This is the fourth and final installment in a series of posts with tips for making social media work for your library in 2020. Visit this page to read the first installment, which will help you set up your strategy and give you a framework for creating a workflow on any platform. Visit this page to read the second installment with lots of tips about how to get the best results out of Facebook and Instagram. Visit this page for the third installment to learn the latest strategies for LinkedIn and Pinterest library marketing.

YouTube is your best option for telling your library’s story.

YouTube is a video-driven social media network. The platform is now responsible for 11 percent of all global video traffic, second only to Netflix. Currently, YouTube has more than one billion users, and more than half of all views come from mobile devices. 

My family doesn’t watch TV anymore. We watch YouTube. We use it for entertainment and learning. When my 15-year-old decides to teach herself a new language, she downloads a language app AND watches a bunch of language tutorials on YouTube. When my college student was struggling with organic chemistry, she watched explainer videos on YouTube. When I need a break from my daily grind, I watch standup routines on YouTube. When we decided to re-roof our house, my husband watched roofing technique videos on YouTube.

The dominance of YouTube for entertainment and learning means libraries now have an opportunity to establish and expand their brand using video marketing. And before we go any further, I want to make a point about video marketing, because I know it feels scary if you’ve never done it. You don’t need a lot of video savvy to take advantage of what video marketing can do for your library! You don’t need a production crew or a fancy camera. The story is the most important part of any video, and anyone can tell a good video story or shoot a tutorial or explainer video with a camera phone!  

Once you’ve created your videos, you can use them to build a YouTube following. YouTube is not a video repository! It’s your library’s storytelling channel. 

YouTube’s features are intuitive. And getting the best performance for your YouTube videos is more about optimizing those features than anything else. YouTube will boost the performance of your videos if you optimize your videos using the following techniques.

Optimize your YouTube homepage.

Your home page is the first thing people see, so it needs to make a good impression. Take time to build a professional-looking page that encapsulates what your channel is about.

Step one: Choose a compelling profile picture. It should be branded to your library. If you have a great logo, that’s what you want to use. If you have one building, use a photo of that. Pick an image that identifies you.

Step two: Upload channel art. At the top of your channel homepage is the header image. You can use text and add personality in your library’s brand voice to the header image.

Step three: Create a channel trailer. The trailer, which auto-plays when someone visits your channel, is your channel’s elevator pitch and could be your only chance to gain or lose a subscriber. Aim for a one to two-minute video that tells people what your channel is about. Make the trailer content fun and interesting.

Create an “About” page. Your “About” page is accessible via a tab on your YouTube channel home page. On your About page, include a short, persuasive description of your channel.

Create playlists. On the home page, you can make playlists of your best videos. Each playlist can appear in a different section, with up to 10 sections total.

When you name your playlists, think about what keywords people would use to search for the content you provide. Don’t be cute. Be strategic. Use simple names like “Events for Kids” and “Inside the Library.”

For the following tasks, you’ll want to use YouTube studio. You can access this special editing function of  YouTube by clicking the button located in the upper-right-hand quadrant of your upload page. Once you are inside the studio section, click on “Videos”, and then on the video you wish to edit.

Always upload your video in “private” mode. This means that no one can see the video but you! It gives you time to complete these next tasks and get the video ready for maximum viewing optimization before you release it to the public.

Choose a video title that accurately reflects your content and contains search-driven keywords. The title of your videos impacts your video views and ranking in the YouTube algorithm (yes, this platform is also algorithm-based!) The title serves as the primary trigger for viewers to click. It should give your viewers instant insight into a video’s content.  

YouTube will automatically import your file’s name as the video title, so you’ll need to change the title of your video. Include keywords to help users find it in search.

Write a great video description. This will be displayed underneath your video when someone views it. Include a short paragraph here detailing the contents of your video. Again, use keywords to make your video easier to find in search. You may also want to include links to your website here.

Give your thumbnail a good amount of consideration. YouTube will automatically generate a thumbnail image from your video. This is the image that will display when users search for videos or view the video in a playlist. And it’s very, very important to get the thumbnail right!

You can choose to edit the thumbnail YouTube provides, pick one of your own from a screenshot of your video, or to upload your own thumbnail.

