- Add emotion to your thumbnails
- Post videos regularly
- Do livestreams
- Collaborate with other YouTubers or influencers
- Optimize your titles
- Grab attention with Shorts
- Focus on searched keywords
- Create playlists
- Engage with everyone you can
- Polish your calls to action
- Promote the subscribe button everywhere you can
YouTube Promotion Tactics: Let’s Go!
More than 2.6 billion people use YouTube every month.
YouTube is the second-biggest search engine in the world.
Is it any wonder that standing out on YouTube is hard? Really hard?
That’s no reason to despair! If you believe in your videos, and if your YouTube channel offers valuable, relevant content to your target audience, then you need to double down on promoting your YouTube presence. It takes time and persistence, but that’s what it takes to be seen and to gain subscribers.
Check out these 11 tactics for promoting your YouTube channel and building your viewer audience and engagement:
1. Add Emotion to Your Thumbnails
The thumbnail image of your YouTube video is your best opportunity to capture the viewer’s attention. As they scroll and scroll (and scroll…), the thumbnail image is critical for enticing that click.
Apart from featuring in YouTube’s search results, your custom thumbnail will also be used as the preview when someone embeds your video on their site. So it’s important to keep a few rules in mind. Here’s what Google recommends for your thumbnails:
- Resolution of 1280X720 (minimum width of 640 pixels)
- Use image formats such as .JPG, .GIF, or .PNG
- Stay under the 2MB size limit
- Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio
There’s much more to consider beyond the tech specs though. To be truly effective, the thumbnail must capture the viewer’s heart or mind. It must make them stop scrolling for just a second and compel them to watch. How? By driving emotion.
This is not as easy as it sounds, and will depend greatly on the content of the video. Your thumbnail can be funny, exciting, intriguing, or irreverent, as long as it triggers an emotional response. Check out the example below from TwoSetViolin, the popular Australian duo of young classical violinists. In this thumbnail, they convey a range of emotions including disbelief, suspense, and cynicism, expressed through the image as well as the caption “Is this a joke?”. The video title gives more information about the video content, yet leaves it open ended, piquing the viewer’s curiosity. It’s no wonder the video has over 3 million views.
It’s absolutely worth investing some time in creating and testing different thumbnails to see what works with your audience. Don’t rely on YouTube’s auto-generated thumbnail option – you’ll do far better getting a bit creative and making the effort to stand out.
2. Post Videos Regularly
The best way to promote a YouTube channel is by providing a regular, reliable flow of great video content. You need to give your audience a reason to engage with your channel, and you can’t do that by posting just once in a while.
A regular video series gives potential viewers the perfect reason to subscribe to your YouTube channel. If they know what to expect, such as a video on a certain topic, presented by a regular host on a set day or time every week, they will be more likely to subscribe. A good example is the Whiteboard Friday series by Moz, the top channel for SEO marketers. By providing helpful content in a familiar and effective format on a regular basis, they keep internet marketers coming back for more.
3. Do Livestreams
Nearly a third of people aged 16 to 64 watch at least one livestream every week. During the COVID pandemic, more than half a million channels livestreamed for the first time.
Livestreams are growing in popularity because they are a really effective way to engage viewers, connect with them in real time, and build your channel’s reputation as an influencer and thought leader. Livestreaming is also incredibly authentic – you’re live online with your audience, no editing possible! For YouTubers who have already built up an audience, livestreaming a Q&A of audience-submitted questions is a great way to create a dialog with viewers.
You don’t need an expensive setup to do a great livestream. Just a stable internet connection, your authentic self, and your awesome content are all you need. Just like Dana K. White of A Slob Comes Clean, who engages thousands of viewers with livestreams on topics around de-cluttering and home organization.
4. Collaborate with Other YouTubers or Influencers
A great way to tap into potential audiences is by collaborating on videos with like-minded influencers whose viewers might be interested in your content too. Let’s return to de-cluttering personality Dana White – she ran a Q&A session with the women behind The Minimal Mom and Clutter Bug to discuss how to get your house in order and to promote their joint course, “Take Your House Back”. Videos like these are an awesome method to engage and interact with viewers, and gain exposure to a broader viewership than you would in a regular video. Finding the right people to collaborate with will take some outreach and effort but definitely pays off.
5. Optimize Your Titles
When potential viewers are searching YouTube, it’s your video title that’s going to do a lot of the work of grabbing their attention. Yet creating engaging titles is not as simple as it might seem. Firstly, make your title descriptive but keep it short enough that it won’t be cut off when displayed. If it does get cut off, make sure it does so in a way that creates curiosity, like in the example in #1 above from TwoSetViolin. Above all, make your headline exciting and interesting, but don’t resort to clickbait-y effects. And don’t forget to include keywords for search, preferably in the first half of the title.
