Sparring Mind

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The Blogger’s Guide To YouTube: How To Absolutely Dominate Your Niche With Video Content

In the social media & blogging world, big predictions have been made for the future of YouTube in 2012.

A recent post on Social Media Examiner covering 30 predictions from social media pros had a slew of positive predictions for how important YouTube was going to be in the coming year, including the follow:

  1. YouTube will (finally) get recognition and significant use as a major social network.
  2. YouTube [will] take the lead.
  3. YouTube rises to top of mind.

In fact, of all of the great platforms covered in this highly insightful prediction post, YouTube was viewed the most positively in the coming years.

The general consensus?

Video is in, and YouTube is king, and as bloggers, we need to embrace the coming changes, or risk getting left in the dust.

The YouTube Advantage

Now, you probably aren’t too surprised to see YouTube being mentioned as the video platform of choice when it comes to 2012′s coming focus on video content.

I mean, it’s obviously the most well known video site, and it’s run by Google, so it must be tops, right?

Well, yes, but have you ever checked in to the data to see just how much use YouTube is getting?

Fact of the matter is, video viewing is becoming a huge part of media consumption on the web, and YouTube isn’t just leading the way, it’s almost lapping the competition:

Americans are creating, sharing and viewing video online more than ever, Pew reported in a [recent research study].

The percentage of American adults online using video-sharing sites such as YouTube or Vimeo increased to 71 percent in May 2011 from 66 percent the year before.

Seven in 10 American adults online are using video sharing sites such as YouTube… YouTube accounted for 22 percent of mobile data bandwidth usage and 52 percent of total video streaming in the first half of the year, according to broadband consulting firm Allot Communications.

Washington Post

What all of that data is pointing to: video content is becoming a huge part of our media consumption, and YouTube is the vanguard platform in the area.

Do you as a blogger really want to miss out on that action?

Not only do you have YouTube’s astoundingly large audience to get your content out too, there are certain advantages to video use as a blogger that aren’t platform specific.

Why Use Video?

When it comes to video use, it’s not always about the 3rd party traffic.

That is a big benefit, believe me, my recent blogging project has an corresponding YouTube channel with over 5,000 subscribers, and the traffic that these videos send back to the blog tops even my Facebook fan page traffic (traffic screenshots further down).

What could be better than that?

Well, video content on YouTube has a few very distinct advantages…

1.) “Stealing” is encouraged!

Now, I should clarify right out of the gate, I’m not saying that downloading and re-uploading someone else’s videos is encouraged (it certainly is not, although it does happen), what I’m saying is that there is no duplicate content penalty for YouTube videos.

How does that effect you as a blogger?

Well, people love to share, but when you are only putting out article after article, the most they can do is tweet out and occasionally link back to your posts (yeah, like anyone does *that* anymore ;)).

With video content, people can embed your videos anywhere they like, and it’s nothing but beneficial for you: more views makes it easier to find your videos in search, and that’s just going to lead to more traffic back to your site (we’ll discuss this below).

It’s all gravy!

Once you release a video into the wild, no matter what people do with it, it’s always good for you, because any attention or sharing it gets anywhere will lead to more views, which is never a bad thing.

2.) Most blogging niches are done to death… with text content

In blogging, you certainly don’t always need to write about something “new”, you just have to add your twist to it in order to stand out.

The thing is, no matter what the niche is, it’s likely competitive these days (seriously, there is no topic too strange for bloggers :)).

Video offers you a truly awesome way to stand out in your niche, both in terms of the types of content you provide as well as instantly adding your personality to your blogging endeavors.

Sure, your writing is going to portray you as a unique and distinct person in the blogosphere, but nothing compares to video content where you are revealing the “candid” you.

3.) “Being everywhere” will truly widen your potential audience… much more than you realize

When it comes to “Being Everywhere”, most people underestimate just what a huge impact mixing up your content can have.

I’m unashamedly stealing the term from Pat Flynn, who has utilized podcasting and video content to take his blog to new heights.

The thing about these other big mediums (podcasts and video content on YouTube especially) is that they are so huge, there is bound to be people looking for exactly the type of content you create.

This people are not always familiar with blogs, and might not find you via guest blogging and other traditional marketing methods.

But almost everyone (who uses the web) is familiar and uses YouTube, and you are potentially missing on a large and incredibly engaged following of readers just because you are not using the mediums they use.

Can you really afford to miss out?

