15 ways to promote your YouTube channel

If your business is putting all its social media eggs in the Facebook basket, it is time to optimise your YouTube channel.

Do you know YouTube is the world’s second most-visited website, trailing only the internet behemoth that is Google?

And do you know who owns YouTube? We will give you a hint: it rhymes with poodle, noodle, and … poodle-noodle. If your business is not active on YouTube, ask yourself one question: why not?

If you are already active on YouTube but struggling to breakthrough amongst a sea of cats, reaction videos, and lip-syncing celebs, we have put together a list of 15 ways to optimise your YouTube channel. 

Think reading is for nerds? Check out the video version of this post.

1. WORK ON YOUR TITLES

When it comes to YouTube, titles are a dangerous game. It is a fine line between intriguing and clickbait. People have become conditioned to clickbait. While it may work on some, most will avoid obvious clickbait.

Use the RIGHT keywords in your titles. It is important to include your keywords in your title, but it is also crucial that you choose the right keywords in the first place. There are a host of keyword research tools out there. Make sure you use them. And do not forget that YouTube is a search engine. Try typing some keywords in the search bar. This will help with longtail keywords and give you an idea of what people are searching for.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when writing titles:

  • Keep it short.
  • Be descriptive but not deceptive.
  • Choose your words wisely.
  • Do not be afraid to re-work the titles of old videos.

2. KEEP “WATCH TIME” IN MIND

Gone are the days where total views ruled the YouTube kingdom. Nowadays, the almighty YouTube algorithm holds watch time above all else. The longer your audience spends watching your videos, the more ads YouTube can show them. And the more ads YouTube can show your audience, the more money YouTube makes. Get it?

How do you increase your watch time? Make longer videos. It sounds simple, right? A longer runtime gives your vide the potential to be viewed for longer, but longer videos significantly outperform shorter videos. Do not be afraid to experiment with the length of your videos and see what resonates with your audience.  

3. BRAND YOUR CHANNEL

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so brush your teeth, comb your hair, and put on your finest pair of slacks; you are going on a date to a family-owned restaurant, where the pricing is reasonable and the portions are fair. YouTube allows you to decorate your channel. Make sure you do! Use a custom background header to promote your brand. A little effort goes a long way.

If you have a website or blog with an established identity, make sure you incorporate the style into your header image. You want to make sure you are easily recognisable across all platforms.

4. MAKE A CHANNEL TRAILER

If branding your channel was getting ready for your date at home, creating a channel trailer is ringing the doorbell at your date’s house, as you nervously run your sweaty hand through the combover you just spent an entire car ride obsessing over. Why didn’t you part it to the left? WHY?! But more importantly, what will you say when that front door opens? That is your channel trailer. It is your opportunity to present the best version of your brand to the world, while getting new viewers up to speed quickly.

Here is how you set up a channel trailer:

  1. Upload the video you want to be your channel trailer.
  2. Go to the channel you want to manage.
  3. Select Customise channel.
  4. Go to the “Home” tab.
  5. Click the “For new visitors” tab.
  6. Click “Edit”.
  7. Select “Change trailer” or “Remove trailer”.

5. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR VIDEO THUMBNAILS

YouTube thumbnails exist in a strange world of over-the-top, open-mouthed expressions, pointless red circles, and oversized arrows that point at something which looks important but turns out to be rather underwhelming. If you have spent more than five minutes on YouTube, you will know exactly what we are talking about. A necessary evil, cringeworthy, unavoidable, clickbait — call it what you want. Whether it is a good or a bad thing, the fact of the matter is, these tactics work.

YouTube, just like almost all social media platforms, is all about trends. What the algorithm wants, it gets. With that being said, there are some concrete guidelines your thumbnails should follow:

  • 1280 x 720 pixels
  • Minimum width: 640 pixels
  • Recommended ratio: 16:9
  • Max file size: 2MB
  • .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG

Be sure to embed your logo in one of the bottom corners. If you need help with this, here are some of our favourite graphic design tools to get you started. Just make sure you are consistent with your brand.

6. DON’T IGNORE YOUR END SCREENS

If a viewer manages to make it through until the end of your video, it is pretty safe to say they liked what they saw, making it a great time to let them know what else you have to offer. This is where end screens come in. Populated in YouTube Studio, end screens allow you to prompt viewers to subscribe, direct them to another video, or even send them to directly your website. You could even link them directly to a website consisting of nothing more than a .gif of you eating a huge burrito. Would you want to show your viewers a .gif of you eating a huge burrito? Probably not. But you can. The point here is end screens are an opportunity that you should not ignore.  

