When I was a kid, baseball was my favorite sport... to watch, play, or follow. I wasn't very good at it, but I played it for more than 10 years. And for most of those 10 years, my coaches were throwing nuggets of baseball wisdom at me to encourage me and keep me in the right mindset. Today I want to take the most common piece of baseball coaching advice I ever received and give it to video creators and marketers: don't try to hit a home run; all we need's a single.
Focus On The Fundamentals
Most kids in little league have a tendency to swing for a home run every time they're at the plate. Who doesn't want to hit one over the fence and round the bases to a roaring applause? The problem is, the end up trying too hard... swinging too early and too fast, stepping in the bucket--many exert so much will and force on a home run swing that they end up closing their eyes.
Of course, almost none of them connect and hit a home run. If a team is going to score runs, they've got to get someone on base. And it's a whole lot easier to try and successfully get a single than it is a home run. So teams--even in the big leagues--are always encouraging their hitters not to swing for the fences, but instead of focus on making good contact and getting a single.
Singles are the building blocks of baseball success. Singles, walks, solid basic defense. Home runs are flashy, but hard to consistently produce.
The Building Blocks Of Online Video Success
Online video marketing is the same way. I frequently see basic steps being skipped by video creators and businesses in pursuit of viral glory. So I thought it would be good to go over a few fundamentals of good online video marketing.
Many of you will know these already. Many of you have heard us say these things before--or read them in the YouTube Creator Playbook. But they're all worth repeating.
- Titles - How did you title your video? Did you use keywords likely to be searched by the very people looking for this content? Or did you try to get cute and come up with a catchy viral-type title?
- Description - How you describe the video can impact whether people watch it or whether they ever find it in the first place. Most clients I work with come to me with a bunch of videos that are under-performing, and when I start looking around I'll find a short, one-sentence description. It's not good enough. There is plenty of information you can put in the video description (especially at YouTube), including calls to action, text that frames the content or provides context, links to ancillary content or websites, and more.
- Captions - Captions are important for several reasons, most notably to help the hearing-impaired understand and enjoy the content. But captions are important for so much more than just that. Captions are a bit of a silver bullet for video SEO, giving search engines detailed information on the topics, content, and comments within your video. And if I had a nickel for every branded YouTube channel I see NOT using captions... I'd have thousands of nickels.
- Tags - I'm seeing a lot of channels that either have no tags added for a video, or only a few. In truth, so long as the tags are accurate for your video's content, there's no real limit on how many you can use. Just look at how many tags Freddie Wong uses on a recent video.
- Annotations - Annotations are a great way to add calls to action, instructions, links, comments, and more--you can even create an interactive "choose your own adventure" videos using annotations. And yet... most of the YouTube channels I see (even with major brands) are either not using annotations at all or only using them in the most basic applications.
You might be surprised how many people I talk to who are looking for more viewers that haven't done the things listed above.
We're skipping the basic building blocks that are proven to help your target audience find your content because we're so focused on a making a major viral splash. Sometimes I wonder if people either don't read the YouTube Creator Playbook, or if they read it but end up thinking those basic building blocks aren't worth the effort.
If you put all your time, money, and effort into "going viral", but skip the basic building blocks that we already know work... you're chances of success plummet. You might hit a home run every now and then with that strategy, but you'll strike out even more often. In your pursuit of video awesomeness, please don't ignore the little things. They really do make a difference.