What are the core practices for video marketing? How do we optimize for discovery, watch time, and shares? How do we engage influencers? Author expert Greg Jarboe shares video marketing best practices in this OMCP podcast.
The OMCP Online Marketing Best Practices Podcast is where top authors and industry leaders share authoritative best practices in online marketing which are covered by the OMCP standard, competencies, and exams. This is an OMCP pilot program that may continue based on member interest and support. Stay subscribed to the OMCP newsletter to get new episodes.
Episode #4 covers Content Marketing Video Optimization on YouTube with Greg Jarboe in 33 minutes. Recorded November 21, 2016.
Michael: All right. Welcome back to the OMCP studio, and with us today is Greg Jarboe, publisher, author, columnist, speaker, instructor at Market Motive and at Rutgers University and President of SEO-PR. Greg is a master of video marketing and content marketing practices, teaching these to some of the largest brands in the world. I am your host Michael Stebbins, and today we will be discussing content marketing strategies for video sharing channels. Greg, welcome to the OMCP best practices podcast. Thank you so much for being here.
Greg: Not a problem Michael. I mean, you asked, I came. It’s not a big deal.
Michael: I love it. And boy, you and I have worked together for over a decade and taught together a few times. I’ve seen you at the podium as an authority at industry conferences for years. But in this session, we’re gonna get down to the best practices for video sharing specifically for YouTube. So before we get started for those few who haven’t read your books or attended your classes or heard you speak, tell our audience who you are and what is it that you do?
Greg: Well, so the full name is Gregory Michael Jarboe, but the only one who uses that was my mother. And so, if you use the whole name I know I’m in trouble.
Michael: Get your attention there.
Greg: Yeah, most people just call me Greg Jarboe and I’m the president and co-founder of SEO-PR. We started that company back in 2003. And I write a weekly column for Tubular Insights which is formerly known as real SEO. And the latest post just went up today, it’s called “How brands can make the most out of Christmas video marketing.” I also write for a couple of other blogs. One is the SEM Post and the other one is called INKED. I’m an instructor at the Rutgers Business School executive education program. I’m the video and content marketing faculty chair at Simplilearn. And I recently spoke at VidSummit 2016 in Los Angeles and my presentation was titled ” Schmooze Optimization: How it increases views, improves engagement and boosts earnings.”
Michael: Sometimes a schmooze is what it takes.
Greg: Well, schmoozing hasn’t gone out of fashion. There’s a whole lot of new technology that’s come along but schmoozing actually hasn’t been replaced.
Michael: And a lot of traditional marketing actually applies to today’s marketing and you and Matt Bailey and others are the people who are helping marketers realize that. So in your work, I know you’ve helped countless businesses, set up a strategy for content, video marketing, and you’re considered an authority on the process. Like it or not Greg. So outline the best practices and steps for us and then we’ll walk through them one by one.
Greg: Okey doke, here’s the thing that puzzles people but let me try to…I’m gonna oversimplify it but frankly it will put a whole lot of other things into perspective. So video sharing has grown in popularity over the last 10 years. And a few key players have really emerged sort of in the space. Now each one has its own best practices and platform capabilities, in other words, what you do on, let’s say, YouTube isn’t necessarily gonna work for you on let’s say Facebook video or Instagram video or Snapchat or anywhere else. So in this particular podcast let’s just take a look at the best practices for one of those channels. It’s been the leading channel for a decade, it’s called YouTube.
And YouTube is weird.
YouTube is both the world’s second largest search engine behind only Google, in other words there’s more searches done on YouTube each month than are done on Bing or Yahoo or Baidu or you name it. But YouTube is also the world’s second largest social media. It’s behind Facebook. It’s way ahead of Instagram or Twitter or any of the other social media platforms. And because it is both a search engine and a social media site, the search side can help you discover a video and then you watch it. And then sometimes you decide, wow that’s a really great one, I think I’m gonna share it with people. So best practices for a site that can be used both for discovery as well as for sharing is what makes YouTube particularly interesting. So the best practices that I’m gonna share with you today fall into both of those categories.
