Start a YouTube Channel. Every day, YouTube users watch over a billion (yes, with a B) hours of Youtube videos, and yet only 9% of small businesses have started their own channels. As YouTube usage continues to soar, the opportunity is just getting bigger for businesses who are ready to jump in.
In this post, we’ll share how to set up a fully optimized YouTube channel for your business, and how you can create compelling video content to engage current customers and attract new ones, too. A basic video marketing strategy on Start a YouTube Channel will help you build your brand’s identity, showcase your products, and connect with your audience in fresh and exciting ways.
Setting Up a YouTube Channel for Your Business
To create a YouTube channel for your business, you’ll need to be logged in to the Google account you want to use to manage the channel.
Having a Brand Account to run your channel, instead of a personal channel, can help you scale because down the line you can add other users to a Brand Account using their Google accounts—no more sharing the login information to your personal email.
Here’s a quick overview of the steps to set up a new Brand Account for your business’ YouTube channel.
1. Visit YouTube while you’re logged in to the Google account you want to use to manage your Brand Account and head to the YouTube Channel Switcher.
2. You should see your personal account, any Brand Accounts you currently manage, and the option to create a new channel.
3. When you click on “Create a new channel,” you’ll be taken to a screen to create a new Brand Account. Give your new Brand Account a name, and click ‘Create’.
4. Congratulations! You’re now the proud owner of a YouTube channel for your business.
Customizing Your YouTube Channel
Okay, so now that you’ve set up a YouTube channel for your business, let’s take some time to get it looking its absolute best.
Here are a few easy steps you can take to give your channel a more professional look and make sure that your customers know how to find you online.
By default, your Channel Icon will be linked to your Brand Account’s profile photo, so to change it, YouTube will direct you to update your Brand Account.
Clicking ‘Edit’ will take you directly to the upload photo screen in your Brand Account.
It’s recommended that your picture should be a JPG, BMP, PNG, or non-animated GIF and 800 x 800 pixels. You should also make sure it displays well at smaller sizes, and in a square and a circle crop, based on the multiple places Youtube will use your channel icon.
Adding channel art is a great way to show off your brand’s personality and create a more visually engaging YouTube profile. Your Channel Art should be under 4MB and at least 2048 x 1152 pixels, although YouTube recommends going with 2560 x 1440 pixels for best results on all devices.
YouTube will give you a preview of each image you load, to show you how it will display on multiple devices. You can also edit the crop of your image.
Details and Description
To unlock all of the customization options for your channel, you’ll need to click the gear icon in the section beneath your Channel Art.
A pop-up titled ‘Channel settings’ will then appear. Look for the ‘Customize the layout of your channel’ option and enable it. Click ‘Save’. You’ll now be given a wider range of options sorted into five tabs: Home, Videos, Playlists, Channels, and About.
Head over to the About tab to edit your store’s details.
Under description, give a brief outline of your store, products, and mission. Keep any core keywords for your store in mind, and make sure to use them in your description to help people find you when they search on YouTube.
Be sure to include your contact email as well. You should also include links to your social media profiles and your store, since these links can be set to appear over your Channel Art and will be highly visible to your audience.
Most of your links will default to just the favicon (the small image that shows up at the top of your browser) but the first link in the lineup will also show the link title, so make the most of those 30 characters like 100% Pure has done with their “SHOP NOW” call to action.
On the right hand side, you’ll find a section titled ‘Featured Channels’ where you can feature other YouTube channels that are owned by your brand or managed by your employees. While this section may not be useful to you yet, once you expand your YouTube presence it will definitely come in handy.
Attracting More Customers with Great Content
Now that your channel is ready to go, it’s time to start thinking about your videos.
Video can be an integral part of your content marketing strategy. It’s a fantastic way to provide your customers with high-quality, informative, and entertaining content that keeps them coming back again and again.
Plus, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, so if you optimize your videos to be found in search, it can also be a great place to connect with new customers looking for what you offer. With that in mind, let’s explore how you can use video to build an audience for your brand.
Here are some of the different types of content your business could be using.
More and more, people are turning to YouTube to learn new things. In fact, searches for “how-to” videos have grown 140% over the past 13 years which means that there is an expanding opportunity for businesses to capture new audiences by providing educational content around their products.