If you decide to use the YouTube-chosen thumbnail, or if you pick a screenshot of your video within the YouTube studio, you can add text and graphics to it. Be sure to hit “save” when you are finished!

I find uploading my own thumbnail is the most effective method. But this requires a bit of planning. When you are shooting your video, you’ll need to take separate, still photos to upload. I like to do these using the portrait mode on my iPhone. I use Canva to add graphics and text to my thumbnail for the best visual effect. Then I upload the edited Canva PNG to YouTube.

There are some best practices for YouTube thumbnail images that you should follow. They should have a resolution of 1280×720 with an aspect ratio of 16:9 but with a file size less than 2MB and be formatted as JPG, GIF or PNG.

Add YouTube Cards throughout your videos. A card is a box that pops up when a video is playing that drives your viewers to take another action. Cards keep your viewers engaged with your content.

There are three different types of YouTube cards. The first drives people to a video or playlist to promote your content. You can also add a poll to encourage viewers to participate in a multiple-choice question or a link that redirects users to an approved website, preferably your own.

Choose a video location and category. If your video is relevant to a specific location, you can indicate that. When a user searches by location, your video may appear. The same applies to the category. Chose a category that best describes your video, and will help users find your video in search.

Let people comment. By default, users will be able to comment on your video and view its ratings. You can choose to disable comments, hold all comments for review, or hold potentially inappropriate comments for review.  But, if you restrict comments, your videos won’t get as much reach.

I have allowed comments on my personal channel and on our library’s channel and I’ve had zero issues with trolls. When you do get a great comment, you should “pin” it, which lets people see that comment first. This serves like a review of your video, and creates some social pressure for people to watch!

Make your video public. Don’t forget to switch your video to “public” view once you’ve completed the optimization tasks.

I know this seems like a lot of steps. But doing all these tasks tells YouTube that you are serious about your videos and their success. They will reward you in the algorithm. It’s worth it.

Secret tip: Push your YouTube videos on other channels and on your email list for the first 24 hours after you upload.

The more views you get in the first 24 hours of your video’s life on YouTube, the higher your video ranking will be, and the more views you will get! But how do we do this? We’re going to game the system a little.

Facebook and LinkedIn don’t like it when we post links to YouTube videos because YouTube is their competition! They want you to post videos natively to their platform. But hear me out, because this works. Here’s what you do.

  • Post your video to YouTube, optimize the heck out of it, and make it public.
  • Immediately post a link to your YouTube video on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, with a keyword-rich description.
  • Send an email to your email list with a link to the video.
  • 24 hours after the video is first uploaded to YouTube, hide your Facebook post and delete the LinkedIn post promoting the video.
  • Re-post the video to your Facebook page natively.
  • Re-post the video to your LinkedIn page natively.

Track your YouTube metrics. 

You can monitor your YouTube channel by tracking the following metrics:

  • Subscribers: The number of people in your channel’s viewership.
  • Watch time: The total amount of minutes users spent watching your channel’s content.
  • View duration: The average amount of time people spend watching your content.
  • Audience retention: The percentage of people who return to your channel again and again.

Tumblr can work as a niche channel if you have the time and resources.

My library turned our Tumblr account over to our Digital Services department. They post about once a week with some cool vintage images they’re scanning from our collection and they drive traffic to our digital library. It’s very niche and the audience there loves it. If you can do something similar, creating a niche for your account, go for it.

Snapchat is not worth your time.

Snapchat has a very specific demographic. 71 percent of the platform’s users are under 34 years old and 45 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24. And what do we know about that demographic? They are very resistant to marketing.

My library really, really, really tried to make Snapchat work. We were posting behind the scenes stuff, and teen stuff, and hilarious books. We even tried using it to talk one-on-one with our followers, give them personal invites to events and personalized book recommendations. But there was never any return on our investment of time, so we jumped out. I would recommend you ignore Snapchat.

TikTok is not worth your time.

For the moment, I cannot see any reason why your library should spend time thinking about or marketing on TikTok. Right now the only marketers getting any reach on this emerging platform are those willing to spend money to buy ads. And there isn’t enough data to suggest that’s even a worthwhile budget decision. So I recommend hanging back on TikTok, at least for now.

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