27 Tips for Promoting YouTube Videos (That Actually Work!)

by Team Caffeine · 3 comments

promote youtube videos

[Tweet “"Time, energy, and talent can be more important than budget." – Scott Harrison”]

Over the next couple of years, 90% of web traffic will be from video. That’s not our prediction. Cisco said it.

But with four days of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, getting attention for your brand’s video can seem like an impossible task.

The good news is that over a billion users visit YouTube every month, watching an average of 6 hours worth of video.

Catching just a tiny percentage of this viewing share can be massive for a small business. And by tiny percentage, I mean a tiny percentage. To get 100,000 views on a thirty second video, all you need is 0.0000001% of YouTube’s monthly views.

Now that doesn’t sound too difficult, does it?

In this guide, we’ll show you what it takes to get a ton of traffic to your brand’s YouTube videos. We’ll cover the basics and give some advanced tips, so stick with us, as you’ll likely learn something.

Make a Stunning Video

It sounds like common sense, but it needs to be said. Not any video will draw a crowd.

You’d be surprised how many people expect their fuzzy, crackly video of a mumbled interview with their CEO to be the next YouTube blockbuster. Unless said CEO is Steve Jobs, and the video is a lost home-video gem from the 1970s, that’s not going to happen.

You must create a video people want to watch and share. The key is in the sharing. Ask yourself this: if we went back to pre-Youtube days, would people be recording VHS videos of what you’ve made to share with their friends? Would people be willing to pay for what you’ve made?

That’s the level of quality you must aim for, both in your production values and storytelling. Are your videos fun to watch? Do they make viewers laugh, or give them an “aha” lightbulb moment?

In short, you want everyone who watches your video to think: “My friends will love me if I share this with them.”

Insert Clowns, Elephants and Fire Jugglers

Nellie the elephant might have packed her trunk and said goodbye, but if you want your videos to attract views, you need to say hello to the circus.

A circus, by its nature, draws a crowd. What can you learn from the circus when you’re creating videos to draw a crowd?

  • Be exotic. Circuses pull people in because they’re different. It’s not every day you get to see dancing horses, sword swallowers, or stupid stumbling clowns.
  • Get people talking. When the circus comes to town, you can’t go anywhere without someone asking you about it. “Have you been to the circus?” Make your video unmissable and conversation worthy.
  • Establish controversy. Not everyone loves the circus, and the controversy around the circus’s presence helps keep the circus flowing. As far as the circus is concerned, all publicity is good publicity. Anything that draws a crowd helps. That said, some criticisms of the circus – such as animal cruelty – have a firm foundation. Don’t make videos that compromise your values, or that would put your brand in ill repute.
  • Follow established formulas. While the circus is exotic, it always follows a similar formula. When you go to a circus, you know what to expect. Likewise, when creating videos, following an established formula for success gives you the advantage. Look out for viral videos in your niche, and see what works about them. Then use that in your own videos.
  • Build up the anticipation. Before the circus comes to town, they plaster every clear wall with a poster. Back in the day, they used to parade through the city streets. We’ll come to promotional tactics later, but be aware that viral videos are rarely a completely organic phenomenon. To get the flames roaring, they need someone to put their foot on the gas.

More Tips on Spreadworthy Videos

Aside from mimicking the circus, what else can you do to make your videos eminently sharable?

  • Keep them short. As we get more and more overloaded with information, attention spans are fading away. Just look at Twitter Vine with its six second videos, and Instagram with its 15 second clips. Short is on trend for a reason. Short videos are more likely to hold attention. Thirty seconds or shorter is ideal.
  • Don’t make an ad. It’s totally okay to mention your brand in your video, but don’t make your video about your brand. Most people want to avoid ads, not share them.
  • Maximize value. Your videos should be valuable in some way to your audience. They can be informative, teaching viewers something new; inspirational, inspiring viewers to feel good; or entertaining, giving viewers a laugh.
  • Quality matters. Low-quality videos can go viral, but if you want to give your video the best chance of success, create it with high production values. Make it HD quality with professional style lighting. Sound matters too, so if you’re planning to make lots of videos, invest in a decent microphone.
  • Can people find it?. If your video is hidden away in an obscure corner of YouTube’s library, that’s your fault. Let’s look at how to give your video prime real estate, so people who want to watch what you have to share can find it.

YouTube SensationalismInfographic courtesy of HostGator.

How to Help People Find Your Video

For a video to go viral, it first has to get attention. If you’re lucky enough to have big hitters with massive audiences as friends, then you can get attention fast. All it takes is a few emails, and your video’s out there for the world to see.

For the rest of us, we’ve got to make sure our video is easy to find. Let’s say you’re the founder and CEO of Smith’s Fresh Foods, a small town grocer making videos to get the local community to support your business. You’d also be very happy with wider attention on your campaign. You want to become a destination shop.

You decide to put together a series of videos on how to prepare meals, drinks and snacks with fresh fruit and vegetables. Your first video is on squeezing fresh juice from citrus fruits such as oranges.

You upload it to YouTube and call it Smith’s Fresh Foods Video 1. After all, it’s the first video you’ve made, and that seems like a good way of categorizing videos. Just like everything in your shop has its own code.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you’ll struggle to get views with a title like that. Even if it’s the best produced, most hilarious and charming video in the world on homemade fresh orange juice, you’ve got a big problem in that no one’s going to be able to find it.

What else could you call it? Perhaps you know a bit of net lingo, so you opt for LOL! Hilarious video, you must watch this. Now, that’s a call to action isn’t it?

Again, you’ll struggle to get views. For one, people don’t trust businesses to evaluate the funny content of their own videos, so you’ll come across as self-promotional and inauthentic. For two, the title says even less about what’s in the video compared to your first choice. At least your original title had the words “Fresh Foods” in it.

