The Top 11 Must-Know YouTube Tricks for Marketers

The Top 11 Must-Know YouTube Tricks for Marketers

These days, video is very important for most businesses. If there’s one thing that we all learned during the COVID-19 lockdowns, it’s that just about anything can be done remotely. This includes functions like virtually trying on clothing or beauty products. Similarly, consulting and other services are frequently delivered online these days.

However, there’s another aspect to the move online. Since people are still less likely to go to the store than they once were, online sales are more important than ever. One of the things that makes customer education and “trying things out” possible in our digital world is video.

Since YouTube is the king of marketing video, it is critical to any marketer. Unfortunately, this also means that catching a customer’s attention is more difficult than ever. If you are just uploading videos without taking advantage of these YouTube tricks, you are missing out on the potential of YouTube marketing for your business

Why You Need to Understand These YouTube Tricks

YouTube lets you record a video, and then simply upload it, right? Well, technically, yes. But you won’t get the same results as you can with more strategic posting. Similar to other social networks, YouTube has a lot of functionality that might not be as intuitive or easy to understand.

However, if you understand these tips and tricks, it can help boost your YouTube marketing. Some of them will help draw people to your videos, while others will help keep people watching. In addition, a few of these tips will help you stay compliant with YouTube rules and other legal requirements.

1. Create a Branded YouTube URL

You have everything else branded, why not your YouTube URL? With a branded URL, you can choose the address that people go to in order to reach your YouTube account. For many brands, the custom address chosen will be their corporate or brand name. On the other hand, an influencer or solopreneur might use something that sets them apart. In the case of a food channel, for instance, they might choose “superLAfoodie.” Or it could be something catchy, like the title for their channel if it isn’t their name.

Unfortunately, not everyone can create a custom URL. Google requires that you have at least 100 subscribers and meet several other criteria before going this route, so starting out everyone must use the default URL. Setting one up is easy (just follow the directions at that link), but once chosen, it can’t be changed. With that said, it’s one of the more effective YouTube tricks for branding.

Further Reading: A Complete Guide to Branding for YouTube Creators

2. Make and Share an Auto-Subscribe Link

Believe it or not, there are other ways to convince people to subscribe to your channel then typing “like and subscribe” and nagging them during every video. Enter…the auto-subscribe link. When someone clicks on this link, it will immediately direct them to their own YouTube account-and the “subscribe” button is already selected for your channel. All they have to do is click “confirm subscribe” on the popup, and they’ve subscribed.

This is a great option, because it takes the work out of subscribing. Typically, a potential subscriber must find your channel or a video on YouTube in order to push that magic red button. However, with an auto-subscribe link they can do this from anywhere on the Web. It’s one of the most effective YouTube tricks out there.

To leverage the power of these links, your first step is to create one. This is easy: simply get the URL of your account, then add ?sub_confirmation=1 to the end of it. Once you have created the link, you should share it everywhere. For instance, you can add it to your website to go with the YouTube icon, or something similar. Here, the options are endless. Share it enough places, and you’ll get a lot of new subscribers.

3. Take Full Advantage of Cards and End Screens

With all the content on YouTube these days, it’s often difficult to keep people watching your videos. And often, the YouTube algorithm doesn’t help because they suggest competing videos on the same topic. Luckily, one of the great YouTube tricks to improve viewer retention on your channel is the use of video cards and end screens. As I explained in a prior post, there are several types of these cards. I also give clear instructions on how to insert one.

But why should you do it? Cards and end screens make it easy for people to view the next video. These can be related videos, links to a referenced video, and more. You can also make cards which encourage people to subscribe to your channel. In addition, some cards can be added for branding purposes.

Further Reading: YouTube Video Optimization: Simple Tricks Beginners Can Implement To Rank Their Videos

4. Add a Custom Subscribe Button to Videos

Would you like to improve your branding, and at the same time boost subscriber count? It’s easy with a custom subscribe button on YouTube. Like custom subscribe link, these watermarks in videos take the guesswork out of subscribing. Unlike those links, however, they only display on your videos. With that said, the person is watching, right? Often, getting someone to your YouTube channel is a major part of the challenge. Besides which, this YouTube trick adds an extra touch.

As with YouTube cards and custom URLs, setting up a custom subscribe button is a snap. In this case, you’ll open up the YT creator studio. Then, you’ll go to the branding section and follow the prompts. For many channel owners, choosing the image to go with this subscribe button is the hardest part. However, for corporate channels the usual choice is your channel or brand logo. You can find more about the process here.

