How To Use YouTube Annotations To Maximize Your Subscribers, Views & Overall YouTube Success

YouTube Annotations are one of the most invaluable tools offered by the video site and, interestingly enough, are also one of the most overlooked by online video content creators. If you aren’t using Annotations in your YouTube videos you are missing out on some great opportunities for maximizing your subscribers, your views, and the overall success of your YouTube videos and channel. Read on to learn how to use YouTube Annotations to maximize your YouTube success.

Getting To Know YouTube Annotations

Before we get into the different ways you can use YouTube to maximize your subscriptions, views and overall success I want to give a brief overview of how to add annotations to your videos. After you’ve uploaded a video to YouTube, head over to view the video on its YouTube page and click ‘Edit annotations’ at the top of the page.

When you click on ‘Edit Annotations’, you will be directed to the YouTube Annotations Editor. From this page, you can add all types of annotations, including speech bubbles, notes, spotlights and pause annotations. Click the icon with the plus sign in the lower left corner of the video to begin adding annotations. You can then click and drag things around in the time bar below the video to specify when you want your annotations to show, and for how long.

Annotations can be used to add text to your videos to let your viewers know about updates and other information about your video, to create interactive YouTube campaigns and to link to other videos, channels, subscription pages and more on the YouTube site.

Encourage Viewers To Subscribe With An Annotated Subscribe Button

You can use annotations to encourage viewers to subscribe to your YouTube channel by adding a subscribe button. You can do this in a couple of different ways. The first is to make your own subscribe button in a design program and add it to your video where you want it to appear before you export from your editing program and upload to YouTube. Once your video is uploaded you can add a Spotlight Annotation in the Annotations editor. Drag the spotlight around the button you created in your video and then click on the link icon. In the ‘Link Type’ dropdown menu, choose ‘Subscribe’ and enter your YouTube user name. When users click on your annotated subscribe button they will be directed to a page where they can subscribe to your channel.

If you haven’t incorporated a subscribe video into the design of your video, not to worry! You can add a Note, Spotlight or Speech Bubble Annotation, type the word ‘Subscribe’ into the text field, and link to the Subscribe page in the same way we illustrated above. You can check out the video below from Rocket Boom NYC to see how a subscribe button works. It looks like they created their subscribe button using a Spotlight Annotation with text field. When you scroll over the rectangular area in the bottom right of the screen you’ll see the word “Subscribe” appear.

Use Annotations To Link To Videos, Playlists, Channels & More

We’ve seen how annotations can help you to increase your subscribers. However, annotations are also great for increasing the number of views on your videos. How can you do this? You can use annotations to link from the video that is playing to other videos on YouTube, to your personal YouTube channel, to playlists you have put together and more.

If you didn’t use annotations to link to other videos that you have created then viewers might just leave the YouTube video page when your video stops playing and move on to the next thing that catches their attention. However, if you give viewers the option to click and watch your content from within the video itself then you are increasing the likelihood that they will move on to watch another one of your videos. It’s always a good idea to keep these sorts of links for the end of your video, so that users don’t click away to watch another video before the original one finishes playing.

This week we released an Ultimate Guide To Viral Videos on YouTube and used annotations to tie everything together. The guide is made up of eight separate video compilations and all are linked together from a menu, which appears at the end of each video clip. Each of the videos represented in the compilations also link back to the original YouTube clips using annotations. Check out the Best Pets & Animals video below to see how we used annotations to link our videos together. The menu at the end begins at 4:14.

Use Annotations To Encourage Feedback

Aside from getting loads of subscribers and video views, you’d probably also like to hear feedback from viewers, whether the feedback comes in the form of a private message, a comment or a video response. You can plant the seed for viewer feedback using annotations. There are several ways to do this.

For starters, you will notice that if you click on the ‘Link’ icon when adding an annotation then you have the ability to create links for viewers to click to send you a personal message or to submit a video response. You can also create a note, speech bubble or spotlight asking viewers a question and inviting them to answer in the comments, or with a simple phrase like, ‘I’d love to hear what you think, leave a comment!’

Many viewers don’t have commenting, video responding, or message sending on their mind when they watch videos on YouTube. However, if you use annotations to ask them to comment or respond then they will be a lot more likely to do it.

Involve Your Viewers In The Annotation Process

While most video creators choose to create their own annotations and leave it at that, you can also open up the floor to your viewers to make notes and annotations on your videos. Of course, this isn’t right for everyone but it can be a fun way to get your viewers involved. With collaborative annotations, your viewers can write messages and place links directly on your video, for a sort of interesting, interactive experience.

To get your friends or viewers involved with collaborative annotations, share the link that is available at the bottom of the YouTube Annotations Editor. You can also add a “Collaborative Annotations” link from the dropdown member. However, if you are going to open up the floor to viewers to add annotations then be prepared for a few spammy or mean annotated comments.

Have you seen any videos on YouTube that utilize annotations really well? Feel free to share interesting uses of annotations that you have seen in the comments.

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