SEMA News—July 2013
Getting Your Business to Look Good on All Computer Devices Just Became Effortless
Businesses looking for a quick fix to the increasingly vexing challenge of getting their web presence to look good on all screen sizes—including smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs—may want to turn to YouTube. The online video goliath is rolling out a major upgrade this spring specifically designed to ensure that a company’s website on its service, which YouTube calls a “channel,” looks great no matter how visitors decide to view it.
“The main focus of this update is to make your new channel look great on browsers across all screens and devices,” said Jeb Havens, a product manager at YouTube.
The solution is perfect for a business that is eager to develop a web presence that looks good on all computer devices but may not have the time, revenue or fortitude to do a complete redesign of its current website. Essentially, a business can use YouTube for its mobile presence on the web and retain its current website for web surfers who use more traditional desktop and laptop computers.
The redesign, which the company is calling YouTube One, also offers businesses an opportunity to either enhance their video presence on the web or finally launch that video promotion strategy they’ve been considering for months or even years but never quite got around to implementing.
All told, it’s a tough offer to pass up, given YouTube’s juggernaut web status. It’s the third most popular site on the Internet, just behind Google and Facebook, according to market research firm Alexa. And it’s currently averaging more than one billion unique visitors each month, according to its company stats page. Plus, YouTube’s asking price for hosting a business channel on its service—free—makes establishing a beachhead there almost impossible to resist.
YouTube is able to offer a one-size-fits-all website by stripping down the homepage for a business’ web channel on its network to its bare essentials. Each business is invited to personalize its homepage by uploading a banner featuring its logo or other identifying graphics, which runs along the top of its page. Otherwise, the rest of the homepage design for business channels—which includes a basic white background—is pretty much standardized. Perhaps most interesting about the standardization is that a wide middle column that is flanked on each side by a much skinnier column now dominates the homepage.
The new wide middle column—which appears a lot like the Newsfeed column on Facebook—is where the action is. The business can arrange its videos into separate playlists there, based on categories of its choosing.
There’s also a navigation bar just below the company banner in the middle column where visitors can click to access videos in other ways, look at and participate in discussion about the videos or get a brief text description of what the business is about. The skinny column on the left actually has nothing to do with the business. It’s used by YouTube to promote other video channels on its service. Ditto for the skinny right column.
Probably the best news about the update is that getting started on YouTube is nearly effortless. If you’re looking to establish your own business channel there, here are some tips offered by the company:
Create Your Own Channel: Getting a business channel on YouTube literally takes a few seconds. There’s a quick sign-in and—shazam!—you suddenly have your own business channel.
Upload a Banner: Banners are the sole piece of artwork, other than your actual videos, that personalize your channel’s homepage. So you’ll probably want to give the banner some thought. The optimum size for the banner is 2,120 x 1,192 pixels, according to YouTube’s online design guide. For details on maximizing your banner’s usefulness, check out YouTube’s text tutorial.
Upload Your First Video: This process also takes just a few seconds. Once your video is on YouTube, you’ll be prompted to title it with an easy-to-understand title, include a description for the video and come up with some “tags” or keywords that search engines will use to direct web cruisers to your video. For more info on titling and the like, look here.
Prioritize the Appearance of Critical Videos: Once you’ve uploaded a number of videos on YouTube, you’ll be able to use a new feature to position the most important videos at the top of your channel page.
Consider Organizing Videos by Playlists: Another great new feature, playlists allow businesses to organize videos by theme. You may want one playlist devoted entirely to breaking news from your firm—executive video announcements, company news coverage from national or local TV, etc. Another playlist might be devoted entirely to a new product line or new service you’ve added to your business.
Consider Creating a Welcome Video: Another new feature of the upgrade—a welcome video or trailer—can be programmed to play for visitors who are new to your channel on YouTube, then disappear when YouTube senses that your visitor has subscribed to your channel. “A compelling channel trailer is the most engaging way of introducing your channel and encouraging your viewers to subscribe so that they’ll make you part of their YouTube habit,” said Andres Palmister, audience development strategist for YouTube.
Take Advantage of the Global Change Tool: Another great new feature of the service is the ability to make global changes to the specifications associated with your videos. You may decide down the line that you want to run YouTube ads before your videos play to generate some extra coin from your presence there. YouTube’s Bulk Action tool enables you to make that change to all videos simultaneously. You can also categorize all videos with a single action, change the formats of ads that run with your videos and more. For more info, look here.
Leverage YouTube Analytics: With YouTube’s free analytics, you can find out the number of views for each of your videos, see who’s subscribing to your channel, analyze how long each person watched each video, see at what point in the video viewers are leaving and more. YouTube Analytics is a powerful tool that will tell you what’s going on with your videos and suggest ways to improve what you’re doing.
Embed a YouTube player on Your Traditional Website: Once you’ve uploaded all your videos to YouTube, you can embed a YouTube player on your company website that visitors can use. Simply click the “Share” button under a video you have on YouTube and then click “Embed.” You’ll be presented with a single line of code that you or your web designer can embed on any page of your traditional website and—presto!—you’ve got a YouTube viewer on your website that can be used to view all the videos on your YouTube business channel.
Consult the Free YouTube Playbook: For the last word on how to optimize every aspect of your YouTube channel, check out YouTube’s free guide.
Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.