Most people don’t think about YouTube the same way they do Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. It’s less a “social media” site and more a get-your-cat-video-fix site. But that’s missing the point of YouTube.
I think that YouTube is an untapped opportunity for personal promotion. Brands and products have become pretty good at using YouTube to its full advantage. But individuals? Not so much.
If you’re a public facing figure for a brand, a personal YouTube channel can be a great way to deliver content to your followers. Many times, the content you’re promoting will deliver with much more effect since it’s coming directly from you.
Introduction: YouTube Is Really Significant
YouTube is a remarkable platform for promoting one’s personal brand, because it offers what other social media sites don’t offer. It’s not just video. It’s the focus on video, the constantly-engaged interface, and the enormous appeal of watching — not reading, not scrolling. Watching.
Speaking of being constantly engaged, YouTube outranks all other social media site in terms of bounce rate. According to TheNextWeb, stats courtesy of Shareaholic, YouTube takes the gold medal in each of these categories:
- Lowest average bounce rate (43.19 percent)
- Highest pages per visit (2.99)
- Longest visit duration (227.82 seconds)
Aren’t we missing something by not having a more robust YouTube presence?
Don’t forget that YouTube is huge. YouTube boasts more than a billion unique visitors, 6 billion hours of video watched monthly, 100 hours of video uploaded every minute, and access to more young adults than any cable network.
Plus, YouTube is directly integrated with Google Plus. Anyone who views a Google+ profile also has access to that user’s YouTube videos.
What about posting YouTube videos? It’s easy. All you need is your phone. Just take a video, tap twice, and you’re posting it to YouTube. That’s all.
Few people are using YouTube for their personal brands. There are blogs aplenty, endless Twitter streams, and aggressive Facebookers, but what about YouTube? The playing field is wide open.
Since YouTube is extremely engaging, utterly simple, and one with huge opportunity, how can you not use it? It’s time to get started using YouTube for promoting your personal brand. Here’s how to do so.
Fill out your personal profile.
The first step to appropriately promoting yourself on YouTube is to set up your personal profile. When a visitor finds you on YouTube or takes a closer look at your videos on Google+, you want to make sure that they see a carefully-prepared profile.
From the main YouTube page, click on the menu icon, then click “My Channel.”
Now, click “About.”
It’s time to describe your “channel.”
Describe Your Channel
What is “describe your channel” all about? Basically, it’s a way to introduce yourself — who you are, what you do, and what people can expect to view on your YouTube channel. Your description is what a user will see when they access your channel and view your “about” page.”
The goal is to write a brief description that will compel your visitors to stay and view your videos. You don’t need to write an essay or an entire blog post. A brief description will do just fine. Here are a few essentials that you should include:
- Your name and/or your personal brand name.
- What you’re all about. Describe your role or your identity. What do you do?
- The kinds of videos you post. What will people learn or see?
Describing your channel is very important, because channel descriptions appear all over YouTube. Your channel name, for example, appears in search, in channel suggestions, and in channel browse placements.
- Use keywords. Users who search on certain topics will be able to access your channel if you’ve used appropriate keywords. So, for example, if you’re a “conversion rate optimization expert,” then you probably want to use that term in your description.
- Tell users how often you post. One of the most compelling features of a YouTube channel description is knowing when videos will be posted. Obviously, they can subscribe to your channel. (Hopefully they will.) But if they know that you will post regularly, they are more likely to subscribe.
Here are some examples of some well-crafted brand descriptions:
Add Links to Your “About Page”
Making a great description is just the first step. Now, you need to add some links. You can add a lot, but you should limit your links to the most important ones.
The goal here is to keep the user engaged with your brand. These links will open new tabs, keeping your YouTube page open. Here are some of the links you should include:
- Your personal website. I try to drive traffic to my website as often as I can.
- Any other links about you
This isn’t the place to link to your favorite sites. Keep it focused on your personal brand.
Liven up your channel.
Your channel will be a boring and desolate place unless you spruce it up.
Take my word for it. What you see below is not the world’s most appealing personal platform:
If you’re logged in to YouTube, you’ll see a button that says “Add channel art.” Click this button, then select an image that is 2560 x 1440. You can use YouTube’s channel art template to make sure that your template is the right shape and positioning.
The channel art looks different across the range of devices that feature YouTube. It’s a good idea to stick with YouTube’s templated recommendations.
Your image, including the profile picture that is featured on the far left of your YouTube (desktop) page is your branding. If you have a logo, colors, or other standard brand features, make sure you’re using them on your imagery.
