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Designing YouTube Videos for Engagement

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Written by Houston Golden
February 24, 2017
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How do you design your YouTube videos?

You can keyword optimize your video and run ads to it, but if the video lacks engagement, then you’re in trouble.
The first step is ensuring people click play. You can’t just assume they will. This means you need to have a CTA on the thumbnail (i.e. Watch this horse run!). Moreover, you need to have an action-oriented thumbnail similar to if you were making a YouTube ad (i.e. a horse jumping in the air).

To edit your video, go to Video Manager, then click on Videos. Choose your video, then click Edit. Now you can create your custom thumbnail when editing a YouTube video.

For most of your beginning videos, your CTA should focus on only obtaining more subscribers. This will help increase your audience size for future video releases. Now, it’s important to find a strong balance with how many advertisements you have, especially when starting. You want to build your credibility first.

The two types of advertisements you’ll use include Annotations and Cards. Annotations don’t show up on mobile. This is a big issue for generating revenue from mobile videos. Hence, why you should focus on paid ads for desktop videos. If you’re using Annotations, I highly suggest you link to your other videos at the end of your YouTube video.

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Cards are similar to Annotations, but for mobile. They include call-to-actions that sync with the content of your video. Be careful not to use too many because mobile screens are small. Again, for the first forty to fifty videos (depending on the content), you should only encourage people to become subscribers and check out your other videos.

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Now, you also want to ensure your video look good when shared. What does this mean? If you want influencers to share your video, then don’t put ads all over it. Also, ask yourself where this video will get embedded (i.e. blog post) because you want to ensure the thumbnail still makes sense.

One way to increase your number of YouTube subscribers is to add ?sub_confirmation=1 to your YouTube URL when you share it.  By doing so, people who click on the link will receive a prompt to subscribe to your channel.

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Of course, there’s something to be said about the type of content you create, not just how you advertise it. The best content is timely, relevant, how-to, inspirational, and humorous. A fast way to figure out what type of content you should create is to analyze what’s working well for others. To add some spice, you can dive into Google Trends to analyze particular search phrases. Here I see “growth hacking” is becoming a more popular phrase overtime. This is something I might want to capitalize on.

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Understanding how to optimize your videos for engagement is key; otherwise, you’ll spend countless hours getting zero results. With the right system in place for producing, editing, and optimizing video, you’re ready to dominate YouTube. If you’re a young startup, take into consideration whether anyone on your team already has video skills because contract work can be quite expensive. However, there’s a short learning curve for making basic videos. As long as they provide enough value for people to subscribe, then it’s worth add this tactic to your growth list.

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Houston Golden

Growth Marketer |
Forbes Top 12 Innovative Founders |

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