YouTube is the most used video sharing platform in the world and the second most visited website. Its global popularity makes the platform an essential tool in marketing and communication activities. However, like any other social network, there are some best practices to follow to be successful and make the most of the platform. Let’s see which ones.
More and more companies are betting on audio-visual content as part of their digital strategies. And the 2022 trends show us that this year, 82% of total internet traffic will be generated by videos. Therefore, YouTube, the most popular video-sharing platform in the world, confirms itself as a digital marketing tool not to be overlooked.
YouTube does not need great introductions: the platform was born on February 15, 2005 in California from an intuition of Steven Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim, three former PayPal employees looking for a system that would allow them to share their videos with friends, relatives and acquaintances. In the first three months, the results in terms of traffic and use of the platform were lacking; only on April 23, 2005 the first video was uploaded: “me at the Zoo”, a short video shot in front of the elephant cage of the San Diego Zoo by @jawed, who also holds the record of first registered user.
Shortly thereafter, the traffic increased every day. In October of the same year, brands became protagonists on YouTube: Nike, understanding the potential of the platform, was the first company to use it to publish an advertisement.
From that moment on, large companies began to consider YouTube a potential tool to be included in their marketing strategy and an important promotional and communication medium.
In July 2006, YouTube hit 100 million video views per day. In October of the same year, despite some legal issues related to intellectual property protection, YouTube became the tenth most visited site in the United States and was bought by Google Inc.
Over the years, YouTube’s increase in popularity has never stopped and today the platform – which hosts a wide variety of topics and formats, ranging from music videos, movies, TV shows to vlogs, and more – is one of the most visited websites in the world, second only to Google.
Its global spread, combined with the great popularity of video formats at the expense of others, make YouTube one of the main social networks considered by social media managers. However, as we have already seen for Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter, to create an effective strategy it is important to know the peculiarities and best practices of YouTube.
Table of contents
How to create a winning strategy on YouTube
1. Create a YouTube channel
Most social networks require users to set up an account before you can access the content, but that’s not the case with YouTube, which allows to view the content without opening an account. However, to upload videos it is necessary to subscribe to the platform by opening a new channel.
It is a very simple, intuitive operation that requires only a few steps.
First of all, being owned by Google, the platform requires us to have a Google account at the time of registration. Therefore, if we don’t have it, we need to create a Google account first (the account can be opened by entering an email from any domain). Once this is done, we can enter YouTube, click on the icon at the top right and then on “create a channel”.
At this point, the platform will ask us to give our channel a name. The most obvious thing is to name the channel exactly like our brand in order to give it an identity and facilitate the search. YouTube will also provide a specific and unique URL that is easily shareable online.
Subscription to the platform and the opening of your own channel can be done both from mobile and desktop.
2. Optimize the channel
Once the channel is open, before uploading a video, it is a good idea to fill in all the information required by the platform to offer users an overview of our business and upload eye-catching graphics coordinated with our brand image.
Info about the brand
YouTube offers companies and creators in general, i.e., all those who use the platform to share videos and original content, to provide users a brief description of our company (who we are, what is the core business of our brand, etc.), products and services.
Furthermore, it is advisable to add contact information such as e-mail, telephone, website and address to give users the possibility to contact us for any need, as well as a link to our others social channels to entice them to follow us there as well. Once these fields have been filled in, YouTube will show by default the “subscribe” button, the site and social channels on the cover image.
In order to make our profile more complete, let’s make sure we create eye-catching graphics to upload as channel profile picture and cover image.
The graphics chosen should be coordinated with our corporate image. In the profile picture, it is good practice to insert the brand logo; while as cover image, it is advisable to insert the company’s pay-off in order to communicate which products or services it offers.
Now we are ready to start and upload our first video.
3. Upload video content regularly
Videos represent the beating heart of the platform. Any type of format or length is allowed on YouTube. This means that there are different correct formats we can include in our marketing strategy. However, there are some types of videos that work best for a certain target audience. Therefore, we need to find the format that best matches the products and/or services offered by our brand. For example, it can be a corporate video to present an overview of our company; a tutorial, if our brand sells a product that needs an explanation and visual support to show its potential; product reviews to show the public what consumers think about our products; or video interviews and vlogs to deepen certain issues.
Let’s choose the format(s) that best suits our audience’s needs. We can always adjust our strategy, if it does not bring the desired results.
The length of the video is closely related to the nature of our video itself. If we upload a corporate or promotional video, even one minute is enough to show users what our company does or what the peculiarities of our products are. However, if we want to review a product in depth rather than interview someone, it is preferable to upload longer videos, even of 10-15 minutes.
By default, YouTube gives any user the ability to upload videos up to 15 minutes long. Only verified accounts – that is, accounts that have provided and verified their identity with a mobile number – can upload videos that are longer than 15 minutes.
However, let’s always keep an eye on the time: the first seconds are crucial to capture the attention and curiosity of the viewers, who will continue to watch it if they are interested. If bored, they will move on to other content after just a few moments. Videos that are too long might make users desist from watching. So, let’s find a good compromise between length and quality of the video.
How to upload a video
To upload a video, click on the “create” button. At this point the platform dialog box will open, asking us for:
- a title
- a brief description of the content: an optimal description should contain keywords that give an overview of what the video is about and that help users find our videos more easily through search;
- a thumbnail: upload a preview photo that stands out from the crowd and attracts the attention of viewers;
- tags: although the title, thumbnail and description of the video are important, tags can also help us catalogue our videos and facilitate their discovery;
- subtitles: YouTube allows us to add subtitles both manually and automatically. By default, subtitles will be automatically generated by YouTube. However, being an automatic feature, this type of subtitling does not always give perfect results. Nevertheless, we will be able to adjust the automatic subtitles. We can also select “upload a file” to upload an existing subtitles file; “type manually” to write our own subtitles directly on YouTube; or “auto-sync”, which will allow us to type or copy-paste a complete transcript of the video which will then be automatically synchronized by YouTube.