6. Grab Attention with Shorts
YouTube Shorts are short-form videos of up to 60 seconds, filmed on a smartphone and designed for TikTok style biteable content. Launched just 2 years ago, Shorts are a huge hit, with over 5 trillion served so far on YouTube! Viewers love this quick, catchy format that they can consume on their mobile phones, so make sure to get in on the action and start uploading Shorts to your channel. Check out this example of a compelling and so watchable Short by Jimmy Darts, the kindness influencer:
7. Focus on Searched Keywords
A key tactic to promote your YouTube channel is getting your videos ranked high on search engine results pages (SERPs). There are several video SEO optimization techniques to help improve your search rankings. But the best place to start is keyword research so you can create videos around popular keywords in your niche.
For example, let’s say you do a Google search for “cool dance moves”. If your Google search gives you a lot of video results instead of just text listings on page one, then you know you’ve pinpointed a great keyword to work with. You may want to try related queries such as “awesome dance moves” or “cool dance skills” to see where you may be getting results that are even more closely related to your video – and potentially less competitive to rank for. Once you’ve created your video around the best keywords, don’t forget to optimize the video title, video description, and video tags accordingly.
8. Create Playlists
There are several reasons why grouping your videos into playlists is a smart strategy. Playlists organize your videos by topic or theme, so it’s easier for people to understand what your channel is all about. Playlists also make it easier for viewers to find the videos they want to watch. Playlists are important for SEO too. Because playlists consist of a collection of videos, they are full of keywords, giving you a better chance of ranking higher. The playlist description should include keywords that can open up new search opportunities.
With playlists, you can curate the next videos you want your viewers to watch. That’s one less click a user has to make to see more of your content.
Experiment by including some videos that you didn’t produce, but which are very popular, in your playlist. This way, you can gain viewers who are searching for high profile videos, and who may just stick around to watch your stuff as well.
9. Engage With Everyone You Can
Engagement goes both ways: if you want people to engage with you, you’ve got to engage with them. This can mean responding to comments, subscribing to other users’ channels, creating response videos, running contests for viewers, collaborating with other brands, and anything else you can dream up. YouTube is in many ways a social media community, and as with any social media, your engagement needs to be real-time, relevant, and genuine. Engaging directly with audiences will keep people coming back and create a loyal viewer base. Engaging and collaborating with other brands will expose your videos to a whole new audience. The more you understand YouTube to be a two-way engagement portal, the more successful you’re going to be in the long term.
10. Polish Your Calls to Action
Your YouTube videos have a goal, whether it’s to promote your brand, build your influencer profile, or convince viewers to visit your website. However, if someone watches your video and then just leaves, it may be a sign that your call to action is not strong enough.
There are several actions you can prompt viewers to take in your video: subscribe to the channel, watch more videos, like or share a video, or leave a comment. YouTube has several options for including CTAs within a video to encourage viewers to take one of these actions. Here they are:
This is a style of video where the presenter talks directly to the camera and tells people what to do next. In this video example, at the 4:30-minute mark, you can see the presenter telling the audience, “Let us know in the comments down below.”
Start of video CTAs
Did you know that the highest level of viewer engagement is during the first 10% of a YouTube video? That makes placing your CTAs early in the video a very good idea. You can add a subscribe link or reminder in the first part of your video, so even if the viewer doesn’t make it very far, you can still prompt them to take the action you want. Check out the example below from The Body Language Guy – he asks viewers to click Like or subscribe at just 23 seconds in a nearly 10-minute video.
End of video CTAs
Another tactic is to place links at the end of the video providing viewers with options of what to do next. For example, in the Screen Junkies video below, the final screen shows two related videos to watch next, a link to subscribe to the channel, as well as a standout viewer comment to increase interest and engagement.
Video descriptions are not just there to boost the SEO of your YouTube video. It is also a space where you can provide CTAs and links to your website, link to web pages of relevant products you are selling, social media accounts, and more. Invite people to click and connect with you. Below is an example of a video description section from Dutch singer and songwriter Floor Jansen:
11. Promote the Subscribe Button Everywhere You Can
This may not seem too advanced, but it’s a must, so we’re adding it here. Be sure to include a subscribe button and link in your video description, video CTAs, on your website, blog, email newsletter, email signature, social media accounts, and anywhere you come into contact with potential viewers. Find ways to make your videos cohere with your other content and leverage those assets to convince the audience to subscribe to your channel.
One last tip…
Hopefully, the 11 tips above will give your video promotion a kickstart or the boost you need to keep your subscriber numbers climbing.
If you’re one of the thousands of marketers, bloggers, or brands worldwide who use a YouTube channel to promote your product or business, there’s another powerful video advertising tool that you can use.
It’s native advertising.
With Outbrain native ads, your videos are recommended on premium publisher websites like CNN, Sky News, Vox, Der Spiegel, The Daily Mail, and more. Go on, try it. Which content marketing tactics are you using to promote your YouTube channel and increase your YouTube subscriber base?