How to promote your YouTube videos

Finding an audience for your video tends to be as much work as producing it. Often even more so.

This article covers advice from YouTube certified experts for promoting your YouTube videos. You’ll see what’s working for them both on and off the platform.

It breaks down the best free organic promotional strategies before exploring whether paid promotion is worth the price. It also evaluates which promotion strategies influence key performance indicators for the YouTube algorithm. These include:

  • Video Velocity or Views Per Hour (VPH).
  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR).
  • Video ‘watchtime’

These are key to driving success according to YouTube certified expert Tim Schmoyer

It suggests that the more views a new YouTube video gets within its first 24 hours, the better it may perform overall in search, suggested videos, subscription feeds, and more.

Then optimise your videos and metadata at each stage to help be promotion ready.

On YouTube

Optimising your video metadata by making the most of free YouTube features can help do a big chunk of the heavy lifting for you.

Thumbnails

Video thumbnails do just this acting as mini-posters promoting your video. They set the audience expectation for your video along with the title. It’s useful to have them in mind before you start filming and plan it in pre-production. 

YouTube’s algorithm aims to serve videos to audiences that they’ll click and watch. This means your video’s thumbnails click-through-rate need to be on point. They are a key performance indicator (KPI) for YouTube in deciding to recommend a video or not – so choose wisely.

YouTube produces automatic thumbnails for all videos but they can be blurry or out of focus. This YouTube Creator Academy lesson shows how to choose eye-catching custom thumbnails for your videos. Try to be consistent with your other branding. There’s more on the specs, ratios and resolution needed Google Support here

Thumbnails matter even more than titles. That’s because our brains are hardwired to notice visuals first. We process them in less than 13 milliseconds, according to this MIT study.

In this recent video from two leading YouTube certified experts Tim Schmoyer and Darrel Eves justify these findings by suggesting to get the thumbnail to do more of the work than title.

source: Video Creators YouTube channel

Use thumbnails to try to convey what your video is about without relying on words. That said titles are also super important.

Titles

When comparing BuzzFeed’s video titles on YouTube vs Facebook, Tubular Insights found the titles on YouTube were shorter.

This is big as YouTube knows that over 70% of watch time on the platform comes from mobile devices. A recent Sandvine study found YouTube accounts for almost 40% of all mobile traffic.

So optimise your titles for a mobile audience. Keep them short, sweet and relevant by delivering on the expectations they set. Try to follow current trends within your chosen niche. 

Then include the most relevant keywords within titles. Expand upon these within your video description. This can increase search engine optimisation (SEO) – another free promotion tactic which can grow your audience organically.

Video Description

This YouTube Creators Academy tutorial on how to write effective video descriptions is well worth your time. Following their advice can help with search and discovery on the platform.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Use searchable keywords to describe your video in a natural way.
  • Enter your keywords in the description and title early on.
  • Try to avoid using abbreviations or insider language.
  • Always craft titles for people first rather than search engines.
  • Be sure to follow YouTube’s hashtagging rules before you post.
  • Say the keywords within the video as YouTube can register this.
  • Use categories to help YouTube better understand who to promote your videos to.

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world so keep SEO in mind also when creating channel metadata.

Channel Description

The ‘About’ tab is where the channel description lives. This gives viewers an overview of what they can expect from your channel. Some creators include their upload schedule there too.

Using relevant keywords within your YouTube channel description can help boost discovery. These two free Google tools are a good place to start for keyword research:

Also the YouTube search bar can help with suggestions itself. Type your targeted keyword and note the suggested phrases offered by the search box. These can be good suggestions to try.

close-up of YouTube screen

You can also include links to your website, contact and/or social media accounts. Add relevant hashtags to your videos to give YouTube more context about your video.

Here’s the YouTube community guidelines best practices on channel metadata.

Channel Art

This space above your channel description is perfect for showing what your brand and channel are about. A lot of creators include their upload schedule here along with social media buttons.

Create this with your favoured photo-editing software. Canva is a free popular resource for making banners.

Playlists

Playlists allow you to group your videos into topics. This helps promote more of your videos from your archive to viewers. It can increase watchtime which helps boost promotion as well.

  • As you create more videos, you can always add or change your playlists as needed.
  • A relevant and rigorous playlist on a topic encourages viewers to share elsewhere.
  • Curate relevant videos from other creators or influencers.
  • This can show your authority on a topic and helps build trust.
  • It can encourage sharing of the playlist to promote your videos.
  • Collaborate on playlists to introduce your videos to your collaborator’s audiences.

Another effective way to collaborate is with YouTube Live streams. A great way to cross promote both your channel and videos.

YouTube Live

YouTube is the most popular of all live stream platforms. It’s free to use on desktop via webcam. For mobile live streaming a channel must have reached 1,000 subscribers threshold.

