In December of 2011, YouTube unveiled their latest design and navigational changes to the world.
Although it was met with unbridled criticism from a virtual mob of YouTube fanatics, these changes are here to stay.
Embrace YouTube's recent makeover and their vision for the future of online entertainment. Change is good, right?
This article will only cover the three major changes that may affect your online strategy. If you want to stay on top of your video marketing game in 2012, these are the only three changes that you need to focus on.
Ready? Here we go!
#1: New YouTube Home Page
YouTube has changed their design to follow a much more clean and modern look.
A quick peek at the home page will reveal that quite a bit of rearranging has been done. Instead of showcasing the most popular and trending videos on the website, YouTube has now prominently positioned a “Subscription Feed” smack-dab in the middle of the page.
Note: You must be logged in to see this properly.
This “Subscription Feed” (which bears an uncanny resemblance to Facebook's Live Feed), now features the latest video content and updates from your subscribers.
In an effort to provide a better, more relevant user experience for viewers, YouTube is behaving more like a social-networking site than ever before. But what does this mean for you?
Until now, the “cute baby” and “shockingly embarrassing caught-on-tape” videos have dominated YouTube with millions of views from your bored co-workers looking for a quick distraction from their day. Most of us have discredited YouTube as a legitimate traffic source or brand-builder for our businesses because let's face it, creating randomly hilarious videos probably isn't your forte! And that's OK, because things are changing…
This “Subscription Feed” gives the smaller guy who doesn't have “crazy-viral” content a fighting chance for more exposure.
As your viewers watch, rate and comment on your latest video, exposure for your content will spread to the followers and subscribers of each of your viewers through YouTube's feed, creating a smaller yet more relevant viral effect.
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To take advantage of the Subscription Feed, here is what I recommend:
- Be active daily and consistently: Make sure to upload fresh content to YouTube weekly and follow up as many times as possible to comment, share and promote other videos that you enjoy watching. The more activity you have on YouTube, the more exposure you can get.
- Get your audience to take action: Using a call to action, get your viewers to subscribe, rate, comment and share each of your videos. The more activity and interaction that takes place on each of your videos, the more potential exposure you get on the home page of YouTube.
I don't expect your 3-minute, content-rich video on how to get more leads in your business to suddenly go viral and compete with the likes of “Rebecca Black” & “Charlie Bit My Finger.” I do however see a mini-viral effect take place! Your videos have the potential of being shared and seen by more targeted viewers (quality views over quantity!).
#2: New YouTube Channel Page
The new channel layout may look different, but it still behaves relatively the same. However, as YouTube moves in the direction of becoming more “channel-centric,” it is imperative that you activate, update and optimize your new channel as quickly as possible for the best results.
In fact, YouTube is already making more of an effort to feature channels on search results pages for related keywords. Focus on using your main keyword phrase properly in your channel, and you can get found even quicker!
Here is your action list for proper channel page optimization:
Step 1: Set up background image.
Depending on how your channel's background image was designed before the big change, you may need to modify and upload a new image. The best background images reflect your brand and the services you provide through pictures and text on the far left-hand side of your background image.
To begin the editing process, simply click the “Edit Channel” button on the top right-hand corner of your channel page.
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Step 2: Edit your channel details.
The next step is to make sure the title, description and tags for your channel are properly filled out using your main keyword phrase. (Note: Some users have experienced losing all the content they used in their previous channel description after making the switch. Don't assume your description is still intact.)
Your title should be clear, concise and benefit-driven. Your description should detail exactly what type of value and benefits your audience will get when they watch your videos. And you can finish this by adding a bunch of your relevant keyword phrases (in quotation marks) in the Tags section.
Step 3: Activate the “Blogger Template.”
The new channel page offers the choice to customize the design and layout of your channel with one of four templates. I recommend using the “Blogger” layout. It can be selected with the click of a button!
Step 4: Edit your featured video.
Similar to the old channel design, you'll want to have a featured video that auto-plays when people view your channel. You can choose from any of your past videos or select the option to use your most recent video (recommended).
Step 5: Add your links.
The new channel design makes it fairly easy to add website, blog and social profile links to drive traffic to your other web properties. Make sure to take the time to add and edit this information and use compelling benefit-driven copy to encourage your visitors to click over to your website!
Most marketers will never take the 4.3 minutes to make these minor adjustments to their channel. Take this opportunity to optimize your channel page properly and focus on getting it ranked for your main keyword phrase!
#3: YouTube Analytics
My personal favorite change in YouTube's most recent overhaul has been their introduction of YouTube Analytics. Previously called YouTube Insight, this extremely detailed and informative feature allows you to learn more about your audience, your videos and your activity on YouTube. In other words, you get to totally geek out!
Each statistic tells a story about the viewing habits of your audience. With proper deduction skills, you can effectively identify problems with your videos and make the necessary changes to improve your results.
Most of the features in YouTube Analytics have remained the same; however, there are two features that I would like to call special attention to:
1: Audience retention
Previously labeled as “Hotspots,” this improved function allows you to see just how engaging (or unengaging!) your videos really are. Identify the exact moments that are causing your viewers to run for the hills or making them perform a “digital double-take,” rewinding your video and begging you for more! Want to see more results with your videos? This function tells you exactly what you need to do!
2: Playback locations
This new function allows you to see exactly where your videos are being watched. As mobile devices become predominant in our lives, you'll notice a greater percentage of playback locations coming from “mobile.” This feature will also allow you to see exactly who is embedding your videos and which blogs/websites are giving you views! Find out what is working and you can do more of the same!
Why Change Is Good
Even though this round of changes was met with harsh criticism from the YouTube community, it's our duty as business owners to embrace the change and understand YouTube's ultimate vision.
As the third-largest website in the world with an audience that rivals any major television network, YouTube is an absolute powerhouse! It has big plans for blurring the line of offline television and online entertainment, and we can expect YouTube to continue to evolve and morph into something new and different.
What do you think? Do you understand the rules of YouTube's game? Embrace the change and you can see results for a long time to come! Leave your questions and comments in the box below.
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