Video Creation & Types

Truly any type of video can be found on YouTube nowadays, but for bloggers, we should concern ourselves with 3 main content types:

  1. The “Talking Head” video
  2. The slideshow video
  3. The screen capture video

I list these 3 as the most important because they are the most essential to what most blogs are about: teaching, entertaining, and interacting with your readers.

While other types of videos are certainly applicable (launch videos for products, comedy “spoofs” mocking trends such as the S*** ______ Say videos, etc.), they are out of the scope of this post, which will address audience and traffic generating tactics.

So, onto our main video choices…

1.) The “Taking Head” video

The ‘talking head’ video type is exactly as it sounds: featuring your pretty mug on screen (down to your shoulders or waist) discussing… well, anything!

The power of talking head videos is evident in two ways.

The first was mentioned above, as they are incredibly flexible in topic and can really be used to address anything.

The second (and most important) aspect is that they allow you to really connect with your readers, putting your full personality out there not just in your words, but also in your presence.

One of my favorite examples of this comes from Pat Flynn’s recent post on his blog simply thanking his two guest bloggers for the week (myself being one of them), thanking his fans for their continued support, and a special thanks to his wife on their anniversary.

It was everything a talking head video should be: genuine, informative (Pat also updated on his other projects), and it gave readers a chance to hear Pat’s thoughts “in person” via video.

Use it to address a quick topic you would have normally tackled in a 500 word blog post, and make it an engaging video instead.

Use it for announcements, to start a discussion, or as a regular feature for readers to look forward too: it’s uses are boundless.

How to get started?

That’s the best part: nowadays, it typically only takes a digital camera with video capabilities in order to record in full HD.

You should browse cameras if you don’t already own one and make sure to get a camera with stereo speakers and full HD capabilities, the speakers being especially important because the sound quality is much better.

This is the camera that I use that’s below the $150 price range and includes HD video built in, as an example.

Typically, it’s best to start with shorter videos and one shot takes, re-doing them if you happen to mess up.

One great example I’ve found from a marketer is Derek Halpern and how he incorporates a whiteboard in his talking head videos:

Given that shorter videos are also easier to digest and tent to do better (in terms of views) than longer videos, you probably won’t need too much in the way of video editing software, but in case you are in need you should check out this post on Lifehacker discussing the best video editing applications for Mac & PC (fair warning: they can be a bit pricey).

The other type of “talking head” video I want to quickly address is the hands on style video, perfect for bloggers who’s niche involves work with your hands (such as DIY, knitting, gardening, the list goes on).

Hands-on videos will just be a clip of you showing how something is done via live capture with your video camera.

This has been hugely popular in the fashion circle, so I’ll just let this video show you how it’s done (note: This video was able to generate 1.5 million views!):

2.) The slideshow video

For folks cringing at the thought of getting in front of a camera after that last section, I have good news: the next two types don’t require you to be on-screen.

The slideshow video types is an especially easy form of video content to create, as it can be easily done (quite well) with even basic programs like Windows Movie Editor.

Think of this form of content as like “PowerPoint in video”, as it will typically be nothing more than a collection of slides with bullet points, images, and graphics along with your voice.

Lots of great projects have been completed in this fashion, such as Glen Allsopp’s Cloud:Blueprint videos, and it’s been used countless times in pre-recorded webinars.

You can also create these videos with a writing tablet such as a Wacom tablet, which allows you to write on-screen (although you might need a program like Camtasia to record it, more on that later).

But if you’re sticking to the basic PowerPoint template, you’ll either need a program such as Windows Movie Maker/iMovie and a slick background, or Camtasia and a PowerPoint theme.

I know these things can be a bit hard to picture without an example, so I whipped up a quick one for you using only Windows Movie Maker and a free background from Creattica (I originally made this video for Social Media Examiner, so that’s why it mentions the site):

The last tool you need for slideshow videos is a decent mic, I can recommend this one that I use for my videos, as it records beautifully and is under $110.

3.) Screen capture videos

Remember when I said we’d jump into using Camtasia later? Well, the time is now!

Screen capture videos are likely a type that you’ve run into before on YouTube, as they are the go-to choice for “How To” videos since you can ‘capture’ exactly what’s on your screen.

Screen capture videos are also some of the most highly traffic videos that bloggers can engage in, because not only can they be used on your site to show readers how things can be done, but there is also a lot of search traffic on YouTube (and Google) for ‘how-to’ and tutorial videos.

The “How To” market is big, just look at how sites like eHow were able to grow so fast from Google search results (they later got penalized by producing sub-par content, but that’s not what we plan to do!)

