Saturday, July 11, 2015

How Should I Use YouTube Annotations?

You’ve probably seen YouTube annotations: pop-ups; text bubbles; links; all in different colors and fonts, and all part ofthe YouTube system. YouTube is working diligently, spending millions of dollars to integrate this across all ofthe platforms, including television and mobile.
What do you do with that? How do you use them? How do you make them part ofyour business? Fact number one: annotations bring integration, they bring interactivity, and they bring some very cool things into the online video process. You definitely want to leverage that.
Fact number two: YouTube is adding more and more features all the time, and they are working diligently in making it work across all oftheir platforms. YouTube is focused on letting you do more cool things with them on more platforms than ever before.
Some people won’t be able to see or interact with annotations, however, so you need to keep that in consideration. Realize that right now, at least at the time ofwriting, you can even add an annotation that says, “Click here to get a million dollars”, but ifthat person is watching on an iPhone, they won’t see the annotation and they won’t click for the cash. People on mobile devices just aren’t able to use annotations, so take that in consideration during the production ofyour videos.
So what can you do with annotations? You can obviously incorporate humor, as well as commentary and supplemental things that aren’t 100% necessary. You can ask somebody to subscribe or make a joke by telling them when the next video is coming out. Annotations that work best are ones have no negative impact ifthey are not seen (like when they’re viewed on a mobile or another screen).
One thing you can do is you can link – and that’s a powerful facet ofannotations. At the time of writing, you are able to link to other YouTube videos. Imagine that somebody has just found your Channel and they’re watching a video that they like; when they reach the end ofthe video and they want more, you should certainly tell them, “I have more, here’s a video about X”. The great thing about annotations is that when viewers click on one, it takes them directly to that video.
I’ve seen people who have added annotations to their videos and doubled their viewing figures just over the course ofone week.
You can also link to a playlist, simply by saying, “Ifyou like this video, I’ve got ten more videos on this topic,” and provide a link to that list. You should realize as well that the playlist can come up in YouTube results, so you have effectively double power there.
You can also link viewers back to your channel page. By providing a channel link, you link people back to who it is you are and what it is you do. It’s very powerful and very easy, and I definitely recommend that you do that.
You can also add an annotation to a Google+ profile page. In fact, Google Talk, Google, YouTube, Google Docs – all ofthe Google empire – tightly integrate with the Google+ social platform. So if you build the link outside ofYouTube to your Google+ profile page, it is incredibly powerful. It will bring people to additional content and additional sites and from there, you can link to a subscription button.
Getting people to subscribe to your YouTube Channel is incredibly beneficial and something that you want to consider; because the more people subscribed, the more people will come back when you put up the next video. It begins to be a snowball rolling down the side ofthe mountain; it gets bigger and bigger with the power ofgravity that comes along with it.
You can also link to a fund-raising project for non-profits or to a Kickstarter account.
And finally, there is an option to include annotation links to merchandise providers. YouTube has a list ofones that you can use, so do check the list. At the time ofpublication, the only e-commerce option available is Shopify, which currently has a 14-day free trial worth looking at.
So, it is possible to link to many cool things external to YouTube; just be aware ofthe people who are not able to view them.
What are the action items? What can you do with all these choices?
Make use ofannotations when they make sense. For example, including a subscribe annotation in every single one ofyour videos makes complete and total sense. Let people know that you’ve got more for them to see by linking to playlists and linking to other videos; all ofthese ideas are very strategic and very easily implemented. They don’t know you; they don’t know that you have this ther video; so linking to those things can be incredibly powerful.
When I write about “making sense” in annotations, I am talking about the simple fact that not all systems are going to support such annotations. Nothing is sillier than watching a video on a television set that says “click on the balloon” that isn’t there or listening to video tell you that something is there, when, in fact, it isn’t.
The first options “make sense” because they work regardless of whether the user can see them or not. An annotation that tells someone to subscribe is gold for someone who can see it, and it means nothing to someone who cannot.
All is not lost ifall ofyour audience can’t view your annotations. Ifyou’re linked to something external, address the fact that it might not work on their particular screen and give them an  lternative.
For example, you might have the video say “To learn more, go ahead and click on the link that says learn more and we’ll take you right to an account over at Kickstarter. Or ifyou’re viewing on a phone
or a television set or other device which doesn’t have external links, you can visit us at,” then put that link right inside ofthe video file. Linking to something external and speaking about it is fine; you just need to address the fact that they might not be able to do that as well.
Finally, annotations asking people to give you a thumbs up are always doable. Ofcourse, ifyou make it social, you get automatic sharing across all ofthe different networks. That is your best use of YouTube annotations.
I want to point out again that in the next chapter I examine what I consider to be the future of Annotations.

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