So you’re thinking of starting a YouTube channel. That’s great news! YouTube is well worth incorporating into your marketing strategy given that it is the 2nd most visited website after Google and video is such a popular and engaging content format.
If you’re already all set up on YouTube and are looking for some more strategy-based ideas, check out our Ultimate Guide to YouTube Marketing. But if you’re just getting started, stick around and by the end of this blog, you’ll have all the tools and steps you need to create and manage a YouTube channel, including video ideas, how to shoot and upload videos, and engagement tips.
Table of Contents
How to Create a YouTube Channel
How to Make a YouTube Video
YouTube Video Ideas
4 Real Examples of Great YouTube Video Campaigns
Managing Your YouTube Channel
How to Create a YouTube Channel
Ok, ready to dive in? To start marketing on YouTube, you of course first need to have a channel. YouTube is owned by Google, so the very first step is to sign up for a Google account.
1. Create a Google Account
You probably already have one of these, whether it’s for personal use or through your work. You could use one of these existing accounts if you wanted, but we actually recommend setting up a Google account specifically to be tied to your YouTube channel.
This helps with organization (such as email notifications from YouTube) and makes it easier to add and remove channel community managers.
Tip: use an easy-to-remember email that multiple people can then access, as opposed to a “[first-name]@[company-domain]” model. We suggest something like “marketing@” or “film-video-content@”
2. Log in to YouTube
Now the fun part! Setting up your channel. Since you already created your Google account, connecting to YouTube is super easy. You know that grid of squares from the Google homepage, or accessible from within Gmail or Google Drive?
Give that a click and you’ll see all the apps that are available. You can click YouTube from here, or go to the URL directly (youtube.com).
Once you’re on the YouTube homepage (you should already be logged in), select the round profile photo icon in the top right. You’ll see a long list of options pop up.
Click “Create Channel”. Remember: you have a YouTube account automatically through your Google account, with which you can search, subscribe, and watch other people's channels, but you don’t actually have your own channel set up that you can post videos to.
3. Set up your YouTube channel
You’ll now be guided through the steps to create your channel!
When prompted to choose a name, it’s recommended to create a custom name. You can always change this later, so don't worry about too much if you don’t have the perfect one yet. This option also means you can customize the profile image.
You’ll enter the name for your new channel and accept terms and conditions on the next screen.
Next, it’s time to customize your channel!
4. Add a profile photo and banner image
Note that the banner is long and skinny so be sure you have an image that fits these dimensions. The proper size for your YouTube channel art is 2,560 x 1,440 pixels.
If you're looking for more image sizes for all of the social media platforms, check out our full guide to social media image sizes.
The profile photo is round and is typically going to be your logo. This is what will show up next to your channel name on posted videos and in the comments.
Dimensions for a YouTube profile photo are 250 x 250 pixels.
5. Upload a channel trailer
Don’t skip this! If you don’t have one prepared immediately, that’s ok, but be sure to upload one as soon as you have it. This video is prominently displayed and begins playing automatically when people visit your channel.
This is why it’s a good idea to have a lot of content already created and ready to frontload before starting your YouTube channel.
How to Make a YouTube Video
You can think of the process for making a YouTube video in four main stages:
Each of these steps can be broken down into several sub-steps. Read on for the top tips on making great YouTube Videos!
1. Planning stage - conceptualize, write, storyboard, rehearse
The first thing you need to do is plan out your video. Think of your theme, goals, write down a basic shot list, have a general length you’re shooting for (pun intended!), and rehearse so you can know if that needs to be adjusted. This is also the stage where you should create a shooting schedule.
Tip: Factor in buffer times in case weather or other unforeseen circumstances impact your shooting schedule.
Remember that more complicated concepts, requiring multiple shots, angels, sets, and locations will take longer to shoot and edit. If you’re just starting out with making video content, try to keep the fancy elements to a minimum until you get a sense of how long your videos take to make.
There are many directions you can go with YouTube video ideas, so think about your goals. You should stick to one main goal per video — this not only keeps your content short, but it also keeps it focused. This is essential for brands trying to build their YouTube presence in that it means you can produce more videos in a shorter amount of time.
During the planning stage you can also determine the equipment you’ll need. Be sure that you have the proper lighting, sound, and of course cameras. If it’s financially feasible, it’s a good idea to have a multi-camera set up for easier editing and nice variation.
Write a basic script and prepare a storyboard, including any set instructions or blocking you want to incorporate. Again, this might sound fancy but it doesn’t have to be.
For a script, stick to the basics, don’t stress about the proper formatting of a screenplay. You just need to have a sense of what people are saying and when. You’ll probably find you have to cut a lot of dialogue so write more than you need.
