I’ve been interacting in the YouTube community since 2006, when it was just a baby and everyone acted like they’ve never seen a cute kitten chase a string before. Well, I started an account in 2010 with the intent to MAKE videos instead of just watch them.
MAN OH MAN is it different from the inside. :) A GREAT ‘different’!
I’ll admit I haven’t been around the production side of the YouTube world for very long, but what a cool place it is! There are a lot of things I have learned along the way, and I think the #1 tip I could ever give someone about making videos is to just be yourself / be genuine.
Are you secretly hoping I end my post there? hehehe NOPE!
I have 84 YouTube Video How-To tips, compiled in a nice little guide available for download, to pass along to you. The complete list is below, though I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the PDF version of the YouTube Video How-To Guide, which I link later in this article.
Hints and Tips for: INTERACTION
1. YES>>> Be the first comment on your own videos: It kind of breaks the ice, people will race to be “first” at some point, and it helps your interactions statistics. At a bare minimum, it gives you another chance to be visibly entertaining – one-liners rock!
2. NO>>> Click links in personal message from people you don’t know: This is spam and could cause your computer harm. Stick to people you know and trust.
3. MAYBE>>> Consider thanking people for friend invites: Pop on over to their channel and leave a message thanking them for their friendship – it’s nice and helps visibility. Make it genuine – generic / canned responses are counterproductive.
4. MAYBE>>> Consider thanking people for their subscription: Pop on over to their channel and leave a message thanking them for their friendship – it’s nice and helps visibility. Make it genuine – generic / canned responses are counterproductive.
5. YES>>> Create a related Facebook account and connect it to YouTube: Another great way to interact and to give viewers a way to know more about you / contact you. You might need a ‘group’ or ‘page’ as there is a 5000 friends limit.
6. YES>>> Create a related Twitter account and connect it to YouTube: Another great way to interact and to give viewers a way to know more about you / contact you
7. YES>>> Enable comment voting: Comment Voting (Ratings): Comment Voting allows users to evaluate comments. I also suspect this helps your Interaction metric.
8. YES>>> Enable video ratings: Ratings: Videos with high ratings are significantly more likely to be viewed.
9. YES>>> Favorite the videos you really like: Favorite more videos (especially relevant ones) and categorize / playlists . Favoriting DEFINITELY helps people out – do it if you feel it’s warranted, but don’t be too stingy.
10. YES>>> Get hints from other favorites: Save favorite videos from other users that relate to your channel. Consider putting them in their own playlist, ‘inspiration’ or ‘hints’ for example.
11. YES>>> Give the viewer options at the end: Throw up some annotations for some other videos at the end of your video – give them some place to go next. Consider a long “pause” annotation at the end to give them time to choose.
12. MAYBE>>> Give the viewers options during the video: A small annotation or two to direct them to a another video can be useful, especially if they are bored. :)
13. NO>>> Increase awareness in video responses: Don’t put intros / outros / watermarks / annotations back to your channel / videos – this can be seen as spammy and send the wrong message. You’re doing it to contribute to interaction / the video at hand.
14. NO>>> Learn from popular styles / other channels: By all means, take hints and learn, but you must be you.
15. YES>>> Leave video update comments: If you update a video in some substantial way (annotations, closed captions, et cetera) then leave a comment stating as such. It’s a good record and exhibits your concern and care for your viewers.
16. YES>>> Participate in contests: Don’t worry about winning – do your best, but it’s about having fun and interacting. Additionally, this is good exposure!
17. YES>>> Treat people like neighbors & friends: Don’t fall into the trap of viewing other channels / people / creators as just another number. Even the people who just created accounts to only comment are still awesome human beings. Treat them ALL that way. Be genuine, be you, BE!
17.5. YES>>> Look to experts for advice on making the #3 site in the world start making money for you and your family. It’ll take some work, but it’s definitely worth it. Want to learn how to generate more traffic for your YouTube videos?
