YouTube for Entrepreneurs & Small Business

Entrepreneurs and small businesses sometimes struggle with YouTube and online-video marketing. So I teamed with ReelSEO to write a guide called “Online Video 101: Small Business.” It’s free, and you won’t get a pesky sales call if you register and download it.

Sorry the blog’s gone a bit grey lately, but I’ve been busy posting a video each day (every time you poop). Caught the virus from Trippy at his wedding. See ’em in this playlist called “Holiday Blitz.”

How To Get Views on YouTube (via Kindle)

So you want to know how to get views on YouTube. You want to grow a vibrant YouTube channel, go viral, and become the next Ray William Johnson. Do you cheat, or choose a more proven way?

No Kindle lovers… you could read a great American classic on that sun-enabled iPad you call a Kindle. Or you could dive into some magazine article about the proliferation of germs on door handles. But here’s “How To Get Popular On YouTube Without Any Talentright on the Kindle store. Is this a blatant promotion? Yes!

Oh it’s 34 pages long which is pretty beefy even though the image makes it look like a tomb.

What To Do When You Go Viral… Accidentally

So your video of you dog/baby/pratfall suddenly goes viral, and you’re faced with choices… how do you capitalize on the luck?

Can Fail Dog be the next "Guilty"?

I’ve had the pleasure of informally coaching viral lotto winners, from “David At the Dentist” and Richter Scales to the recent Dagfinn (who is navigating his stick the way I manage my career). It’s a small world, and if I’m checking e-mail I’m happy to help a fellow “Viral Video Genius.”

Anyway, here are some of the pieces of pro-bono advice (I never ever ever charge fellow creators) which I’ve provided. In general, the goal is to knock out some important things (getting channel in shape, applying to be YouTube partner, tagging video), enjoy the ride, and hope the 15 minutes lasts.

  1. Get your YouTube channel submitted to become a Partner (I used to help rush that before YouTube scaled back on human contact)
  2. Optimize the video for search. Most viral lotto winners have failed to describe the video, and load the description/keywords with terms that people might use having heard about the clip.
  3. Provide a URL (or Facebook fan page) in the video description with more info and contact information. It’s very difficult to use YouTube’s lousy message system which GOD FORBID they merge with Gmail (I’m on year 4 of that idea). Make sure this hyperlink appears in the truncated description.
  4. Pay attention to, but doubt, the multitude of business propositions. Sure it may make sense to create some merchandise but a) it’s kinda cheesy, and b) It won’t be a drop in the bucket relative to ad revenue.
  5. Pray the viral viewing continues. By my best guess, David at the Dentist has paid for an Ivy League college with his viral clip, which has surpassed 100 million views.
  6. Be open to a sponsorship ($5-$20,ooo) but that depends on timing and the content. It’s unlikely these will keep rolling in, so be selective and more while the video is hot. It’s generally hard to find these… they kinda have to come to you.
  7. If you’re lucky enough to get national media inquiries DO IT. It’s free (except hotel/travel), but it will drive views and intrigue. If you are going to merchandise, here’s a way to promote that subtly. For instance don’t pimp a website, but consider wearing a t-shirt that celebrates your viralicity.
  8. If you plan on creating more videos, then ask viewers to subscribe. Also create a good looking YouTube channel page… otherwise people won’t even think about subscribing… they’ll just think it’s a one-hit wonder.
  9. Post more videos but do not expect anywhere near the views. For proof, check the other videos on any channel that has a viral one. It’s very rare to see, for instance, a second “Charlie Bit My Finger” do anything even close to the first. Still worth trying.
  10. If you want to do some audience development and promotion, check out my free eBook called “How To Get Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent” (version 4). If you really want to get fancy, pick up my real book “Beyond Viral“).
You get typos when you get an eBook cover designed on Fiverr.com for $5

 

How To Behave at YouTube or Other Social-Media Gathering: Vidcon 2011

I really don’t care much for Dear-Abby-wanna-be advice, and I’m somewhat appalled by such concepts as “finishing school.” People should be themselves, but there are certain behaviors (like not sipping your soup from the bowl) that can be selectively adopted to improve the way one “fits in” certain social situations.

