Build a YouTube Channel from the Ground Up
YouTube is quickly becoming the go to choice of marketers as the popularity of the social platform itself not only explodes, but the ability of marketers to bring dollars into companies also increases.
Running right at YouTube and uploading a few videos can get you some views, but there is a much better way. It’s called ‘having a plan,’ and this article seeks to help you build that plan from before you even create a single video.
Creating goals for your YouTube channel
Find out how your business fits on YouTube
Even the most boring of businesses can find out what makes them visually unique. For anyone that doubts this, watch an episode of the long running TV show “How it’s Made.” I once watched an episode that included a segment on how bubble gum is made. The interest was all in the presentation.
For those in the service industry, this can sometimes create a problem. A chain of lawn care service centers would have a hard time getting people to watch videos where their staff showed up and cut someone’s grass. They could, however, generate some serious views with a series of videos looking at lawn and garden care tips. This is the ‘fit’ that I’m talking about when it comes to finding how your business ‘fits’ on YouTube.
Another aspect of how you’ll find you fit is by figuring out if you want to focus on finding new customers, or supporting current ones. Support channels can be very helpful as they offer a sort of visual FAQ, and can work as a help desk for businesses that are inundated with questions.
Will you create videos that inform, educate or entertain
Successful YouTube business accounts have a focus and stick to it. The focus can be on videos which either inform viewers about products, educate in a ‘how to’ way, or entertain in any number of ways. Let’s stop reading text and look at some videos.
Informative YouTube Channel: Lego
Lego have a mix of entertainment with their cartoons, and informative with regular hosts who breakdown the newest releases from their company. Here’s an example informative video:
There is an element of entertainment there, but it is ultimately a video where one of their designers sits down and talks about their product.
Educational YouTube video: Home Depot
These are very popular in the hardware/home improvement world where it’s kinda boring to show how a hammer works. Showing a hammer build a garden shed is something much more useful to YouTube users. Here’s an example from the highly successful Home Depot channel:
None of their videos get huge numbers, but they’re consistent and considered evergreen content. They’re also highly searchable, and can name drop some of the products they sell in a very useful way.
Entertaining YouTube video: Blendtec
I talk about this channel again and again, but there’s no getting around the fact that they have hit a goldmine of YouTube content. They took their blenders and made them highly entertaining:
Mega-fun, right? Just keep in mind that this fun isn’t created out of thin air and may take a bit more money than the two options above.
All three of these have the same goal of adding value to a discussion. These are not traditional commercials in any way at all, don’t expect to be able to make commercials like you did for the local TV station.
The two ways to approach brand building on YouTube
People who watch your YouTube channel are going to have a much easier time identifying with a person than a brand. Branding someone as a spokesperson for your brand, and having them regularly host your show, is a great way to build an audience along with that star.
The flip-side is to feature a rotating cast of industry experts. Each video will introduce the person, establish their credentials, and show how they relate to your business.
To give you an example, Blendtec made their name off their CEO, Tom Dickson, regularly appearing in videos under the “Will it Blend” banner. They also have videos with other hosts, but those are not anywhere nearly as successful.
GoPro, on the other hand, has no regular host at all. They feature a series of video where people use their products in interesting ways to spotlight their skills. Each video they take the same path of introducing the expert, establish what they do, and show how they relate to their business. GoPro just has an exciting way to do all of that!
Increase your chances of being found with good SEO practices
The picture below may be of the most important screens that you’ll ever look at on YouTube:
Those three boxes are the key to your SEO. You have to have a plan for how you’ll use them before you even start typing. Maybe even before you start shooting the video in the first place! You’re going to need to insert keywords in all three boxes that will bring in viewers who are actually interested in your products – not just lookie-loos who will leave quickly.
Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner tool is a go-to resource, but do not underestimate the power of just looking at what competitors or similar businesses are doing online. Find their keywords and, to put an accurate phrase to use, find a way to steal their traffic.
Here’s a look at each box and what you’ll want to do with it:
- Title: You want one that is equal parts intrigue and inform, while still having that keyword or phrase in it. I did a search for “basketball shoes” and there were three standout titles:
- Top 10 Most Expensive Basketball Shoes
- Performance Topic #1: How to choose a basketball shoe
- Shop by color for your basketball shoes at Finishline.com
Each one has its own unique spin on the keyword, and offers something useful to someone looking for that specific phrase.
- Description: You’ll want to divide this into two parts. The first part will describe the video itself in the first sentence. The second sentence can mention your business name, and offer further information about you.
The second paragraph will go into further details like your contact information, website address, and a call to action that will prompt users to do what you want them to do. This second paragraph will only be visible when people click “Show More.” Once you have these basics, feel free to add any other information you want people to know.
This video by Jimmy Fallon is pretty good example of what you should do – keep it simple and to the point. Read the description first:
“Jimmy’s spooky encounter with his office desk lamp becomes even spookier in this classic Late Night with Jimmy Fallon clip.”
Now watch the video and you’ll see that they kept it accurate. There was no hype, no mention of every actor to make an appearance. Basic info, done.
If you click over to YouTube you’ll see the Show More tab links to Jimmy’s social profiles, as well as offering a general overview of the show. Even with all of the brand identity built up for The Tonight Show, they still don’t forget to add that as it may be someone’s first time watching their content.
- Use your tags appropriately: The temptation here may be to tag the whole world and every word in it, but this is a bad idea. You want to draw in relevant users, not anger trolls who will spew hatred all over your comment section because you keyword stuffed.
The basic things to include in your tags will be:
- Your keyword and synonyms of it
- Your brand name
- The name of anyone you’re collaborating with
- Your location by city, state, and country
That’s it! Any more than this and you’re just keyword stuffing and there are few benefits to this, and plenty of downsides as you make yourself ripe for a bashing for inappropriately using keywords.
Optimizing your videos the user experience way
Welcome to the last step in building your YouTube channel, and welcome to when you get to have some real creative fun!
Catch their eye with a great thumbnail image
Perhaps the most important piece of user experience optimization you’ll do is creating a thumbnail for your video. Yes, I know that YouTube gives you three options to choose from automatically. The problem is that they all suck!
Create a custom one with some text to help get your message across quickly. These are the knee-jerk reaction types of things you need to get people clicking on your video without thinking too much!
Include your business name, address, and phone number in the video as audio and text
YouTube is a tremendous opportunity in increasing your brand awareness through simple user experience practices like using different presentation methods to reach your viewer. You can do this by:
- Making sure to have your host mention your business details in the video.
- Having your video uploader either add an annotation to the video with the business details, or create a physical backdrop with the details on it already.
These two steps are going to do a lot to help build brand awareness as some people are audio learners, and some are visual learners. The auto-generated transcript that Youtube has could also be a factor in your SEO.
Okay. You have the SEO and user experience tools to make great YouTube videos. Get out there, get some videos done, and post a few in the comments below to let us see your results!