16 ways to promote your YouTube channel for more views
Updated: Jun 8, 2022
There’s no better time than now to figure out how to promote your YouTube channel.
Why “now,” though?
For starters, YouTube is the second most-visited site on the web, and in a day and age where we’re spending up to six hours per day consuming video, the writing is on the wall.
If you want to stand out on YouTube, you need to take advantage of as many promotional tactics as possible.
Below we’ll go into detail on each of these tactics for promoting your YouTube channel and maximizing your viewership. Whether you’re just getting started or want to see your numbers tick further upward, these tips are all fair game.
Boost your YouTube strategy
In addition to the 16 tips below, make sure you’re up on all things YouTube to maximize your efforts with these guides:
How to create a YouTube channel for business – Simplify setting up and perfecting your business channel.
11 Tips for writing YouTube descriptions – Differentiate your videos and ensure they’re super findable with optimized descriptions.
YouTube SEO: How to boost your videos’ rankings – YouTube has become one of the world’s biggest search engines. Follow these tips to make sure you’re meeting audience needs.
YouTube hashtags: How to use hashtags to increase video views – Demystify how hashtags work on YouTube and get more eyes on your videos.
How to use YouTube Analytics to optimize your video performance – Ensure all your efforts are succesful and poinpoint where you can still refine with effective analytics.
1. Write engaging, must-see titles
YouTube marketing is all about presentation.
Titles are make-or-break when it comes to your video’s performance. Ask yourself: are you presenting your content as “must-see” or “meh?”
The key to crafting killer titles is grabbing your audience’s attention without resorting to clickbait headlines. People crave content that’s entertaining, and they likewise want to know what your video is about from the word “go.”
For example, you can take a page out of the playbooks of YouTube giants like BuzzFeed and WhatCulture. Such videos often rely on listicles, question-based titles or hyperbole (“insane,” “…of all time”) to rack up the views.
Athlean X’s fitness-based videos are another good example. The channel’s content manages to sneak in relevant keywords in its titles while also coming across as conversational.
“Best-of” lists and “how-to” titles are always a safe bet, too. Here are some click-worthy titles from Disney Food Blog:
The takeaway here is that you should definitely spend time mulling over engaging titles rather than sticking with the first idea that pops into your head.
In terms of specifics, an oft-cited study from Tubular Insights notes that YouTube video titles should stick between 41 and 70 characters. Meanwhile, tools such as CoSchedule’s headline analyzer recommends 55 characters for an engaging headline. CoSchedule’s tool isn’t specifically meant for video titles but is awesome for brainstorming YouTube-friendly titles to help promote your YouTube channel.
Publish on YouTube with Sprout Social The opportunities are virtually endless on YouTube, and you can now publish to YouTube directly from Sprout. Host long-form video on your channel, extend reach through YouTube’s extensive search capabilities, and track how your performance stacks up to other social networks. Start a free trial to give our YouTube publishing features a try.
2. Optimize your videos for visibility
Here’s some food for thought: YouTube videos show up in 70% of the top 100 Google search results.
Heck, see for yourself. Any given product or “how-to” query on Google will return something from YouTube.
In fact, YouTube results sometimes even pop up before traditional blog posts or websites.
Listen: YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world in and of itself. Just like people search for products and need problems solved via Google, the same rings true on YouTube.
Think of your YouTube videos like any other piece of content that needs to be optimized in terms of keywords, tags and so on.
In order to increase your chances of showing up, you’ll want to follow some of the best practices for YouTube SEO:
Titles and description: Include target keywords in your titles and descriptions. You can use a tool like Keywordtool.io to help you find keyword ideas.
Mention keywords in your video: According to Brian Dean of Backlinko, saying your target keywords in your video can help YouTube better understand what your video is about.
Engagement: YouTube uses engagement (likes, comments, views) to help determine where videos rank in its search results.
Categories: Use categories to help YouTube get a better understanding of who to show your videos to.
Tags: In addition to categories, you can also add tags to your videos to give YouTube more context about your content. You can use quite a few tags, so add as many as you can think of.
Just like with SEO for your website, don’t keyword stuff. Use keywords when it makes sense, not just for the sake of having them.
3. Figure out what your audience wants
With any type of content you produce, you want to make sure it’s aligned with what your audience wants. Whether you’re writing a blog post or creating a video, start by getting to know your audience and what type of content they want to see from you.