This post is kinda a “must read,” and shares 8 major tips on being more comfortable at a YouTube (or other type of social-media meetup). It has some important “extras” on how to interact with someone you regard as “famous.” These points are based on my own feelings of being at gatherings where I’m regarded as famous, which is both exciting and extremely anxiety-provoking. You can help make the “stars” more comfortable, and endear yourself to them by considering these tips. Finally, there’s a list of characters who lurk at gatherings, and you don’t want to be one of them. 🙂

What’s great about YouTube and social media is that you can hang even if you lack personal social skills or comfort in large group settings. Most attendees (except themightythor1212) haven’t attended a live “meetup” with fellow viewers and “stars,” so their natural social anxiety causes them to act in ways that are perceived as odd. The sad result is that they feel “left out” or isolated in the crowd, and end up blaming themselves or others for the lousy experience.

So here are some tips for attending a live gathering of the YouTube community, based on my own mistakes and success at dozens of them. Trust me on this fact: I may thrive on the thrill of a meetup, and may look quite comfortable. In truth, I find them sometimes painfully uncomfortable and exhausting beyond description. So I’m empathetic for those that either avoid them (you know who you are) or come across as looking odd, desperate, egotistical or annoying. I’ve been there.

Tips for Enjoying a YouTube Meetup (or similar setting) and Not Annoying Yourself or Others.

  1. Be Yourself. That seems easy enough, but it can be tempting to morph to the occasion. These tips are not about changing who you are, but rather what attitude you carry and what choices you make.
  2. Resist Hierarchy. As I mention in my atypically long “Is YouTube a Community” video, consider yourself as a member of an egalitarian community. Although some are more recognized, they’re not better or worse than you. You may like some, and loathe others. But we’re all from and returning to the same place where rank doesn’t exist.
  3. Avoid Promotion. Some show up in costume and hand out fliers with your channel name. It’s understandable but awkward. Bring cards, but don’t see the gathering as a place to build your audience via attendees. It doesn’t work well, and you’ll miss better opportunities as a result (like making friends or collaborating).
  4. Float, Don’t Wait in Lines. When you see someone you admire, it’s tempting to wait in a line or linger for their attention. It’s a horrible use of time, and it comes off as needy. Instead, look for natural places to speak to them. Wander through the crowd and start short conversations with people who are just as likely as you to be eager for contact… especially if someone looks shy and alone.
  5. Be Brief, Be Memorable and Be Gone. When you meet someone you admire, be brief. They’re probably overwhelmed, and others are probably waiting for a turn to chat. If you dominate them, you’ll stress them out, and frustrate others. Instead, give them a big smile and introduce yourself.
  6. Reintroductions Are Welcome. Even if you’ve met someone before, it’s possible they don’t recognize you. We all meet so many people at these events, that it’s hard to remember people. I always appreciate it when someone briefly refreshes me on their name, instead of assuming I remember them. It’s very painful to be in a conversation desperately trying to recall to whom I’m speaking. And don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t remember you. I once told The Gregory Brothers, “I’ve always been wanting to meet you,” and they responded with “we’ve already met.”
  7. Respect “Inside Groups.” If a crowd of YouTube creators are getting together for a meal or drinks, be careful about assuming you’re invited. It can appear elitist, but sometimes they want to hang out with people the know, and feel “stranger drain.” Don’t take it personally. I go out of my way to ensure that I’m not “glomming” into a spontaneous sidebar event (drinks, dinner, lunch) even when I am invited by someone I know well.
  8. On Meeting “Stars…” This is important, since many are probably motivated by the chance to see their favorite YouTube “star” in person. So these points are specific to meeting someone “famous.”
    • Treat them as a neighbor. These people aren’t famous. You just recognize them, and they’ve been seen many times. They’re projecting confidence, but they’re probably feeling far more awkward than you. Help them out.
    • Be original. Most people who meet them shout their name, or mention their most popular video. It’s refreshing when they hear something new. Mention an obscure video that you liked. I’m always more happy to talk about some ancient video versus “Farting in Public.”
    • Be cool. Thank them. Most people they meet are seeking something, and a simple acknowledgement of their effort/talent is refreshing.
    • Be brief: See tip 5 above about brevity. If you value an autograph, get one. But to non-celebrities that feels weird as much as flattering. Photos are fun to take, but asking them to do a custom “shout out” on video won’t really help grow your audience.
    • Watch for cues. If their eyes are shifting or they begin walking away, let them run. There’s usually a few odd balls that we discuss during or after the gathering, and you don’t want to be one of them. There’s nothing more wonderful than the words, “I can see there are a lot of people that want to meet you, so here’s a business card (or channel name) and it was a pleasure meeting you.”