5. Blur Objects or Faces in a Video

This is one of the YouTube tricks that can help you stay compliant with both legal considerations and the terms of service. Recently, YouTube released some restrictions on using people’s faces and personal information without permission. However, even without these rules, it can be a pretty bad idea for your brand to do things that violate other people’s privacy. To that end, if you have an employee that doesn’t want to be shown, you can still use video with their face blurred.

Here’s another situation where blurring can be useful: when you need to obscure objects. For instance, you might want to hide the soda can in the background of a tutorial video. An item like this displays brand names, and it could theoretically cause problems from that other company. Short of this, however, displaying other brands, even in a subtle manner like this, can detract from your brand message.

Luckily, blurring objects and faces is easy. YouTube includes this option in their native desktop video editing tools. Besides this, you can use video editing software that you control. Either way, be sure to download your finished product before uploading it.

6. Download and/or Use Royalty-Free Sound Effects and Music in Your Video

The days of using pirated music on YouTube and never getting copystriked are over. Even if this was something that you could still get away with (it isn’t), doing this isn’t a good look for your brand. However, using sound in your video greatly enhances viewer experience. Even if you only add it to the beginning and end (because you’re talking), this makes your video more memorable.

Fortunately, there’s more than one way to add sound effects and music to your video. First, many video marketing tools offer sound libraries, which you get to use royalty-free. For the most part, these are editing tools, so you don’t have access to them directly from YouTube. In most cases, the music is royalty free for subscribers. If in doubt, always check so you don’t get a nasty surprise bill.

However, there’s another option: the audio library on YouTube. This can be reached directly, or accessed through the creator studio. They have a wide variety of songs that have been licensed to YouTube for creators to add. This way, you don’t have to pay extra to access great sound effects or music. And since the music is royalty-free, there’s no reason to be concerned about cost.

7. Create Playlists to Collaborate and Increase Engagement

If you have a lot of closely-related videos, then this is one of the better YouTube tricks. Simply put, so long as your videos aren’t made for kids you can make them part of a playlist. These are a labeled series of videos that automatically play one after another.

Of course, the videos in a playlist don’t have to always be from your channel. Instead, you might mix it up with sister brands. Or, you could use this as an influencer collaboration opportunity. In that case, you’re letting an influencer mix in their videos with yours, or curate an awesome group of videos that includes yours (and not necessarily theirs).

Similarly to many of the other tips here, setting up a playlist is easy. To start, you’ll click on the menu underneath the first video you want to add. Then, you’ll select “save to” and then “create new playlist.” After creating and naming the playlist, you’ll be able to add new videos by saving them to that playlist. Playlists are visible in YouTube searches and analytics.

8. Create a GIF from Your YouTube Video to Share on Social Media

Let’s be honest: GIFs are just plain fun. You never know what clever people are going to add to them in the way of commentary. But most of us haven’t thought of the GIF as a way to advertise a video. Luckily, if you follow these steps, you’ll find that creating a GIF is easy. Then, you can share them anywhere and everywhere. Plus, you never know what will become viral and increase your exposure.

9. Create Links to Start Your Video at Certain Times

It’s nice when people want to watch your entire video. However, this isn’t always practical. Sometimes people need-or want-to just get down to the point. That’s where one of the most clever YouTube tricks comes in: links that start your video at a particular time stamp.

These are relatively easy to create. Go to the YouTube video you want to start late, and then select “share.” In the popup box, select “start at” then designate a time stamp. Click OK. Then, copy and share your link. It really is that easy!

10. Download a Thumbnail Image of Any YouTube Video

Want to visually represent your videos in other places? Download a thumbnail! Depending on whether or not this is YOUR video, the process is a bit different. But either way, it is easy to do, if you follow these directions from VidIQ. Again, this is a great option for sharing user generated and influencer content. Just make sure you get permission.

11. Use These Keyboard Shortcuts to Make Your Time on YouTube the More Efficient!

Finally, let’s look at some things that don’t affect user experience, but do save you time. Since we marketers are the epitome of the saying “time is money,” using keyboard shortcuts to save some time is a great way to reclaim extra ROI. Best of all, unlike all the other YouTube tricks, you don’t need to activate them. You can find a list of those shortcuts on the Google help site.

Although it’s often tricky to navigate the competition faced by brands and YouTube creators, there’s plenty of help available. Not everything depends on your editorial calendar. Rather, by leveraging these tips and tricks, you can be more efficient and effective on YouTube.

Hero photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

If you are just uploading videos without taking advantage of these YouTube tricks, you are missing out on the potential of YouTube marketing.
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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.
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