Part 1 of a 2-part Special Blog Post
Whenever our PR agency pulls on its rubber gloves and puts a brand’s YouTube Channel under our microscope, I’m reminded of the words sung by the Immortal Bard (John Mayer, not William Shakespeare): “I don’t need no doctor, ‘cause I know what’s ailing me.”
The world of branded YouTube channels is a disorienting universe filled with enigmatic video titles, mysteriously missing visuals, lack of search optimization and 60-minute running times, during which CEOs stare fiercely into the camera and extol their company’s devotion to “Our Brand’s Difference,” “Client Centered Solutions,” and “People Are Our Biggest Asset.”
Let’s say this together: Is there a YouTube Doctor in the House?
The bad news: We recently assessed YouTube channels of about 100 brands and at least 75 percent of them are approaching Code Blue, badly in need of major online surgery and optimization for search. Many are being used chiefly as a clogged repository for dozens, hundreds and sometimes thousands of aging video clips of varying lengths, languages, timeliness and coherence.
The good news: Most of these moribund YouTube channels could be easily transformed from dusty video archives into healthy sales lead generators, vigorous customer engagement machines, lively web traffic referral drivers, and, more than anything, SEO magnets to heighten visibility for a company in search.
What’s more, dramatically improving the power of your YouTube channel could be completed within the next 30 days for most brands. YouTube’s parent company Google has done its part to make this easier, ensuring that YouTube videos already rank high in Google’s organic search. YouTube’s one billion unique visits each month have made it the second most used search engine in the world.
Best of all, videos about your company and its products are shareable by your customers, so your YouTube channel – properly treated and optimized – automatically equips your customers, dealers, employees and fans to become evangelists in pushing out your video content via social media. So, as Robert Palmer once sang, Doctor, doctor, give me the news. . . .
Here Are 5 Prescriptions For Common YouTube Conditions
1. The Condition: Lackadaisical Video Titles
Symptoms: Listless, out-of-date titles that fail to accurately describe the contents of your YouTube videos. These titles often lead to viewer apathy and puzzlement. For a sense of how grave this condition can be for brands that should know better, consider two Procter & Gamble videos entitled: “CSDW 2011 Holiday Card” and “PGITI Feb 2011.” Or, can you guess what IBM’s “SXSW Cognitive Cooking: Belgian Bacon Pudding” or Starbucks’ “PSL Days” videos are about from their titles? No, we didn’t think so – and neither can their thousands of followers.
- Make your video title relevant and descriptive of what’s actually in the video, and then ask yourself the question: why would anyone not employed by our company care about a video with this title?
- Resist putting your company or brand’s name in the title of every video, given that many potential customers will be looking for your product category rather than your company’s name. In other words, a video titled “New Ways To Shoot Photos Underwater During Your Vacation” will get more consumer engagement than one titled, “Acme’s Cutting Edge MX-2000 Camera.”
- Ensure that your video title (100 words or less) is rich in relevant keywords. Use as many unbranded keywords in your title as you can – hey, your brand name already surfaces as your username next to the video in search, so there’s no mystery about your company’s identity.
- Avoid inspirational video titles that worked for internal audiences, but might baffle external viewers. At your sales meeting in Vegas, the 2015 Campaign Announcement video titled: “Kicking Butt and Taking Names: Nothing Can Ever Stop Us Now – We Are The Champions, My Friend!” left the entire room whooping, slapping fives and throwing chairs. But if you want to post that video on YouTube for customers, you may want to retitle it. YouTube is littered with videos titled: “Our Partnerships,” “A World Of Collaboration,” “Teamwork Is Our Motto,” “About Our Quality Brands,” and “World-Class Customer Service” – vague phrases which are unlikely to match the keywords that prospects would enter into YouTube’s search box.
2. The Condition: Disorienting Playlists
Symptoms: A mysterious absence of Playlists, leading to confusion and customer abandonment. It’s sad to see the savvy marketers at Apple grouping no fewer than 47 videos under the single Playlist title, “Featured Playlist.” And then there’s brands like Gourmet Magazine and Smuckers, which both offer visitors the dreaded “This Channel Has No Playlists” message here and here.