18. NO>>> Use irrelevant video response: You will get some views, but the chance for negative interactions is very high. Make it a genuine response instead – and don’t advertise your channel – they can already see your name.
19. NO>>> Watch all of your Subscription videos at once: This can drain you VERY quickly. Consider spreading it out over a few days. If you keep falling behind, then you have to cut back.
20. MAYBE>>> Watch subscription videos immediately after release: Quality will be down, annotations might be missing, and traffic will probably be huge. Getting in at the first moments can be fun, though. Weigh your options and do what fits.
Hints and Tips for: PRODUCTION
21. YES>>> Audio transitions: Use audio transitions if your program supports it. A “Constant Power” audio transition can take a very sharp pop between cuts and turn it into a seemless connection.
22. YES>>> Audio volume level: Maintain a constant volume level throughout the video. Constant changes in volume can be annoying to the viewer. Use your program’s internal ‘Mixer’ feature if it has it.
23. YES>>> Be mindful of the entire frame: Create an appropriate scene – the background does matter – if you’re going to do it sans studio, do it with class!
24. YES>>> Convert your video if you have to: FFMPEG is a command-line tool for converting video
25. YES>>> Encode audio for the best quality: Audio settings: MPEG-4 (MP4) container, MP3 or AAC codec, 44 [khz] or better, 128 [kbs] or better bitrate
26. YES>>> Encode video for the best quality: MPEG-4 (MP4) container, H.264 or MPEG-2 codec, >2Mbps bitrate, HD if you can. I exclusively use CBR encoding (it will always look better than 2 pass VBR, but bigger file size); use a bit rate >4Mbps for videos with constant movement.
27. YES>>> Entertain and speak clearly: Be energetic, funny, entertaining (when appropriate) and DO NOT MUMBLE! Practice and pysch yourself up before shooting!
28. MAYBE>>> Intro sequences: If you must have one, then make it short. No one wants to sit through the same 20 to 30 second introduction every time they see your video.
29. YES>>> Just upload it: Make it nice and edit for capturing the audience’s attention, but just do it. You never know who will watch it, so just do it for fun. The experience you gain will help make you better. You can plan yourself to death.
30. YES>>> Keep it short and sweet if you can: If can be done in 30 seconds to 2 minutes, then do it in less than 2 minutes! Period! It’s okay to leave some questions unanswered – it might even ellicit questions/interaction, which is good!
31. YES>>> Keep them coming back: Have some form of ‘hook’ to entice and keep people coming back and to reward those who are in on the inside joke / use.
32. YES>>> Keep videos relatively independent: Try to treat every video as a stand-alone – don’t depend too much on others in your library . The majority of people will not go back and watch all of your old videos – sorry.
33. NO>>> No letterbox or pillarboxes, please: Do not add letterbox or pillarbox bars – sites will do that automatically to fit the viewer
34. YES>>> One step at a time: You don’t have to do it all in one day – shoot one day, process another, & upload shortly after
35. NO>>> Overuse cheesy transitions: The star, heart, and rotating cube transitions every 5 seconds is annoying and usually detracts from overall viewer entertainment. Use transitions sparingly / when warranted. Aim for subtle. Dissolves are nice.
36. NO>>> Overuse effects: You don’t need lightning for every scene, cloning yourself is cool, but should be used sparingly, and just because the program supports it doesn’t mean it needs to be used. Effects are not a crutch – don’t let them use you.
37. YES>>> Sound matters: Ensure you have decent sound – what’s the point of a presentation if you can’t be heard clearly?
38. YES>>> Switch it up & add variety: Try something new every once in a while: scene change, more ‘actors’, new format, et cetera
39. YES>>> Transcribe your videos (Closed Captions): This is tough work and I don’t anyone likes to do it, but it really does help those in need or of different languages. Consider doing it only for your very popular videos, if you like. I like to believe this information will be used by search engines, too.
40. YES>>> Use an Outro Sequence: This is a good opportunity to advertise your website, channel, other social networks. If they made it this far, then they probably care.
