YouTube recently made the search marketing industry take notice with the announcement that it would expand its partner program to include several popular original content creators. Many perked up to the idea of getting paid for making videos. The program is a simple pilot program in the Google AdSense program – getting paid by clicks on the Google AdWords that run alongside their videos), Many inquired how they could also "get in on the action" with this new monetization opportunity.
But slow down. YouTube's Partner Program is actually a trial program. As in, its only available to a select group of YouTube members, and it will take some time for YouTube to evaluate whether they want to expand it out further to the general YouTube community. YouTube's own partnership lead form link is not even an application form to be considered for the program. Instead, it just gives a short notice that people can fill out an information request form, and hope to be notified of any new developments "when more information is available."
However, this is really not something that YouTube users, including search marketers, should feel at all left out on. YouTube already has several opportunities which are especially beneficial to search marketers, which can help with achieving rapid popularity and good branding. Even better, you don't have to pay a dime for them.
Here is one often-overlooked resource that will build your audience with views, ratings and subscriptions: optimize your YouTube comments.
Piggyback on Others' Popularity with Optimized Comments
Optimizing your YouTube comments sounds strange at first, so here's a definition of what I mean: Provide responses (i.e., feedback) to already popular videos and video groups on YouTube in creative and helpful ways. Optimizing your comments is an excellent and authentic means of "piggybacking" toward your own video recognition.
Unlike the advertisers in the Google AdWords program (whose ads show up over the videos) you don't pay anything to "advertise" your own content with your comments next to the same video. Consider it the difference between paid results and organic results, only your results are guaranteed to automatically show up right underneath the video based on how recently they were posted.
The first step is finding where to provide your optimized comments on YouTube. When figuring out who to target, remember that YouTube has several key audience types:
- Target #1 – Popular contextual videos. Here, we're referring to the more popular video results which show up for your target areas. But don't just focus on keyword results from YouTube's search box; also take a look at YouTube's categories and featured groupson the site. Both of these areas can offer a much better chance of finding others with similar interests and subject material.
- Target #2 – Subscribers. Don't be swayed by the visitor numbers of a single video. What you should pay attention to are the account pages of the video creators which show a high number of subscribers. Subscribers are of more value to you than regular visitors; they are repeat visitors who are likely to provide more user-generated content, thus being more likely to promote your videos.
- Target #3 – Featured contests. YouTube's contests can be fun means of creating a video production in the hopes of winning a prize. However, the search optimizer's strategy should not be about trying to actually win the contest. That would typically take too much work with a production team to even attempt. Instead, the goal is simply maximizing exposure to your own YouTube page. You succeed by just having people enjoy your contest video enough to get their attention and interest, and click to your own page.
- Target #4 – The Official YouTube Reviewers. This one is perhaps the most overlooked opportunity, and perhaps the most valuable. Unlike traditional search directories, YouTube Reviewers are not seemingly invisible, faceless creatures. They are real, accessible people who show their faces in videos they make on the YouTube site, which feature them reviewing the videos of other users. Do a search on YouTube for YT Reviews, hear what they have to say and you'll learn a tremendous amount from them. See what they like from the videos they review, and what they recommend. Find a YouTube reviewer whose own interests might make them more inclined to review your videos, and ideally might give the videos a positive review.
Now that you've found your target videos and video areas (and hopefully you've listed them all out), review the comments which are already posted on those videos before you start posting anything of your own. You will want to make sure you're adding something new and not being repetitive. You don't have to agree with other commentators, but simply showing that you've been following the conversation thread can go a long way. First acknowledge the original content creator's efforts. If possible, you can give a little kudos to a previous commenter, and then you can have a healthy dialogue with that person too.
Remember, the comments area in YouTube works best for you when you keep it to just getting the attention and interest of others. It is not the place to give a sales pitch or show something irrelevant to the original video subject material. Fail to follow that, and you'll likely have your comments "flagged as inappropriate" and listed as spam. Even worse, it can go on your record, and harm your future reputation, should you ever be up for consideration as a YouTube Partner.
Using Both Text and Video Comments for Maximum Benefits
- For your text comment: End your comment with a helpful URL. This won't give any weight as an inbound link, but that's not the point. It is simply to help people that are interested in what you have to say find out more. The URL can be wherever and whatever you want people to take a look at, and should be relevant to the discussion and the original video. A few suggestions: you can point the URL to your own YouTube video page, or an individual video, an area on your own web site, or a third-party site where you or a client's business is featured. Again, put the URL the end of your comment; and certainly don't put in only a URL with little or no actual commentary, or you will deservedly be flagged for spam and blocked. I suggest taking people to an area with more helpful information or meeting another need of theirs quickly. Never take them directly to a sales pitch, on your website or anywhere else.
- For your video comment: Ideally, produce a video that's unique for the video response. Simply posting a pre-produced video is not going to have the same effect. If you feel you must include a pre-produced piece, at least include it with an original clip, such as your own personal video introduction to the main piece. Display a URL to any target site or lead area (again, at the end of the video), and make sure that links to material relevant to the original YouTube video. Only display one URL at the end of the video, and make it show up big and clear. I recommend either placing it in the final frame on a dark background, or in front of a solid-color, strongly contrasting color bar at the bottom of the end of a video.
Have your video focus on being entertaining, then informative. YouTube video is still primarily about entertainment. Making the video comments entertaining gets the attention and interest, and that's what will lead people to the next step; ready for more information and having their needs (and yours) met. Anything you have as a business goal (leads, sales, etc), must be several steps removed from the original YouTube video page, especially so you aren't stepping on the toes of the original video content creator or anyone else.
Lastly, in both your text and video comments make sure you give credit to the original video creator. They are providing you with the opportunity, and can decide themselves whether to comment to you as well, possible even promote you if you play your cards right. Keep your comments open to suggestions from everyone, and encourage the process of discussion and helping other with online resources. Optimize your comments, and you can achieve all of the benefits of being a YouTube "partner" without any of the wait.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!