Here’s an example of a live stream collaboration between YouTube certified experts at the recent People of Video online conference.

source: People of Video YouTube channel

All video platforms including YouTube are promoting live streams. As they create high levels of engagement. As a result, live streams can reach high ranking positions within search while live. A handy tip for getting traction especially when starting out.

The feature works well for webinars, Q&As, and launches and contests too. Here’s more on how to get started with YouTube Live.

Meaningful replies to comments or questions within the live chat give value. This is also a great way to promote your brand, channel and videos by increasing engagement.

Engagement

YouTube monitors engagement levels on videos and channels. It is a key data set and a KPI for boosting discovery and having your videos promoted around the site. Here’s some ways to drive engagement during your videos:

  • Ask questions during your videos for your viewers to answer in the comments.
  • Ask viewers to like, share or comment on your videos.
  • Ask your subscribers to send you questions by comment, email, or tweet.
  • Then create a follow-up video to address them.
  • Ask viewers to like and share the video with others who might enjoy it too.

YouTube certified channel management tool TubeBuddy can bulk reply to comments to help save time. YouTube also uses engagement as a metric to help decide where to rank videos within search results.

Creators with over 1,000 subscribers get access to the Community Tab. This is a great tool to re-promote your recent videos to subscribers in case they missed out the first time round.

Off YouTube

There are many distribution channels off YouTube to promote your videos elsewhere online. 

Social Media

The social media platforms you choose to use to promote your YouTube videos can vary. They will likely depend on your target audience.

Whichever platform make sure you post your video within the first 24 hours of uploading. This helps maximise View Velocity – an important YouTube KPI. (internal linking)

Optimising your YouTube videos for each chosen social media site helps too and to be native to your chosen platforms for better results.

Embedding Video vs Uploading Native Video

Simply embedding YouTube videos by adding a link to social media posts can reduce reach to your audience. This happens on all the major social media platforms. Which is understandable. Each social media site wants their audience to stay on their platform instead of leaving for YouTube. So they reward videos which are natively uploaded versus embedded YouTube links.

There are ways to drive views for your YouTube videos instead. This video from YouTube certified channel management tool VidIQ tells how.

source: VidIQ YouTube channel

Be as native as possible when promoting videos on each platform. Also beware of each of their own potential pitfalls. Know the video specs, formats and lengths as these could impact the promotion of your videos.

Here are the video guidelines for the key social media platforms for promotion:

Try transferring-videos.com to upload videos to from URLs to Facebook, Twitter and more. It’s worth trying out the different platforms and seeing what works for your audience.

A great way to help promote your videos and brand on social media is by giving value. Answer questions in Facebook groups, join in conversations on Twitter with relevant hashtags and reply to YouTube comments. These are great ways to give value while promoting your channel.

Allow embedding of your YouTube videos so viewers can share them wider too. Your viewers can embed your video on their website, blog, or channel, to help promote your videos increasing your view count. Here’s how to allow embedding within your YouTube studio settings here.

Blogs and Websites

Embed YouTube videos in your blog posts, along with searchable transcriptions. This can also increase both video and page views.

Use Google Analytics for free to find which posts get the most traffic. Then match with a relevant video of yours to embed on your site.

Email

As with social media gives your email subscribers a heads up every time you post a new video. This helps drive Video Velocity in the first 24 hours. It helps to cover all bases as new videos don’t always appear in YouTube subscription boxes.

It’s an easy way to increase your video’s view count early on. This, in turn, will trigger YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. Remember to embed videos into your email newsletter, blog, email signature, and other social media accounts too.

Grow your email list with paid promotion on YouTube is one of the most effective ways to use Google ads according to certified YouTube expert Tim Schmoyer.

Paid Promotion

Tim doesn’t recommend using paid promotion in the form of Google ads to promote your videos. In the below video he breaks out the reasons why:

source: Video Creators YouTube channel

Tim’s key takeaways are:

  • Google Ads most effective in converting viewers to lead pages off of YouTube.
  • This can be effective for building an email list as mentioned above.
  • But only 1% of subscribers would convert to subscribers so not a great investment.

Tim’s main advice is to spend the money on collaborations with creators instead. It’s just one opinion but makes a lot of sense. It’s a tactic some of the biggest YouTubers use to grow their subscriber base to reach a brand new audience.

Collaborations

Collaborate with creators who share similar interests and goals to cross promote and build your audience. Have a unified strategy for releasing your videos on each platform and distribution channel.

A perfect example of YouTube collaboration is the People of Video video above.

Summary 

There’s a whole host of ways to promote your YouTube videos for free that YouTube experts recommend. Focus foremost on the ones that maximise Video Velocity within the first 24 hours.

This helps your video get seen throughout the video life cycle in the coming weeks, months and even years ahead.

The biggest pro tip all the experts agree on: give your viewers value when promoting your videos. 

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