(Soucre: Smucker's Brand YouTube)
- Organizing videos into relevant playlists by theme, product or topic not only makes it easy for your prospects to find videos they’re interested in, it encourages them to stay and watch multiple videos. What’s not to love about playlists?
- Playlists enable your prospects to self-qualify themselves as leads. Rather than organizing playlists by your company’s internal structure or business units (a common practice in the 100 YouTube channels we evaluated), organize your videos by audience target and consumer interest or benefit. A B2B sales prospect is more likely to search for and find a video in a playlist called “Airport Maintenance Crew Solutions“ than one called, “Institutional Division, Civil Aeronautics Products Team.”
- Many YouTube channels have playlists with vague titles, such as “Sales Leadership,” “Human Resources” and “Customer Service,” which mean little to your customer prospects. Instead of “Human Resources,” try a playlist titled “Getting A Job at Acme” (note: use this only if your company is actually named Acme).
3. Condition: Inadequate Channel Profile Images
Symptoms: Eerily blank YouTube channel header image, with your company’s logo floating strangely in sea of grey. Among the national brands that have left their YouTube channel’s header image area blank or nearly empty: office equipment leader Fellowes, men’s fashion brand Hart Schaffner Marx, Nikon, the National Basketball Association, and National Guitar Workshop.
- Add an image to the top of your YouTube channel! Go ahead, we’ll wait while you do it right now.
- YouTube allows you to upload channel header art that’s as big as 2MB – so you can go way beyond depicting your product package and company logo to show images of how customers enjoy your product, and display a metaphor for your service or visuals of what your brand stands for. Some great examples of evocative YouTube channel header images include those in the YouTube channels created by Gibson Guitars, Sheraton Hotels, Under Armour and Minnesota’s Creative Kidstuff.
(Souce: Gibson Guitar YouTube)
4. Condition: Anemic Description Box Copy
Symptoms: Depressingly empty descriptor boxes or partially-written descriptions under each video: resulting in poor optimization for search and near-oblivion for consumers seeking to find you.
- Add copy under each video, which accurately and completely describes what viewers will see if they click on your YouTube video. Only about 10 percent of the branded YouTube channels we reviewed did this consistently.
- Create a Call-to-Action: Once someone watches your video, what do you want them to do next? Call your toll-free number? Download a PDF (hopefully from a landing page that will capture their email address) which complements the content in your video? Share your video with friends and co-workers? Make a comment on your video? Tell viewers in the descriptor box under each video what you want them to do.
- Think like a newspaper headline writer, and reel your viewer in with a powerhouse first sentence – encouraging them to click your “More Info” button to expand for a full taste of your video description.
- Use the YouTube Keyword Suggestion tool to find keyword search terms that you can use in each of your videos’ descriptor boxes.
- Consider adding a text transcript file of the words spoken in your video – Google can’t search images/video, but it will search a ‘script’ of what’s said in your video to identify keywords tied to your video. Paste it at the end of your description box.
5. Condition: Strangely Missing Web Links
Symptoms: Viewers of your YouTube videos feel stuck, unsure of where you wish them to click through to next. Website links given aren’t live, so consumers can’t easily click through. Ennui, inerita and dislocation result. As examples, see how Doritos failed to add the http:// prefix that would make its web links go live on its “Crash The Superbowl” site. Other major brands fail to add any website URLs in the description box at all, as Burt’s Bees does here.
(Source: Doritos YouTube)
- Add the full URL for your website or microsite (starting with”http://”) so that YouTube translates the web address into live links once you publish your description copy.
- Insert your website url early enough in your description box copy under the videos so that when the text is in a collapsed view, your YouTube visitor can see the full website address.
- Don’t just restrict yourself to adding the web address for your site’s home page in descriptor box copy. Better to provide the url for the specific inside website page that matches the content of your video. If your video addresses what dentists should know about your medical office software, the url should take them not to your home page, but to the inside page which addresses the specific needs of dentists.
Is your YouTube channel already feeling energized and infused with new zing – your videos seemingly pumping iron and performing digital bench presses? Then watch for Part II of this blog post, which will contain five more common cures for YouTube channel health. . . coming next week.
Paul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.