Tips for Creating Videos That Get Shared
How do you get people to not just view your videos, but share them?
First and foremost, you have to ask.
But where to put your plea… and how? That’s the million-dollar question.
There are several places where you are allowed to tell people what to do and how to do it. And one of the best ways, according to many successful YouTube producers, is to put a call to action and a link right into your video.
Now, many people do just that: A static URL appears at the end of the video while the presenter is verbally telling people to click on it.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s way better than displaying no URL at all.
In fact, out of all people who display URLs in their videos, 96% include static, non-clickable URLs at least at the video’s ending.
But you need to go one step further than the common herd. What will give you that all-important edge? Being part of the other 4% — the ones that make their links active and clickable. (Golden Rule # 2: “Thou shalt make it as easy as possible for thy target customers to visit thy premises.”)
Removing as many steps as possible is always a good strategy when you’re trying to get people to do something.
By all means still, give that verbal call to action – but reinforce it with a clickable link that will magically take your viewer wherever you want her to go.
How to Put a Clickable Link in a YouTube Video
You can embed a clickable link to your URL right in your video. In descending order of popularity…
- Some people swear by displaying or embedding a link only at the end
- Some people swear by displaying or embedding a link in the beginning and end
- Others swear by displaying or embedding a link in the beginning, middle and end
Whichever you decide, actually embedding links is now easy, thanks to YouTube now supporting video links.
Here’s how to do it.
- Sign in to YouTube, click on your Profile photo and in the drop-down menu, select “Video Manager”
- Check the little radio box next to the “Actions” button, to display all your videos
- Find the video you want to alter. Click on the little down arrow next to the “Edit” button, and choose “Annotations” from the drop-down menu
- Select the Annotation type from the “Annotations” drop-down. For a link, choose “Note” – but you can also spice your videos up with an appropriate Speech bubble, or insert a hot spot using “spotlight”.
- Start typing your Annotation text (call to action) in the text area box under “Note”. Your text will appear simultaneously as you are typing, right within your video
When you have finished, you can drag-resize your text box within the video to the best position on your screen, as well as make it longer, wider, thinner, et cetera. (When deciding where to put it, keep in mind that YouTube advertising hogs the lower portion of the screen.)
- Type in the point (in minutes and seconds) where you want your link to begin appearing. You can use the sliders under the actual video to find the right start point, then manually type in the Start and End into the text boxes.
Allow 8-10 seconds for an average short call to action/link to display. (The longer your call to action, the longer the display time.)
- Be sure to check the “Link” radio box underneath the Start and End time, and press the Down arrow in the “Video” button to select your link type.
Notice that – for now – you cannot link to a website. This is reserved for verified Channels. (And “Subscribe” is only for subscribing to you as a YouTube user.)
- When you have tweaked your link and call to action to your satisfaction, press “Save” and when the Save is completed, “Publish”.
- You can preview your new Annotation to make sure it is active and correct.
For more ideas on how to use Annotations to increase your shares, check out YouTube’s own Annotation Tips.
You can – and should – also add links in other areas. Go to your Dashboard and check “Add Links to your Channel’s Profile”, if you haven’t done the latter already.
Next, scroll down to “Describe Your Channel”. If you haven’t already entered a keyword-powered, dynamic description, click on the double down-arrow; then click on “settings”.
Remember – the description is not about you: It’s about what your Channel is offering your ideal viewer.
Social-Sharing Your YouTube Videos
We’ve dealt with calls to action and links, clickable and unclickable. Now it’s time to add the second vital aid to sharing. And that is… sharing. On your social networks, that is.
The key lies in picking the best method for your particular audience. If you change your YouTube settings so that videos are automatically shared when uploaded, will that please your followers… or will it make people tune them out? How often do you release videos? Are they targeted towards a large enough segment of your social networking connections?
The best time to share on your social networks? When you first upload videos.
There are both pros and cons to allowing YouTube to automatically share content. On the one hand, it’s always released: On the other, personalization always works so much better!
Share your video from your social networks, as well as to them! Embed them on your blog, and ask readers to share your video.
But what about your actual videos? What makes one video go viral… and another shrivel up without a squeak?
Common Characteristics of Viral Videos
The ideal is to create a video that people can’t help sharing. It would be tempting to say that most of these:
- Involve celebrities or cute kids and animals
- Are outrageous
- Are funny
But even if one or more of these criteria are true, there’s always one thing more…
- Viral videos often ask: “What if…?”
And because of that, they are original. They step well outside of everyone’s envelope.
Just take a look at the Drive-Through Invisible Driver video (currently trending like wildfire with 28,916,047 views, at last count).
Here’s how it goes:
- Perpetrator explains briefly what he is going to do – wear a “car seat” costume and pretend that his car is driving itself up to the take-out restaurant window.
- A hidden, in-car camera records a number of reactions from staff members at multiple Drive Through restaurants.
- We laugh WITH the perpetrator, securely in on the joke.
- He finishes by asking people to subscribe.
(Wow. TEN calls to action, if you include the links to three more videos!)
- We are directed to more of his videos – arranged in a series.
There was nothing complex about this video – but the car seat costume was a clever idea, and it makes people laugh. They enjoy being in on the joke.
That’s just one format. Obviously, you can’t use this tactic if you’re making business videos – though it works for British Monty Python alumni, John Cleese, who is now famous for business training videos – but you can make sure your videos contain the basic elements of “Drive Through Invisible Driver”.
You need them to:
- Be short
- Be engaging
- Be fast-paced, with good flow
- Avoid tangents and distractions; focus on one single factor or point
- Contain a brief introduction and a satisfying conclusion
- Deliver on the promise
- End with one or more calls to action, including directing viewers to (a) subscribe (b) the next video in the “series”
Follow this formula, complete with all the right sharing prompts – and your video may end up being featured in top video magazines as this one was (“What’s Trending” and “Huffington Post”.)
Should You Advertise on YouTube?
Any YouTube user can set a Google AdWords campaign for a video, using TrueView Ads – meaning you don’t pay unless the viewer chooses to watch your ads.
Not only is this good for your budget, you know that only people who are truly interested are watching your ad. This should greatly increase your conversion rate on that ad.
Only you will know whether or not an ad campaign is a good idea for your particular audience. Keep your ad short, catchy and focused. After you’ve intrigued them, get to the point. Tell them what to do, and get out of there.
Start out with a very short-term campaign, when introducing yourself and your videos. To learn more, check out AdWords on YouTube.
So these are the basics to creating videos that get shared. You can apply these basics in an infinite variety of ways, each tailored to suit your audience.
Building your following is not as complex as you might think. Follow both artistic and social/business best practices – and your videos may go viral faster than you can blink.