How to actually use YouTube as a social media channel

YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google.  It has hours of video content uploaded every minute; yet time and time again I discover it being used incorrectly. Organisations could learn a thing or two from YouTubers and creatives who understand how to use the platform as a social network. The biggest mistake any company can make is to treat YouTube as a video archive. It’s more than just a place to host video to embed on your website.

If you make the most out of YouTube , you’ll get just as much engagement from your audience, if not more. So it’s time to stop doing the bare minimum on the platform and start using it intentionally. Here’s how to do it:

First things first: don’t just upload videos you’ve designed for other social channels because you need some central place to put them all. YouTube audiences aren’t interested in 30 second ads made for Twitter. Before you do anything else make sure you’ve done these two things:

  1. Have a clear out of any videos which don’t belong on YouTube
  2. Write a channel strategy specifically for YouTube

Here are some top tips for what to consider in that strategy:

Choose descriptive titles

Look at the titles top YouTubers and channels use. Now look at yours. There’s probably quite a difference. Experienced YouTubers know you need a descriptive title, something people will search for. It shouldn’t be something arty or vague and definitely nothing too clickbaity. Tell people exactly what the video is about (as long as it’s actually enticing of course!) and people are more likely to click.

The Try Guys’ videos do exactly as they say on the tin (or title)

Provide interesting content

Where other channels favour short to the point videos, on YouTube you can actually design video content of length. In fact YouTube ads favour longer videos leading to most established YouTubers posting videos up to half an hour long. Do some research into your potential audience on YouTube and create videos for specifically them. Make it interesting, make it valuable, make it humorous, make it entertaining. Create content which shows your personality whilst also selling who you are and what you do. Do this and you’ll build up a subscriber base who not only watch your videos but become actual fans of the channel.

Vat19 sells fun games, quirky objects and prank supplies. Instead of doing just posting standard product ads on their YouTube channel, they come up with interesting and funny ways to use their products through challenges, games and viral content. Their ‘Hidden in plain sight‘ series is an entertaining highlight!

Pick your thumbnail

If you only had one picture to sell your video, would you leave it down to a random screenshot picked for you by YouTube? Use one or more images from your video to design a thumbnail that catches people’s attention. Successful thumbnails often include text to complement the title of the video. This is another occasion where successful YouTube accounts can be a helpful guide:

Good Mythical Morning use close up facial expressions to catch people’s attention.
SimplyNailogical custom designs her thumbnails to make them stand out

Use the comments section

YouTube is a social media platform just like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. That social part is really important. Turning off comments sends the message that you’re not interested in what your audience has to say. Ignoring any comments posted does that too. Like your comments, respond back to them, start a conversation. Some of the best YouTube channels are successful because of the way they engage with their audience.

Don’t forget about the comments section on other channels too. Someone mentioned you in a video or created a video inspired by your company/product? Go tell them how much you enjoyed it.

Make the most out of your description

The character limit on a video’s description box is 5000, so why not make the most of it? Not only does YouTube use the description to help index your video in search results but the first sentence or two will appear in the search results. As well as a clear description of the video you could also include useful links, information on the music included in the video and tags (just like you’d use hashtags on Instagram). I’ve also seen channels paste in the entire video script to help YouTube know what’s in the video.

And finally: The community is more than the videos

If you visit a channel’s profile page, you’ll notice a tab called Community (or discussion for channels with <1k subscribers). Here you can complement your video content and build a community of fans by posting more content and chatting with fans. It could be behind the scenes images from a video shoot, news updates, teasers for future videos, requests for feedback or video ideas, or a poll. If you want to make the most out of all YouTube has to offer, don’t forget to include the community tab in your content strategy.


Have any questions? Let me know in the comments below.

Looking for more digital marketing advice for your business or charity? Check out my marketing advice tag to view all blogs on the subject.

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