Michael: And for those who are studying for the exam, a lot of the standard for OMCP came from Greg’s original courses and from his book. We’re going to try to categorize those into the steps for the competency standards which include
- optimizing for discovery
- optimizing for watch time
- optimizing for sharing, and
- deploying tools and practices to interact with your target audience which includes
- identifying the right influencers
- finding the right engagement tactics, and
- measuring the performance of your programs.
So winding all the way back to optimizing for discovery, Greg, walk us through, what are the steps to get the most out of that?
Optimizing for Video Discovery
Greg: Well, finding videos in a YouTube search is similar but very different than let’s say finding content in a Google search. And so, early on YouTube had to struggle with if somebody is looking for a relevant video, how do we do that? Well, one of the things that YouTube does very differently than let’s say Google, is they put a lot more emphasis on metadata. Now metadata for YouTube means your title, your tags, and your video descriptions. And if you want them found in YouTube search you need to do your keyword research. And then you need to make sure that your title tags and descriptions are optimized. And let me just focus on one of those, descriptions, which is the thing people overlook the most. In YouTube, the description can be up to 5000 characters long. That’s like somewhere north of 800 words depending on the length of the word that you’re using. But think about that for a second. That is a long description. Most people put up a video with maybe a sentence or two and they call it a day. And it turns out they’re basically leaving keywords on the table. If you can write a long description and it can be anything from a transcript of what’s being said in the video to more background information about what the video is discussing, all those words can help that video get discovered in a relevant search.
Now the second thing you have to do beyond getting your metadata in shape is you have to be really careful about what your thumbnail is that you select that is presented in those search results. In the old days, YouTube would give you three random images and you would just pick one. Today you actually can create a customized video thumbnail. And I encourage people to do that because we have seen that, that little picture that is next to your title in the search results can encourage people to click on you instead of listing ahead of you or behind you. So pay attention to it. You wanna include a few well-placed annotations or Cards on your video. Now Cards is the newer technology, it’s like deck of cards, C-A-R-D-S. It’s replacing annotations. But basically, this is text that you put on top of the video after you’ve uploaded it. And it can do anything from say, watch my next video on this to let’s go visit my web site or this particular landing page on my website over there. So the words in your annotation or cards can also be optimized. You can use playlists. Now playlists can take an existing group of video…so let’s say you’ve created half a dozen videos on a particular theme. You can put them together in a playlist and then give that playlist a title, give that playlist a description and that title and description can also be optimized. And guess what, when someone does a search in YouTube, not only do quote individual videos come up in the results but playlists can come up in results. And if someone starts watching your playlist they don’t watch just one of your videos, they may watch several including all six of them that you sort of package together. So you get more benefit by creating a playlist and optimizing them.
And then last but not least, you can optimize your channel. And what does that mean? Well, your channel name has probably already been selected. So you can’t change that but you can certainly change the description of your channel and that can include relevant keywords. And guess what? Channels come up in search results on YouTube along with playlists and individual video. So all of those can be optimized. Now this doesn’t actually help you in the optimization part of things, but one of the other things, since we’re talking about channels for a second that you can do, is you can select other channels to be featured on your channel. That’s sort of off to the right rail. But guess what? That is a great way to make friends in the YouTube environment and sometimes those friends will say, hey, so-and-so included me as one of their featured channels, maybe I should include them too. And that can send traffic back and forth. And that’s the huge benefit even if it’s not necessarily an optimization tactic.
Michael: I think it qualifies. Greg, it’s just being friendly and sometimes people are friendly back. It actually sends traffic that does boost discovery. And once we’re discovered, folks are getting in our channel. The next thing is what do we do to keep them glued to the video? How do we change our watch time?
Optimizing for Watch Time
Greg: Well, one of the interesting things that YouTube does from time to time is they change their algorithm just like Google does. And in the most recent change that basically changed everything that we used to do is this emphasis on watch time. Watch time is now the most important part of the YouTube algorithm. And what does watch time? It no longer takes a look at did you view the video? Because what’s a view? If you watched it for three seconds, is that a view? If you watched it for 15 seconds is that a view? What about 30 seconds, is that a view? So what watch time does is look at how long you watch the video and then it goes beyond that to say, oh, by the way, when you finished watching this video did you go and watch other videos, either on your channel or somewhere out there on YouTube as well? So they’ll look at a session watch time as well, and that is not something that keyword research will help you with. What you really wanna do to optimize your watch time is, first of all, create a compelling opening to your video. You don’t want people popping out of there after a few seconds saying, this is corporate propaganda. I don’t wanna watch that. That will kill your watch time faster than anything else I can think of. Secondly, it comes down to effective video editing. Are you gonna hold that audience and have them watch all the way through to the end? Now this is where you can also use annotations or links because you can put those on top of let’s say parts of the video where you can say, hey, look, there’s more coming, stay tuned, keep people engaged.
