If the goal of your video is to rack up YouTube views, you have some tough competition. As we often tell our video clients, nonprofits are ultimately competing against cat videos for their audience’s attention.
This means that nonprofit videos need to be entertaining – not just informative. If you can hook your audience with a compelling video, there’s a much greater likelihood that they will visit your website to learn more about your cause or campaign. But you have to pull people in emotionally first – make them laugh, make them cry, or make them think about something in a new and interesting way.
What’s the first step to pulling people in? Your video has to be seen! As the world’s second largest search engine (right after Google), YouTube is a great way to be found. By keeping your audience and their search interests in mind when uploading your video, you can increase the chances people will find it and watch.
Here are 9 ways to increase the views of your organization’s video on YouTube without spending extra money on digital advertising:
- Feature it on your YouTube page. Right after you’ve added your video to YouTube, make sure your video the featured video on the front page. People looking at your organization’s YouTube page should be seeing your most current video. It makes your organization look up to date, current and relevant, and puts the video at the center of the YouTube user’s attention.
- Choose a good thumbnail. If you allow YouTube to automatically choose your thumbnail, it probably won’t be very interesting. Use your computer’s screenshot feature to capture an image from your video that is emotionally compelling, and upload it in your video settings.
- Make your title short and interesting. Your video title should not necessarily describe your video in a way that makes sense to your administration. Make your title viewer-centric, and think about what would make you want to click on a video. (Upworthy headlines are a good source of inspiration.) And try to keep it brief – a shorter title that doesn’t get cut off is better for click-throughs. Here are a few good title examples from YouTube star PewDiePie for Charity Water and the Sierra Club.
- Pick tags that will be good for SEO. Your constituents are using YouTube as a search engine – so you should be too! Think about what your supporters are searching, and make sure those keywords are included in your video tags. Keep in mind that what people are searching isn’t always an accurate description of the video.
- Write a good video description. In your video description, consider telling people a story instead of describing what’s happening in the video. Be entertaining, and remember that the description area is not the place to hit messaging points. PETA does a good job of video description storytelling in their video “Circuses in 60 Seconds Flat.”
- Take advantage of the nonprofit annotations on YouTube. It’s amazing how many people don’t know about video annotations – we were telling nonprofits how to use them all the way back in 2009! Annotations should come up at least 30 seconds into your video and right before the end of the video and should provide a link where people can take action. And don’t forget to check your links to make sure they’re going to the right place!
- Upload a transcript of your video in English and Spanish. About 38 million people in the United States speak Spanish. By uploading transcripts of your video in both languages, your video will start appearing in English and Spanish YouTube searches. Transcripts alert YouTube of what keywords are featured in your video and greatly increase the likelihood that your audience will find you via YouTube search.
- Post early and often. People don’t click on every link that’s posted by on an organization’s social media platforms. Make sure you’re continuing to post your video regularly for at least a month, and keep your posts fresh by changing the headlines and images you feature. This will include your viewership dramatically by increasing exposure to new audiences.
- Add a lightbox or pop-up on your website. A video is a great opportunity to let people know more about your organization, regardless of why or how people are coming to your website. If you don’t have a lightbox, make sure your video is featured somewhere on the homepage of your site. Negotiate website placement ahead of time, since it can be a space that is coveted by other departments. Your video deserves to be highlighted. It’s new content and your biggest fans would love to see it.
The goal of a video is to be seen. By taking a few small steps, you can dramatically increase the number of people who watch your video and want to engage with your organization, without spending extra money on digital advertising.