Here are some character types that you don’t want to avoid becoming:

  • The Watcher: She meets a star, and then stares at him/her. It’s as if she’s watching a video instead of meeting a person. She forgets that she’s interacting with a human not a video.
  • The Attention Seeker: He’s got an odd outfit on, and he’s pimping his channel. He’s “memorable,” but it’s not a fond memory.
  • The Personal-Space Violator: He stands uncomfortably close for a period that feels like eternity. He probably has bad breath.
  • The Fame Troll: He resents the stars, and gazes upon them with disdain. He doesn’t realize that the star is far more uncomfortable about the fame than he is resentful.
  • The “You Don’t Recognize Me?” Lady: She’s in disbelief that more people don’t know who she is. She expects everyone she’s met to remember her, and is likely to quiz you about her recent videos to ensure you’ve been watching.
  • The eMail Martyr: He wrote his favorite YouTuber an e-mail and didn’t get a response. He’s taken it personally, instead of realizing that it’s impossible to keep up on e-mail.

Finally, have fun and feel good about yourself. Don’t over think the situation and trust your instincts unless they’re poor. If you want a REALLY good book about being comfortable in social situations check out “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds.” It’s a horrible title (“make” people like you) and I felt very superficial by buying it. But it has some wonderful advice based on neurolinguistic programming. There are ways to put someone at ease (mirroring their own demeanor) that can be a gift to yourself and the person with whom you’re interacting.

10 Commandments For YouTube Cause Marketing

The Social Media for Nonprofits conference series kicks off in SF w/ @kanter, @GuyKawasaki & @jdlasica. bit.ly/lWLDQO #nonprofit #nptech

http://socialmedia4nonprofits.org/

Perfect timing for what I’d planned this week… The 10 Commandments for YouTube/Viral Marketing for Causes and Non-Profits…

1. Though Shall Not Stop With Text. If you blog, also vlog. Use video to simplify your message, and to SEO optimize it. A good video travels farther than great words.

2. Honor Thy Description. Pack cause-related videos with dense descriptions and tags, and links to websites placed prominently where they can be seen in YouTube’s truncated description.

3. Useth Thy Stigmatized Words Too. In thy language, be true to the “right” way to speak about thy cause. BUT also use words people actually search. If you’re promoting equal rights, add politically incorrect terms too.

4. You Shall Not Carry Thy Message Alone. Find those with large YouTube audiences who share your non-profit’s mission. Ask them to carry your message in their own voice. Expect not your boring video to be found and go viral.

5. Be Not Boring. In Title and Thumbnail Especially. A non-profit need not be dull. If humor, dancing, song and shock aren’t appropriate… than use emotional videos to promote sharing. Use metaphors or images to reach the hearts of viewers. Be bold, controversial, kind and uplifting. Don’t paint a hopeless situation. Fire people up with how close we are to solving your challenge, and find an entertaining way to ask them to help you reach the nearby finish line.

6. Ask Not Just For Money. Social currency is as important as cash. Just like asking for a token amount ($10) ask viewers for small gestures. A “like,” comment or “favorite” on a video is a donation that will help many others find the video, and that may be worth more than the non-social currency you call cash.

7. Focus Not on The Viral Video Idea Alone. Don’t stop with video ideas that you think may fly. Focus instead on getting the video seen via as many social mediums as possible. Ask your Facebook friends to share them, and highlight other videos related to your non-profit (even the “competitor” counter intuitively). Rather than do one “big” video, do many, many that are customized to various audiences and stakeholders.

8. Get Input Before Campaign. Ask people who are immersed in the medium for ideas. Even if they have none, they’ll be more likely to share your final work because they have “buy in.” It’s harder to say “no” when asked to spread a message if you’ve already provided some ideas before the message was cooked up.

9. Use Thy Coalition To Reach Webstars. YouTubers are bombarded with direct pleas, and begin to ignore messages (especially those via YouTube mail). Ask your advocates to reach out to YouTube “stars” via Twitter and Facebook. What top Tuber can ignore dozens of pleas mentioning his/her ne and a cause or non-profit? We all search our names on Twitter at least daily.

10. Time Thy Campaign to Project4Awesome. This Fall program spawned by the Vlogbrothers is the annual cause-awareness initiative on YouTube and even the least-viewed videos are usually seen more than the best-produced cause videos.

