The Beginners Guide to Creating a Compelling YouTube Channel

YouTube is one of the most widely used social sites online today with more than 1 billion unique users visiting the website to watch six billion hours of video every month. Many businesses have an active presence to reach YouTube’s vast audience through compelling video content, but many brands have yet to effectively allocate their time into creating a channel with relevant programming.

Video content from YouTube can be embedded on websites you own and control, as well as other social media accounts to help further fuel engagement across channels. There are also opportunities for video content to rank for relevant Google searches since YouTube is a part of the Google family. Not to mention, creating one-of-a-kind videos that entertain, educate, strike an emotional chord and are relevant to your audience can create a stronger relationship between viewers and your business.

Sony Xperia The Take Out Video Screenshot

Sony Xperia video: “The Take Out”

For example, Sony Xperia’s YouTube Channel launched an ongoing video series in June 2013 called The Take Out. As of today, the series has garnered more than 100,000 views in an effort to educate Sony’s audience about what’s happening with the best music, games, social media and movies. The video series suits the intended audience by featuring compelling, relevant and educational content. It’s hosted on Sony’s optimized channel, with the videos and playlists optimized for greater visibility. It’s also clear that Sony is monitoring the success of its efforts to ensure it’s consistently altering the approach with this content series to help ensure success.

If you’re looking to create a branded experience like Sony does using YouTube, follow these steps to creating your own compelling channel and programming.

1 Set up Your Channel

Start by opening up a YouTube channel associated with an existing Google+ page your business currently owns, or create a channel that comes with a brand new Google+ page by choosing the blue create a new channel button at the top right hand side of this screen. Select a username that best represents your business, just as long as it’s concise and as aligned as possible with the names of your other social channels. Your YouTube channel will be associated with your Google+ page to better sync your efforts on both channels. Also, choose a custom URL for your channel that’s the same (or similar) to your channel’s name for further optimization of your channel.

Amex YouTube Channel

Amex YouTube Channel

Bonobos YouTube Channel

Bonobos YouTube Channel

To begin optimizing your channel for both users and the search engines, start by focusing on the visual design of your channel for visitors. Upload channel art in the form of the logo and the cover photo to your YouTube channel that best fits the aesthetic of your brand or any existing campaigns your marketing or advertising departments are running. Be sure to optimize your cover photo to be responsive across devices by uploading an image that’s 2560 x 1440 px based off of Google’s channel art guidelines. Once you’ve chosen the right channel art, proceed to choosing which links to highlight at the bottom right of your cover photo on your YouTube channel. These links should include a link to your website, followed by links to your most used social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest or others.

Warby Parker YouTube Channel

Warby Parker YouTube Channel

Sephora YouTube Channel

Sephora YouTube Channel

These visual items are important to define your YouTube channel to help frame the branded experience of your business on the platform. Not to mention, the featured links help make it easy to connect with your company through its ecosystem of online properties to further connect viewers with your business. Last but not least, it is important to also optimize your channel to be search engine friendly. Add a lengthy description to your channel, describing both your company and the type of content your viewers will most likely see. This description will appear across the YouTube ecosystem as a means for categorizing your YouTube content appropriately.

ProctorGamble YouTube Description

ProctorGamble YouTube Description

Chanel YouTube Description

Chanel YouTube Description

Once your business starts uploading content for your YouTube channel, it’s important to organize the various sections of your channel, create a channel trailer for subscribers and one for non-subscribers, optimize your videos and organize your content into optimized playlists. The end goal of this channel optimization is to make your content a rich destination for current and potential subscribers.

2 Develop Different Series of Content

Once you’ve completely set up your YouTube channel, it’s time to focus on what content you’ll be regularly recording, uploading and distributing to your audience. This is the most difficult part of creating a YouTube channel for your business since there are many different subjects to cover. In the end, it comes down to this: what will work best for reaching your audience?

The best approach to building content is to create an ongoing series in the form of a playlist that consistently covers a topic that’s relevant to your brand, its offerings and your audience. One-off videos will work here and there, but to tap into an ongoing dialogue with your audience on YouTube and elsewhere, consistent series are where you’ll find long-term engagement.

Cisco YouTube Channel

Cisco YouTube Channel

Once you’ve gathered the right equipment to shoot videos properly for YouTube, it’s time decide on what content to create for your company. Take into consideration what your brand stands for, the preferences and interests of your target audience, the unique habits of YouTube users and the specific features of the video platform to best decide what content will match potential and existing subscribers. When you’ve identified particular topics of interest, this content could live in the form of how-to videos, comedy, television, news, parodies, music videos, explainer videos, commercials, interviews, animations and other video types.

For example, well-known B2B brand, Cisco, uses YouTube to share its industry insights. Cisco’s Business Trends playlist highlights areas of innovation the company is participating in, as well as its opinion on other industry trends occurring through interviews, animations, panel discussions and other forms of video content.

Emulate Cisco’s approach to developing a content series by matching videos with your audience’s professional interests. Regardless if your company is active in a particular area in your industry, it’s still important to use video content to provide your brand’s perspective to continue to associate yourself with innovative topics, discussions and thought leadership.

3 Optimize Your Playlists and Videos

Like mentioned before, it’s important to organize your content effectively on your YouTube channel. The most important reason is that your content should be developed into series, much like TV programming, to help your audience associate what type of content it should expect from your business.