Your brand is only as popular as you are active. In other words, if you aren’t publishing, posting, or chatting it up on YouTube, no one will know that your YouTube brand exists. You’ve got to post regularly. Let me explain exactly how you need to be active.
The “discussion” tab is featured on your profile. All video comments, channel comments, or other conversation about your brand will be shown here.
If there’s nothing there, go ahead and start a discussion yourself. Just be present. Be active.
If you regularly publish videos, people will be more likely to subscribe to your channel. Your activity level is clearly indicated in YouTube’s search results.
Post status updates.
You don’t have to be posting videos all the time to remain active. You can also “share your thoughts.” Even though YouTube is mostly about video, you can also post text updates. You do so directly from the “home” tab of your channel.
Introduce yourself in a video.
Chances are, you’ve crafted your Twitter description, labored over your LinkedIn profile, and optimized a Google+ bio.
But what about a personal video? Awkward?
Not many of us have created a video of ourselves. Try to overcome the awkwardness for a minute. Unless your name is “DiCaprio” or “Depp,” you may not be totally comfortable in front of a camera. I understand.
Most likely, the awkward feelings are entirely one-sided. Other people don’t have the same skin-crawling awkwardness when they meet you, shake your hand, and chat about the weather. (At least I hope they don’t.)
If you want to appropriately promote yourself on YouTube, you’re going to need to introduce yourself. Just take a simple video. Here are some tips.
Tips for Creating an Introduction Video on YouTube
- Don’t hold the camera yourself. If you’re holding the camera, it might be a little awkward. Video selfies are okay for roller coaster rides at Disney and gondola rides in Venice. Not introduction videos.
- Keep the camera stable. Shaky videos make awful videos. Set the camera on a desk, table, chair, tripod — something to keep it from dancing around.
- Use a decent background. If it’s your office, make it tidy. If it’s a park, great. If it’s a green screen, I’m impressed.
- Minimize background noise. Smartphones, smart as they are, don’t have expensive microphones. If you are using a smartphone, make sure that the background noise is at a minimum. Subways and Niagara Falls don’t make ideal shoots.
- Edit it. Editing apps are free, everywhere, and easy to use. It’s amazing how much your video will benefit from a fade, transition, or text overlay.
- Keep it to a couple minutes or so. The average length of a YouTube video is four minutes and twelve seconds. But the average length of the most popular YouTube videos is two minutes and 1 second. Minimatters advises, “favor short videos.” I agree. You can say a lot in one minute. You don’t want to bore your viewers, or risk an incomplete view.
What do you say?
The simple answer to this question is “only what matters.” YouTube is a conversation where you are given the floor only if the viewer wants. On a whim, they can turn you off, click away, or find a cat video. Focus on the engaging essentials, like these:
- Your name. Who are you? Say it.
- What you do. What is your raison d’être? Why are you on YouTube? What do you do all day?
- A little bit about yourself. Do you dwell in a cubicle? Live on the French Riviera? Go fly fishing on the weekends? Spelunk? Rescue animals? Help a charity? Travel to exotic locations. Mention a hobby, a pastime, or an interesting fact.
- A call to action. You are supposed to ask something of the user. They expect it. In fact, if they are engaged in your introduction video enough, they want you to provide a call to action. “Sign up for my free digital marketing e-course,” or “watch the ‘start here’ video” are good examples of call to actions.
The more you do with YouTube promotion, the more you’ll want to do. Sure, it may not be for everyone, but you can make an incredible impact if you have the time and desire. Here are some tips that will help you go beyond the basics.
- Get better. Buy a nicer camera, build a nook studio, and get a microphone. These inexpensive improvements will exponentially improve your video quality.
- Be a producer. Content is king, even on YouTube. Consistently publish content, and you’ll start to grow a subscriber base that will rival your Facebook follower or Twitter following.
- Post videos to your social accounts. YouTube videos don’t stay on YouTube. They get shared around on social media. Share your videos everywhere you have a web presence.
- Embed videos into your blog articles. Diversify your content by publishing videos in your blog articles. Videos create engagement and enhance your personal brand. If you put a video in your blog article, people who normally read you will then be able to see you.
- Connect your YouTube channel with your customary social links. Only when you have an active YouTube channel can you confidently place your YouTube links across the web. From email signatures to bio links, your YouTube channel should be posted everywhere you can. More subscribers. More brand building. More awesome.
YouTube can be explosively powerful. It’s the ideal medium for reaching an online audience.
But it’s only a potential unless you aggressively engage it. If you’re looking for a new source of fans, leads, and revenue, YouTube could be your next secret weapon.
How do you use YouTube for personal promotion?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.