Episode 44 – How to get more new viewers to watch your videos longer
Since 2011, Tim Schmoyer has been one of the leading YouTube strategists in the online video industry. His company, Video Creators, has been featured by FOX, Forbes, BBC even YouTube themselves as his team trains creators and brands to master YouTube and use it as a place to spread messages that change lives. Their clients have organically grown by over 14 billion views and 61 millions subscribers under their guidance. Today he lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife and seven children.
Tim’s One Hot Thing…
- How to get more new viewers to watch your videos longer
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A lot of people publish content and then just twiddle their thumbs waiting for views come. There’s been a lot of trends that really make videos clickable and get people to watch and you might expect there’s a lot that goes into this, but the three primary things are:
1. An engaging title
The title of the video really matters and it’s best that title teases some sort of value, some sort of reward that the viewer will get if they actually click and watch.
It needs to create some sort of sense of intrigue or create a question mark in the mind of the viewer. If it’s a narrative type of content, like a blog or something more story-based, you need to make people think, “Oh, what happens next?” Or, “Oh, how did that happen?” Or, “How did that work out?”
The title should pitch the value, teasing the reward, delivering the story, creating that question mark and creating a sense of intrigue.
The video title and thumbnail connection
The title is your opportunity to use text and pitch the video content and the thumbnail’s your opportunity to pitch it visually. The principles are still the same for the thumbnail – teasing a story, pitching value, creating intrigue.
The thumbnail should complement the title. The mistake a lot of people make is a just merely describing the content, but you need to think about how people will actually search for it.
Keywords are important, but from the human aspect, the focus should be on what people expect and what makes sense to them rather than using words because you know YouTube algorithms will promote your videos because you stuffed the right words into the right space. It doesn’t really work that way.
So the title and thumbnail really need to complement each other.
Another common mistake people make is just repeating the title of the video in the thumbnail, which is unnecessary. People can read the title, they already saw that, and the thumbnail should be really used to set an expectation visually.
The first 15 seconds of the video
Most people start making their videos as if they were for television, this way things can take a few minutes to ramp up. You might see the camera go down the street and up the driveway and up to someone’s front door and it’ll be a couple of minutes before you even see the character.
You can’t do that on YouTube. It’s got to be super fast.
So when someone clicks on a title or a thumbnail, that viewing journey for that person actually starts with the title and thumbnail and they click because they set an expectation.
So the opening seconds of that video need to hold the viewer’s attention and confirm for the viewer right away that yes, what they clicked expecting to get in this video is coming.
It can’t be like, “Hey guys, how’s it going? Good to see you again. My name is so and so and here we are and this is blah blah blah.” And then you actually don’t start talking about the thing that the title and thumbnail tease until even 15 seconds in… you’ll lose all your non-subscribed viewers. So it’s really important that the title and thumbnail set an expectation that’s delivered right away in the opening 15 seconds of the video.
Plan your title and thumbnail before you record
It’s easier to make content that performs well if you decide on your title and thumbnail before you start making the video.
Aim to craft your content in a way that takes into account the viewing: title, thumbnail, click, opening seconds.
So start then with the title and thumbnail, know what those two things are going to be and your opening of the video.
So let me give you an example. My wife and I have a YouTube channel and say she’s going to go grocery shopping with our seven children. Let’s say the title is Mom Goes Shopping With Seven Kids Alone, and ‘alone’ is in all caps, it teases us with a question mark… Why would she do that? How did that work out? Is she crazy?
Then we know the thumbnail image is going to be and we actually pose for these. So for this one we’d put all the kids in the shopping cart at the grocery store and take a picture of all the kids hanging out of the cart, looking like things are just going crazy.
So, how should that video open? What should the first 15 seconds look like?
What it shouldn’t do is open the video in our kitchen and say, “Oh, I need to go grocery shopping, we’re out of food.” Even though it feels like a connects, it doesn’t deliver on the expectation. So instead, that video needs to start with her putting kids into the shopping cart in the parking lot at the grocery store.