If you’re just starting to promote your YouTube channel, take a look at your competitors or other video creators in your industry. Look at which of their videos get the most views and engagement. This will give you an idea of what topics your audience wants to learn about and what style of videos they prefer.
Another solution is to look at your YouTube Analytics if you’ve already uploaded videos. YouTube gives you detailed information on audience demographics, location, engagement and other helpful stats. You can also take your strategy a step further with YouTube reporting in Sprout Social and see how your content stacks up to other social video you’ve produced.
Want to better understand your YouTube metrics? Download our video metrics cheat sheet to learn the most important metrics to track and get ideas for video content tailored to your marketing goals.
4. Engage with the YouTube community
Although you might not think of YouTube as a social network per se, the platform does represent a thriving community where users are engaging via content via profiles, “likes” and comments.
Sounds pretty “social” if you ask us.
As noted earlier, any sort of interaction with your viewers is seen as a positive signal to YouTube. If nothing else, engaging with your subscribers can help you foster a stronger connection with your audience. “Liking” comments only takes a few seconds, as does pinning a top comment as a sort of personal note to your subscribers.
For example, music channel Artzie Musik regularly “likes” and responds to comments on its recent uploads. The channel’s creator regularly goes back-and-forth with subscribers to show appreciation and answer questions, too.
Just as you’d respond to comments and engage with your followers on any other social network, YouTube is no different.
5. Customize your thumbnails
One of the simplest yet effective tactics to promote your YouTube channel is creating custom thumbnails.
Think of your title and thumbnail as a sort of one-two punch to grab a viewer’s attention.
By default, YouTube snags a screenshot from any given video and uses it for the thumbnail. Unfortunately, sometimes the image it grabs will be a blurry shot of you adjusting the camera or a transition.
Not a good look, right?
Creating thumbnails yourself not only makes your videos look more appealing at a glance but also signals a certain sense of professionalism.
Thumbnails don’t have to be rocket science, either. You can even create a template with a particular font and style to make it more consistent and on-brand. This is made especially easy with the help of image creation tools such as Canva. Here’s a good example from Binging with Babish:
6. Cross-promote your own videos on YouTube
Chances are you’re covering similar topics on YouTube that overlap with each other.
To squeeze more out of your older content, make a point to cross-promote your videos when it makes sense.
For example, you can drop links in the description of a video and encourage viewers to check them out as a sort of call-to-action. Although some might be disappointed by the recent removal of YouTube’s annotation system, linking in your description encourages viewers to watch your videos all the way through without clicking away.
7. Target Google search results
As noted, YouTube is totally killing it when it comes to SEO.
And while you shouldn’t totally create content for search engines versus people, you should promote your YouTube channel with SEO in mind.
Specifically, product reviews, how-to’s and long-form (10+ minutes) videos covering keyword-specific topics tend to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs). If you’re strapped for content ideas or want to capitalize on a trending buzzword in your industry, consider how you can do so through your YouTube channel marketing.
8. Run a contest or giveaway
If there’s one thing YouTube users love, it’s a giveaway. Host a YouTube contest or giveaway to encourage people to subscribe to your channel and engage.
To keep your contests simple, have people like your video, leave a comment and subscribe to your channel to enter.
Follow some of our best practices for running any social media contest:
Make sure you’re following YouTube’s policies.
Give away a gift that’s related to your brand: you want to attract more than just freebie-seekers.
Get creative by incorporating user-generated content and other non-traditional entry requirements.
Be careful with hosting frequent YouTube contests, though. You want to make sure you’re getting results from your efforts: otherwise, you’ll end up wasting time, money and resources. After doing one contest, wait a while and look at your subscriber drop-off rate and engagement numbers. If you aren’t bringing in engaged subscribers, you could just be attracting people who want free prizes.
9. Encourage viewers to follow your series
A smart way to promote your YouTube channel is by creating a specific video series that covers a recurring theme or topic.
Popular foodie channel Bon Appétit actually has a variety of different series that make up their YouTube presence, including their ongoing “From the Test Kitchen” videos.
Series are a win-win for creators and viewers alike. For creators, you hold yourself accountable for creating fresh YouTube content and don’t have to rack your brain for ideas. For your audience, they have something to look forward to and likewise a reason to keep returning to your channel.