Script Your YouTube Video

In our previous post, Create Your YouTube Video, we continued a new series on YouTube with a look at the all important step of actually creating your video, including how to shoot it and in what format.

In this post, we move on with our YouTube series with everything you need to know about scripting your video and what key elements to include.

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Script Your Video

While an exhaustive description of this topic is beyond the scope of this post (and our book, Be a Person- The Social Operating Manual for Enterprises – ) here are some quick recommendations for the script of your video:

  • Keep it Short — The average length of a YouTube video is a little more than four minutes, but you should target between two and three minutes. If your issue is complex, break your video into several self-contained pieces and link them together using the tools YouTube provides.
  • Explain Your Solution — Right up front, tell about your business and the problem you solve, not necessarily the products that solve it. Include enough detail so that the viewer can decide to complete viewing the video. It’s best to use a real person on-screen for this portion of your video so you can better engage your audience.
  • Avoid Shocking Video at the Start — If your solution involves human tragedy or anything icky, don’t open with graphic footage. Create a relationship with your viewer and get them involved before hitting them with emotional footage. Such footage can be very effective and dramatic, but should probably be used sparingly, after establishing a connection with the viewer.
  • Build Empathy — If the problem you solve is emotional, don’t be afraid to empathically build a common bond with the viewer. Encourage an emotional response, and then tie those emotions to your call to action.
  • Empower Your Viewers — If you have a call to action but viewers can’t immediately act — by clicking a link to go to your site or by clicking right through to a Buy It Now button — you’ll lose the immediacy of the moment. Your video has affected your viewer, and he or she wants to act, now. Give them a way to buy right now, go to your site, follow you on Twitter, join your Facebook page, and subscribe to your blog feed. Show how taking an action will make a difference. Communicate that the viewer can make a difference by taking action now. Encourage viewers to create a video response to your video and link back to you.
  • Create a Sense of Urgency — Emphasize why your viewers need to take action now. If you are after sales or even donations, indicate a deadline for a sweepstakes or discount or other information to foster urgency.
  • Feed Back — If you have success with a video, make another video praising those who helped make that success and link it to the first video.

Consider creating a transcript of your video and using YouTube’s capability to add it as captioning.[1] This not only improves the accessibility of the video, but it may affect the indexing of it by search engines as well.

Once you upload the video, you’ll want to control the thumbnail image that displays in search listings.[2] YouTube offers you three thumbnails, using frames from the beginning, middle, and end (at the ¼, ½, and ¾ marks), and says you can’t offer a different one. While this is technically true, Michael Gray[3] figured out that, if you put the image you want to be your thumbnail in the exact middle of your video,[4] you’ll be able to select that image from the three that YouTube offers you. You have to be a little bit advanced in your video editor use to do this, however.

In addition to captioning, there are a variety of other things you can do to a video once it’s been uploaded. You can annotate it, which means to superimpose little text bubbles on the video. Audio Swap lets you replace your entire audio track with a selected song or other audio track. You can also change the title, description, and tags.


Figure 1 — Post-Upload Modification of YouTube Videos

Next up: Publicizing Your YouTube Video

Script Your YouTube Video is the 137th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 363. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

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[1] YouTube: Getting Started: Adding / Editing captions:

[2] YouTube: Getting Started: Picking a video thumbnail:

[3] Michael Gray: Video Optimization: Getting The Money Shot:

[4] YouTube: How to Change Your YouTube Video Thumbnail to any Picture: