UPDATE: This article gets a lot of good karma, but unfortunately, since Youtube launched their new channels, a lot of the tips below are not up-to-date anymore. Thank you for visiting though 🙂
When I started out with Youtube a few years ago, I didn’t really care about the look of my Youtube channel. All I really needed was a tool to upload videos to the Web for free. I would grab the embed code, and insert it in my blog, where I was more concerned about design issues. Today, things have changed. I am more concerned about the look of my channel, as well as how my videos are organized.
Why Care about your Youtube look?
In 2008, a lot of things happened in Youtube. Here are the main changes:
- Major site re-design
- Faster cached memories
- Adsense integration
- Became 2nd/3rd most popular search engine
- Integrated annotations and insight
- Major cleaning of illegal content
All those changes bought Youtube its place as the leader in the UGC video space for the next 5 years to come… At least. This means Youtube is not a rusty Google acquisition anymore. To my opinion, it is the most powerful social media tool online today. Twitter is just a sidekick. Thanks to Youtube’s new skin, you can now consider the video giant as a serious marketing tool for your business.
How to set up your Youtube Channel
If you haven’t created one yet, choose the best name possible for the channel (your business name if possible). Fill out your profile: A lot of info is good for Youtube indexation purposes, but not so good for your visitors. I recommend a metadata philosophy of one sentence that summarizes it all.
Go to the ‘edit channel’ part: The background color should be your company’s brand color. You will want to create a banner to personalize your channel. I recommend creating a banner which background color is the same as my channel background color. What you do not want to do is to create an image that is the size of the homepage, as:
- Depending on screen resolutions, visitors will see just half of it, or it will be cut and the background color will mess everything up, and
- it’s longer to load. Also, Youtube centers its background image, so work with this in mind.
The rest of the channel style customization is a work of going back and forth until you find the right style for your page. For the feature video of your homepage, you have to choose between your latest uploaded video, or a specific video. That is really up to you and your strategy: Are you creating videos to lead people to your channel (then set a specific video as the feature vid), or are you just using Youtube as a video host (then set latest video as feature vid).
Also, in the customization part of the homepage, as a business, I think you shouldn’t care about showing off your friends, subscribers and subscriptions. I recommend taking those boxes away. You’ll save real estate and create more attention around your content.
One of Youtube’s most powerful assets for its users are playlists: As a video producers, as you can see above, I have create different types of videos. Thanks to playlist, which are basically folders for your media, I can organize my content in a way that makes sense for my work, and most importantly, display only the playlists which contain the videos I want to show off. For example, whenever I edit a video interview, there is always a chunk of the interview that is both very interesting and not related to the rest of the video. I render this isolated content, upload it, and share it on my blog. I am not really interested in showing this video on my channel, so I put it in the ‘interview snapshot’ playlist, which doesn’t appear on my channel.
Another example: I created a video for a client who posted it on his own Youtube channel. Great stuff! I was able to take this video and put it in my ‘professional work’ folder, even though I didn’t upload it to Youtube. Playlists are a much richer way for visitors to understand who you are as a video creator.
On my channel, I left the favorites box, to show visitors that I am also a user of Youtube, and not just a passive marketer.
There are two more things that make your channel look better: A high number of channel views, and a high number of video views. For the channel views, I have about 5,000. Believe me, that is good compared to the traffic that Youtube is sending on my channel. The problem I have with my videos is that they are tailored for a niche: Only a fragment of that niche finds my videos, and only a fragment of that fragment follows the trail back to my Youtube channel. In other words, I have a low visit potential to my channel. Even though I this is reality, I do not want others to see it this way, so I inflate the visits on my channel.
Same with videos: Nobody likes to watch a video that nobody else saw. There are ways to inflate your video views. It really is a cute little hack, nothing too disruptive, but it’s good to know when you want to jump-start views a little.
I won’t share here how to inflate video views. It is something I reserve for my clients, and I use it in a very moderate way. It’s the same scenario as restaurant managers who ask their employees to sit at the window tables and pretend they are customers to show passers-by that people eat there. It generates trust. Youtube is no fool: This trick only allows you to inflate the views counter, but in no way it cheats Youtube’s popularity algo.