One of the interesting things that you’ve got to think about twice is I mentioned earlier that you can link to your website. Well, if you link people to your website, then guess what? Your YouTube session just ended. And so, it may have a perfectly good marketing goal and you may wanna do it but you need to also then sort of weigh that against the okay, but it’s gonna have a negative impact on my watch time. So let’s use this judiciously, let’s send people to my website or basically in the watch time only when I have a really high likelihood of converting that person. You wanna build your subscriber base. Why? These are loyal viewers. And basically, a subscriber is notified, you’ve got a new video up, they may wanna watch. That’s a great way to increase your watch time. Loyal subscribers can get you farther faster than anything else I can think of. To the extent that you can, you can involve your audience in your videos by encouraging them to comment or to interact with you, and you should interact with them. I can’t tell you how many people just upload a video and walk away thinking they’re done. They’re not, hang around for the next 15 to 20 minutes because interacting with some of your first commenters shows people that you care about what they think. And it encourages other people to comment. That is a great best practice.
Michael: And commenting actually draws out the viewing. Is that just because it has increased interest or it shows credibility in the video? What pulls people in?
Greg: Well, among the other elements of the YouTube algorithm is engagement. And so, YouTube will look at how many comments that you get. They will look at how many times your video gets liked, how many times your video gets shared. How many times watching a video leads to let’s say, someone to subscribe to your channel. All of those are signals to YouTube that this was an engaging video. And that’s another ranking boost in the algorithms. So, again to the extent that you can interact with folks because it’s a good community practice but it’s also good for the YouTube algorithm. And then again, creating playlists is a great watch time optimization tip. And one last idea that I’ll share is this, if you can, create a schedule. I’m gonna upload a new video every- pick it-Wednesday afternoon and stick to that schedule. And let people know, by the way, new videos are uploaded here every Wednesday afternoon. Give people a reason to come back. And by the way, when people come back one of the other elements of the watch time algorithm is, are you the first place they go to in YouTube before then they go and watch videos somewhere else on the channel? And so, being that entry point gets rewarded. So to the extent that you can create subscribers do that, to the extent that you become the first thing that they’re doing to get into the YouTube ecosystem. You get rewarded for that too.
Michael: Greg, one of the things that really helps us get our videos into the right hands is having amplified or having other people share it. Can you walk us through some of the best practices for optimizing for sharing?
Optimizing for Sharing (or Amplification)
Greg: I can and they have shifted dramatically over the years. I mean, think about this, when YouTube first came out the biggest social media out there was MySpace. So surprise, surprise, things change. And then for a lot of years the biggest place where most videos got shared was Facebook. And now Facebook is competing with YouTube with Facebook video. So one of the things that you’re gonna wanna do, one of the tactics that you’re gonna want to take advantage of is the community that is on YouTube already. And so, there’s a whole lot of new tools that you can take advantage of, one of which can pin comments to the top of your feed. You can also give hearts now to your favorite comments, you can, by signing in your user name gets highlighted in color so that people can see that you’re interacting with people. You can even choose a moderator if you can’t do the commenting yourself. But you can officially select someone to have that capability. And if you need to you can blacklist certain words or phrases, if you let’s say are subject to trolls or hate speech, you can certainly clean that up in ways that you couldn’t in the old days. And you can actually hold potentially inappropriate comments for review. Now you’re gonna wanna review them quickly because if they merely say, you know what? This video ran a little too long. That’s okay. That’s great feedback. There’s no reason to quote try to censor all feedback. That’s the wrong signal to send. But again, you be the decider there and take advantage of the community on YouTube. People forget, it is a social medium. It is a video sharing site. And yes, yes, yes. You can certainly share it in a lot of other places including Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Pinterest and Reddit and you name it. But take advantage of the YouTube community first.
