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It’s no secret that YouTube is big. So big, that when you look at the stats, they usually involve figures in the billions.
Four-billion. That’s the number of average total views on YouTube per day. One-billion. That’s the number of daily views from mobile devices — a quarter of all views. And if the trends continue, soon the future average will match the present reality in countries like South Korea, where half of all YouTube views are from mobile.
The video service has come a long way since it was launched in 2005 and acquired by Google the next year. It’s growing so fast, it’s breaking its own records almost as quickly as it can set them: Felix Baumgartner’s epic jump from the edge of space blew apart the numbers from other major live streams like the 2011 royal wedding and this year’s Olympics, which drew 500 000 simultaneous views. During the Red Bull Stratos mission, YouTube clocked over 8-million concurrent viewers. The number of daily views on the platform has increased by 25% from just the beginning of this year.
There’s definitely an audience, but not every video becomes the next Gangnam Style. Search around and you’ll spot official brand channels with fewer subscribers and total views than popular vloggers and ‘amateur’ YouTube stars. While there is no guaranteed way to make your video go viral, there are a few ways to make sure you don’t limit its potential to be shared, commented on and viewed around the world. Speaking at G South Africa, YouTube’s senior director of content partnerships for the EMEA region, Patrick Walker, shared a few tips on making the most of YouTube:
Don’t just target one platform or device
The second screen phenomenon is real. Mobiles, tablets, TVs, laptops… increasingly, people are watching video while doing something else, so you can’t just stick a video on YouTube, leave it alone and hope for the best. Integrated, multi-platform campaigns are the new standard.
“The transition from radio to television is as big as the transition to internet today,” said Walker. As there 72 hours of video uploaded on to YouTube every minute, you have to make yours stand out. Over 350 000 devices are enabled for YouTube, and people watch videos from their phones, tablets, smartTVs, desktop computers and laptops, so you need to factor that in. “If you are aiming at only one of these audiences, you are going to get it wrong,” said Walker. “You need to have a mix.”
Think about global expectations
“There’s no such thing as ‘online’ video — your expectation is that you can get it everywhere,” said Walker. “The expectation is that it is accessible on everything. The expectation is that boundaries don’t exist.” Because of this, you need to make sure that your video is not restricted to any country or physical location (unless you’re forced to do so by licensing regulations). People expect to be able to watch videos anywhere, so if you’ve limited the video to specific regions, viewers will be hit with that annoying ‘This video is not available in your country’ error and swiftly move along.
They’ll also expect to be able to comment, embed the video and create their own responses to it — if you’ve turned off those functions in your video’s advanced settings options, you’re going to be going against the norms of the platform. Although allowing options like commenting opens your video up to potential trolls, comments are a big part of YouTube and disabling them limits the potential for on-page conversation about the video.
Focus on search and social
One of the major advantages which YouTube has over traditional TV services is its search functionality. Create tags, write a descriptive title and pick a good thumbnail image for your video so it can be found through (and stand out from other results in) regular Google search and YouTube’s search bar. According to Walker, almost half of all YouTube views are found through search — and around 2-billion viewers daily start directly on the watch page, which means that they are referred via a specific link in an email, IM, or social media post.
Social is a big part of YouTube — over 700 tweets containing a YouTube link are sent out per minute, and around 500 years of video are consumed on Facebook everyday. Even if you’re a YouTube partner, you can’t just rely on it for marketing, you need to use social media and your own website to spread the word. Obviously, your content plays an important part here too — if you create something that adds value and is interesting, funny or innately engaging, people are more likely to share it in the first place.
Actually use the data
YouTube’s built-in analytics can tell you a lot — you can find out where your viewers live, which devices they use, how they got there, how long they watched your video, which search queries they used to find you and where they went after your video. Don’t just look at the views and likes — if most viewers left during the first five seconds of your video, or are using different search terms to the ones you’re targeting to find your video, you can use the analytics as a justification for changes in your plans. For example, Walker says that major artists are using the data from their music videos to track where their fans live and use it to help plan their tours.
Walker recommends that you harness the data, and add creativity. If you’re placing pre-roll ads on YouTube, you have to think harder than ever before about how to hook the viewer immediately, as half of all ads are skippable. “When you allow people to skip ads, they get better,” said Walker. You also have to think carefully about where to place your ad. “Our job is to find the sweet spot between the content provider, the advertiser and the user,” said Walker. If you reward the advertiser with your attention, they’re willing to pay more for the ad.
Find your niche
Even if you haven’t heard of the long tail, you should be able to appreciate how the web has allowed everything to become more specific and focused. YouTube tutorials are huge, as are how to videos on almost every subject. “Online, there is no shelf space. You can find a channel on anything you want to,” explained Walker. “If you can find a niche — there is a world of interest that you can capture.”