So what should you do?

Title your video with exactly what’s inside. A video on making fresh orange juice could simply be called “How to make fresh orange juice” or “How to prepare DIY orange juice at home”. You can do a little bit of keyword research if you want to find the perfect title (Youtube’s keyword tool is helpful here), and you can also teach yourself how to write attention grabbing headlines. But as a general rule, know that your instincts are good if you’re describing what’s in the video in terms of how it will help or entertain your audience.

You don’t need to include your brand name in the title. This won’t be relevant to most viewers, and if you’ve branded your video correctly, people will discover who you are from watching. Also, your YouTube account should be your brand name.

Your title isn’t the only thing that matters when you’re naming and describing your video. You should also:

  • Name your video file. By default, your camera will name your video file something like DSC3511.avi. Before uploading the video to YouTube, rename the file to reflect what’s in the video. To continue our previous example, you could call the video “how-to-make-orange-juice.avi”.
  • Add a thorough description. We recommend writing at least 2-3 paragraphs outlining what’s in your video, and adding any supplementary information (such as the juicer you use and recommend, or a link to the full recipe, or both). A long description helps Google and YouTube decide whether your video fits matches search terms. The longer your description, the more search terms you’ll match. Also, write your description like a blog post, in a personable, no nonsense style. Tell a story about what happens to your video.
  • Tag your video. Any tag is better than no tags, but the more relevant you can make your tags, the better. As with titles, you can use the YouTube keyword tool to find the best tags. You can also browse popular videos in your niche and see which tags they use.

Notes on Keywords

Knowing how people search for videos like yours is the key to picking up organic views. With the right keywords in place, the people who need what you’re sharing in your video will stumble across it on Google and in the YouTube search bar.

Choosing keywords is more of an art than a science. Good instincts help, as does knowing your audience and the language they use.

Fortunately, help is at hand. YouTube includes a keyword tool, which suggests search terms based on the monthly search volume. For obvious reasons, the keywords with the most searches are the best to use.

However, there can be occasions to use obscure keywords, as long as they’re relevant to your niche and your audience.

As a final tip for searching keywords, type the main keyword of your video into YouTube’s search bar. The search bar’s autocomplete function will show you the most searched for phrases connected to your keyword.

 Top 10 Ways to Optimize Your Business YouTube ChannelInfographic courtesy of Brafton.

More Promotional Tips

Once you’ve created a stunning video and laid the foundations for success with a title, description and keywords, what else can you do to pull in more views?

We at Team Caffeine are a generous bunch, and here our our top tips:

  • Ask your followers, fans and friends for help. As soon as you post your video to YouTube, spread the word about it on Facebook, Twitter and to your email list. The sooner you share it the better. If you pull in the views early, YouTube will sit up and take notice, and is more likely to put its promotional clout behind your video.
  • Blog about your video. Every-time you create a new video, include it in your latest blog post. That way, your blog subscribers will add to your viewing stats.
  • Encourage people to subscribe to your YouTube channel. In the video description, ask people to subscribe to your channel, and give them a good reason to subscribe. How will it benefit them to keep tabs on all your latest videos?
  • Add a YouTube Subscribe Button to your website.  Recently, YouTube created a subscribe button you can add anywhere to your website. Perfect for getting more channel subscribers!
  • Post responses to popular videos. If you come across a viral video that’s relevant to your brand, post a video response. It’s an easy way to jump on the wagon of success.
  • Make playlists of your videos. Then your biggest fans can sit down for an afternoon watching everything you’ve ever created.
  • Interview the big hitters. You know those annoying people in your niche who have thousands of YouTube subscribers and tens of thousands of views on their videos? Instead of seeing them as the enemy, get them on side. Conduct a video interview with them, and post it to your YouTube channel. Ask them to promote the video to their subscribers.
  • Use annotations. You can use annotations to link one video to another. This helps boost your overall view count.
  • Add transcripts. Typing out a transcript for your video takes time, but it allows you to reach a global audience of non-English speakers, because YouTube translates your transcript to create international subtitles.
  • Autoplay your Featured Video. YouTube allows you to feature a specific video on your channel homepage. Additionally, you can set this video to autoplay whenever someone visits your homepage. Each autoplay counts as a view, boosting the view count for your video. This is a little tricksy, but if numbers are what matter to you, it helps.
  • Make more videos. The more videos you make, the more traffic you’ll pull in, and the greater your chance of going viral with one of your creations.

Related Reading

3 Tips for Maximizing YouTube’s New Layout for Brand Channels

The 2013 YouTube Marketing Guide

5 Tips to Design the Best YouTube Channel Page

9 Tips to Maximize YouTube’s Marketing Potential

101 Ways To Make Money with YouTube & Web Videos

Your Turn!

How do you promote your brand’s videos on YouTube? What are your top tips?

[Tweet “"Products that are remarkable get talked about." – Seth Godin”]

Lori R Taylor is the founder and executive editor of Social Caffeine. In 2009 she started her own direct response focused social media agency, REV Media Marketing LLC, coining the phrase given by her young son, “You bring the rain, we’ll make it pour.” Follow Lori on Twitter.

David is our acting editor. He’s British, but we don’t hold that against him.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chester Field July 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

Thank you for all these tips. I am already seeing an improvement! http://youtu.be/4GC3Y0DeKQY


elvis navarro September 14, 2015 at 12:08 am

great tips very useful thanks


Manasa Boggaram April 7, 2016 at 7:20 am

This is a brilliant post. It consists of all the relevant information I need to achieve viral success on YouTube. The infographs especially are very insightful. Please do read my video guide on ways to successfully promote YouTube videos. I have compiled a list of video tutorials to help enhance visibility for your channel. Read here: http://blog.promolta.com/how-to-promote-your-youtube-videos/


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