On June 5, 2013, YouTube converted—like it or not—all channels to its new One Channel format.
Unsurprisingly, the change has been met with denial, resistance and bargaining. Channel owners are frustrated with the need to create new graphics and an “Intro Video.”
Webolutions encourages marketers first to understand that it’s Google’s world and we’re all just living in it (Google owns YouTube) and we must accept the things we cannot change, but more so to appreciate and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the new YouTube One Channel design.
Why the Change?
Let’s face it: It was time for a little makeover. The outward appearance of the channel had not changed since God was a boy. The emergence of mobile and consumption on a dizzying variety of screen sizes not accounted for in the original design created a less than optimal user experience.
The creation and launch of Paid YouTube Channels required YouTube to make the change.
Just as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter have added means (Cover Photos) by which companies can overtly and immediately brand the channel, YouTube now has a similar feature. For YouTube One Channel, marketers choose a single image to brand the channel.
While it’s true that this single image will represent the brand across the multiple platforms and this must be taken account in an image’s creation or selection, YouTube provides some flexibility in the display and a preview to minimize the guesswork. The Banner Photo, as YouTube calls it, can be adjusted in the same way as a Facebook thumbnail photo.
YouTube now offers an “Intro Video,” which it offers as a way to introduce visitors to the content on the channel. YouTube’s idea is for its users to summarize the theme(s) of the channel—literally, an introduction.
For most companies, however, the YouTube channel is not in fact a hub of continuously updated webisodes. It is much more likely that businesses are using YouTube as a hosting venue for videos they embed on their website and market through other social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. For those companies, Webolutions advises using this prominent placement for a branding identity video.
We also advise this brand identity video to be professionally produced. It should be scripted, optimized and employ all the elements of a successful YouTube video. Is an amateur video better than nothing? This is a choice for the marketer: Will it accurately represent your desired brand experience?
YouTube channel owners who have a Google+ account will be prompted to link the YouTube channel to the Google+ page. For new YouTube One Channels, Google will prompt the channel owner to create a Google+ page. It is important to note that this newly-created page will be for the YouTube channel. Webolutions advises doing this only if the channel is to have a marketable identity and strategy of its own.
Otherwise, Webolutions recommends creating and optimizing a Google+ Business Page and linking it to the business’s YouTube channel. If the company already has a Google+ Business page, it should be linked to the YouTube channel.
On an ancillary note: Social media marketers will quickly notice that Google is aggressively pushing the creation of Google+ pages. Webolutions believes that for most businesses, a single Google+ Business page is optimal.
The YouTube Channel One format places the company’s Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest icons and links on the bottom right corner of the Banner Photo, improving their position from the previous design. Companies should definitely link their major social media assets to their YouTube One Channel.
Additional new features that became available earlier this year in connection with YouTube’s Monetization program and which have been incorporated into the new YouTube One Channel design include long-standing user demands such as the ability to upload videos longer than 15 minutes and set custom thumbnails.
How to use this Information
Change is inevitable and this one certainly ups the ante for all social media marketers.
Use the opportunity to present your company in the best light. The appearance of your YouTube channel and the content thereupon—just as with every other touch point—defines the experience of your brand. Be strategic and deliberate but if you’ve not acted yet, do so quickly.