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Don’t ignore the second largest search engine: YouTube (Part 1)


When you think of social media outlets, the big ones like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest stand out. However, did you know that YouTube is not just a social media outlet? It's also the second most popular search engine, according to LinkedIn, PCG Digital Marketing and TechCrunch. It's true! If you or your church wants to be found online, you need a YouTube account, a noteworthy channel and some optimization basics.

How to get started on YouTube

1. Create a YouTube account. Now is not the time to break out your creative juices – save that for your videos. Associate your YouTube channel with your church's email address. Don't attach it to a specific person; rather, keep it general so different people can upload videos.

2. Watch some videos! Yes, take the time to search for quality content on YouTube and "like" it or add it to your favorites. Think about this as a chain reaction – you "like" five videos, five friends of yours "like" those videos, your account gets activity, their account gets activity. The more activity your channel gets, the higher your videos get placed in search results. To increase the buzz, share your likes and favorites with all your social media outlets.

Create a buzz worthy channel

1. Think about all the common elements of viral videos before creating your video. Make sure you create quality videos. Mediocre content isn't buzz-worthy and won't give you the attention needed to justify all the work you do. An engaging conversation, an awesome sermon or an outside the box explanation of a concept is buzz worthy!

2. Create your own channel and start uploading videos. Make your channel visually appealing! Sure, you could keep the standard white background that YouTube offers, but you could elevate your channel by customizing the graphics and colors to reflect your church.

3. Set your privacy settings for maximum exposure. If all your videos are marked "private," don't expect them to go viral. By marking your channel "public," you maximize the number of people who can see your videos.

Video editing

Editing your videos is not optional! All speaker have moments that shine and, of course, there are also times of lull. Highlight the stellar parts and cut out the boring moments.

  • For Mac addicts, iMovie is your best $79 investment. It works across most Mac devices, including iPad and iPhone, and is very intuitive. It's not as sophisticated as Final Cut Pro X, but for $1,000 less, iMovie will work for most YouTube videos. It features professional touches like frame stabilization for smoother movie playback, drag and drop editing, easy to configure transitions, and even easier special effects for headache-free movie editing.

  • For PCers, if you are looking for a basic video editing program, Photos (or Windows Movie Maker for Windows 7 and 8) is your obvious choice. Photos features drag-and-drop editing, transitions and movie effects. While it doesn't have as much granular control as Movie Maker, the transitions and effects are improved, and it's easier for beginners to create good looking effects. 

  • YouTube offers video editing software for free. You can combine multiple videos into one longer video, trim the length of your video, add music from their library of approved tracks and add special effects.

  • Experiment with different Android and iPhone video editing apps to see what's best for your needs.

Copyrighted music will get your video banned from YouTube

While adding the latest track by Toby Mac would catapult your video to the ultimate level, it can and often will get your video permanently deleted. Why? Copyrighted music is a big no-no on YouTube unless you have the proper rights. Unsure? If you see the words "All Right Reserved," back away from the track and choose another beat.

This doesn't mean you can't add music to your videos! Look for Creative Commons licenses – this lets artists share their work with the public while maintaining certain rights. Jamendo has an amazing selection of YouTube approved Christian audio files.

What's your church's YouTube strategy?

Before you begin shooting think, about your goals. What types of promotions can accomplish your goals? Who is your audience? What is the call to action? Including a call to action in your YouTube video is easy via video cards!

Here are some video ideas to get you started.

  • What: Promotion for your church
    Audience: Local church seekers
    Call to action: Come to our church

    • Give a short introduction by your pastor welcoming the viewers to the church.

    • Provide a brief overview of worship schedule.

    • Showcase activities that happen at the church – kids, adults, older adults, singles and families.

    • Keep it upbeat, friendly and inviting.

    • List your contact information with phone number, address, email and website. YouTube can help you get started with video cards.)

  • What: Check out our sermon series on James
    Audience: Local to global, seekers, Christians
    Call to action: Go to our website to hear the sermon series

    • Give a snippet of one sermon that is engaging and will appeal to your target audience.

    • Have your pastor describe the sermon series and how it can apply to your life.

    • Provide some Scripture as a voiceover.

    • Personally invite the viewer to visit your website to hear the full series (use an annotation).

  • What: Increase awareness and giving to a mission project
    Audience: Local to global, people with a vested interest in the mission, seekers, Christians
    Call to action: Visit our website/blog for more information and how to give or join

    • Provide video of the mission project and the work your church/another church has done.

    • Showcase personal stories (if applicable) of those who have been helped.

    • Interview people who have served on the mission project and how it has transformed their lives.

    • Provide information on how to learn more at your website or blog, where people can give money or join the project (use an annotation).

Optimized YouTube videos increase your channel's rank in search results. Read part 2, Optimization and annotations in YouTube to learn a few advanced techniques for adding keywords, call to actions and more.