How to Make Your Videos Work for You in 2017

Dec 15, 2016

You may have noticed in the December 2016 issue I have an article about how to prepare for your 2017 video marketing strategy by analyzing what worked -- and what didn’t -- over the past year. In that article, I posit three questions to marketers wanting to improve their video strategies to help them better hone in on what exactly they should be doing in the coming year.

But video marketing strategies only go so far if your videos themselves aren’t optimized for maximum reach and impact. For example, you might have a month-long video campaign laid out and ready to go for next year, but without videos that actually attract and keep viewers’ attention, that campaign could easily fall flat.

Because of this, I’ve decided to give you a few guidelines for creating videos in 2017. While some of these best practices might not seem very new, they’re still vital for the success of your content being found and ranked properly in search engines.

Here are a few best practices to follow when working on your videos for 2017.

Pay Attention to the Non-Visual Aspects of Your Video

Because search engine robots can’t actually watch video content, they rely on any textual information you provide related to the video. This has been the case for years now (in the form of video SEO), but it will become increasingly important the more frequently video content is uploaded to the internet. And it will continue to be uploaded; only a couple years ago in 2014, YouTube alone saw 300 hours of content uploaded every minute, but now that number’s up to 400.

Essentially, the more video content online, the more you have to compete with viewers’ attention. Writing solid headlines and descriptions for your videos to tell audiences exactly what they’re going to watch will be key to convincing them to spend time with your content and keep them coming back for more. Expect to see a whole lot more videos with headlines resembling those of blog posts, and with descriptions looking like short versions of blog posts, as well.

Make Engagement Rate a Top Priority

Speaking of keeping viewers around, remember to focus on your engagement rate (or watch time) in 2017. YouTube factors in watch time when determining where to rank videos in its algorithm and search function. This means that the length of time someone sits watching your video will help contribute to it showing up more often in search results. In reality, this means a 9-minute video with a 50% watch time (which equals views x average view duration) will have a higher engagement rate of a 3-minute video with a 50% watch time, which is only 1.5 minutes vs. the longer video’s 4.5 minute watch time.

If you’re still uncertain as to why engagement rates matter and how they’ll impact your video strategy in 2017, Matt Gielen wrote a couple of fantastic pieces on Tubefilter about watch time and YouTube’s algorithm; I suggest you read each one here and here, as the concept would be too long to explain in this article alone. The information in those articles is still relevant as of December 2016, but as is always the case with Google, make sure you pay attention to any algorithm changes YouTube might make in the coming year and be ready to adjust accordingly.

Read Up On and Follow the FTC’s Requirements

In August 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released new rules about how content creators and brands should disclose any paid, sponsored, or advertising-based videos they might create. While the FTC previously required influencers to state when they’d been paid or sponsored to create content, the new rules from this year are much stricter. For example, creators and brands may no longer state a video is sponsored in the description only; they must now state on-screen via text or spoken word at the beginning that the video is sponsored.

Since the FTC just introduced these requirements earlier this year, you can be sure they’ll be cracking down on content which doesn’t follow suit in 2017. To be safe and avoid any legal troubles, you want to make sure you clearly understand what the FTC expects of any content you might create that includes payment, sponsorship, or even a review of a free product. I suggest you disclose everything within the video itself (i.e. on-screen), as well as at the top of your video description so no viewer is left confused about your disclosure.

If you follow these guidelines for creating video in 2017, your videos are far more likely to be discovered, which means more reach and influence for your brand. And of course, implementing these best practices will also improve your overall video strategy and give it an even greater chance of success in 2017. Here’s to the new year!

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