Over the last three decades, YouTube has transformed from a niche website to the world’s biggest video-sharing platform. If you’re into video marketing, YouTube is a great platform to grow your business or personal brand. However, it is a competitive space. To help you get ahead, I’ve put together a list of six effective strategies for promoting your YouTube channel.
The tips I share are based on what is working for the biggest names on YouTube right now. Follow the steps in this guide to grow your audience and promote your channel and videos effectively.
1. Come Up With a Great Angle
If you want to start promoting your YouTube channel and optimizing your content, it’s important to consider why people watch content on YouTube. Generally, people visit YouTube for one of two reasons:
- To solve a problem: people are looking for an answer to a question, using YouTube essentially as a visual search engine.
- For entertainment: people are looking for a way to spend time. They might want to watch something educational, something light-hearted, or something else entirely.
As a content producer, you will want to fill one of these two needs.
Start by defining your approach. Do you want to be a content producer who solves a problem for your audience? Do you want to entertain your audience? Alternatively, you might choose to create a YouTube channel that falls somewhere in between those two options. Once you’ve decided on your approach, the next step will be branding your channel accordingly.
Most successful content creators on use a clear brand identity for promoting their YouTube channel. That brand identity creates audience expectations and sends a clear message regarding what they will find on your channel. For example, the YouTube channel for the popular video game website IGN almost exclusively showcases release trailers for games, videos, and video game reviews. If you’re a user on the lookout for that type of content, you’ll probably know to turn to the IGN YouTube channel.
Alongside companies like IGN, you also have individual content creators like Mark Rober. Mark Rober creates fun YouTube videos that focus largely on engineering. For example, he developed a robotic leg that can kick an American Football further than any professional player. The videos Mark creates are entertaining and with no clear keyword focus. After all, who looks up “robot leg American football.” Mark promotes his YouTube channel primarily through entertaining and unique content.
Lastly, you have channels that focus on solving keyword-focused problems. For example, the channel Hungry Passport that created a video about “things to do in New York.”
Source: Hungry Passport
Another example is Graham Stephen. According to systeme.io, he produced 1 video per day about personal finances to get his 250 000 first subscribers, in just a few months.
What I’m trying to show you is there is not just one right approach when thinking about how to promote your YouTube channel. However, when creating content for your YouTube channel, always consider your viewers. The content you create for YouTube needs to live up to the promises you make. I always talk about this in my social media training sessions.
2. Choose SEO-Friendly Topics
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, YouTube is a visual search engine. If you’re going to create content that solves your viewers’ problems, it’s logical to align your videos with relevant search terms. That means mastering YouTube SEO.
There are a lot of great tools available that will help you do keyword research on YouTube. One of my favorite tools for YouTube keyword research is a browser extension called Keywords Everywhere. The browser extension reveals search volumes for relevant terms on YouTube.
You can see how this tool works in the screenshot above.
Another approach to YouTube SEO is to do competitor analysis. Check out channels that directly compete with yours and that rank well on YouTube. Use tools such as TubeBuddy to determine your competitors’ most-used tags. Those are the videos you might want to replicate to promote your YouTube channel as well.
3. Promote Videos With Custom Thumbnails
YouTube offers automatic thumbnails for any video content, but so you can start promoting your YouTube channel in the best way, add a customized thumbnail for each published video. The thumbnail and headline need to grab the attention of your prospective audience.
I recommend you spend almost as long creating your YouTube thumbnail images and coming up with a great headline as you spend creating the video. Let me give you a couple of thumbnail examples from the Mr. Beast YouTube channel.
Mr. Beast is gaining notoriety because he is one of the most famous YouTube stars. Some people think he might end up becoming the first YouTube billionaire. You’ll find plenty of videos analyzing his approach to content creation.
Source: Mr. Beast
The headlines and images shown above are what you might call “clickbait.” You can see from the number of viewers that millions of people couldn’t resist the content.
Your visuals should give a glimpse into what you have to offer in the video. Use attractive visuals. Choose a clean, readable font for your title and use colors and graphics that match your brand. Most importantly, spend time creating your images. I guarantee that most of the thumbnails above were created using Photoshop or a Photoshop alternative.
On the more technical side, YouTube offers detailed guides on customized thumbnails. Here are some things you need to remember in order to design the best thumbnail for your YouTube channel:
- Resolution: Preferably 1280 x 720 pixels
- Aspect ratio: 16:9
- Image quality: Use high-contrast images with text and colors to attract viewers. A close-up shot works best.
