“Why would I want to build my castle on someone else’s land?” asked NewsCred VP Alicianne Rand at a recent community manager meetup. She was speaking for brands, many of which are still weary of making social media platforms with their ever-changing rules, their digital marketing end game. Many companies are responding to frequent shake-ups on social by making their digital home their website, and using social media channels to push traffic back to the “castle.”
YouTube is known among marketers primarily as a good place to raise brand awareness, in part because they seek the holy grail of content: the viral video. And since YouTube is the third most-visited site on the planet, with over four billion videos viewed per day and three billion hours watched per month, this assumption isn’t entirely misplaced. But while it might not be as obvious as driving traffic from link-friendly Facebook or Twitter, YouTube has a feature that can turn some of those billions of views into visits to your site.
YouTube annotations are a great way to drive traffic, especially if your brand is already successful on the platform. Essentially, annotations are dialogue boxes that are overlaid on top of a video to provide more information (or, let’s say, a link). Think about it like VH1’s “Pop Up Video,” and you have the right idea.
A good example of a YouTube annotation via the aptly named Digital Examples
Some tips for using them to drive traffic:
1. Don’t be annoying.
To avoid distracting the viewer or being invasive, don’t think of annotations as a separate element. Plan them into the video from the start, and you’ll find that your annotations might even help take some of the pressure off your video in terms of length. Another tip? Keep your annotation lengths to 5-7 seconds — enough time for the viewer to read and digest or click on a link to your website, but not so long as to distract.
2. Create value for the viewer.
Your annotations should teach the viewer something they didn’t know, surprise or delight them, or create an emotional response. That’s the only way you’re going to get the click-through to your site on a platform where a viewer could easily spend hours browsing on the site without bouncing. The way to keep them on your site is with more great content, so be sure you have the entire line-up in mind.
3. Think about the user experience.
Who’s on the other side of the screen? Why are they watching this video in the first place? Important questions, but so is: How does this look? When you’re annotating, make sure you position annotations on the borders of the video box to avoid overriding the video itself. Keep annotations small (unless you’re making a point), and think strategically about color choices: use bright shades to attract more attention to important annotations, and muted colors to blend in.
Distributing your content on a platform not entirely in your control is a given in today’s social-driven market, but the more you can drive your audience back to your “kingdom” – the better. And once they’re there – make it so they never want to leave. That means great content, gorgeous visuals, and a rewarding experience. Then your YouTube content marketing will be truly fit for a king.
By Lauren B. Mangiaforte, NewsCred Contributor
Originally published on May 27, 2014 10:22 PM