- Bio information.
Fill it in. Really. Besides brands and other larger entities I like to subscribe to, I love finding local people and businesses doing amazing things on YouTube. Unfortunately, YouTube doesn't exactly make it easy to find channels by location. I tend to latch onto channels by the recommended videos that show on the home page and on individual video pages. But if I happen across your video and it seems apparent that you're nearby or are creating interesting content, I want to know more about you. Fill out your bio. Connect your social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook so I can follow you there too. Link to any other sites you have. If it pains you to fill out biographical info, at least fill in that "above the fold" stuff. But seriously consider filling out all the other stuff like town, interests, occupation, etc.
- Add an avatar.
And make it you. Whether that's you as a person or the logo of your brand. Take the time, format it correctly (in that, if your logo is more rectangular, put in in a "square-ish" aspect ratio so it doesn't get cut off). Don't be a faceless entity in the YouTube crowd.
- Title your channel.
In my opinion, nothing makes your YouTube channel scream "vacant" more than having it titled "GreenBayGuy1265's channel." Click on "edit channel," then "info & settings," and give your channel a proper title. It can be simple with just your name. It can be clever. Just take the time to modify the default antiseptic title they give you. While you're there, add your description and some relevant keywords.
- Default tab.
Make this your "featured tab." This is, I find, the most personable of the three tabs. If you default to "videos," the first thing you're showing someone who lands at your channel is that you're competent in uploading videos (or are just a YouTube lurker with no videos of your own to offer the world). The "feed" tab as a first impression reads more as "noise," showing people everything you subscribe to and favorite, as well as your uploads. Setting your default tab to "featured" gives me what you want me to see right up front. Your bio info, your uploaded videos, featured channels you can add if you have more than one, and your playlists. There are different featured tab layouts available in settings to fit the kind of channel you going for. If you have multiple separate channels going, there's a "network" layout that groups them all together. On any of the layouts, you can designate a "featured video" that's front and center all the time, no matter how old it is. Use this feature. If you have a video that introduces yourself or your work significantly well, highlight it! It's your moving picture business card. And for crying out loud, if you don't have the featured tab enabled, enable it!
- Use playlists.
Whether you upload a lot of stuff and you want to sort it into easily-discoverable sections, or your want to highlight others' videos on your own channel, use playlists. Choose a featured tab layout that displays them prominently. It shows that you're not just an uploader, you're a curator of good content. You can add comments to videos inside the playlists, share groups of videos via the playlists, and give people a "play all" button for a designated set of videos. If you want your videos seen, set people up to watch four of them instead of just one of them!
- Keep your videos sharable, searchable and open for comments.
Outside of the cosmetic things mentioned above for your channel, this is about the videos you upload. There are a few basic things you need to do to your videos that, while they take time, are more important than you may think. Take the time to put a title, description and tags on your videos. If you want your videos found and seen, it's kind of a big deal. It's basic SEO. Videos I've slacked off on in these areas may only get a handful of views. When I took the time to really flesh out these areas and think about the relevent keywords to use in all these areas, my viewership exploded. On one how-to video in particular, it made the difference between a handful of views and 10,000 views! Do it. Seriously. People who comment may be other people you may want to follow. YouTube is a social medium, and I've found great people to follow from comments left on my videos.
Also, in the settings for your video, keep the comments and embedding options open. If you're doing great stuff, let me tell you you're doing great stuff. Don't sweat the trolls and the occasional negative comment that may occur. Embrace it. Use it as feedback to improve, or engage them positively to resolve an issue. Don't lock out your audience. Also keep your video embeddable. Give me the option to embed your video in a blog if I love what you're doing. That's the point of putting your videos on YouTube, isn't it? Going viral!
Mark also writes regular columns on social media, technology, television and the Web.
Mark is available for freelance jobs and consultation. E-mail Mark at mark[at]markzahn.com or leave a voicemail at (920) 403-0403.
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