Tons of readers have How To questions that are hard to put into words, so if you can capture what you are doing on-screen, you will not only be solving a recurring question, you’ll likely generate a ton of video views and traffic along with it.

Suppose a you’re writing about productivity, and you’ve been discussing a new popular app that helps cut down on wasted time.

You get a ton of questions about how to use Function X, and notice that there isn’t really a great explanation online for it.

The correct response?

A blog post + video combination, utilize the blog post to generate the initial views for your video, and screen capturing exactly what to do in a video that is likely to solve a lot of viewers problems and bring you some major traffic as a result.

And lastly, I mentioned using a writing tablet to create really awesome and easy to follow along videos in the section above.

Not only do they make for great slideshow videos, but using screen capture tools, you can actually write and record live, all on a branded background.

Here’s a video on how to do just that:

Video Search Optimization

Most folks recognize how big YouTube is and it’s significance on the web as a whole, being the 3rd most popular site in the world.

What many do not realize, however, is that YouTube is also the 2nd most popular search engine behind… you guessed it, Google.

With so many searches being conducted daily on YouTube (and with YouTube carrying so much ‘weight’ in Google’s own search rankings, often taking up places on the front page) it really pays to optimize your videos to be easily found by searchers.

If you’re not an SEO person, you’re in luck, because search optimization on YouTube is not nearly as complex as the process and algorithms behind your typical Google search.

The first thing you are going to want to do is pick a good keyword.

To do this, simply think about the main phrase that folks might be searching for to find your videos.

YouTube does have a keyword suggestion tool, but I’ve found a better method is to just do the searches yourself, and study the competition.

Look at what videos have gotten a ton of views (they will likely be far older than yours) and see how they’ve titled their videos.

Also try a few search terms and see which ones are bringing in the most views.

You should then use this keyword for the Title of your video, as that is one of the biggest aspects of ranking well for search terms.

You’ll notice below in the search for [How to use Twitter]…

…that the second video ranks higher than the third, even though the third has over double the views and is a year older.

That’s because it used the closer video title to the search term at hand.

The other reason that studying your competition is effective is you can see exactly what tags and keywords they used in creating their video.

“Tags” are YouTubes way of finding (among other metrics) what related videos to show in the sidebar of the video in question.

With popular videos, it is not uncommon to see a TON of referral traffic from related videos, especially if your video appears “above the fold” in the related videos section.

In order to increase your chances of his happening, study what tags were used in the creation of a popular video.

Usually, they are no-brainers.

But sometimes, you can find some gems that are picking up traffic from terms you might not have thought of.

Also, if those videos have public statistics enabled, you can actually check which terms brought  people to the video.

Here’s video data on a popular video about AWeber:

This allows me to see what terms (and other sources) are bringing in the most traffic, and gives me ideas on how I can rank for similar terms.

The last thing that you want to remember is that your video thumbnail is going to effect your clicks… a lot!

It doesn’t effect your search results, but it does help generate more views for your video, which does effect your search results.

You do not have complete control over this until you are a YouTube partner, but try to select the most interesting thumbnail for your video after you upload it, you’d be surprised at how much a lucky thumbnail can impact a video’s view count.

Getting More Views OFF YouTube

So you’ve been reading thus far and have been thinking: “Great, so I have a couple of great ideas for videos… but what’s the point of making them if my audience is so small?”

Don’t let that mindset stop you, because I have some very simple (but very effective) advice for getting a ton of targeted views for your videos, without having a large following of your own.

Ready?

Use someone else’s audience.

As expected, no marketing black magic here, just a simple strategy that has worked since the beginning of blogging: the utilization of guest posting.

While it must be nice to have over 100,000 subscribers, not all of us have that kind of influence to throw around (at least, not yet ;)).

So we do the next best thing: embed our videos into awesome guest posts!

I talked about the important of “Leverage” when it comes to multi-media content when telling my story of how I was able to hit the SlideShare homepage.

The thing is, it’s easier for YouTube videos to “pick up steam” in the form of better search rankings and appearing in the ‘Related Videos’ section if they already have a solid amount of views.

That’s where guest blogging comes in.

Using video in your guest posts also allows you stand out in a way that few do.

If you’re guest blogging on a blog that hardly sees video content, and you incorporate a solid video into your guest post, you are going to be remembered.

This is true due to the how your content will stand out, and it’s also true because of how personal video makes things: hearing your voice and seeing your face will last longer in someone’s mind than a mere link to your site.

