Annotations in YouTube videos are the little pop-up screens that you see when watching a video. Until recently, they appeared cheap and spammy, annoying more people than they converted. However, the video annotation game has changed, and there are now many ways to annotate your videos that both please viewers and boost conversion rates.
There is a difference between shoving a pop-up in your face—imagine me trying to sell you a sandwich by attempting to shove it in your mouth—and suggesting that you try the sandwich by offering you a sample and suggesting other sandwiches you may like. That's the difference between pop-ups gone wrong, and those done right.
This article will demonstrate several effective ways to use video annotations and walk you through the process of adding annotations to your videos.
Video Annotations: They're Not Just for Spammers Anymore
There are still annoying, cheap looking annotations on YouTube, and we do not suggest using these. We all know how irritating a constant barrage of pop-ups can be. Who can focus on the content of the video with flashing windows popping up left, right, and in-between?
There is a better way to use annotations! A steady, unobtrusive "Subscribe Here" window probably won't annoy most users, so consider using this for your first annotation attempt. But, if you're up for a challenge, why not think outside of the pop-up box and use one of these new, exciting annotations:
- Turn videos into video games. Want to get interactive with your viewers? Consider using annotations to make your videos clickable, such as this example from our pals at Sesame Street. A personal injury attorney could use this to walk a prospective client through her options after a car crash or a podiatrist could make an interactive game that taught people how to prevent the growth of toenail fungus. The options are limited only by your imagination!
- Use an end-card. Arguably, the least intrusive way to use annotations is at the end of a video. In this adorable Kid Snippets video, annotations have been used to suggest multiple ways to interact with the channel in a non-obtrusive, even fun manner (annotations begin at 1:52). They have also included a small "Subscribe Here!" window that remains on the screen the entire video.
- Link videos to one another. By placing annotations in a video series you keep users engaged by giving them a simple way to view the next video in a series. Short video series are better than one long video, as they download faster to mobile devices and allow viewers to skip to the video that focuses on the information that's most important to them. This is the easiest annotation technique of the three mentioned here.
Here’s How to Add Annotations to Your YouTube Video Easily
And now that you're convinced that you need to add some tasteful annotations to your YouTube videos we are going to show you how easy it can be to do so. This step-by-step guide to adding annotations to your YouTube video shows you a very basic, beginner’s annotation technique. It's designed to get you familiar with the process. Where you take your annotations from here is up to you. And we hope you take it far!
1. Choose a video. Annotations are added after your video has been added to your channel so you'll need to have videos loaded before you can annotate them.
2. On your channel home screen, click on Video Manager. This is located just above and to the right of your profile picture.
3. Select the video you’d like to annotate by clicking the arrow next to the “Edit” button. This will be located just to the right of your video image. From this drop-down menu, click on “Annotations.”
4. A new screen will open and your video will automatically begin playing. When it reaches the point where you want to start your annotation, click pause. Alternatively, you can fast-forward to exactly where you want to begin your annotation.
5. Click on the "Add annotation button." A drop-down menu will appear, displaying all of your annotation options. Your options will be: "Speech bubble," "Note," "Title," "Spotlight," and "Label." Click on the annotation style you'd like to use.
6. Pick the placement of your annotation. Your video will begin to play on the screen. When it reaches the point where you'd like to add the annotation, pause the playback. To set an end time for the annotation, either drag and drop the annotation icon or enter an end time. I chose to have my speech bubble begin at 0:00 and end at 0:04.0 (four seconds into the video).
7. Add other annotations. Now that you have the hang of adding annotations, feel free to use any other annotations that you wish. For fun, I added a speech bubble at the moment the April Fools' victim enters the scene.
8. Publish your video. By clicking "Publish" you essentially save all the changes you've made. When the video is updated, the Publish button will change to "Published." At this point, it's a good idea to go back and look over your new and, hopefully, improved video. If you want to change some of your annotations, just repeat the process outlined above.
9. The Most Important Step of All
I feel like a broken record saying this, but here goes: do not create an annotation and walk away. If you don't go back and check the effectiveness of your annotations, all you've done is waste your time. And as a busy professional, I'm guessing you don't have time to waste!
To test the effectiveness of your annotations, you need to focus on more than views. You need to know if people are engaging in your videos by visiting your site via embedded links, watching your other videos, or calling your office using the number you used in your video. If engagement is low, try something new.
If you'd like help either choosing the best annotations or annotating your videos call 888-886-0939. I love helping people make the most of their YouTube videos!