20 Free Tips to Get Your Videos Seen on YouTube and Beyond

It’s been a while since I’ve summarized some of the most important factors to getting your videos seen. This post is based on my own YouTube creator experience, my work with big brands, and my book (Beyond Viral). I’ve also written a free eBook called “How to Get Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent (version 2).”

Here it is:

http://willvideoforfood.com/2010/02/04/how-to-get-popular-on-youtube-version-2/

I’m sure I missed some current best practices so please add your own thoughts below!

1. Hook viewer in first 10 seconds (teasing highlights)
2. Keep it short. A one-minute video will almost always trump a 3.
3. Encourage interactions- get people commenting and, like Facebook, your YouTube video will rise higher. Controversial questions to viewers can jolt views.
4. Personalize it. Look at camera as if it’s a friend’s eyes and don’t assume your viewer knows you.
5. Include real laughter. Laughter induces laughter like yawns influence yawns. Get a sidekick who has a contagious laugh.
6. At the end, provide something unexpected or bedbug. See how you didn’t expect the word “bedbug” there?
7. Include animals. We humans like animals more than humans. Babies are clinchers too. Giggling baby with an animal? Golden.
8. Take the “road less travelled.” Sure, boobies get views but if you base your video on something already seen, your video is less likely to break through clutter. Show us something we’ve not seen (or rare to see) and people will share.
9. Real trumps script. Almost all of my top videos are not scripted bits but real, candid moments.
10. Appeal to heavy video viewers. Teenagers drive significant views, and even adolescents and Tweens (Annoying Orange). Test your video on this audience and note when they laugh or get bored.
11. Post regularly. The most popular and most-viewed YouTubers post daily or on a predictable schedule. Fresh outsells good.
12. Flow with current events. Selectively parody topical news or “Memes” and you’ll be topical and more relevant.
13. Take the title, tags and description very seriously so your video can be found easily on search engines like Google (and don’t think YouTube isn’t a search engine). You can even transcribe the video and add the text. Important terms: “how to,” “why does,” “who is,” “when is…”
14. Watch top creators for new ideas. For instance, most top web stars are providing thumbnails of other videos at the end of their video. This keeps a viewer from wandering off to “related videos.”
15. Post at right time. Stay away from weekends and Friday afternoon (when there’s a lot of viewing but heavy competition). Mornings are good and Tuesday is a heavy consumption day.
16. Someone once said a new blogger focuses on their blog, but a seasoned blogger is roaming. Likewise you want to appear in videos by people getting more views. The kind plug by PrankvsPrank for my recent “Itchy Butt” prank drove more views that from my base of 250K subscribers.
17. Chill out on “subscribers,” which is as meaningless as “likes” on Facebook. 100 fans are more valuable than 10,000 subscribers that accidentally subscribed from the stupid “box for box” feature (where if you subscribe to one channel you can passively subscribe to their friends.
18. Jump start views on other social-media channels like Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Reddit (watch out for being seen as just tooting your own horn though).
19. Listen and talk back to your audience. When a creator acknowledges a viewer comment a bond is formed that is the lifeblood of a recurring audience.
20. Go for quantity not obsessive quality. I could never have predicted which of my 1000 videos would get tens of millions of views, and there’s a lot of power to trial and error. There’s almost an inverse relationship between the time I spend on a video and the views it gets.

Finally don’t judge success by total views alone. Whether you’re a marketer or entertainer, not all views are created equally. Focus on engagement, comments, view duration, and getting to the right audience. A niche show meeting an unmet need is going to work more effectively than trying to please broad audiences.

What did I miss? Obviously the most popular videos are those involving dancing, music, comedy, satire, politics, sex, babies and animals. Don’t underestimate the power of the thumbnail (image representing the video) too. But any general tips I missed?

25 thoughts on “20 Free Tips to Get Your Videos Seen on YouTube and Beyond”

  1. Thanks for the tips :) not only am I going to keep these in mind when creating my videos, but I doing a research assignment for one of my classes on viral videos. I source ya!!!

  2. As far as vlogging is concerned, I’m always more interested when people actually show me something rather than just tell me about it. So, instead of sitting in you car telling me that you just went shopping, actually take the camera into the store with you and have us “join you.” I don’t like being left out in the car like a dog. ;)

    BTW, under #13, I think you meant, “description and tags,” not “description and description.”

  3. Hey Uncle Nalts! Nice piece only one thing I have to share with you is our experience with Reddit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lx_OLnBRBMk

    They try to say you are self promoting if you “share” your videos with them.

    Then they swear at you and say you are spam and not cool when you ask them for the “rules” so you can stay within their guidelines.

    Just filling you in on our experience with Reddit.

  4. Omg Sukatra this was boring!? At least my freaky animal tweets make up for it. Thanx Tammy for reddit warning- must use kiddsock’s fake girlfriend to spam Reddit.

    Hey Tim I had diarrhea this morning. Hold on- let me show you.

  5. My experience with subscribers has been that Subscribers want to be involved. YouTube Friends, on the other hand, only want to sell me something or use my connections.

    What has your experience been with subscribers and friends on YouTube.

  6. Pat, my friends don’t “get” YouTube, and I have a feeling they think I’m extremely creepy. I think that’s why they stopped taking my calls. Maybe they’re not the best friends……

    Hmmmmm, lets see. How about-

    Using jump cuts to help keep the pacing of a video. Just don’t use too many or people will be reaching for the Dramamine.

    Lighting and camera quality are important now too. YouTube provides HD quality feeds for a reason. No one wants to see you sitting in a half lit room in a fuzzy video talking about your cats.

    Make sure you frame the shot well. People want to see where the action is, not skewed off to the side or with a camera bouncing all around.

    I honestly think the best videos are the ones that draw me in and make me forget I’m watching a video. Or any video I’m a part of somehow. Yeah those are the best by far.

  7. Pat I dont accept friend requests from anyone I dont have a pre-existing relationship with, such as someone I ‘know’ through watching and commenting on their videos, and ive got an ongoing ‘friendship’ w/ them; i.e. a back and forth dialogue w/ them thru commenting. And they have to be able to make me laugh. So basically I only have accepted about 20 friend requests in the last four years, all from people I kinda already knew.

  8. Thanks for the list, nalts. As someone who, unlike you, is new to making videos but, like you, isn’t new to being a Kevin, I would add “have fun”–both for your own sake and for attracting viewers. Even if viewers realize they’re not interested in the topic of the video, it’s hard to turn away from someone’s warm enthusiasm.

  9. Thanks Matt & Sukatra for your response.

    @sukata. have you noticed the difference between subscriptions? Again, I found “friends” to want to sell me. subscribers want to learn from me.

    “17. Chill out on “subscribers,” which is as meaningless as “likes” on Facebook. 100 fans are more valuable than 10,000 subscribers that accidentally subscribed from the stupid “box for box” feature (where if you subscribe to one channel you can passively subscribe to their friends.”

    I subscript to those who add value. I haven’t dealt with friending too many. Like Sukatra, I friend those I know. However, I have been accepting friends to study if my theory is correct. I’m contemplating deleting friends and keep subscribers.

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