Optimising your YouTube channel: how to draw a bigger audience

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  • November 19, 2014
Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Content Writer

Social media.

Everyone’s on it these days.

You, your family, your friends, your friends’ friends, your friends’ friends’ pets. Everyone. But perhaps most importantly, so are brands. In fact, you’ve probably liked some of their Facebook pages or Twitter profiles yourselves already.

We already know that there’s a huge amount of people on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, but what about YouTube? Let’s compare. More than a billion unique visitors visit YouTube every month according to YouTube themselves, whereas Facebook receives an estimated 900 million unique visitors and only around 310 million unique visitors find their way onto Twitter every month, according to Ebizma.

Here, we’ll look at a couple of brands who are currently doing it right, exactly what they’re doing that makes them successful, and providing some simple tips on what you could do to create or expand your audience on YouTube.

Please bear in mind that this is only the tip of the iceberg, as there is a host of more technical things that you can implement to help get your channel and videos noticed as well. If you’d like more information, please get in touch with us.

YouTube: You’re doing it right

There are brands which are currently nailing it in terms of digital content marketing through YouTube. GoPro for example, are an HD personal & versatile camera company, whom lots of people use whilst doing extreme sports and the like. Of course, certain brands lend themselves to video better than others, however, they’re doing more than producing good content alone.

Let’s first have a look at their channel.

Designing your channel

Designing your channel

Go Pro’s branding of their channel is just gorgeous. At the top of the page there is a sleek, black banner, with their logo clearly visible – so you know instantly whose channel this is. The intro to their featured video is also in sync with the brand, as are their Featured Channels on the right-hand side. In short, make your channel visually appealing and on-brand.

You have total control over which channels appear in your ‘Featured Channels’ list, so a general tip if you only have one YouTube channel (GoPro have five in total), is to arrange a swap deal with other channels in your niche. You list them in your Featured Channels list, and ask them to do the same for you. The idea behind this is to encourage each other’s fans to cross over to one another’s channels, therefore expanding both your fan bases. But bear in mind that you wouldn’t want to promote one of your direct competitors.

GoPro also have buttons/links to all their various social channels on the bottom right corner of their banner, as well as a link to their website too. This encourages users to view their other social profiles and to click-through and possibly even go on to convert on the website. In fact, you should also aim to promote your videos via your various other social profiles too.

Their channel is also verified, (shown by a small tick next to the channel name) which acts as a trust signal for the user – your channel instantly comes across as more reputable than channels that aren’t verified.

Showcasing your work

Let’s take a minute to talk about thumbnails. If users land on your channel or see your video in a list of search results, you’re going to want to entice them to click on your video rather than anyone else’s.

A good thumbnail should cover as many of these things as possible: your thumbnail should look as good large as it does small, it should both entice the user to watch the video and should accurately represent what the video is about. And if you do use text, make sure it’s legible.

Let's give it a go

These thumbnails are taken from Boots UK’s channel and are good examples of what thumbnails should look like. They are all good quality images which adequately describe what the video is about, plus their titles are very clear and concise, which is great for the user to get a good idea of what each video is about, and help them to determine whether they want to watch it.

However, having text on thumbnails is recommended, as there are certain situations on YouTube where your thumbnail will appear on its own, without the title. So you’ll need to rely on your thumbnail alone to get users to click-through and watch your video.

The videos that appear on your channel page are entirely up to you, though if you’re not sure what to include, a playlist of your recent videos and your most popular videos are two good places to start. You want those all-important viewing figures to climb as fast as possible on your recent videos, so displaying them on your channel is a good way to get users to start watching. Also, displaying your most popular videos gives off another trust signal to users, as displaying videos with large amounts of views shows users that you’re popular on YouTube.

It is also recommended to upload new videos at regular intervals (one every Friday for example). This can also help to retain viewers, as they’ll know when to visit your channel to expect new content.

In addition, it is recommended that you produce a channel trailer to inform users of what they can expect from watching your videos. It’s a good opportunity to entice any user that comes to your channel, to take a closer look at the content you’re producing.

MattJ155

Adding a text description of your channel alongside your trailer gives the user the option of simply reading about what they can expect from your channel and videos.

Turning the casual viewer into a subscriber and fan

Pelican learns to fly

Let’s go back to GoPro for a minute. Strapping a camera to a pelican learning to fly is always going to attract a large numbers of viewers, but let’s forget about the nature of the brand for just a second and explore what else GoPro are doing to not only attract viewers, but to turn the casual viewer into a hard-core, regular viewer.

Go Pro

Towards the end of the video, GoPro have used their video editing software and the YouTube annotation function, to create a series of options designed to keep the user watching their videos – much like you would want to extend a user’s time on site on your website.

Clicking the GoPro logo takes the user back to their channel, and there is also a clear call to action – to subscribe. There are also links to two other videos that are similar to the one that the user just watched. The user simply has to click once to watch another video, and chances are that if they made it to the end of this video, they enjoyed it and want to watch more. So aim to keep them watching your videos for as long as possible by using techniques such as these.

It recommended however, that the subscription annotation be visible throughout the duration of your video, in the bottom corner of the screen. It’s a constant and visible call to action for the user, and if they’re enjoying the video they’re watching, they will hopefully click it. To get technical for a moment, if a user subscribes after or during one of your videos, it’s a big signal to YouTube that you’re hosting quality content, and will hopefully see your videos shoot up YouTube’s rankings if this happens often. You can also set the subscription link to open in a new window, so it won’t interrupt the video that they’re watching.

You can check how many people having subscribed to your channel after watching a certain video in YouTube Analytics.

Driver 2

The next thing you’ll want to know is: how do I know if users are watching my videos all the way through and actually seeing these links at the end of the video?

Consulting your YouTube analytics can help again here; you see whether or not your viewers are watching your videos until the end. If not, you might want to think about how your video content could be more engaging.

Audience Retention

(I’ve used my channel’s analytics here, as of course I don’t have access to anyone else’s.)

If your audience is watching your videos all the way through, then aim to keep them watching your videos as GoPro have done, by giving them simple options to continue at the end of the video.

In fact, there’s so much more that YouTube Analytics can tell you – too much to go into in great detail about. For example, you can view your traffic sources (from where and which countries etc. people are watching your videos), your like to dislike ratio, number of comments, number of shares, number of favourites added etc.

Overall, it’s a great way to see how users are engaging with your videos and if they’re enjoying them. Because at the heart of everything, your video content has to be good for users to be watching.

Content is king!

Although all the tips listed here are designed to help you grow your YouTube audience, the most important factor by far and away is still your videos themselves. The content of your videos directly depends upon the nature of your business; for example, Halfords have created lots of guides and how-to videos engineered to answer YouTube search queries; (how-to and guide videos are also more likely to rank in Google’s video SERPs as well).

Halfords

Your videos should also be recorded and edited in the highest possible quality. There’s nothing worse than watching a video that’s extremely pixelated, no matter how good the actual content is! Currently, the best possible video resolution available on YouTube is 2160p / 4K.

Gran Turismo

Using Boots as an example again, they create lots of make-up and hair tutorials – directly linked to products which they sell in store and online. Alike to Halfords, these videos are designed to both showcase the products, inform the user, and hopefully increase conversions of whichever products they’re showcasing.

Boots

Whatever you decide to create videos about, you should always aim to be at least one of the following: informative, helpful, interesting or humorous. And if you’re doing it right, users will engage with your content!

If you would like more information on how you can further optimise your YouTube channel, then please get in touch.

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