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:

How To Get Popular on YouTube (free eBook, 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?

Free Web Seminar: Online-Video Secrets from Steve Garfield

Steve Garfield,  the “Paul Revere of video blogging,” will join Pixability CEO Bettina Hein in a free 1-hour webinar on December 1, featuring latest trends in online video and related media. Topics include:

  • The benefits of marketing with online video
  • How to shoot video like a pro (recording, editing, exporting, etc)
  • How to build presence with video on the social web
  • How to increase views for your video

Garfield also is raffling off ten copies of “Get Seen: Online Video Secrets.” Space is limited, so register now for the free webinar, held December 1, 2010 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Garfield’s book is part of David M. Scott’s “New Rules of Social Media,” which also includes my book (Beyond Viral).

See You at Blogworld in Vegas

As I mentioned in a recent video (“Advertising Doesn’t Have to Suck,” I’m off to Blogworld. It’s the “South by Southwest” of social media, and packed with bloggers, vloggers, and even stupid people. Steve Garfield (fellow video enthusiast) is leading a session, and we’re both doing book signings on Friday. On Friday, he signs “Get Seen” at 2:00 and I sign “Beyond Viral” at 2:30. I plan to stalk his fans holding a sign that says, “if you liked Get Seen, you might also like Beyond Viral.”

Sadly Samsung’s Galaxy never came through, so I won’t be smashing my iPad. I tried. However I will be stalking Kent Nichols and Jim Louderback (cheesy photo below). You can bet on that.

Jim Louderback Likes Geeky Computer Magazines

Friends, don’t be anti-social media… come hang. (See “anti-social media” below):

Get Seen: Online Video Resource by Steve Garfield

Steve Garfield was vlogging before there were video cameras or the Internet. I’m not sure what that looked like, but perhaps he just stood in front of Boston houses and talked.

getseen steve garfield online video secrets

So it’s worth noting that his new book has a companion website… check out Get Seen: Online Video Secrets. I’m planning on copying his whole book and changing the cover… and hoping Wiley doesn’t notice when I submit my first manuscript for “Beyond Viral Video.”

Tag Junking Doesn’t Get You Video Views, Captain

Bullshit terms that don’t drive views

Dear video creator…  Somewhere on the web you found this collection of keywords, and someone convinced you that they’ll drive views. The good news is you’re not alone. It’s a batch that appears in many videos, and evidence that some “view genius” has promised you it will get you famous.

Give it up captain. Go read my dated but free “How to Become Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent,” and forget the tags.

Remember- Google no longer crawls metatags of websites, so I’m seriously doubting that tag junking is going to do much for you on YouTube… except for annoying creators who monitor their own usernames to see who’s hating on ’em this week…

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