7. SHOW YOUR FANS SOME LOVE

Building a community of loyal fans is key to YouTube success. Much like how word-of-mouth recommendations can have a profound effect on a restaurant’s success, so too can they make or break your channel. Remember to show your fans that you care about them and what they have to say. Interact with your subscribers, listen to their comments, and even give some a shoutout. These are all simple things you can do to help build a loyal fanbase.

8. FIND AN UPLOAD SCHEDULE AND EMBRACE PREMIERES

When it comes to uploading content to any social media platform, consistency is key, especially for YouTube. People will start subscribing to your channel if they like your content, but they will also want to know there is more coming and when it is coming. Find an upload schedule that works for you and your subscribers, and stick to it.

Premieres are a relatively new addition to YouTube. And like any new feature released on any platform, it is important you embrace it. Plus, setting up premieres is easy, and it will help you create more buzz around your video. Now is the perfect time to start rolling out that digital red carpet.      

9. CROSS PROMOTE YOUR VIDEOS ON OTHER SOCIAL PLATFORMS

Look, when it comes to Facebook’s relationship with YouTube, things are … weird. Do you remember being a kid at an all-you-can-eat buffet, mixing every flavour of soda together? It tasted OK but always looked a bit off. That is what a YouTube video looks like on Facebook, but it is still a great marketing tool for your video.

We can’t talk about Facebook without talking about its better-looking sibling, Instagram. Instagram is a great way to promote your YouTube videos. You can re-purpose thumbnails into posts and even create short teaser videos. But your most powerful tool on Instagram is Stories. Remember: to access Instagram’s swipe-up feature, you must have an Instagram Business account Profile AND have 10,000 followers or be a verified account.   

10. CREATE PLAYLISTS FOR YOUR VIDEOS 

Once you have uploaded a handful of videos, be sure to create a playlist. Playlists are a great way to help your audience navigate your channel, and they also help to keep people watching more videos.

11. PUT VIDEOS IN YOUR BLOG AND REPURPOSE OLD POSTS

If you have a blog, be sure to incorporate your videos into relevant posts. If your blog is getting high traffic, this is a great way to help new people discover your YouTube channel. It is also a great way to offer your readers some extra value. And who hates free stuff?

If you are struggling for video ideas, why not look through some of your old blog posts for inspiration? There is a high chance you are sitting on a content gold mine. Have a look at your blog analytics, find your best-performing posts, and make a video. Easy!

12. HARNESS THE POWER OF SYNERGY

Synergy is just a cooler way of saying “collaboration”. Regardless, it is important. Doing things on your own is hard. Do you think Michael Jordan could have won six NBA championships without Scottie Pippen by his side? Partnering up with another YouTuber or brand is a great way to grow your audience and expand your reach, especially if they are in the same field as you.

13. UTILISE YOUR VIDEO DESCRIPTION

Much like your video title, video descriptions are an important piece of metadata that the YouTube algorithm uses to understand what your video is about. Make sure you place your most important keywords toward the start of your video description. If your video is about how much you love bananas, try starting your description with the word “bananas”. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Your video description is also a great place to include links to your website, products, and other social media platforms.

14. YOUTUBE LIVE

A lot of content gets uploaded to YouTube every day. How much is a lot? How about 500 hours of video every minute? To put that into perspective, in 500 hours, you could watch every extended edition of The Lord of the Rings (including credits) 41.3 times. So, yeah, it is a lot of content. Fortunately, YouTube Live is a great way to stand out from the pack.  

Getting started on YouTube Live takes a little work, but it is all straightforward. Follow the steps, and you will be streaming before you can say “My precious”.

15. DON’T FEAR PAID ADS

Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money. And there is nothing like paid advertisements to truly promote your YouTube channel. YouTube has a variety of ad formats to choose from:

  • Display ads
  • Overlay ads
  • Skippable video ads
  • Non-skippable video ads
  • Bumper ads
  • Sponsored cards

Note: for your ads to be approved, you must confirm that you have all rights to the visual and audio elements of selected videos.

THE WRAP UP

We have reached the end screen of our blog. And while we wish creating the next overnight viral sensation was easy, we can’t all be Rebecca Black. (You’re welcome). But we can all take the simple steps to optimise our channels, create better content, and engage with our audiences.

Need more YouTube info? Check out our post 4 ways to improve your YouTube watch time.

Cal McLean
A born and raised sandgroper, Cal only ever dreamed of one thing growing up: the squeaky courts of the NBA. But his inability to dunk squashed that dream. Cal is the Marketing Coordinator at Coffey & Tea.