SFGate to YouTube Star-Wannabees: It’s Asymptotical.

Sorry, online-video stars of 2011 and 2012. Seems your future is “asymptotical,” according to this report by SFGate titled “Inside Google’s Boot Camp for Viral Video Stars.” The New York Times covered the recent program for the “chosen” YouTube Partners that were selected as YouTube NextUp winners (see explanation of program).

Yeah I had to look that word up too. In fact the only reader of WVFF who’s likely heard of “asymptotical” is StalkerofNalts, a mathematician who helped me monitor my own inappropriate use of the word “exponential” (something I apparently misused in Beyond Viral).

According to Wolfram Math World, the term asymptotic means approaching a value or curve arbitrarily closely (i.e., as some sort of limit is taken). Aline or curve A that is asymptotic to given curve C is called the asymptote of C.

Indeed the odds of becoming tomorrow’s YouTube star are somewhat remote, but don’t let that discourage you, friend. I’ve watched with delight as many creators have gone from obscurity to six-figure salaries that exceed the earning potential these people would likely make otherwise. You just need patience, persistence, some talent, and an insatiable thirst for fame and social interaction with your viewers. Here’s the presentation I gave at YouTube’s “boot camp,” which is a bit of a malapropism (definition) considering the lavish food the YouTube Next peeps were fed.

Go get ’em tiger! Get my book, read the free eBook (How to Get Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent) and commit to grandeur.

 

More Advice from YouTube “Stars”

This is part two of a series featuring direct advice from YouTube “stars” about what keeps them going. In part one (click to read), we heard from Brittani Louise Taylor, Rhett and Link, and Charles Trippy.

Now let’s thank four more of the most prolific and prominent YouTube creators: Michael Buckley, Venetian Princess, MysteryGuitarman and Happyslip. They’ve shared — in their own words — what keeps the “fire burning in their bellies.” I believe they’re all profiled in Beyond Viral (I frankly haven’t read it), but this is new perspective on how they’ve continued to stay fresh. We can learn a lot from these people who aren’t just early sprinters, but marathon runners of this medium.

1. Michael Buckley

He’s the host of “WhatTheBuck,” and one of the most participatory YouTubers around. You might have read about him last fall in Advertising Age. What keeps him spankin‘ and rolling?

Michael Buckley hosts "What The Buck" on YouTube

a. JOY:
First and foremost, JOY. I know that is a gay answer! HA! But I still LOVE YouTube as much as I did when I became a “YouTube Star” back in 2007. Obviously, YouTube is very different now but I still love it so much and take great JOY in making videos and engaging the community. I am grateful every day that this is the life I am fortunate enough to lead. I LOVE MAKING VIDEOS! I LOVE YOUTUBE! This is the greatest career you could ever have!

b. MY SCHEDULE AND FORMAT:
YES! This is a big one that keeps me going! I think being on a SCHEDULE and having a set FORMAT has made it easier for me to stay on track. I never stop and think “Oh what should I make a video about?” – which I imagine would be stressful if I didn’t have a set format. Some people might tire of this but for me I thrive with the structure and consistency of it. My format is not ideal in 2011 YouTube and maybe someday I will tweak it but I enjoy it.

So yeah- that is a big part of what keeps me going. Having a schedule but then being able to flexible with it when I need to be is a luxury that I do not take for granted.

c. I LIKE MY VIDEOS AND FIND ME FUNNY! HA!
This is going to sound like a strange answer and it’s a personal one- that maybe I shouldn’t share- and may sound dumb – but – I think I am very funny. So when I think “What keeps me going?” – I think about how much I enjoy writing What the Buck. I love love love writing and making jokes and filming it and when I watch it back- I think it is very funny. (Which reminds me of 2006 when I would have a video up with 60 views and 4 comments – I didn’t care if anyone was watching –I watched it 60 times and thought it was hilarious!) So I am very motivated to come up with funny jokes and see if I can deliver them in a humorous way. I think you have to like your own videos or you are screwed.

d. LOOKING FORWARD:
I don’t look back. I don’t sit around and think “Oh I wish YouTube was small like it was in 2007” or “I wish I was the big fish I was back in 2008” which I find a lot of YouTubers who lose their motivation find themselves reflecting back to “when they were popular”. I just look forward and remained focused on creating my content. I am never threatened by other people becoming successful on YouTube. I am happy if my success inspired anyone and I am inspired daily by so many people on the site!

e. THE MONEY:
Getting paid to do something you love is the cherry on top!