For storyboarding, use white blank 8x11 paper — 1 per shot you have planned. Again don’t worry about being polished. Use stick figures, and simple shapes to indicate where the cameras are. This is also a good place to put other visuals you want to add to your video such as cards to related videos, sound effects, graphics, etc.
This is an absolutely essential step and should not be glossed over or saved till the last minute. It is during rehearsal that you’ll discover certain blockers such as taking too long to set up a particular shot or dialogue that is difficult to get right without multiple takes.
Shooting your video should be straightforward if you dedicate enough time to Stage 1. You have all your shots mapped out, lighting, sound, and filming equipment, your actors have rehearsed. There’s very little to do except press record!
While filming, pay particular attention to continuity. You don’t want to get stuck in the editing process realizing that a water bottle disappears and reappears in the background, or unintentional wardrobe changes, or daylight to nighttime in a jarring way.
Tip: Have someone take on the role of script supervisor who can keep an eye out for potential continuity errors during filming.
Welcome to the editing stage! Here’s where everything you shot in stage 2 will be cut down, refined, and tightened up into a cohesive video. During editing, you’ll also add any effects, color correction, audio correction, text, graphics, and music.
Editing can be slow and laborious, especially if you’re not used to it. If you have it in your budget consider hiring someone to do this for you. If you’ll be doing it in-house you can definitely get by with standard software such as iMovie or Movavi.
Before heading to the upload stage, you’ll need to export your video. YouTube supports most formats, so there’s very little chance you’ll head to stage 4 with the wrong one.
YouTube accepted video formats (from support.google):
- HEVC (h265)
4. Upload — title, description, thumbnail, publish
Lastly, of course, you need to upload the video to your channel! Luckily YouTube makes this process very easy, and with just a few clicks of a button, you’ll be on your way.
Head to the YouTube homepage and click the small camera icon near your profile icon in the upper right. Two options pop up: “Upload” or “Go Live”. Select “Upload”.
On the next screen, you can find your video file on your computer, or drag it straight into the window.
From there you’ll see a progress countdown as your video gets loaded. While that’s happening you can add a title and description.
The title for your video is a prime place to include keywords, helping you show up for relevant searches. Your title should be a max of 66 characters, be descriptive and steer away from clickbait. Think of your title the same way you would your Title Tag for blog articles and landing pages.
A common practice for many creators is to choose a sound bite from the latter half of the video and make that the focal point in the title. This encourages viewers to watch over half of the content to get to the part they clicked on to see, thereby increasing impression count, subscribers, and other engagement metrics.
For example in the video below Philippa Soo doesn’t mention the subject of the video until nearly 5 minutes in (timestamp 4:50 if you’re interested).
Now, you can include timestamps In your video description if you like, and this is a much-appreciated gesture on the part of the viewers. However, make sure this tactic matches your goals.
It can be a risky move in that you are inviting people to only view a small portion of the video, after which they might bounce. Timestamps are great for How-to videos, or videos that are particularly long.
There is an 800 word limit on YouTube video descriptions, with the first 25-30 showing up before a “see more” CTA. So think carefully about those first 30 words in case people don’t click to see the rest.
Oftentimes YouTubers use the rest of the description to include links to a blog, website, other social media channels or include more information about the subject of the video.
You’ll also see an option to Select Thumbnail. It is highly recommended to create a thumbnail independently, rather than using one of the options that YouTube pre-selects.
Your thumbnail is a huge part of what dictates click-through onto your videos. Make your thumbnail pop with clear images or graphics and easy to read text. It can also augment your title, creating more enticing reasons for the viewer to click like this example:
We can immediately see 1) that we’re about to get some kind of “truth” and 2) that the content creator has been avoiding making this video or this statement for some reason, just from her thumbnail and title choice.
Continue the steps toward publishing your video, including adding cards and an end screen that links to related content:
This is a great practice for supporting other YouTube channels as well as keeping people interested in your content.
The last step is to either schedule your video or post it live!
YouTube Video Ideas
If you’re stuck for content ideas, try one of the following popular categories:
1. How-tos & Tutorials
How-to videos are relatively straightforward to make, great for YouTube SEO, and very useful for viewers. Think creatively about the kind of How-to or tutorial content you could make. There are tons of options for making useful and informative content, and if it’s good content, it will get shared and encourage repeat visits.
For example popular outdoor clothing retailer, REI often posts videos about actual adventure sports such as mountain climbing in the example below:
Post reviews and testimonials submitted by your customers, or a compilation video of positive reviews. This is helpful content that serves multiple audiences including consumers, prospective employees, and potential new partners.
