YouTube is wrapping up their wonderful "Tips for Partners" blog series, and I'm sad to see it winding down, because it's been fantastic. Their last installment said the series would "run several weeks," but now it's ending after a total of four. After covering a host of tips related to the use of YouTube services and capabilities—such as metadata, annotations & playlists, and Insight—this final installment is all about what partners should be doing to connect with the YouTube community at large.
Content creators need to get out there and engage the public. "If you build it they will come" is not a valid video marketing strategy. Thankfully, there's a lot that partners and other YouTube users can do to help spread the news of their work. Here are just a few of the suggestions:
Use Social Media To Interact With Your Audience
Use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Google Buzz to interact with your audience. And interact means that you have to do something… you have to be active. Don't just set up a Facebook page and call it a day. Really connecting with your audience can help endear you to them, and it can also fuel your future videos. Ask fans what they liked and what they didn't about your previous work. Ask what they'd like to see in the future. Making your audience fell like a part of your creative team is a fabulous way to ensure they'll want to watch the content you put out down the road.
Use Referral Headers – Act On YouTube Insight Data
Most of the tools and data that partners can get from YouTube can be powerful, informative stuff. But too many users are still ignoring that gold mine. In the Insight tool, you can view your referral headers to find out what websites are sending your video the most views. It looks a bit like this:
Once you know which sites and communities are your biggest referrers, you can begin to rank your marketing strategies in accordance with that data. So if Facebook is the largest referrer for your videos, you might consider making Facebook your first and highest priority for social networking. You could also choose to focus on the referrers you want to see growth in—so if Twitter isn't sending you as many views as you'd like, you can tweak and fiddle with your Twitter strategy to try and take better advantage of the service.
Be careful. Top referrers are very likely to change from video to video. Don't assume that the top referrer on your most recent clip is the top referrer for all your other clips. Dig deep, and learn which types of videos work best with each of the different traffic sources.
Ask For Things From The YouTube Community
Do you want more subscribers? Well, try asking viewers to subscribe. It may sound like a stupid and obvious tip, but you'd be surprised how well it works. There's a reason so many of the top video creators have descriptions and annotations that say "Please subscribe!”
Ask for feedback—in the comments or in a standalone video. Ask for suggestions. Ask website communities you think your content matches up with to embed your videos.
Listen to Your YouTube Audience
Do you read the comments on your own videos? It can be a dicey proposition, I know, but it's worth it. If you can wade through the more sophomoric comments, you'll often find great insight into what your fans liked and didn't like about the clip. Also, inside your Insights tool, you can see the words that were most used by commenters in discussing your video.
Promote Your Videos
Tap into YouTube's Promoted Videos program, which is basically like Adwords for YouTube. Partners can run campaigns for their videos that will help give it exposure across YouTube's website. And just like Adwords, you never pay for impressions with Promoted Videos… only for actual clicks through to your video.
Get Creative With Promoting Your YouTube Channel
The YouTube article specifically suggests adding your YouTube Channel to your email signature to help spread the word to everyone you send messages to. But why stop there? Make sure it's on your Facebook page too. And your website. Do you use an email marketing program? If so… definitely use it to promote your channel and your individual videos. How about a letterhead or business card? The idea is to turn over every stone in looking for ways to promote your video content. Don't miss out on an opportunity to let your audience know about the content you want them to find.
Partner With Other YouTube Partners
Collaboration is the final encouragement. Work with other YouTube partners, with friends, with co-workers, and with other video producers. Collaboration almost always yields high quality results—but more than the end product, the real benefit of collaboration is in the increased audience size you'll reach. If you can get a prominent video creator to work with you on something, they're likely to promote the work to their fan base when it's ready for audiences, which could more than double your exposure.
Some of these tips might seem obvious, but most can't be repeated enough. For whatever reason, there are still tons of video producers that simply upload a video and cross their fingers, never taking advantage of the free tools offered by YouTube. As we learned the other day, gaining lots of viewers and making money on your YouTube videos is hard. There can be very real success for those willing to do the legwork necessary to cultivate a following and publicize their videos. But it's going to take a serious commitment in both time and effort. Almost nothing comes easy in the world of online video. That's why I have been so pleased to see YouTube bending over backwards with this Tips for Partners series. Here's hoping that the ever-changing landscape of online video in general (and YouTube specifically) results in another Tips for Partners series down the road.