site.
- Create a promo for your video and upload those to other video sites, including a link to the full video in the description.
- Upload a video to Slideshare and use the call to action (Pro version) to send viewers back to your other videos on YouTube.
The combination of a great, optimized video with guests promoted via both YouTube’s built in features and social media is sure to result in more video views. If you have another strategy for increasing video views, please share below.