YouTube suggested videos

YouTube suggested videos

By driving home the various topics and stories you’re trying to consistently associate with your brand, your audience should begin to recognize your business as the authority on the given subjects included in each series of videos. While creating a series, place each individual video into a playlist for easy browsing by viewers across YouTube.

Quite often, one video on a playlist will highlight another video on the same playlist as a suggested video on the right hand side of the YouTube dashboard. Also, when one video in a playlist finishes, the next in the series automatically plays until the entire series is played. This will help increase the volume of traffic sent to all the videos in your playlist highlighting each series, as well as create one easy place for audience members to explore your content.

YouTube Keyword Tool

YouTube keyword tool

Optimize your playlists by using keyword-focused titles and descriptions that naturally explain the series concisely. Keep the title and description descriptive and useful. And follow YouTube’s Keyword Suggestion Tool as a reference for finding keywords with a substantial global monthly search volume. When using this tool, be sure to select exact match type to ensure you’re given an estimate of the search traffic to the exact keywords you’ve entered. Again, it’s really important to focus on a title and a description that certain keywords will fit into naturally. Never stuff keywords into any of your content, it’ll hurt your optimization efforts dramatically. When possible, include a link and annotation to your playlists with a call to action to subscribe in each video as a part of your series to help drive traffic to other videos in the series.

YouTube subscribe button

YouTube subscribe button

Practice the same optimization strategies for your YouTube videos that you’re using on your playlists by continually including a keyword-rich, concise, accurate and descriptive title and summary for each video. Ensure that any necessary call-to-action is included in the description of your video to help provide more valuable resources to your audience, as well as driving these viewers to where they can convert on another one of your properties. Be sure to always include each of your videos in an optimized playlist to make full use of YouTube distribution network.

4 Analyze with YouTube Analytics

Analyzing the success of your efforts on YouTube is an important means of increasing the effectiveness of your ongoing video series and decreasing time and resources spent on content that isn’t resonating with your audience. Luckily, YouTube Analytics gives marketers the ability to measure the activity across their playlists, videos and channels. There are many data points to pull from that dashboard, but these are the eight most important:

Analyze views over time:

The views your videos, playlists and channels receive are the most important indicators of success. Analyze this metric in the “views” report to best understand which videos are performing best, as well as what top-performing series among your playlists. Compare the success of different content to best understand what your audience is interested in watching.

YouTube Metric's

YouTube Metric’s

Understand audience retention:

Keeping your audience engaged throughout your video content is important to help prevent them from abandoning your video halfway through. Of course, few videos get a 100% view completion rate. Users drop-off throughout the video experience for a variety of reasons, but if you’re seeing patterns, that can help guide your content or video editing. The retention report will help your video creation efforts to improve the length of time your audience watches your content and avoid common customer retention mistakes.

Monitor increased subscribers:

Your subscribers receive your latest videos in their YouTube feeds, which is a critical way of continuing to grow viewership. Monitor your subscriber report closely to see if your efforts continually increase the subscriber base to your channel or if your recent video efforts have caused a substantial loss in that metric. By staying aware of this subscriber rise and fall, your company can react quickly by producing more engaging content or hitting the brakes on videos that are costing you valuable subscribers.

YouTube subscribers report

YouTube subscribers report

View traffic sources:

Much of the traffic to your YouTube channel will come from your other marketing sources, embedded videos on your website, and elsewhere. The traffic sources report will help give your team a quick overview of the various sources that consistently send viewers to your YouTube content. For instance, if one of your videos gets embedded on a popular blog, you’ll likely see this blog as a top referral to that video. This will help your company better understand what audiences like your content; you’ll get a stronger understanding of what blogs and websites your team should consider sending your videos to in the future.

Identify viewer demographics:

It’s likely your company already knows the main demographic of the viewers watching your videos, but for further confirmation, view the demographics report. The report highlights common demographics including age, gender and location of the viewers.

Pay attention to social sharing:

When users share your video content across social media, it’s most likely going to be seen by a larger audience. This report will help your team better understand which social tactics drive the most traffic and engagement to your YouTube videos.

YouTube sharing stats

YouTube sharing stats

Watch how comments affect engagement:

Take a look at how the comments on videos guide the engagement each piece of content receives. The comments report will help illustrate for your channel the impact comments have on ranking your videos across YouTube and Google, which can help further influence your team to consistently respond to user comments on your videos.

Keep track of likes, dislikes and favorites:

These three metrics also impact rankings and visibility across Google and YouTube. These metrics are harder to achieve, as opposed to comments on a video that you can respond to and create an ongoing engaging conversation from that helps give your video more visibility. View this report to understand what effect these metrics have with the overall engagement on each of your videos. One popular technique for increasing the number of likes on a YouTube video is requesting a like at the end of the video through a soft call-to-action. This may not be an appropriate technique for all types of businesses, but many could make use of it to inspire viewers of their videos to help garner more activity.

Getting a YouTube channel off the ground and populating it with engaging content is not easy, but given YouTube’s search influence, it’s absolutely critical to the long-term success of your company. Execute this form of storytelling correctly, and you’ll see results on several levels: awareness, engagement and loyalty.

What’s your ongoing YouTube strategy for your business? What seems to work the best on YouTube in your experience? What’s your favorite YouTube channel and why? Share your thoughts on Twitter with us @Adknowledge.

About the Author

Brian Honigman

Brian Honigman is a marketing consultant, speaker and Adknowledge blog contributor. He has written for Forbes, The Huffington Post, Mashable, Entrepreneur and others. Follow him @BrianHonigman for his musings on the social web.

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