Your only job at that point is to wow them with great video content, and the rest will take care of itself.

Increased Conversions on Videos

YouTube videos some with a few great features to help increase conversions from viewers, although only a few methods work fairly well (and you have to decide which goals to set for each video).

First, let’s talk about getting more subscribers.

YouTube has a feature called “Annotations” that is viewed as the ‘instant-DM’ is viewed on Twitter: it can be useful, but if you use them wrong, people will react really unfavorably.

You can probably already guess that moderation and subtlety is key here.

One way to use annotations is to create a call to action at the end of your videos and use the annotation as the “process” by which it is complete.

That’s a fancy way to say: ask people to subscribe at the end of videos, and then use an annotation to link them.

This can be done by adding an Annotation (under “Edit Video”) and selecting ‘Link’ and specifying the destination as a subscription:

You can also choose the ‘Channel’ option which will just take viewers to your channel page.

In the end, you should have something looking like this at the end of your videos:

Why are these methods effective?

If you are regularly creating videos with a similar theme or topic (as most blogs will), potential subscribers might not know: they likely found your video just surfing YouTube.

At the end of videos is a great place to perk their interest, something like:

Did you enjoy this video? Want more? Check out my channel (/subscribe) to get access to more videos on Freelancing/ Surfing/Guitar playing/World domination right now!

That allows you to be non-intrusive to the video’s content, while still placing an effective call to action to the most prime viewer possible: the viewer who sat through your whole video!

You also get to inform them that you channel even exists, as viewers might assume that your video is a one-time creation, missing out on what might be a great resource for them in your channel.

The other big thing you have at your disposal is the description box below each video.

I’ve noticed a lot of big YouTubers using tools like ClickToTweet to generate more views and shares for their video, but I would not recommend that for bloggers.

As someone who owns a blog, your main goal is more email subscribers and sales, not more YouTube video views.

Thus, your goal in the description should be to get viewers back to your blog, or even better, to get viewers to a landing page.

This doesn’t have to come off as “salesy” either, you can simply link to an about page that describes the benefits of what your blog can offer, along with plenty of opt-in forms, such as:

http://sparringmind.com/ – What to learn more about content marketing? Check out my site for a ton of great, FREE info on using blogging to increase sales!

The thing is, you need to put the link in the top line, and you also need to use “http://”, as it makes the link clickable (and testing has shown that links get more clicks at the top of the description, as YouTube only allows the first two lines to be shown in a collapsed description).

You’d be surprised at the traffic you can generate from utilizing clickable links at the top of videos.

I haven’t done much video content for SparringMind.com (my newest project), but here’s a Clicky Analytics screenshot of the traffic that I’ve been able to generate for another blogging project (you’ll notice it generates more visitors than my Facebook page!)

That’s “weekly” data, you’ll notice that one of my videos that went quasi-viral brought in more traffic than all of my Facebook posts… combined!

This is also a blog that I don’t really do any guest posting for, so I depend on this 3rd party traffic a lot to convert people into subscribers.

How much potential traffic are you missing out on by not being on YouTube?

Branding Your Videos

Branding your videos can go a long way to increasing the interest in your blog, as well as traffic and conversions.

Why?

Because branding your videos let’s people know exactly who is responsible for their creation, no matter where they end up (just make sure it’s content you WANT to be associated with ;)).

The thing is, you gotta make things quick: video viewers do not have a lot of patience for intros & outros.

An easy way to set these up is just by flashing your logo for a second or two, using complimentary sounds/songs from a royalty free source like AudioJungle.

Even the biggest YouTube channels like Howcast keep their intros short, just so you know who created the content:

It you want to get fancy, there are a ton of awesome motion graphics and intros available on VideoHive, and a bunch of gigs on Fiverr with folks willing to do the work for you (if you don’t have Adobe AfterEffects).

One Last Tip for Video Content…

The one last thing I want to mention about video content is the power of running a series of videos for generating interest and views (and therefore, more traffic).

This involves creating video content with a “theme”, focusing on one thing but in an episodic format.

It gives readers something to look forward too, and a catalogue to dig into if they come across one video and really enjoy it.

Interview videos, long ‘how-to’ guides separated into parts, multiple videos on creating improvements, a series of videos that range from beginner –> expert, I’ve seen and enjoyed all types, and they work really, really well.

Over To You…

Excited yet?

Let me know how you plan on using videos & YouTube for your blogging endeavors in the coming year down below in the comments!

See you there, and thank you for reading!

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