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LEARNING CORNER

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With over 1 billion viewers worldwide, a well-crafted YouTube channel can extend your blog’s reach, gain it more exposure, increase traffic and generate backlinks, all without you ever getting behind or in front of a camera. This post and Thursday’s live chat uncover simple steps to integrate YouTube into your blogging by using channels to enrich your blog with compelling visual content. 

A Decade Strong

YouTube is a video sharing website created in 2005 and bought by Google in 2006 that hosts user-generated videos, including vlogs, music videos, television shows, movies and sponsored content by corporations, advertisers and production companies. 

In the past year, 1 billion subscribers watched over 25 billion hours of video. If you still think YouTube isn’t relative to your blog then you’re missing out on reaching half of America with your content:

  • 58.2% of U.S. Internet users have a YouTube account
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world
  • YouTube has 128 million unique users monthly
  • 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others.
  • 300 hours of video uploaded every minute
  • Over 700 YouTube videos shared on Twitter each minute
  • 500 tweets per minute contain a YouTube link

As the Internet moves toward more visual content, it will be important to stay ahead of the wave so you aren’t left out to sea.

YouTube Surpasses Facebook in Number of Visits

When you think about social networks, YouTube probably isn’t even in the first five you rattle off, but in June 2014 it surpassed Facebook in the number of unique visitors to its site. YouTube is highly optimized because it often contains useful information, and as Brafton.com reports, “How-to headlines and in-depth guides are among the first things Google tries to offer users in search, and videos are often the best results.” 

YouTube is easy to learn and has the same components as other social networks, such as liking, sharing and commenting features. Engaging your audience using these social features makes your content more likely to be found and shared. To fully engage with YouTube, you’ll first need to learn some key terms.

Channel

A channel is place where viewers can go to find something they want to watch now and later. The purpose is for viewers to subscribe to your channel so that they keep coming back to see and share your new content. When you upload videos to your channel, those who subscribe to the channel will receive updates when new content is added.

The channel is the homepage or landing page for your YouTube account and has many features that you can customize, including cover art, a channel trailer (a brief, 30-second to 1-minute video describing your channel’s content) and a written description of the channel. The more you customize your channel page, the information will be better indexed and the rich metadata will be easier for YouTube’s algorithm to find. 

Your channel can be populated with original videos that you create and upload, or you can create a channel from videos uploaded by others that you curate. By focusing on building a robust channel, it will give your channel personality and build curiosity in the viewer that can drive them back to your blog with backlinks. Simply having a YouTube account is not enough, unless you create a channel, your presence on YouTube will be completely private. 

Subscribers

There are two types of users on YouTube: subscribed and unsubscribed users. When users subscribe to a channel, it means that they are more likely to return. When you create a YouTube channel, it is your goal to gain subscribers, much like with Facebook and Twitter it is your goal to receive followers.

When you grow your subscribers, it increases the chance that they will return to your channel, and anytime you update your channel with new content it will show up in subscribers’ feeds. Subscribers are critical to the success of your channel because they typically spend more time viewing your content than a casual or unsubscribed visitor and are also more likely to share your content.  Connecting with your subscribers will expose your content to their networks and beyond.

Social Features

YouTube’s social features are similar to most social networking sites in which you engage with others by liking, commenting and sharing. Interacting with your audience creates a community, which in turn becomes a dedicated audience.  Try to respond to each person who likes, comments or shares your videos to spur conversation. 

As YouTube points out on their blog, communities will happen with or without you, so if you are the primary engager you can better control and moderate the conversation. 

Ranking

In the past, YouTube ranked videos by number of views, but it was quickly discovered that this was not the best indicator of quality content. Now YouTube ranks videos based on how engaged viewers are by measuring watch time, which is the amount of time spent watching a video. 

It should be noted that this doesn’t mean you need to create or curate longer videos to positively impact your watch time, rather it means that you need to make sure your content is engaging.

Metadata

Metadata is the written description that YouTube’s algorithm crawls over. Video metadata includes titles, tags and descriptions; playlist metadata includes titles and descriptions; and channel metadata includes descriptions. 