3. Company culture
Another popular YouTube video idea for brands is showcasing company culture, social awareness campaigns, and other company initiatives. You could also create a playlist for behind-the-scenes footage which is a great way to show personality and authenticity.
These are great video ideas to get you started. Check out the section below for some other unique and fun ideas from successful brand accounts on YouTube:
4 Real Examples of Great YouTube Video Campaigns
Wondering where to start for video concepts? These brands have thought outside the box, producing content that’s relevant and fun to watch. Many of these series have inspired endless copycats as well, a sure sign of their effectiveness and popularity as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
1. Wired - "auto-complete interview"
If you want an example of a brand thinking outside the box and nailing it, look no further than Wired Magazine. The Wired Auto-Complete interview series is one of the most popular ones around. It’s a simple premise: celebrities get cards with Google’s most searched questions about them and they answer them. That’s it.
The joy of these videos comes from the occasional off-camera voice, either an actors assistant or a Wired video producer breaking that 4th wall in a casual way, or the way the interviewees respond off the cuff to the questions (many older people mocking the Google shorthand search grammar), and when it’s a pair of interviewees, rather than a single person, how they respond to the others answers.
2. Wired - “ask the expert”
Wired really hits it out of the park when it comes to understanding and owning the YouTube game, so we had to include them twice. Their Ask the Expert series is incredibly entertaining and introduces viewers to amazing people with unique jobs beyond the celebrities featured in their auto-complete interviews.
3. Allure - "unique beauty"
Many beauty and women's fashion brands on YouTube have taken great strides in recent years to represent a wider standard of beauty, with videos highlighting members of the non-binary and LGTBQ+ community.
Brands like Allure are among the best with series following makeup routines for everyone from a Flight Attendant to a Figure Skater and giving equal weight to unique beauty outside of what could be considered the “norm”.
4. BuzzFeed - "playing with puppies"
Ok, but who doesn’t want to watch your favorite celebrities play with puppies while answering fan questions?! The simple act of having that distraction puts their guard down, giving audiences that sense of authenticity we all crave. And who could be mad at puppies?
And the puppies are all up for adoption, so the campaign also brings awareness to animals in need, which is just warm fuzzies all around.
Managing Your YouTube Channel
When it comes to managing your channel, there’s more to it than just creating and posting videos. To grow subscribers and engagement you need to promote, engage with your followers, and commit to a regular posting schedule.
Promote your channel on your other social media pages simply by posting videos instead of static images. Video content is more engaging, proven to increase leads and sales, and easier to capture attention meaning you’ll also be improving your engagement metrics on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Don’t take our word for it though:
- 84% of marketers say video has helped them generate leads. (Wyzowl)
- 78% of marketers say video has directly helped to increase sales (Wyzowl)
Email is another fantastic way to get people to your channel. You can embed videos straight into emails, but this can sometimes break for the recipient depending on the email service they use. So it’s recommended to simply link to the video instead.
If you’re eager to embed a video, use blog articles! Keep people engaged and on your site by repurposing blog content or augmenting it in some way. This is an excellent UX tactic as some people respond or learn better from video vs words so you’re providing two choices that offer the same information.
Engagement is a key metric on other social media sites and the same is true for YouTube. If you make entertaining, useful content it still may not garner comments and subscribers so be sure to remind people to comment by asking a question or creating a poll.
Optimize comments & meta information
A lot of content creators on YouTube pin a comment to seed the comment section, describe a product featured in the video, or welcome people to subscribe. Below is a great example of a channel that’s doing everything right to optimize for views, engagement, and SEO:
Tiny homes and getting off the grid is a topic that has taken off like wildfire in recent years. This channel features a different Tiny House story in each of their videos.
You can see how they’ve optimized their video metadata to attract Tiny House keywords, using tags (top arrow), and pinned a comment expanding on what viewers can expect to see. You can also see that their comment has 52 replies, and the video itself has 3,000+ comments.
YouTube introduced its “Community” feature in 2016 in a bid to compete with the posting style of other social media channels and give brand accounts more engagement touchpoints. Channels with 10,000K subscribers or more can share posts, gifs, and polls.
See an example from WatchMojo:
If you’re used to hearing YouTubers remind you to “ring the bell” for notifications about channel activity, this is part of the reason why. You’ll get notified if the Community tab is updated — important since it’s not accessible from anywhere other than the channel page itself.
A golden rule of YouTube is to commit to an upload schedule. As your subscriber count grows, this becomes even more important to gain traction and regular viewership.
A nice way to keep people excited between videos is to post behind-the-scenes photos and clips on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok hinting at the upcoming content.
So, are you feeling ready to incorporate YouTube into your social marketing strategy? Be sure to fill out the form below for more information on finding influencers and using YouTube as a key component of your social media approach.