Hacking the YouTube ‘Playbook for Brands’: Annotate Like a Pro

/ Jun 4, 2014

YoutubePlaybookBrands

Having gotten people to click on your brand’s videos with stellar thumbnails, you can now make them click to more of your videos via annotations. Described as “clickable overlays” for your videos and rated higher than thumbnails by the Brand Playbook in terms of impact, annotations allow viewers to interact with your videos, thus providing a more meaningful watching experience.

When to use annotations:

1) Ask viewers to subscribe. Using an annotation that leads viewers to the “subscription confirmation” page allows people to subscribe to your channel without having to search out how to do so themselves. This makes a surprisingly large difference in subscription numbers because, well, people are lazy (especially on the internet).

2) Let them move from one episode to the next. Provide an annotation that will deliver viewers straight to next video in a series, or just your brand’s next video in general. This will encourage people to watch a bunch of your videos in a row, what the Brand Playbook deems “entering a sequential playlist viewing experience.”

3) Call viewers to action! Do this by inviting them to like/comment on the video, or by eliciting answers to questions your brand poses in the video itself.

How to best use annotations:

1) Don’t let them get in the way of your content. If you put annotations at the top of the video, it may end up overlaying the title when the video’s embedded. Also, putting an annotation right over a person’s face in your video? Obviously not the best idea. Let your annotations enhance, not obstruct, your content.

2) Don’t overwhelm your viewers. If you throw out annotation after annotation, it will start looking a lot like spam, warns the Brand Playbook. Lots of non sequitur popups will appear as a bunch of unwanted ads if you’re not careful to keep your annotations few and totally relevant.

3) Lead your viewers elsewhere only towards the end. Letting annotations direct viewers away from your content too early on in the video will ruin your watch time. Also, annotations at the end of the video should lead to viewers watching in the same window.

4) Measure up. Check YouTube Analytics to see your “Annotations” report and figure out whether you’re using them to the best of your abilities.

Special types of annotations:

1) Spotlight annotations operate on subtlety. The text on these annotations will only show up when a viewer’s mouse is hovering over it. Otherwise, a faint outline only highlights the spot where the annotation appears. You can draw some attention here while avoiding the problems of appearing spammy or obstructing your contact, a couple potential pitfalls we mentioned earlier.

2) InVideo programming annotations will promote your brand through its whole channel or any of its other, singular videos. With just one video, the thumbnail will show up as the clickable link (part of why optimizing your thumbnails is so essential). For the channel itself, you can customize a brand image to put over the video. Since it will allow you to see the content beneath and bring viewers the ability to subscribe to your channel without clicking away from the video, this is a great option for obtaining more subscribers without jeopardizing watch time. Last but not least, people can see and use these annotations on their phones (assuming they’re well out of the flip phone phase).

Since annotations help viewers navigate easily from one of your brand’s videos to another, the next logical step is to work on assembling playlists. We’ll touch on that as we continue to hack the “YouTube Creator Playbook for Brands.”

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