2. HappySlip

Happyslip parodies her family and has more than 700K subscribers

 

She’s one of the first YouTubers with whom I “collabed” and she’s been at it before YouTube was on the map.

“For the videos, I try to focus on what entertains me, what entertains my family and friends around me.  That is what I started with and I suppose it is a niche that will always have a loyal following.  The audience definitely varies in demographics and most are not tweenies who live on their computers ready to devour their new subscriptions.  Without that first huge burst of viewers that descend upon a new upload, the videos don’t make the homepage and therefore the snowball that used to accumulate so fast and large just accumulates at a slower pace.

So some of the reasons that keep me going:

  • I would make videos or entertain people even if I weren’t paid.
  • I remind myself constantly that my value doesn’t come from YouTube #s or income that is coming in.
  • I try to focus on what makes my content unique rather than try to make similar videos to other popular creators. (at the same time, I try to throw in some non-filipino vids which are just subjects that inspire me or make me laugh)
  • I only pay so much attention to comments on the videos, and definitely don’t read them if I’m in a bad or fragile mood haha.”

3. MysteryGuitarMan

MGM is one of the most-subscribed YouTubers and has gone from living in the back of a van to living in the front of one. How?

Joe Penna has been making videos since the dawn of YouTube (he wrote my theme song when he was living on Ramon Noodles), but he vanished for a while and returned with a parade of hits. How has he endured as one of the most-subscribed YouTubers?

“It’s tough to keep going. Back in 2010, when my channel was growing rapidly, I went through various phases. I had a phase where I played music with random objects, where I did a bunch of different music looping videos, a bunch of crowd-sourced videos, etc.
Nowadays, for example, if I post a stop motion videos there will be at least one comment with dozens of thumbs up saying “you’re boring! stop making stop motion videos!” If I post something different, I’ll get at least one comment with dozens of thumbs up saying, “you’ve changed! the reason I subscribed is for the stop motion video!
The same goes for any of the little phases I went through. I responded about 4 months ago by posting this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=SMJhcn0t8kI (check it out at 2:19).
I think what keeps me going is that the feedback I get is almost always overwhelmingly positive. I just chalk it up to me having a channel where it’s not the same format every single time. There have always been and there will always be the vocal minority who won’t think my latest video is up to par with whichever video they found me, or who won’t agree with something new I’ve started.
That’s why I’m on YouTube. To experiment. To create something new. You can come along for the ride, if you so wish. If not, good riddance.

4. VenetianPrincess

She's picked herself up several times, but has continued making videos since she was 8.

Her song parodies have been seen more than 330 million times, and she’s one of the most-subscribed female YouTube musicians. But she took a break and rebounded.  

“Last year I took a hiatus from YouTube, and pretty much all other internet platforms.  I was dealing with family medical issues, I bought a house that ended up being a nightmare, and then I got hit with those copyright claims on my videos which really took the fun out of making videos for me.  I was so upset about it, because now I would have to totally rethink all my material and a lot of the video content I had already shot for parodies were now useless.  So I took a long time off.  From June 2010 – February 2011, I didn’t make any big videos. I’d do a small crappy video here and there, but my full-on productions were now out the door.  I was too bummed out which made me lose my creative spark and I needed to step away.  Because of my viewers, I managed to stay up there on the charts as top female for about two years.

It took 4 months of no videos to finally push me down the charts, which I knew was inevitable.  In all honesty, numbers never really meant that much to me.  Sure, it was exciting to get a lot of views.  But all I really cared about was a) having fun and b) having people that would watch my videos.  The whole “beating Miley Cyrus” thing was a campaign I did for fun because I knew my viewer demographic was into her. When I got hit last year with all of the difficult stuff on YouTube and in real life, I lost all of my drive.  I needed to take time away from YouTube and rethink everything.  Coming back to it this year, I have a completely different view of it.  Of course, YouTube changed ALOT since I left too.  The most viewed and subscribed lists are not as significant as they used to be.  The lists are now all buried and very hard to find while navigating the site.

