YouTube for Small Biz: Start a Channel

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You’re shooting videos on a regular basis for your small business. Great! Maybe it’s a weekly video showcasing your restaurant’s specials, or your salon is reviewing new products you’re using. Whatever it is, it’s time to get that content on the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube. You sign-up, give Google all your info, and land smack down on the channel page. Now what?

1. YouTube Channel Art & Icon

One of the first things you’ll need to add is your Profile Icon and Channel Art. Channel Art is similar to a Facebook Cover Photo, but a little more intricate. There’s a great template to show you exactly how to position your imagery located here. I’d recommend using your company’s logo as your profile icon. Make sure it’s bold, beautiful, and representative of your brand. Also, make sure you’re using this same version of your logo across all of your social media platforms. Gotta keep that branding consistent!

Have a little more fun with your Channel Art. Maybe showcase your staff, your product, or even use it to drive traffic to your website. Check out some examples of Channel Art that other businesses are using, especially any local competitors. Again, make sure it’s consistent with your branding when it comes to color, message, and feel. Your Channel Art is another piece of content that will help capture people’s attention and help tell the story of your small biz.


2. Channel Description and Links

Next up you’ll want to click the About tab on your channel and fill out some basic info. This is one of the most important parts of your channel besides your actual content. Your description will help YouTube properly index your channel in their search. Don’t say, “We’re a restaurant in New Jersey.” That’s a short, broad description that while accurate, doesn’t give close to enough information. Try, “We’re an Italian Bistro that specializes in homemade pasta dishes located right by the beach on the beautiful Jersey Shore. We have a fully stocked bar, large room for private parties, and live music every Tuesday night. Be sure to subscribe to our channel for weekly videos.”

That’s a bit longer, but look at the information potential customers are getting and now YouTube can index your channel properly. Next, enter in an email address for your business and be sure it’s one you actively check. Then add in your country. Almost done!

Now it’s on to the Links section. Not only will the links you enter appear here, but they’ll be overlaid on your Channel Art. The first link you enter will get a larger piece of real estate on that overlay, so your best bet is to make it your official website. Also, you get to add the text people will see here in the Links section, and for that first link on the overlay. Something like, “Visit our website,” or “Check out our official website,” works best. Then add in 4 other social media links such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, or wherever you’re cultivating an active social audience.

QUICK TIP: At the end of each video, remind people to follow you on social media by saying it, or with a graphic!


3. Adding Videos

Your channel is now mostly set up and you’re ready to upload a few videos. I think you can handle that process, but here are a few tips for entering in video info. The biggest tip I can give is make sure your video title, first line of the description, and first tag word are all virtually the same. For example, if you name your video, “Our New Meatball Recipe,” the first line of your description should be something like, “Chef John is excited for customers to try our new meatball recipe.” The first two tag words you enter in the tags section should be “meatball” and “recipe.” Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t know this. Again, this helps YouTube index your video properly so your video is easily found in search.

Another tip that is crucial for your video’s success is the Thumbnail Image. YouTube will pick out 3 images from the video for you to choose from, but you want to upload a Custom Thumbnail. (Be sure you’ve verified your channel so you have this option. In the Creator Studio, click on Channel. This will open up Status & Features which will guide you through the verification process.) A Custom Thumbnail image for your Meatball Recipe should be, you guessed it, a beautiful high resolution photo of those meatballs. Add some text also to really make it pop. Custom Thumbnail guidelines limit the size of the photo to 1280×720, but that’s a perfect size for a nice HD thumbnail. Make people hungry with this photo!

New Meatball Recipe

4. Create Playlists

Dive into your Creator Studio (the drop down menu in the upper right corner that activates when you click on your Profile Icon.) Then go to Video Manager, and click Playlists. Playlists allow you to group similar videos together and really pull people into your content. Let’s say you’re a retail shop that wants to showcase some new looks for Fall. Make a video about shirts, one about pants, then one about footwear. Instead of one long video, now you have 3 videos which you can tag properly & separately. Then create a Fall Looks 2015 playlist, add each video, and BOOM, killer playlist for potential customers. The big advantage to playlists is all three videos are right there, so a viewer automatically watches one video after another if they’re interested.

QUICK TIP: On your Channel, click Add A Section to showcase your Playlists right on the main page. Get those view counts up!


5. Tag That Channel

We’ve talked a lot about tagging your videos, and writing detailed descriptions of both channels and videos. Now let’s tag that channel. Go to your Creator Studio, then click Channel on the right side menu. Now click Advanced. There’s several options on this page about Advertisements, Link an AdWords account, etc. Your concern is with Channel Keywords. These should go hand in hand with your Channel Description, but can be a bit broader. For example, a salon might use: salon, style, hair, haircut, hair color, beauty, how to. For phrases, use quotation marks like this, “hair color.” This way, YouTube’s search knows to index that as a phrase. Remember, Google brings up YouTube in its search results before other sites since it’s a Google product. So if your channel is tagged properly, and someone is looking for a new salon on Google, the odds are your channel will pop up and possibly your videos, too. Keep those tags up-to-date!

YouTube adds more features on a regular basis and that can be difficult to keep up with. If you have a dedicated social media manager for your business, they can stay on top of these changes at the YouTube Creator Academy. It’s a great online tool to make sure you’re following all of YouTube’s best practices.

If you have any questions, comments, or just want to chat about your small biz’s social media, feel free to send me an email:

Thanks for reading!

– Chris

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