1. Create great content
Popular YouTube content is pretty eclectic to put it mildly. For example, the 56-second 'Charlie bit my finger' video has amassed over 297 million views to become one of the most viewed YouTube clips ever. But in general terms, without content that is highly original, creative, funny, or riding the crest of an existing popularity wave via other communications channels, you aren't going to get very far. Even if the content is professionally produced, there is no guarantee of YouTube success, and amateur video producers should be realistic about the chances of their content becoming hugely popular. You can do all the promotion in the world, but ultimately producing great content should be central to your planning.
2. Use promoted video ads to build YouTube views
Using paid ads on YouTube and even on other sites, if budget allows, will help drive viewers to your video content, especially in the early stages of your campaign. When used correctly, YouTube's Promoted Videos service, which is available within the Google AdWords platform, can work as an excellent way to build viewing numbers. It offers access to a huge audience and because there is relatively little competition from other advertisers, it offers the opportunity to grab some very relevant traffic at low cost.
3. Blog about the video and encourage other influential bloggers to talk about it
Talk about your video on your own blog and work with as many friends, contacts and colleagues as possible to start building links. Third party support and links can add tremendously to the credibility and popularity of a video, so draw up a list of all the influential blogs you can find and contact them to see if they are interested in talking about your content. Similarly, if your video has a good story behind it, talk to the editors of relevant media websites, newspapers and broadcast sites to see whether they are interested in featuring it. One link from a high profile media site can initiate a huge trend for widespread online coverage.
4. Get it on the homepage of Digg / Reddit
Social news websites such as Digg and Reddit rank stories based on popularity, so any high profile appearances can boost the overall viewing figures for your video. Select the most popular blog that has the video embedded in a post and then ensure that Digg / Reddit influencers see the blog. Even better, if you have personal contact with Digg / Reddit influencers, get them to submit and promote the blog post in their network, with the aim of driving it to the homepage.
5. Continue driving the buzz
The process can take time -- don't expect overnight success, and keep working hard on creating buzz. As viewer figures build, ensure it is featured on more social sites, viral sites (BuzzFeed, etc), and look for additional coverage on even more popular blogs once it has a sizeable viewer volume. Even though the internet is by nature very immediate, it can take time to build up a following for a video so don't give up if you don't get coverage and big viewing numbers quickly.
Case study -- promoting the world's largest LED screen
Getting a few hundred or even a few thousand views for a video on YouTube is not very difficult. Crossing the 100,000 views mark, though, is quite a challenge for most. A recent campaign to drive viewers to a YouTube video features the world's largest LED screen -- the objective being to show the sheer size of the screen and showcase the technology behind it. It was launched less than a month ago and has already amassed over half a million views. The campaign employs all the tactics described above, which has helped to deliver these 500k+ viewers in just a few weeks and it's well on the way to crossing that million-view mark. The important point to note here is that a combination of all the methods described above has contributed to the popularity of the video.
Farhad Divecha is the director of AccuraCast