- additional elements: YouTube also offers the ability to include in our videos additional interactive elements, similar to pop-ups, that help brands promote their content. These elements are called “cards” and can be added at the end or during the video – at a specific time chosen by us – allowing users to easily find related videos or subscribe to the channel.
How to organize the content
If some of the videos we upload have a common thread, we can organize them in so-called playlists: video collections of similar content that will be played one after the other, automatically.
4. Promote the brand
In addition to organic content, YouTube offers companies the opportunity to promote their brand and products directly on the platform through the YouTube Advertising service. Being YouTube a Google-owned service, the management of the ads is entrusted to Google Ads, the advertising platform developed by Google to manage advertisements on the search engine, on partner sites and on its services, including obviously YouTube. The steps for creating an advertising campaign on YouTube are therefore no different from those required by other campaigns:
- selection of the format of the promotional content;
- choice of the target audience, segmented by parameters such as language, age, location, interests, etc.;
- setting of the promotional budget to invest.
YouTube advertising formats
YouTube offers several advertising formats to choose from, all with excellent potential and their own peculiarities, which allow us to pursue specific objectives. Let’s see them.
• Non-skippable ads: a short format that cannot be skipped, so the display of these is mandatory before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll) or after (post-roll) the view of the content. Whenever the user watches the ad, the platform generates an automatic cost charge for the advertiser. These announcements, lasting between 6 and 20 seconds and available on both desktop and mobile, allow us to reach viewers by communicating our message in full.
The mid-roll announcement can only be shown on videos with a duration equal to or longer than 8 minutes. This means that if we upload a short video (less than 8 minutes long) there will be no advertising interruption while using the content.
This type of ad is reminiscent of the TV commercial since the reproduction of the content chosen by the user is interrupted by the ad, which must be watched in order to continue enjoying the selected video.
• Bumper ads: this is another non-skippable advertising format. However, compared to the previous format, this type of ad only lasts up to 6 seconds. Therefore, it is designed to reach customers with a short, incisive and easy to remember message, capable of capturing the attention of users in just a few seconds.
• TrueView video ads: they are the preferred format for those who want to advertise on YouTube as they represent a fair compromise for brands and users. Unlike the previous format, users have greater control over the advertisements displayed by Google, which can be skipped; advertisers, on the other hand, benefit from converting only a truly interested audience.
This type of YouTube ads has a maximum duration of 6 minutes and a minimum duration of 12 seconds.
TrueView ads are divided into two sub-categories: In-stream ads and Video Discovery ads. The former includes promotional ads that can be viewed before, during and after the video and can only be skipped after five seconds from the start of the ad; the latter is included in the YouTube search results. The modality by which advertisers are charged varies depending on the selected subcategory. With in-stream ads, the cost is charged upon interaction or after 30 seconds of viewing; with the Video Discovery format, the advertiser will be charged only if the user clicks on the ad content.
- Overlay ads: these ads are in a banner display format and are displayed at the bottom of the video player. It is a clickable image or text box linked to a page, the link to which is provided by the advertiser. This type of ad is only visible to desktop users.
5. Interact with the audience and other pages
Interacting with your followers is synonymous with a lively, attentive company that dedicates time and resources to creating bonds and engage with its community. So, let’s respond to comments that users write under our videos, keeping the conversation alive. Even interacting with pages similar to ours can be a strategy to capture the attention of users who may also be interested in our brand. On YouTube, there are different ways of interacting: “like” and “comment” to interact with individual contents and “subscribe to the channel” to not miss out on what’s being uploaded. It is also possible to activate notifications for a channel by clicking on the bell on the main page of the channel.
6. Monitor the results
As with any channel that is part of our digital marketing strategy, we need to measure YouTube’s statistics and results in order to track the work done so far and understand what and how to improve.
The YouTube Analytics section shows creators the number of subscriptions to the channel in a given period of time, the interactions of our followers with our videos, the KPIs related to video viewing, the most viewed videos, etc.
Since there is no correct strategy and users behaviours and interests change overtime, we should regularly evaluate and monitor our metrics.
7. Don’t forget YouTube Shorts
In the wake of TikTok and Instagram Reels, YouTube also recently launched its own short video platform, that is, Shorts.
Through Shorts, accessible from the mobile app, we can upload or browse videos lasting up to 60 seconds.
The way users watch the videos works exactly like on other apps that have similar formats: Shorts run one after the other and to watch the next video or return to the previous one, we only need to scroll with your thumb. Also when it comes to interaction, Shorts are similar to TikToks and Reels: users can like, dislike, comment and share the video.
What makes this format interesting is that it is likely to go viral more immediately than a classic YouTube video but still remains connected to one’s own channel, to which the user can easily access and thus see all the uploaded videos.
Therefore, it is worth trying to include the use of Shorts in our strategy, especially if we already create content for TikTok or Reels.
With over 122 million active users on the platform every day and more than 1 billion hours of video content viewed daily all over the world, YouTube is the ideal digital tool to promote and increase the visibility of your brand, products and services through one preferred format by users: videos. If used correctly, a YouTube channel can help us setting our content apart from the great number of videos uploaded on the platform.
Now that we have reached the bottom of this article, we have certainly acquired greater awareness and knowledge of the power and the tools offered by YouTube and we are ready to take advantage of this platform for the promotion of our company!
Are you planning to use YouTube in your social media marketing strategy? Contact us to discover our communication and digital marketing services