With YouTube being the second largest search engine in the world, optimizing your descriptions, titles and tags is of major importance, so treat it like your blog: organized, clean and succinct! 

Homework: Click here for a complete glossary of all YouTube’s terms!

Jumping In

If you have a Google account, then chances are you already have a YouTube account. This is a short list to get your channel up and running, but be sure to check out the YouTube Creator Academy for more in-depth teaching and training.

  1. Once you’ve signed up for YouTube, create a channel.
  2. Write a script for a short trailer, between 30 seconds and 1 minute long, that succinctly describes your channel.  If you’re not comfortable going on screen, you can create a presentation in PowerPoint or Canva, but it won’t be as engaging as a video. It is YouTube after all, and the people want videos!
  3. Create cover art that is in keeping with your blog’s theme. Use the same colors, fonts and filters. Canva offers premade YouTube cover art templates.  Don’t forget to include a call to action that asks people to visit your blog!
  4. Describe your channel using keywords that you think users are likely to use when they search for content. Creating a rich description will make your metadata more robust and appealing to YouTube’s algorithm.

Types of Videos

For those that are new to YouTube, here are some examples of the kinds of videos that are most popular to ease you in:

  1. How-to videos and tutorials
  2. Product Reviews
  3. Exercise videos

Curated Channels for the Camera Shy

If getting in front of the camera isn’t your thing, you can still create a robust YouTube video to complement your blog by curating videos. Curating videos and creating playlists is a great way to introduce your fans to more of what they love and you can easily integrate curated content into your blog.

Your YouTube content also shows your channel and your blog’s personality. If you blog about homeschooling then you can curate lesson plans that you’ve used or want to use in the future, give a review of the lesson plans or any tips you have for others who are looking to use the lesson plans. By writing your own rich descriptions for the content you curate, you can drive more users to your content, which will create more sharing. Essentially, if you search for it, then chances are other people are searching for it too, so make their life easier by making your content easy to find through keywords.

When curating content and posting videos that are not your own content, be sure to attribute and, if possible, provide a backlink to the original source so you don’t violate copyright and fair use laws. Also, keep in mind that when you peruse YouTube as just a subscriber or user, your activity is private, but your channels are public-facing. If your goal is to attract sponsors and advertisers to your blog, be wary of posting content that is controversial or might seem unappealing to sponsors.

Optimize to Socialize

It’s important to optimize your titles, tags and images in the same way you do for your blog posts (you do optimize, right?). The same is true for your YouTube posts. One of the first things you should do is link your blog with YouTube by adding a subscribe button to your site using this embed this code from YouTube’s blog.

Cross Collaborate:

YouTube is great as a collaboration tool. To keep with the example of the homeschool theme, you can collaborate with other homeschooling moms and share content, tips and tricks to keep the conversations going and to engage users outside your own network. 

Recap:

  1. Create eye-catching cover art for your channel
  2. Record a short video or presentation for your channel’s trailer
  3. Write rich content for your titles, descriptions and tags
  4. Add a watermark to your content
  5. Get familiar with YouTube’s new annotations feature to add speech bubbles, link to your social sites, add notes for clarification, spotlights and a call to action
  6.  Create great video thumbnails
  7. Add captions for non-English speakers and those who are hard of hearing. 60% of a creator’s views are from outside their home country. Captions also act as additional metadata to enrich your videos
  8. Familiarize yourself with YouTube’s analytics to test, assess and correct your content’s performance

At First, Shoot for the Roof, Not the Stars

It’s guaranteed your first video is going to be awful, which will later be a great measure of progress as you keep learning. Your videos don’t need to be long and you don’t need a high-quality camera, you can simply use your smartphone. What you do need, as with your blog, is quality content. When you post content that is appealing to your audience and link your blog with YouTube, you are drastically increasing your chances of being discovered.

The Bottom Line

With over 1 billion users across the world, you don’t have to be a star to create a compelling YouTube channel, you just need some complementary content. Joining and engaging with YouTube will put you ahead of others as the Internet skews more toward visual content and videos and away from traditional text-based posts.  

Do you have a YouTube channel? Post your link in the comments below, share with the Club and start collaborating!

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