- Format: .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG
- Size: 2 MB
Here are some tips that you can use for writing your YouTube title:
- Follow proper character limit: the YouTube title should be within the character limit of 40-71. However, try to use a title that is, at the most, 60 characters long. Anything longer than that may get cut off during display.
- Use keywords in the title: YouTube is the best place to do your research on keywords.
- Use clickbait titles: clickbait titles get people to click. However, you need to always deliver on your promise.
Proper titles increase your chance for organic views. Don’t dismiss them.
4. Hook People in the First 30 Seconds
The success of your video will depend on how engaged your audience is with its content. You have around 30 seconds to catch the attention of a viewer. You need to convince them that your content will offer more value – entertainment or a solution – than the hundreds of other content creators on the platform.
Many content creators, especially those who seek to entertain, make a promise to their audience in the first 30 seconds of a video. Below is an example from a video by Mr. Beast who has done an amazing job in promoting his YouTube channel.
Source: Mr. Beast
In the first five seconds of the video, there is a shot of him standing on 1,000,000 Christmas lights. You get a sense of what’s going to follow from the opening shot. Here is another example from a video from the YouTube channel Dude Perfect. The video starts with a “real life” trick shot. That opening shot from Dude Perfect sets the scene for the rest of the video. Oh, that is 225+ million views.
To create good content, you have to know what your target audience wants. This is where audience personas can help you. An audience persona is a fictional representation of your ideal audience. You can create content tailored to each audience segment you find.
Make sure you know how to make a good YouTube intro. Your video should look professional. If you don’t have much of a budget to start with, you can begin by recording your mobile device videos. As your audience and budget grow, invest in more professional equipment. That includes hardware – video camera, lighting, and microphone – and software – a video editing suite. You can also use an online video maker, saving you money and delivering professional results.
5. Optimize Your Descriptions
On YouTube, there are two types of descriptions. The YouTube channel description, which is the text on your About page, and the YouTube video description.
For both YouTube descriptions, you must use keywords. Choose one or two keywords that best describe your video content. Your description should match the content of the video. It should be concise and informative, so viewers will understand what you have to offer. Keywords play a very important part in promoting your YouTube channel and videos.
To help viewers find the information they need, you can add timestamps. Linking a relevant playlist or any other video also helps. For example, you can subtly promote your other videos related to that video through the description section. You can also use meaningful hashtags to make your videos discoverable. Emojis or stickers can also help make your video descriptions engaging.
Source: All Recipes
The image above is an excellent example of an SEO-optimized description for a video. This video is ranking for the keyword, “how to make pancakes.” You can see how the keyword is used in the headline, and variations of the keyword are used in the description.
Your product description is also a logical place to add affiliate links and other promotional links. You can see Allrecipes added links to their social channels in the video description in the screenshot above.
6. Engage with the YouTube Community
One of the best ways for promoting your YouTube channel is to engage with the community to get more exposure. Subscribe to other channels and comment on related videos. Engaging in cross-promotion or partnerships with other YouTubers is another effective YouTube marketing strategy.
Most successful YouTube video creators engage in cross-promotion with other influencers in their communities. Mark Rober offers a nice example of this. For example, he was part of a campaign with Mr. Beast to plant 20,000,000 trees. Cross-promotion provides you an opportunity to get exposure and subscribers from people with a similar audience profile.
Launching a cross-promotion campaign is straightforward. Create a list of content creators you would like to work with and send them a message. Most content creators have a strong social media presence. Even if they don’t, you can use an email finder like Voila Norbert or Find Emails to get their contact information. You can then send your pitch.
The more subscribers, or the more interesting your pitch, the higher the chance you’ll get a positive response. Interact with your viewers, too. You can do this by answering comments through the comments section. YouTube also has a community section where you can interact with your subscribers.
You can engage with your audience outside of the videos you upload to your channel using:
- Older videos
- Merchandise you sell
- Behind-the-scenes shots
- Posts for pre-promotion and promotion
- Exclusive content
Creating a YouTube channel with a decent follower base may take time and effort, but possible. If you put in the time and effort, promoting your YouTube channel will enable you to reach your target audience effectivelyey.
Make sure your video titles are rich in keywords. Create customized thumbnails and informative video descriptions. Engage your subscribers and other YouTubers, too! Complement these strategies with great content, and your YouTube marketing will be a success.