Videos that teach new skills are great for building trust with your audience and nudging them further down the conversion funnel. I recently came across a solid example, courtesy of Retro Supply Co.
They sell retro effects you can use in Photoshop and Illustrator, including brushes, fonts, and more. On their Youtube channel, they focus on teaching viewers how to use Photoshop and Illustrator more effectively. Sometimes that means a step-by-step tutorial that involves using their brushes, and other times it’s teaching tricks like keyboard shortcuts that could help anyone, regardless of whether you use their products.
Not only do their videos help people level up their snowboarding, the how-to content introduces Snowboard Addiction to new audiences via Youtube search.
In terms of alignment with their products, you couldn’t ask for a better example. Snowboard Addiction sell training products and videos to help you improve your snowboarding skills, so there’s a natural progression from “interested viewer” to “happy customer,” thanks to their video content marketing on Youtube.
When it comes to creating compelling video content, few things are more effective than great storytelling. Inspiring videos that fit into your business’ identity are perfect for communicating your brand’s image and ideals to a wider audience.
These types of aspirational videos should be geared towards building a lifestyle around your brand and showing customers that when they purchase your products, they aren’t just buying a thing, they’re buying an experience.
GoPro has become a leader in this arena with a diverse arsenal of YouTube content that builds an identity of adventure, exploration, and adrenaline around their line of action cameras.
From helicopter skydiving to a fireman saving a kitten, their videos showcase the many ways that their customers can use their products to embody the GoPro tagline: “Be a hero”.
Building a YouTube strategy around fun videos that cater to your audience’s interests is one of the best ways to capture viewers’ attention and focus it onto your products.
Vat19, an ecommerce gift shop that specializes in offbeat products, has built an impressive online empire with their engaging, highly targeted content. Their YouTube strategy focuses on building absurdist comedy sketches around their wide selection of novelty gifts to introduce new products to their audience. They’re currently sitting at over 2 million YouTube subscribers which means that this approach is definitely paying off.
One of their most popular videos features a 5 lb. gummy bear being destroyed in a series of slapstick experiments. The video looks and feels much more like a late night comedy show than a traditional video ad, making the CTA at the end encouraging viewers to buy the gummy bear that much more appealing.
While their sense of humor may not be for everyone, their videos are undoubtedly effective. Their gummy bear video has been viewed over 25 million times. Vat19’s approach really shows what it takes to attract attention (and new customers) on YouTube with entertaining and unique content.
Optimizing Your Videos for Search
Staying on top of your YouTube SEO is critical if you want to get your videos noticed. Every minute 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, so you need to be doing everything you can to stand out from the crowd.
Every element of your videos, from the title to the description to keywords, can have a huge impact on how prominently they get featured in search results. Let’s take a look at how you can improve your rankings on YouTube and get in front of viewers when they need to see you most.
Before you start optimizing your videos, you should narrow down which keywords you’ll be focusing on.
Brainstorm which keywords someone might search to come across your video and run them through a keyword planning tool like Keywords Everywhere, a paid browser extension for Chrome and Firefox.
Keywords Everywhere works directly within Youtube’s search bar, and gives you three key pieces of information for each term: the monthly search volume, the cost per click to advertise against that term, and the competition.
To use the tool you need to purchase some credits (1 Credit = 1 Keyword). You use a credit only when you turn the tool “on” to provide search insight data which is visible in the search bars across Google, YouTube, Amazon, and more. $10 should be enough to validate keyword demand before you launch into video production mode.
The suggested search results can also be a solid source of inspiration for future videos. It’s a good idea to experiment with keywords and build future content around popular search terms in your industry.
One of the most important things that YouTube takes into consideration when determining the quality of your video is its engagement.
Encourage your viewers to leave a comment, subscribe, share, or hit the ‘Thumbs Up’ button after they’ve finished watching to increase your chance of showing up higher in search results. If you want to boost your engagement levels, try running a contest. Giveaways and contests are an excellent way to increase viewer participation and connect with your audience.
When YouTube is determining your rank, it will also take your video’s view count into consideration. To kickstart your views, make sure that you’re distributing your new videos through your email list and all of your business’ social media channels soon after you publish it on Youtube.
