How to Get More Views on YouTube

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The year was 1939, and a film had just been released to disappointing reception. This flop was American studio MGM’s most expensive production at the time, and recorded a loss of $1.145-million. It wasn’t until a 1956 CBS broadcast of The Wizard of Oz that it finally got the audience attention it deserved. Today, this “flop” is considered one of the best films in history, and is the most-viewed motion picture on television syndication. The Wizard of Oz had the quality content it needed, but was missing one crucial ingredient—an audience.

While your YouTube channel might be producing high-quality content, if it isn’t getting audience attention and views you’re missing out on huge opportunities. However, getting these views is easier said than done. We’ve put together the following guide to help you get more views on YouTube—and save your brand from becoming a flop.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence with Hootsuite.

How to get more views on YouTube

Ask your audience to subscribe

One of the best ways to get more views is to ask your audience to subscribe to your channel. This helps make sure that they are aware of any new content you post and puts necessary pressure on you to post consistently. The easiest way to get your audience to subscribe to your channel is to provide a clear and simple call to action—whether through your videos or social media channels.

If you’re doubting the value of a CTA, KISSmetrics found that videos containing a clear CTA (such as “Subscribe Now”) got 380 percent more clicks than those with the CTA in the video description. Your viewers are engaged and looking for a next step when they finish watching a video, so provide them with one. However, you need to make sure that this subscribe request isn’t coming across as a cringe-inducing beg, but rather a helpful suggestion. To improve the success of your CTA, try to:

  • Create and share content that your audience will find valuable. Conduct audience research and social media listening to figure out what types of video your target audience will find most interesting.
  • Make sure your videos aren’t just drawn out advertisements for your business, but rather lifestyle and brand-relevant video content.
  • Maintain consistency and ensure you are posting on a regular basis. Don’t leave your audience hanging, but rather become a part of their schedules and online habits with your videos.

A request to subscribe seems pretty straight-forward, but Content Verve found that if you use first-person phrasing on your button (i.e. “Make me a social media expert! Subscribe now”) you could see a 90 percent success rate over other phrasing. Keep it simple and straightforward, and you should see those subscriptions—and views—grow.

Use playlists to organize your content

The main thing to remember when you’re trying to increase your YouTube views is discoverability. Your channel and videos obviously can’t get the views they deserve if your target audience can’t find your brand’s content. Organization plays a huge role in discoverability, as YouTube’s Creator Academy explains, “Great playlists can increase watch time and create another asset that will appear in search results and in suggested videos.”

Your channel is a direct representation of your brand, and you want to make sure that customers see you at your best. Don’t present them with a messy, disorganized YouTube experience, but rather a well-curated and well thought-out channel. One of the best ways to do this is to create playlists to organize your content.

You can create playlists, whether of your own original content or curated content from other relevant makers and brands, and help your audience find more of the videos they want to see.

To create a playlist in YouTube:

  1. Find a video you want in the playlist.
  2. Under the video, click Add to and then select the black plus sign.
  3. Click Create new playlist.
  4. Enter a playlist name.
  5. Use the drop down box to select your playlist’s privacy setting. Don’t make it private, as your audience won’t be able to find it when they search YouTube.
  6. Click Create.

You can find your new playlist from the Library in the Guide on the left side of the screen.

Besides playlists, there are many other ways to increase YouTube views.

Optimize your metadata

To get more views on your YouTube videos, think about how your target audience might discover your content. Ask yourself what kinds of keywords they would use when conducting a search, and what sort of video titles would they click on?

These are the questions you need to consider when filling in the metadata for your video to increase discoverability and views. Metadata includes the video title, description, tags, category, thumbnail, subtitles, and closed captions (if applicable). This information helps videos get discovered more easily, and adds important context to your content.

YouTube’s Creator Academy offers the following tips to help you optimize your metadata so that your video can be easily discovered—and get you the views you deserve:

  • Be short and sweet with your video’s metadata. Instead of describing every component of your video, use a few words to sum up the main idea.
  • Use subtitles and closed captions. These help broaden your audience to non-native language speakers and those who are hearing-impaired.
  • Add a translated description to your video for international viewers who might speak another language.
  • Follow the rules and don’t use clickbait tactics. Think about the kind of information that you would consider misleading if you were searching for something. YouTube provides a great video from their Help Center.

YouTube also suggests that creators, “Observe how titles and descriptions appear in search results, suggested videos, What to Watch, etc. Shorter titles often work best because long titles can be cut off depending on available width. Good descriptions add context to the video when it appears in search results. Consider replacing links from the top of your description with relevant text that gives context for prospective viewers.

One key area of your metadata that can make or break your chances of getting a view is the all-important thumbnail. Just like you, your target audience is deciding whether to click on your video based on a small visual preview of the content.

Get more views on YouTube by ensuring your thumbnails fit the following guidelines:

  • Have a resolution of 1280×720 (with minimum width of 640 pixels)
  • Use one of the approved file formats: .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG
  • Remain under the 2MB limit.
  • Use a 16:9 aspect ratio (it’s the most used in YouTube players and previews)

Attract your target audience by creating and using thumbnails that resonate with them and accurately depict the content. As I said in my post 11 Smart Ways to Promote Your YouTube Channel, “If your video is of a cat playing the guitar, have your thumbnail be of a cat playing a guitar, instead of a weird blurry image of you adjusting your camera.”

Use annotations to boost engagement

There are many elements to a YouTube video that can increase your views. With annotations, you can add text, links, and hotspots (or “spotlights”—areas that show text when the user moves the mouse over them) over your video. As YouTube explains, “When used correctly, annotations can improve engagement, viewership, and help you grow your audience.” If you need a refresher on how to add annotations to your videos, YouTube provides a great guide.

As I outline in my post How to Get More Subscribers on YouTube, some common uses for annotations include:

  • Letting viewers skip ahead (keeping them watching in the process)
  • Suggesting other videos for the viewer to watch
  • Linking to your website
  • Linking to a subscribe button for your channel
  • Adding a CTA (sign up, learn more, etc.)

YouTube counts a video as being viewed at the 30-second mark, so if you aren’t keeping your viewer engaged you aren’t getting this view count. Using annotations will help make your viewer want to stick around longer and increase your YouTube views. To get the most out of annotations:

  • Keep them only as long as they need to be to be read so that they don’t distract from your actual video
  • Make them small so that they don’t block any of your video’s content
  • Use less-distracting colors and more transparent annotations to keep the focus on your video
  • Don’t position them in the centre, but rather at the borders of the video

Annotations encourage your audience to engage with your videos, and will help you effortlessly hit that 30-second mark.

Run YouTube campaigns and contests

One of the best ways to attract new viewers to your content is with incentives such as campaigns and contests. With a YouTube contest, you can reach not only your current audience, but those who found your channel after seeing the contest entries and the contest announcement itself.

As outlined in our post, The Secrets to Running a Successful YouTube Contest, to run a successful campaign you must:

  • Set goals
  • Follow the YouTube contest guidelines and policies
  • Pick a relevant prize
  • Take advantage of social reach (i.e. encourage participants to share the contest to their own social networks in exchange for additional entries)
  • Use the right tools
  • Measure your contest’s success

If you’re stuck and don’t know what kind of contest to run, our guide also offers a few suggestions for how to get more views on YouTube:

  • Commenting contest
  • Subscription-based contests
  • Advocate video contest
  • Upload and vote video contest

Your audience is much more likely to share your content if there is an incentive involved, so a contest is a great way to increase your YouTube views.

There’s no magical recipe to guarantee more views on YouTube, but with the above tactics and best practices you’ll be on the yellow brick road to business success.