41. NO>>> Use copyrighted songs, pictures, movies, et cetera – without permission: If you ever plan to become a partner (and make money!), then you just HAVE to stop using other people’s stuff without permission. The ContentID software will automatically detect copyrighted music and immediately disable your video.
42. YES>>> Video Lighting: Try to have plenty of soft lighting on your subject as no one wants to see a very dimly lit, low contrast scene. Open the blinds and do it during the day if you have to – keep the window (or other bright light sources) out of the frame.
Hints and Tips for: SOCIAL
43. YES>>> Advertise loyalty in the Outro: Put a small blurb or image in your Outro about “thumbs up”, “favorite”, “friend”, and “subscribe” – dno’t be pushy and do be quick.
44. YES>>> Be friends with everyone decent: Check out their page 1st and see if you mesh, but really be lenient with your ‘Friend’ criteria – the more the merrier. I see friends as those you like, but aren’t sure you want to subscribe to, yet. Give everyone a chance.
45. YES>>> Be good to your friends: Cater to your super-fans: they are putting in good time for you – do the same! Everyone who interacts with you is doing more work than they have to – remember that.
46. YES>>> Be sure to attribute when appropriate: Give credit where credit is due somewhere in your video and description box (doobly-doo).
47. NO>>> Beg for “Favorite”: Favorites are sacred ground and a big deal. If someone is familiar with the Favorites function, they’ll do it when they feel like it.
48. NO>>> Beg for “Subscribe”: Subscribers are special and should be very picky. If they like your stuff, then they will subscribe – consider proposing subscription in that manner, if you must.
49. NO>>> Beg for ‘Thumbs Up”: People know this and will do it if they want to – I HATE seeing annotations of the “Thumbs up if you…” nature. I’ve NEVER given a “thumb up” for a reason that was suggested by the producer.
50. NO>>> Buy channel / video views: Money cannot produce useful views and will not make a helpful, representative audience of people who truly appreciate your contributions. This is fake.
51. NO>>> Buy friends: Money cannot produce friendships and will not make a helpful, representative audience of people who truly appreciate your contributions. This is fake.
52. NO>>> Buy subscribers: Money cannot produce true subscribers and will not make a helpful, representative audience of people who truly appreciate your contributions. This is fake.
53. YES>>> Check-out / friend commenters on videos you like: If your interests are aligned and they seem nice, why wouldn’t you be friends?
54. NO>>> Full screen annotations: It’s just a cheesy way to get people to accidently click-through a link – probably low “interaction to accidental click” ratio.
55. YES>>> Grow a thick skin & ignore the trolls: Be “hard-skinned” and DO NOT feed the trolls. Treat trolls like 3 year old kids – nothing you can say will explain the situation adequately – it will just be more fuel for the fire. I suggest ignoring all togther, or deleting if highly offensive.
56. YES>>> Have a call to action: It doesn’t have to be a straight up question, but if the viewer doesn’t have a clear point for response – there will be less interaction. Make it easy for people to leave a comment.
57. YES>>> Leave a comment on every video: It helps the producer learn, interact, have fun, and improved statistics (interactions). You might even become friends! It also puts your name out there – YouTube is a social environment.
58. YES>>> Thumbs Down with more information: Do the video maker a favor and kindly, charitably, and constructively let them know why you think it deserved a Thumb Down (but you might not want to own up to the Thumbs Down). You can help them grow!
59. YES>>> Thumbs Up or nothing: Be VERY judicial with the thumbs down option. It is almost never needed and provides ZERO value to the producer if you don’t leave a comment with constructive criticism.
60. MAYBE>>> Use existing videos as a video response: This can be tricky as it looks very spammy. They MUST be relevant and you should consider asking the producer first via message.
61. YES>>> Use on-the-spot / specific video responses (not existing): This is an ultimate thank you to the producer – shows you took some time and interest. Be short, relevant, nice, and respectful. Respond in the way you would want someone to respond to your own videos.
