I sometimes wonder what our world would be like without YouTube. First, I wouldn’t have a job. Justin Bieber would be singing at weddings in Canada and George Allen would be running for re-election in Virginia.
“Viral videos” have impacted our culture and nation’s political system. Yet few people know really how to optimize a video so it has a potential to go viral. Honestly, there is no “viral button,” but there are certain tips. Later on I’ll note a few I’ve picked up along the way with my experience with YouTube for the last five years.
I got involved with the It Gets Better Project about a week after it started when on September 22, 2010, Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller uploaded a video to tell LGBT youth that no matter how hard growing up may be now, that it does get better. When I joined we had a few hundred videos. Then my old boss Hillary Clinton made one. Then Obama and then we broke YouTube.
We actually had to call YouTube to see if they could increase our number of favorites to our channel so we could link to all the incredible stories people were sharing. Fortunately they were able to come up with a solution quickly.
At the end of they year we had about 7,500 videos and today there are nearly 10,000 user generated “It Gets Better” videos seen over 30 million times.
I recently had the pleasure to serve on a panel with the AdCouncil at Google in DC and again at Social Media Week New York. They asked me to give some insights into our project and takeaways others can have. So here are a few of my tips, not all however as I do have to make a living…
So here goes. Want to optimize your outreach on YouTube? Here are some important steps to take.
1. Tag tag tag. YouTube allows you to add category/tags/keywords to your videos. This is the most important piece in ensuring your video comes up higher in YouTube’s search. Why is this important? YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world behind its parent company, Google.
So make sure you put in all relevant tags. Need hints? Go to Google Trends and see if any of today’s hot topics also have something to do with your video. If they do, include them in your tags.
2. Be quick and to the point. Keep your videos short. Most people only watch the first few seconds of a video. So if you have a 5 second bumper or slide at the start of your clip, you probably already lost viewers. If your video has a lot of views, you can actually go to the Google Insights page to see where users are dropping off, stopping or fast forwarding.
3. Allow embeds. This is should be a no brainer.
4. Ensure comments and feedback are allowed. Sure, YouTube attracts crazy spam commenters, but the more comments and likes your video has, the more likely it will come up in search higher.
And of course YouTube offers some tips on their own website. Check them out here.