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Want to Make a Successful YouTube Video? Read This. Successful YouTube videos can be as different as oil and water. But those aimed at a small-business audience have some similar traits that can help you communicate your message to your customers.

By Jason R. Rich

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The following excerpt is from Jason R. Rich's book Ultimate Guide to YouTube for Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

No perfect formula exists for creating a successful YouTube video. What works for one company in order to reach a specific audience will not necessarily work for another. However, if you analyze other successful videos on YouTube, particularly videos produced by your competitors or that target the same audience you're striving to reach, you'll probably discover some common elements.

Many popular videos produced by small businesses and entrepreneurs typically have some or all of the following traits and production elements:

• The video is short and to the point. Try to keep your videos under three minutes in length.

• Within the first few seconds of the video, what the video is about and what it offers are quickly and clearly explained to the viewer.

• The video's call to action is incorporated into the video near the very beginning, and then repeated several times within the video, including near the very end. The call to action begins by stating what reward the viewer receives for following through and completing the call to action.

• The video somehow incorporates contact information for the person or organization that created it. This can be done using voice-overs, statements by the people featured within your video, titles/captions, and/or annotations or links embedded within the video itself.

• The video is targeted to a very specific audience and has a specific goal or objective.

• The content of the video is somehow unique and tries to set itself apart from the other videos on YouTube.

• The video offers information that the viewer perceives as useful, informative, entertaining, highly engaging, educational or somehow directly relevant to what they're looking for, want or need.

• In terms of production quality, the video is professional-looking and offers good quality sound.

• The video uses some type of background music.

• The video offers clearly defined and easy-to-understand information that the viewer doesn't have to wait too long to receive. The information is not buried in clutter or hidden by eye candy or audio that can be distracting or confusing to the viewer. For example, animated shots or scene transitions are not overused, and the background music is set at a proper level and is appropriate to the content.

• The look and messaging within the video is consistent with the company's brand and reputation.

• The title of the video is appropriate, descriptive and directly to the point. When someone sees the video's title, they immediately have a good idea what the video is about and what they can expect from it. This is supported by a carefully worded description and accompanied by a carefully selected group of relevant tags and keywords.

With these common traits in mind, as you explore YouTube for yourself, you'll easily discover very popular videos that follow none of these suggestions and offer a truly unique or vastly different approach. There are no hard-core rules to follow, because video production is a highly creative endeavor. Focus on originality and ways you can communicate your core message as quickly and easily as possible to your intended audience.

Jason R. Rich, based in Foxboro, Mass., is author of more than 55 books on topics including ecommerce, online marketing, digital photography and interactive entertainment, as well as the Apple iPhone and iPad.

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