How to optimise YouTube video content and measure success over social platforms

Now that we’re in 2017, what’s the deal with video content? Well, the problem most brands seem to have at the moment is that they’re always going for the big win. They all want that viral hit, and rightly so of course — but enough with the tunnel vision guys.

Video has done this remarkable thing where it has become as informatively important as written text in the digital world. It’s more than just another creative asset: it’s now an integral part of any digital content strategy. So, how do you optimise it? How do you measure its success? That’s what we’re here to find out.


There are actually quite a few ways to optimise video content. The first thing you need to think about, and I’m assuming you’ve actually made the video at this point, is where you want to host it. As we know, the most popular video platform is YouTube, so let’s use the platform as our example…

Hosting on YouTube

So, first piece of advice: when hosting on YouTube, this is where the video lives, so don’t upload it directly to your website as well. Doing so can open up a whole can of worms in terms of technical difficulties and cause problems for people trying to watch it. Instead, embed it onto your website. It’s easy to do, you can find this bit of code if you click “embed”, which is underneath the YouTube video. Then, simply copy and paste it into your backend. It’s far more effective than self-hosting, simply because there’s less room for technical cock-ups.

You have to bear in mind that YouTube is the second largest website in the world. So, if your goal is to increase your rankings through video, there’s the very real possibility of YouTube taking precedence over SEO-related aspects. As you’re hosting it on YouTube, that is the site which gets crawled first for SEO juice, so you’re losing out on potential ranking boosts. If this is the case, you might want to think about using other platforms such as Vimeo or Wistia — which I’ll get onto why later. But let’s, for arguments sake, say we want to increase brand awareness; what YouTube’s best at.

You need to think about optimising the video for SEO purposes, which Search Engine Watch have a terrific article on. Essentially, you should treat your videos the same you would an article. YouTube is a search engine and it works like Google because, well, it’s owned by Google, so it has ranking factors. There are visible ranking factors such as titles, in-video annotations or cards, and descriptions and invisible ranking factors such as meta tags, file names, and watch time (not view counts, but how long someone has watched the video for). There’s a lot to chew on.

Yet, YouTube is amazing for brand recognition, boosting view counts, and awareness. So it’s worth getting the technical side of things nailed down. Therefore, you need to create videos specifically for YouTube. For example, it needs to have subtitles, has to be in HD, have an excellent thumbnail, and a video transcript. YouTube cannot tell what a video is about, so these indicators act as signals for recognition.

Once you have all these little, bitty bits optimised on your videos, then they’ll be much more discoverable on YouTube — hence why it’s good for brand awareness.

When should I not use YouTube?

Firstly, you definitely should use YouTube. I mean, you’d be foolish not to. But it’s not the only video platform you should be utilising. The thing is, YouTube isn’t exactly what we’d call ‘professional looking’. If anything, it’s a tad clunky and everything kind of looks the same. What’s more, it can actually have some detrimental effects on your search rankings. For example, when you search for a video, let’s say something on Snapchat marketing, and the video is hosted on YouTube, you will be directed to the video on YouTube and not to the website where it’s embedded.

The success of people clicking through to your website after watching your video is also minimal on YouTube — despite the groovy annotations feature (a pop-up CTA). People get annoyed by them: they just want to watch the video. However, if you put in the annotation at the end of the video, not during it, or consider linking to your site from your channel itself, it can help prompt the viewer to engage.

When you embed the video on your website, you should also watch out for the auto-recommendations YouTube displays when the video ends. These are based on searches, so the chances are high that someone is going to get recommended a video on dogs being hilarious right after they watch your ace video on whatever it is you do. It’s pretty sneaky because if you click on one these recommendations, you get taken straight back to YouTube. So while YouTube is great for getting your brand out there, it works against you when you’re trying to get people onto your site.

This is where other video platforms such as Wistia come into play. The Wistia platform has loads of inbuilt optimisation features to allow you professionally customise your video to fit with branding, contains SEO plugins, and comes with various analytical tools so you can check out your engagement. It’s not free, but it’s worth having a look into if you want to embed videos onto your site and keep traffic there.

Utilising social platforms

Now that Facebook and Twitter have evolved their own video hosting platforms, not to mention Instagram and Snapchat, it represents a different way to utilise video. Audiences on these platforms respond better to much shorter videos — I’m talking roughly 30-60 seconds for Facebook, for example. So, even if you’ve created a cracking ten-minute video on cooking the perfect lasagne, I’m afraid it’s not going to fly on social; even if it’s a success on YouTube.

Instead, think about creating a preview of the main video. This could be a highlight reel, the first minute, or even you introducing it— think of it as a trailer. You can upload the video straight to your social platform of choice, and then point them to the main video/playlist/channel; whether it’s on YouTube or your website. If you do this, you should have a much better chance of people clicking through to it; which should be your top line goal for these short social videos.

Measuring success

A video’s success depends entirely on its goal — the same with written content. However, there are three main areas you need to look at: click through rates, watch percentage, and likes and shares. At the end of the day, videos need to have a purpose. Is it’s purpose to increase awareness for a brand? In which case you should think about the amount of social engagement it gets, and employ a strategy where you keep viewers watching your video for as long as possible. Or is it lead generation? If that’s your goal then you should look at whether or not viewers engage with you after they’ve watched: visiting your website, for example. Once you have that goal you can work out which video platform is going to work best for you.

No matter which platform you host a video on, don’t look at how many views you’ve got, you’re just being vain. Instead, look at how much of the video people have watched. 100 people watching the entire video is much better engagement than 10,000 watching a couple of seconds.

At the end of the day, your videos need to be tailored to the platform they’re going to be hosted on. If you want fun, easy, and shareable content to build your brand then YouTube is a great place to start. If you want more professional looking videos that you want to put on your website that can help with lead generation, then consider more professional third-party platforms such as Wistia. You can easily utilise multiple video hosting platforms as part of your distribution strategy, you just need to work out what your goals are first.

If you want to know a bit more about video strategies and what we do at Curated, then get in touch — we’d love to have a chat.

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