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Jun 24 2013 By Victor Haseman in Marketing
One of YouTube’s best video publishing tools is the Annotation feature, yet with so few publishers using annotations, one would be inclined to think that YouTube is keeping the feature a secret.
Annotations allow you to add a custom interactive layer of navigation to your uploaded content. They work similarly to the overlay ads you sometimes see on YouTube videos. But they enable publishers to use creativity to place, promote, and entice viewers to click.
Some Great Uses For Annotations
There are many ways annotations can help increase the value of your video content:
Curated Related Views: Help viewers find the next video to watch. Better to drive them to one of your videos rather than leave it to chance.
Annotations as chapter points: When you have a long video, use annotations to help viewers skip around to the sections they care most about.
Break through the 3rd wall and increase engagement: Ask viewers to share, like or leave a comment on your video with an annotation.
Grow your subscription base: Use annotations to encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel. Subscribed viewers watch more videos and spend more time watching.
Promote relevant offers on your Web site: You can insert a call to action (CTA) advertising a relevant offer back on your website.
Annotations work on YouTube as well as in embedded YouTube players. And a few months ago, they reduced the cost to $0. That’s right. Annotations are now free. Gone are the days of needing to spend ad dollars on YouTube’s network in order to leverage all of the awesome features of the tool. And that’s exactly why you should embrace annotations as an organic promotion tactic.
How Sales Uses Annotations
At Salesforce, we’ve used annotations to navigate between videos, promote offers back on our site, and to ask viewers to subscribe to our channel.
We’ve found annotations performance to be impressive overall. We’ve seen average click through rates (CTRs) of between .56% – .63% in many cases. But we’ve also seen CTRs as high as 1.2%. Lately, we’ve concentrated on identifying the best placements of annotations in our videos to drive the greatest click through to offers back on Salesforce.
In our experience, there’s no magic bullet. You have to experiment to figure out what will work best with your content. Here are some variables to consider:
The copy you use in your CTAs
The color, font size, and placement of your annotation on your video frame
Where to place your annotation in your film’s timeline (beginning, middle, end, or all of the above).
The type of annotation to use (there are five varieties)
Getting started with YouTube Annotations
Because annotations are a free tool, now, the barrier to entry and getting started is low. That said, you should follow these steps to get the greatest value out of the tool.
Check your Channel’s Account Features to make sure External Annotations are enabled. While YouTube annotations are fee, your channel needs to be enabled as a Partner Channel or Brand Channel.
Once you are up and running with External Annotations, you’re ready to get started. Jump into your channel’s video manager and select a video to annotate. (Note: You can still use annotations on your content even if you aren’t setup as a Brand or Partner Channel yet. You just won’t be able to use external annotations).
You can open the annotation tool from your video’s Watch Page or Edit Page.
Once you’re in the tool, you will pick an annotation type, determine when the annotation should appear in your video, and add your copy and hyperlinks.
Clicking save updates your work. Clicking publish will make your annotation visible.
Here’s a quick video primer I put together to show annotation basics. For more information, checkout YouTube’s instructions for creating annotations. And for best practices, checkout YouTube’s Creator’s Playbook.
To get you excited to try YouTube Annotations yourself, we’ve shared some favorite examples of annotated videos we’ve seen. These examples range from simple and effective to clever and creative.
If you have a question or comment, feel free to leave a comment below.
Great Annotation Examples:
1. TED Talks: You May Also Like
2. BooneOakley.com: Video as Website
3. Kid President: Click to Watch More / Subscribe to Channel
4. The Hobbit Trailer: Subscribe on YouTube / Like Us on Facebook / #TheHobbit