The format of your video also plays a role in your overall search ranking. Although Youtube can’t watch your videos to determine their content, there are a few other things that it looks at to make an educated guess.
Filename: Be sure to include your target keywords in the name of the file that you’re uploading. Youtube will pay attention to it.
Length: YouTube considers longer videos to be of higher value, so try to make them as substantial as possible—but always balance this with keeping the content valuable, because “watch time” is another key metric for search rankings. If your video should be 2 minutes long, but you stretched it to 10 and viewers drop off after 1, you won’t rank higher just because your video is longer.
Title: The title of your video should be concise, descriptive, and feature your target keyword near the start.
Description: The longer the description, the better. Add as much content as you possibly can: include a detailed overview of everything in your video and any relevant resources that your viewers might need. Your keywords should also show up in your description, with a special focus on getting your target keyword into the first sentence.
Tags: Do your best to include your target keywords and a handful of other associated terms as tags on your videos. Tools like Tube Buddy can give you some insight into the tags your competitors are using on their videos. Tags can help determine whether your video shows up as a suggested video as well, so tagging competitors and people who make related content can be a good use of the 500 characters available for tags.
Tips and Tricks
After covering everything above, you should be on your way to building an audience and maximizing your business’ potential on YouTube.
However, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, I’ve put together some nifty YouTube hacks that you can use to increase your subscribers and generate more traffic for your website.
Add a watermark
A watermark is perfect for driving new viewers back to your channel and encouraging them to subscribe. These customizable images will be overlaid on every one of your uploads and offer a clear and easy way for viewers to subscribe, making it easy for them to hear about your newest videos (and building your subscriber count while you’re at it!).
To add a watermark to your videos, take a look at your channel page and click on ‘Video Manager’. This should take you to the Creator Studio where you’ll be able to access some more in-depth settings for your account.
Once you get to the Creator Studio, click on ‘Channel’ in the sidebar.
A dropdown will appear under ‘Channel’. Click on ‘Branding’ and then ‘Add a Watermark’. You’ll now be able to upload an image that will show up in the corner of every one of your videos.
Enable an automatic subscription prompt
It’s important to not only be driving people to your YouTube channel, but to also be encouraging them to subscribe while they’re there.
If you’ve got an existing subscriber base, like your email list or your social media followers, you can make it easy for them to subscribe to your channel. Whenever you promote your channel to them with a “Remember to subscribe!” call to action, add “?sub_confirmation=1” to the end of your channel’s URL and a pop-up will automatically appear on your channel prompting visitors to subscribe.
Link cards to your website
As long as your account is part of the YouTube Partner Program, which currently means you have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past year, you can add cards that link to external websites in your videos. If you have a Shopify store and you’re part of the YouTube Partner Program, you can use cards to link your viewers directly to your store to buy the items featured in your videos.
Learn how you can further monetize your YouTube channel in our Creator’s Guide to Making Money on YouTube.
Use end screens effectively
When viewers have finished watching all the way to the end of a video, you want to keep them around and make sure they don’t leave without subscribing to your video. YouTube makes this really easy with end screen elements you can layer over the last 20 seconds of your video.
You can add other videos, a subscribe button, or a link to another channel to keep viewers engaged. This is important because YouTube’s algorithm rewards both your total watch time and how long you keep people on the platform, so ideally, you want someone to watch more of your videos.
Here’s how First We Feast sets up their end screens to keep you watching.
They’ve linked to a playlist of videos and a standalone video, both of which will take you directly to something else to watch.
Here’s how to set it up yourself.
- Go to your Creator Studio and select a video you want to edit.
- From the main edit screen, click “End screens & Annotations” along the top menu, which will take you to the end screen editing screen.
- You’ll be able to add four different elements to your screen.
You’ll see that the Link option is not enabled, because on this test account, I’m not yet part of the Youtube Partner Program. Once you are, you can add links to your website as part of your standard end screens.
YouTube can help you grow your business
If you’ve followed all of these steps closely, you should be growing your business on YouTube in no time! Looking for more ways to create and distribute content? Learn how to start a blog.
Have any more questions about setting up your YouTube channel? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to help you out.