As the importance of video continues to grow, many marketers are watching to see if YouTube will keep pace in 2017.
To find out where YouTube may be heading in the coming year, we reached out to social media pros to get their thoughts.
#1: YouTube Solidifies Its Social Network Status
YouTube is often chalked up as the home of silly Internet videos. Companies recognizing YouTube as a search engine and content machine have leveraged the platform as a place to upload video, but they've focused their social efforts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Now, YouTube is allowing creators to communicate with their subscribers and channel visitors in more ways.
With the addition of features such as a basic status update with a photo, people who want to better connect with a video-obsessed audience will see YouTube as a social network rather than just a video collection zone.
This is going to be a game-changer for YouTube as a competitor in the social space, and marketers should be thinking bigger when it comes to what this platform means to their strategy.
Amy Schmittauer is the author of Vlog Like a Boss: How to Kill It Online with Video Blogging and the creator of the YouTube series Savvy Sexy Social.
#2: YouTube Explores Long-form Television-style Content
In 2017, YouTube will evolve to maintain its strategic position as a video platform that's the second-largest search engine.
To increase revenues, YouTube will tap into Google's treasure trove of data to test production and marketing of longer-format television-type series. This competitive move is in response to the rise of original series creations by Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
YouTube will also introduce new advertising formats during the video experience, since roughly a third of Millennials watch YouTube ads in their entirety. Specifically, we'll see the addition of ads in the middle of videos longer than one minute, similar to Facebook's approach.
Heidi Cohen is the chief content officer of Actionable Marketing Guide, where she provides marketing insights on social media, content marketing, and mobile.
#3: YouTube Channels Embrace Quality Over Quantity
For a long time, the trend on YouTube was to create more content in hopes of building subscribers and views. Now, businesses are smarter and realize that making less content with quality keywords will give them a bigger ROI.
I anticipate 2017 will be the year we see an increase in educational content from businesses on YouTube, as that will give them the best chance of appearing in search and attracting a larger scale of potential customers.
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Marketers need to focus on content that educates their potential customers and that will always give them a positive return on their investment of time.
Sunny Lenarduzzi, an award-winning video, social media, and online business strategist, has worked with hundreds of clients such as Hootsuite and Applebee's.
#4: YouTube Integrates Third-party Software to Improve Broadcast Quality
I predict YouTube will seek to acquire a third-party encoding software company like Telestream (which makes Wirecast), Switcher Studio, or Livestream.com (which develops software and hardware). When this happens, it will be easier and more affordable for us to produce high-quality, highly engaging video content for our fans and subscribers.
For example, Switcher Studio has already released a free iOS app that we can use to live stream on YouTube or Facebook. Here's how you can go live on YouTube from your iPhone using the SwitcherGo app:
No matter what, due to the strength of their search and discovery algorithm, YouTube remains a force to be reckoned with. Forward-thinking marketers should plan on a strategy that integrates live and recorded video alongside their written content distribution.
Ileane Smith is founder of Basic Blog Tips, where she provides tips on WordPress blogging, social media, podcasting, YouTube marketing, and technology.
#5: YouTube Marketers Focus on Educational Content Delivery
As video continues to spread across social media channels, we'll see videos on YouTube continue to become more meaty and robust.
Instead of the 30-second video demos of recipes that have taken over Facebook, success on YouTube will require companies to create 1- to 5-minute in-depth demos, courses, and series that answer the viewers' questions (some of which they may not have even known to ask, like whether a $27 or $1,000 cake is more delicious).
Your YouTube channel should make your audience go, “Huh, I learned something.”
Marketers can find inspiration from YouTube-focused publishers like Screen Junkies and BuzzFeed Video, whose videos are usually entertaining, often informative, and all just a little outside of the box. Even if you're a financial services provider or a furniture company, your videos can and should do more than touting your services or the benefits of your product.
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Zontee Hou is the founder of Media Volery, a senior strategist for Convince & Convert, and an adjunct professor at the City College of New York.
