Launched more than a decade ago by tech-savvy entrepreneurs Steve Shen, Chard Hurley and Jawed Karim, YouTube is the world’s leading video-sharing website. According to the internet traffic analysis company Alexa, it’s the second-most popular website in terms of traffic. Every day, millions of users access YouTube to watch more than 1 billion hours of content.
Because of its unmatched and ever-growing popularity, YouTube has become a powerful marketing channel on which business owners can promote their products, service and brand. But if you’re planning to use YouTube for commercial purposes, you should avoid making the following mistakes.
Disabling Likes or Comments
You can disable likes and comments on your video by navigating to YouTube’s Video Manager and selecting “Edit,” followed by “Advanced Settings.” Some business owners assume that it’s best to disable these items, believing that it will prevent negative comments and dislikes. While true, disabling these items also prevents positive comments and likes. Furthermore, studies show that YouTube videos with likes and comments are more likely to rank high — in both YouTube and Google — than their counterparts with few-to-no likes or comments.
Trying to Go Viral
Wouldn’t it be great if your marketing videos went viral on YouTube? When a video goes viral, it can generate tens of thousands views (or more) in a very short period of time. The problem, however, is that there’s no way to guarantee a video will go viral. You can spend countless hours crafting what appears to be the perfect viral video, only to discover that it generates the same amount of traffic as your other, non-viral videos. So, stop trying to make viral videos and instead focus on producing stellar content that’s relevant to your target audience.
Using a Pre-Defined Thumbnail Image
When uploading videos to YouTube, the platform will automatically create several thumbnail images from which to choose. The thumbnail image you select will be displayed in YouTube’s search results when a user searches for your video. Unfortunately, these pre-defined thumbnails don’t always match the content of the respective video. And if the thumbnail isn’t relevant to the video’s content, it may discourage users from watching it.
You can upload your own custom thumbnails, however, by performing a few simple steps. First, you’ll need to verify your YouTube account by accessing the Video Manager > Channel Settings > Verify. Next, you’ll need to become a partner by accessing Channel Settings > Monetization. Finally, to add a custom thumbnail image to your YouTube video, go to Video Manager > Edit > Customized thumbnail, at which point you can select and upload an image from your computer.
Not Optimizing Video Titles
The title is perhaps the single most important element of a YouTube video. Using a relevant and catchy title will draw users to your video, enticing them to click and watch it. On the other hand, an irrelevant or otherwise poorly structured title can hurt your YouTube marketing efforts by discouraging users from watching your video.
Keep in mind that YouTube limits the number of characters in video titles to 100 (including spaces). For maximum visibility, though, it’s best to keep your titles under 70 characters. This way, your titles won’t get truncated in the search results.
Using the Default Channel Layout
Don’t make the mistake of using the default layout for your business’ YouTube channel. While there’s no rule stating that you must use a custom channel layout, doing so allows you to reinforce your business’ brand by displaying elements such as your logo, tagline, color scheme, etc.
Check out this article by Entrepreneur for a step-by-step walkthrough on how to customize your business’ YouTube channel layout.
Not Tracking Analytics
Another common mistake business owners make on YouTube is not tracking analytics. If you don’t know which videos generate the most traffic and highest level of user engagement, you won’t be able to optimize your YouTube marketing strategy. Therefore, you should get into the habit of tracking your video’s analytics on a regular basis.
To review your videos’ analytics, access the video page you want to analyze and click the view count arrow on the bottom right. This will expand the statistics menu, revealing key performance indicators (KPIs) of your video. Some of the KPIs available here include total views, comments, likes, favorites, audiences and YouTube honors.
If you really want to succeed on YouTube, you need to continuously upload and publish new videos. If you aren’t publishing new content, there’s no reason for users to follow your account; thus, your channel will become stagnant. So, don’t just publish a few videos and call it a day. Continue to publish new videos to your YouTube channel, covering a wide range of topics that are relevant to your target audience.
Avoiding these mistake will increase your chances of success on YouTube. Additionally, though, you should consider other video-sharing sites and networks.