Another thing I noticed is that everyone and his brother does parodies now.  I think I was one of the first YouTubers doing music video spoofs.  Now it’s like 3 hours after a new music video comes out, there are already 20 parodies on YouTube.  It wasn’t like that before, which played to my advantage.  Now I’m just another spoof channel, and the one-woman-show thing that used to appeal to people is now not as cool as full-on casts with production crews.  I’m a big fan of Key of Awsome myself, so I can totally understand.  It just goes to show how YouTube keeps evolving.
I now approach the site with a new perspective.  Youtube has become almost too big to think of it as a community anymore. I see it now like each channel has it’s own viewer base and I just focus on creating content for my audience.  I have learned that if I am enjoying what I am creating, the majority of my viewers will pick up on that and enjoy watching it.  If I push something out just for the sake of putting a video up, it’s going to show.  Again, numbers never motivated me to create.  But at the same time, my pay is dependent on those numbers.  So I try not to think about that.  I find that if I just do the videos that make me happy, they will do well enough to continue paying the bills.  And I’ll still be able to say I love my job.
Here are some things I do differently now that keep me going:
  • I only allow myself to read the first page of comments.  Usually they are from subscribers and are positive, so they leave me feeling positive about the video when I close out & leave the computer.
  • I post videos that I know I would enjoy watching.  I’m not going to post something just because it tends to my demographic.
  • I don’t watch as many YouTube videos as I used to.  It’s inspiring to watch other tubers do their thing, but watching too much YouTube can be unhealthy.  (And talking about it too much can annoy friends and family lol).
  • I’ve discovered vlogging.  I have a different channel (Skydiamondz) where I post vlogs a few times a week of my real life.  It’s a nice way for me to make videos that don’t take a hundred hours to make.  I shoot it on my iphone, edit for like 10 minutes, and poof it’s uploaded and viewers get a glance into my life without the all the lights and glitter they see in my parodies.  It’s a different kind of experience for me.
  • I’m active on twitter and facebook, it’s a great way to connect with my viewers in a different environment.  I can post video-related topics on my facebook page and get instant feedback from them.
The other thing that is important to mention is that I’ve been making videos since I was 8 years old.  Making the costumes, experimenting with special effects, the whole shebang.  So with or without YouTube- I’d still be doing this on some level.  I’m just blessed to now actually have a lot more than 4 people to watch.  🙂
Big thanks to these four… if it’s one thing more impressive than enduring new-age talent it’s the folks willing to share their tips.

 

 

NextUp YouTube Winners in NYC

So the NextUp YouTube winners are in NYC right now… receiving loads of love from Google/YouTube. It made me happy seeing the next generation of amateurs… and to see that Google/YouTube still encourages them even while commercial content is on the rise on the world’s second-largest search engine.

I was invited to speak to the 25 of ’em, and here’s my presentation. If you were one of the wanna-bees, don’t fret. I asked if they’d be picking a new crop 3 times until I got the answer I wanted to hear… yes.

After I cranked this presentation out, I realized I’d been billed as the marketer. So this deck actually represented only half my time. During the rest I decided to play the role of an amalgamated product director, and I replaced my “Nalts” hat with a blazer. I asked them to pick a product (they said Coke), then I proceeded to explain my goals, hidden agendas, beliefs about YouTube and my understanding about product placement and sponsorship. I couldn’t help but point out that Coke gives out free products on the streets of NYC but no swag to people that have hundreds of thousand views daily. Hmmmm.

I told them I wanted to sell more Coke so I could become Chief Marketing Officer, and that I was mostly concerned with reach, frequency and single-minded proposition. I wanted to leverage emerging media, but I deferred YouTube spending to my media agency. And I wouldn’t know how to begin to tap YouTube creators… frankly I’d be scared they’d harm my brand (as a product director, of course, I wouldn’t realize I could review/approve any sponsored videos).

Lots more detail in my free eBook or Beyond Viral, which you really should just go ahead and buy. And dont find any thpelling erars.

 


Video Secret: How to End Your SNL Skit

What was the best season of SNL you can recall? Wait let me ask it a different way: which of these years did you like best and why:

  • the Belushi years
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Dana Carvey
  • Chris Farley
  • Tina Fey

And why is it that 85% of the best potential comedy fail one one singular account? What’s the missing ingredient that could have made a funny bit a “Cowbell” moment? The fuckin’ ending. The same is true with speeches, movies, books, television, human interactions and online video.

Good people know how to start and carry a conversation. Great people know how and when to end one.

That ends today’s abbreviated lesson. But if you want to read one of my most important and stream-of-conciseness posts, click “more”

Continue reading “Video Secret: How to End Your SNL Skit”

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?