And there’s even a new community tab on your YouTube channel. And even if you haven’t uploaded a video today, let’s say, you’re only uploading every Wednesday, use that community tab to keep your community engaged and involved. You can talk about somebody else’s video. “Hey, have you seen so-and-so video? It’s on a similar topic. I found it really compelling. Check it out.” And again, you’re making friends in the YouTube universe and you’re keeping your audience engaged even in between your own video uploads.
Michael: And it comes back to engaging your colleagues as well. If we’re talking to our colleagues and people see us as part of that conversation they may wanna check out our channel, our videos, and feel comfortable sharing those. If people know that Greg Jarboe and Michael have a good relationship in the online marketing world, they may check you out in that relevancy, and that authority can actually transfer.
Greg: True, true, true.
Michael: All right. So I know that we’re going to get to how to identify influencers and some of the engagement tactics but are you willing to take a little foray into talking about some of the tools that are available to help us target an audience?
Target the Right Audience (Tools and Influencers)
Greg: Yes, yes. There are a couple that we’ve used over the years. Unfortunately, there used to be some that YouTube made available like, Fan Finder. And then when YouTube shut down…not, YouTube didn’t shut it down. Google shut down Google Plus, Fan Finder went away too. So the tools that we now use aren’t found in YouTube. One of them is called BuzzSumo. There’s a free version of it. There’s also a subscription version of it that can help you identify people by topic and you may wanna let them know that your next new video is up if it’s a relevant topic. There’s another tool that we’ve used a lot called Traackr, T-R-A-A-C-K-R. It’s a different spelling than most. But the company is based there in San Francisco. And I liked their tool because they helped define influence three different ways, not only by reach, how big is the influencer’s audience? But also by resonance, which is what kind of ripple effect does this influencer have? When they say something do they get lots of comments, likes, and shares? And third, by relevance. Nobody is an influencer on all topics. So which topics do they have influence in.
And then, last but not least, I also been using a tool from Tubular Labs for the last year. And it can help me identify video influencers, particularly on YouTube but also on Instagram.
Michael: And any other ways that we can start identifying the right influencers to engage?
Greg: Well, again, who is right for you is gonna be different than who may be right for somebody else. And so, let me go back to that Traackr criteria. In my mind, I think they’ve got right defined correctly in that it needs to have somebody who does have a big audience. In that sense, micro influencers are just that. They are influencing a really small audience. But there are a lot of times where it’s really beneficial to influence macro influencers. And to the extent that they’re relevant, that’s…I can’t tell you how many times where I’m pitching a story and someone says, “Have you ever read what I do. Have you ever watched what I publish because this is totally off topic?” So relevance is huge. And last but not least is resonance. There are a lot of people who think they should be an influencer. And let me give you an example, Kim Kardashian, just give her \$10,000 and she will tweet about anything. Why? Because she’s an influencer. Does anybody pay attention to what she tweets? Does it actually move the needle for anyone? No. Everyone knows she is for hire. So again, resonance is also an important criteria. So those are the right people to target. Now once you’ve figured out who they are, there are things you have to do as a result. You need to be relevant. In other words, only pitch the right people at the right time. You need to give them some kind of value. In other words, don’t waste your time telling them, “Hi, we’ve just appointed a new director of marketing.” It’s like excuse me, who cares? Maybe, the director of marketing’s brother-in-law, but frankly, that’s not a big story everyone wants to jump on. And last but not least, you have to be genuine. You need to be you. Do not fake who you are. Do not be…the term in the industry is called Astroturf, which is, this isn’t a real grassroots movement. I’m pretending to be somebody. I’m fake grassroots effort. There’s just too much of that that is going on. People see through it and it’ll hurt you.
Michael: It’s a great way to burn a bridge, too. I mean, you’ll get discovered eventually if you create false relevance, if you will.
Greg: Yep, yep. And there’s a whole lot of those folks who created false relevancy up through let’s say the end of the election and are now being discovered. Well, okay, ha-ha-ha, they fooled everyone through the election. But trust me, never again, never again. They’ve destroyed that tactic for a long, long time.