#6: Influencer Marketing Evolves Into Exclusive Partnership Programming on YouTube
In 2017, more brands will work with influencers on exclusive, longer-term engagements instead of the transactional, one-and-done “campaign” mentality we mainly see today. This will be in the name of producing programming, not campaigns or “content.” Nowhere will this be more obvious than on YouTube.
But here's the catch: We have to stop thinking about influencers as glorified channels through which you pump pieces of your campaign.
The above approach and all its potential benefits to your company only come to fruition with more exclusive, longer-term relationships: a partnership based on mission-alignment and context built over time to unlock the potential sitting on both sides.
In other words, this is about relationships. The brands that win on YouTube will wake up in 2017 and start signing longer-term partnership deals with key influencers both large and small. And all they have to do is start asking. This is the missed opportunity of influencer marketing. It's right there. Go get it.
Jay Acunzo is the creator and host of the sweetest-sounding show in marketing, Unthinkable, and is a hyperactive keynote speaker, writer, and podcaster.
#7: Increased Socialization Features Improve YouTube Engagement
I predict that YouTube will borrow the sticky elements of other social media platforms to help channel owners attract, retain, and engage their fans. In addition, as the frequency of engagement increases, so will the number of daily vlogs. I think we'll find that consistent, helpful, short, live video content will be the most engaging.
For example, in 2017 I am doing a daily YouTube live broadcast with the objective of reaching 1 million subscribers by the end of the year.
To stand out, marketers will need to deliver content that benefits their audience and consistently engage in two-way conversations with viewers.
Gabby Wallace helps professionals reach their business goals using YouTube video marketing. Her Go Natural English YouTube channel has over 250,000 subscribers and 13 million views.
#8: YouTube Promotes Longer Engagement Views
YouTube is actively measuring how long people spend at the site and will be promoting videos that engage viewers for longer periods of time. They are also keenly aware that younger viewers with disposable income are spending more time watching YouTube on a mobile device, usually a smartphone.
To take advantage of this shift, marketers need to do three things:
First, they should experiment with longer-form videos, provided those videos can hold viewers' attention. Since the average YouTube session is now over 40 minutes, videos don't need to be two minutes long.
However, YouTube viewers' attention spans haven't expanded, so a talking head droning on for half an hour won't work. Instead, spend more time in post-production adding engaging graphic overlays. These can include cut scenes, closeups, freeze frames, countdown numbers, URLs, and even Easter Eggs that will cause people to stop and “rewind” your videos.
Second, if marketers are looking to drive traffic from YouTube to a website or landing page, they'll need to use YouTube cards throughout the video. While YouTube Annotations were a great addition to creating clickable links within a video, they didn't work on mobile. With about half of the videos on YouTube being shown on a mobile device, that's just not going to cut it anymore.
YouTube cards allow you to create clickable, engaging calls to action within the video that show up wherever the video is shown, whether on a smartphone, tablet, or embedded on a website or blog.
Third, marketers need to invest advertising dollars on YouTube. Google is getting better at tracking users across devices, and YouTube will be a beneficiary of this additional targeting information. Coupled with keyword search, marketers will be able to reach their ideal customers with both pre-roll ads and sponsored video promotion.
Rich Brooks, founder and president of flyte new media, is a nationally recognized speaker on entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and social media.
#9: YouTube Improves Social Features for Creators and Fans
YouTube is an amazing search engine and distribution platform, but a social network?
While YouTube has all of the hallmarks of a social network: videos spawn conversation and there are fans, followers, and content galore, the engagement engine (YouTube comments) is lacking.
In 2016, YouTube rolled out a rich Community feature to a select group of content creators. This feature turns a YouTube channel into a real honest-to-goodness social network where you can actually engage in conversations and even share content!
This coming year, look for YouTube to push back against Facebook's, Instagram's, and Twitter's poaching of YouTube's video space by offering more social networking opportunities for both creators and fans.
Savvy content creators and brands will leap on the opportunity to create engagement and dialogue with their fans and followers.
Steve Dotto, a YouTube content creator and former TV producer and host, teaches people about online tools, productivity, and social marketing.
What do you think? Which of these predictions are you most interested in? How will you adjust your YouTube marketing? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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