That’s what people clicked expecting to see and that’s going to hold their attention much better than her starting with showing an empty pantry.
The story starts when people click and so it’s important to keep that in mind as opposed to just trying to figure it out later and then it not really quite connecting. If the expectation isn’t actually delivered till a minute in, you lose people and that’s a negative signal to Google and your videos just won’t do well.
I have an educational channel that teaches people how to grow on YouTube and how to master it. Let’s say I was going to do a video about this very topic. About titles, thumbnails, and the opening 15 seconds. So I could just title it How To Create Titles, Thumbnails And Video Openings.
That doesn’t reward or value. What’s the actual benefit I’ll get if I watch this? So instead, I would probably be more likely to title it, The Key To Hooking Your Audience And Holding Their Attention. Or, How To Get More New Viewers To Watch Your Videos Longer, or something like that.
This is the benefit, or the reward that they’ll actually get so there’s more chance they’ll click and then I’ll introduce them to the topic of titles, thumbnails and the opening seconds because they don’t actually care about titles, thumbnails and opening seconds, what they actually care about is getting more views or more watch time or holding people’s attention better, etc.
Craft the title after the reward or benefit that they’re going to get and then introduce them to the topic, not necessarily after the topic.
So when I open that video then, that video is going to open up with like, “Have you seen that video? You look at it and it’s just a kid in his basement with a webcam and he’s going to get millions of views and here you are on your nice production studio getting zero. Why is that? Well, there’s three important things you need to know. I’m going to tell you guys about that in this video.” Something like that, I don’t know.
So it’s teasing the story and the value that’s coming to creating intrigue. Then you deliver that content after that.
It’s good old sales tactics… don’t talk about features, talk about benefits. It’s the same thing we’re doing with with our content.
How important are keywords?
YouTube doesn’t really focus on keywords much. There was a day on YouTube when that was a big deal, but those days ended a few years back.
A lot of people lie in the metadata. YouTube learned that they can’t rely on the information and the keywords that we give Google about our content, people lie just to get the right keywords in and other people just don’t fill it in. So YouTube had to figure out other ways to determine which videos are valuable and to whom are they valuable to.
A lot of that revolves around viewer signals that they collect, like watch time and session time and things like that, which is literally just how long did the person spend watching this video?
So what Google is looking at isn’t really related to keywords and tags and things, it’s more about how a human responds to the content. Do they watch it for a long time and get to the end and then watch more? Or three seconds in do they leave it? That’s what YouTube looks for.
So what it really comes down to is optimizing for people, not YouTube.
When it comes to strategy, we don’t start with keywords, we start with people. When we work with our clients, we ask, “Who’s your ideal subscriber? Who’s the person you’re trying to reach?” Then we ask, “What value are you going to deliver? What do they want to consume from you? What promise can you make?”
Like, “Hey, subscribe to my channel because I’m going teach you how to master YouTube so you can spread a message that reaches people and changes their lives.” Or, “Subscribe to our family vlog because we want to encourage young moms that being a mother is a noble and worthy pursuit.”
Whatever your promises are, when they revolve around beliefs and not just common interest, they’re the strongest because the strongest communities always revolve around shared beliefs.
So our strategy revolves around people and reaching those people with a strategy, not necessarily keywords.
There’s usually a lot of pushback on this because people have a hard time thinking outside of the robot algorithm, but the YouTube algorithms are designed to measure what people enjoy and they’re designed to show the right video to the right person at the right time.
They’re focused on people and so rather than us trying to figure out how to hack the algorithm, focus on the same thing the algorithm is focused on and get people to give you really positive signals. That’s what YouTube’s looking for.
I’m not against keywords, but we just personally use them more for ideation rather than stuffing words into the right boxes. People connect with people, they don’t connect with keywords.