62. MAYBE>>> You do not need to introduce yourself every time.: Your viewers are your friends and probably don’t need to be reminded of who you are every time / can also be a disconnect in the flow of your video. Do what works for your material / channel type.
Hints and Tips for: VISIBILITY
63. YES>>> Always spread the word: Promote your brand channel on other sites and media.
64. NO>>> Box4Box – solicited insertion of someone in your ‘Other Channels’ box: You want real, representative, and interested subscribers – not just a number.
65. YES>>> Broadcast a fun message with your new videos attached: Use the ‘Broadcast’ feature to let your subscribers AND friends know about your new video. They may not be subscribers but you friends might be interested in your new work – so let them know!
66. YES>>> Categories matter: Be very specific in picking a CATEGORY for your video – it matters! For instance, “Non-profit and Activism” videos don’t show up in every country.
67. YES>>> Check insight for your videos occationally: If Insight shows your video has gone stagnant, then change up the title, thumbnail, tags, description, et cetera to see if you can bring it back to life.
68. YES>>> Choose an interesting thumbnail for your video: A good thumbnail can really catch the viewers’ attentions. Make it good, but make it relevant – do not deceive people. And for the love of all that is Holy, stop using body parts to lure people in…
69. YES>>> Create a blog and connect it to YouTube: Get your posts out there on a webpage external to YouTube for more visibility. You have more control over there, too. Oh and putting your blog post URL in your video discription is a free backlink for your blog. :)
70. YES>>> Enable video embedding: Allow video embedding in your settings to “Embed” them in various sites.
71. YES>>> Include your channel name in video tags: This increases your chances at having more of your videos in the “Related Videos” bar.
72. YES>>> Keep your channel tags up to date: Check your channel tags occationally and make sure they are still relevant.
73. YES>>> Like and favorite your own videos: You get one free like, can favorite / comment – so why not use it? I am convinced this helps (minutely) with visibility though it should be noted that you get a grey ‘heart’ showing on your activity log for favoriting your own videos (as opposed to red).
74. YES>>> Link to yourself in the video description: Put a link to your website or YouTube channel in each video description. It’s good exposure and your video will get siphoned off to other sites so free links-back are good.
75. YES>>> Make a custom channel background: Make it look unique / stand-out from the crowd. This is your home and you welcome your potential friends.
76. YES>>> Make a custom channel profile image: Make it look unique / stand-out from the crowd. This is you – and shows up on every main page your interact with… make is respectable and eye-catching. The default image is just too boring. Google up an image of a CareBear if you have to.
77. YES>>> Make playlists: It’s a nice way to organize videos for your viewers – make it easy for them. Also, the playlist metadata can increase visibility.
78. MAYBE>>> Share YouTube activity with Twitter / Facebook: Having every ‘like’, ‘favorite’, ‘sub’, & ‘comment’ show up to these sites can be VERY spammy. Consider just enabling ‘new uploads’ for sharing to your other social networks.
79. YES>>> Share YouTube activity with YouTube: People like to see what you like and it shows you are active in the community. Be sure to activate the correct ‘Module’ to do this on your channel page.
80. NO>>> Sub4Sub – solicited subscribing to someone: You want real, representative, and interested subscribers – not just a number.
81. NO>>> Subscribe to someone with no uploads: You are effectily subscribing to nothing – simply padding their numbers.
82. YES>>> Titles matter: Use very descriptive titles – include short purpose blurb, if possible – keywords!
83. YES>>> Use Google Adwords in deciding tags / titles: Check out the Google AdWords research tool. It’s free, it intimately related to YouTube, is THE search engine leader, and can increase visibility.
84. YES>>> Use YouTube Keyword Tool in deciding tags / titles: It’s free, is THE video community leader, and can increase visibility.
Don’t forget to check out the awesome awareness video these guys have on making your YouTube videos more visible to the world. It’s quite an eye-opener.
Please, help make a better me… give me some more tips. :)
PS) Here’s the link to the PDF containing this entire list – enjoy!