Michael: It’s a small well-connected world, relationships run deep. So Greg, once we’ve used tools and found our influencers and engage them by being relevant, providing value and being genuine, we need to measure…and I know you teach this, we need to measure the performance of our programs. What are some steps to make sure that we’re measuring properly?
Greg: Well, the temptation is to use the measurement that the platform gives you. And so, the first thing that YouTube made public way back in 2005 when it was initially in beta was how many views did this video get? So, everyone wants to say how many views. Well, riddle me this question, how many views do you need to sell a car?
Michael: It’s different for everybody.
Greg: Yeah, yeah, yeah. In other words, views may be the metric that you are given easily, it’s not necessarily a metric that matters. And again, even YouTube walked away from views as a metric and started using watch time because what is a view these days?
Michael: I sense an analogy to measuring hits on a website.
Greg: Oh, please, yes, yes, yes. In fact, there’s other ones in advertising, impressions. Or GRPs or there’s a lot of bogus metrics running around out there. So the tool that I like actually was suggested by a friend of ours named Avinash Kaushik. And Avinash wrote a post that some people forget. He put this one up way back in 2011 and he deviated from his normal conventions at Occam’s Razor, his blog, and said, “Normally I just blog about things that are real that you can do today. Instead today, I’m gonna blog about what I would like to see.” And he outlined the right way to measure social media. And then a little company came along called True Social Metrics and took Avinash’s idea and built a tool. And what their tool does is they measure things that you may not have heard of but they are the right things to measure. And don’t take my word for it, go back and read Avinash’s original post.
One of them is called the Conversation Rate, and what the heck is that? Well, it’s not the number of comments that you got per se, it’s the percentage of views that then ended up generating a comment. In other words, what’s that percentage rate? Because that’s your conversation rate. And if you put up a video and nobody comments, excuse me, you didn’t start any conversations, did you? And if you’re not starting any conversations, excuse me, that’s not social media.
A second metric that he came up with is called Amplification Rate. And that’s not just a measure of the total number of times your video gets shared, but again, it’s a ratio, it’s how many shares per view did I get? Not everyone who’s gonna watch my video is gonna share. What’s that percentage?
And then the third one is the Applause Rate, and that’s the number of likes. Not how many likes, because too many people focus on that, but what’s the percentage of views that then generated a like.
And when you start looking at those three metrics, all of a sudden you now know whether your social media campaign has actually started creating a ripple. And then this wonderful little tool, True Social Metrics, enables you to link to your Google Analytics. And if you’ve set the appropriate goals whether they’re macro goals or micro goals in Google Analytics and there is any economic value attached to any one of those goals, they too can be integrated back into True Social Metrics, so you can see this video on that topic not only generated conversations and amplification and applause, it generated money. And that then allows you to have the metrics that you need that YouTube doesn’t give you yet, that Facebook doesn’t give you yet, that Twitter doesn’t give you yet. But frankly, every marketer needs.
Michael: Greg, thank you so much for walking us through this. I know that we focused mostly on Google’s YouTube as the largest video search engine out there. Some of these do apply to other platforms and some of them do not. But what we’ll hope to do here, Greg, is if you’re willing, we’ll do a follow-up for some of the other video channels in a second podcast. Are you willing to do that with us?
Greg: Absolutely, absolutely. And the good news is that True Social Metrics works across all of those. It will work for YouTube, it’ll work for Facebook, it’ll work for Twitter, it’ll work for your blog posts. It’ll work for your Tumblr account, you name it, okay. So some things like metrics can give you basically the overview of all of them. So keep that one in mind. But yes, some of the other best practices on the other platforms differ. And frankly, that’s because, guess what? The longest video you can have in- let’s say- Instagram is a minute long. The longest video you can have in YouTube is as long as you wanna make it. So again, different practices for different situations.
Greg: Right, That’s correct.
Michael: Well, it’s worthwhile to go back and check out those posts and a lot of wisdom in there as well as Greg’s books “YouTube and Video Marketing an Hour a Day” on Amazon.com. And of course, reach out to SEO-PR at http://www.SEO-PR.com to have Greg’s team assess your practices in video and content marketing.