How To Create YouTube Playlists To Curate Content & Leverage Your Video Catalog

How To Create YouTube Playlists To Curate Content & Leverage Your Video Catalog

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At the point where you have made a lot of videos, there is a point where organizing select videos into playlists becomes a great way to entice new viewers and fans alike to watch multiple entries in one sitting.  Playlists are another word for “Greatest Hits” or “Themes,” or if you’re older, “A Mix Tape.”  The term has long been used for music and programmable portable players like the iPod, but now video is easy to organize into “hit” lists in much the same way on YouTube.  The parsing of multiple videos into a distinct, themed playlist is a type of video curation, where you focus content in the hopes that if a viewer gets hooked with the first video in the playlist, you’ll likely have that person stick around to see the rest.

The Playbook overview:

Strategy: Organize your content into sets of videos using playlists and video responses.  Create themed content or curate content using playlists

Why It Works: Playlists help organize your content into meaningful sets of videos which will increase the number of videos a viewer watches and improve navigation of your content.

How to Do It: Create playlists for different sets of videos.  Add new uploads to relevant playlists and set them as video responses to other videos.

Create Curated Content And Keep Viewers Glued To Multiple Videos

Let’s face it, your entire catalog of videos is not likely to be great across the board.  You’ll have a few where you might have phoned it in or didn’t execute, and if you have someone hooked on the first video they see, you don’t want them to leave after seeing the second.  This is what a lot of cable TV channels do when they play their syndicated programs.  If you like watching classic Law & Order, they put another episode right after that one so that they grab a certain audience and keep them for two hours at least.  I took a look at TNT’s lineup beginning early in the morning and they have back-to-back episodes of Angel, Charmed, Supernatural, and then one episode of Smallville to take them into the afternoon.  Since all of those shows have similar themes, they stand to keep like-minded viewers for a 7-hour block of programming.

Playlists have some of the same criteria that you use to create one video.  Remember to keep each video within a playlist relevant and compelling and write metadata (tags, titles, and descriptions) that allow the playlists to be found easily through search.  The idea is to string together videos, much like that TNT example above, and keep viewers for longer than one video, or a handful of minutes.  Playlists translate those single minutes into double-digit minutes or an hour if you’ve constructed a compelling string of content.

I know whenever I first find a video and get interested in the creator’s channel, I like to find the most-viewed videos first and work my way through their greatest hits.  If those creators construct a playlist of those particular videos, it makes it easier to navigate.  I really don’t like playing a guessing game and taking a stab at random videos.  Sometimes you get a channel like Epic Meal Time and it doesn’t matter which video you click, you are in store for something entertaining.  But most channels are not going to be that consistent.  It’s good to have a “portfolio” of what represents the best work, or keeps a specific audience tuned in with a particularly compelling theme.

Much like annotations and other links, playlists can also be used to tent-pole new videos by providing a playlist full of great content that ultimately leads to the newest video.  With YouTube, you can really create a web of links, annotations, and playlists to drive traffic to particular videos, and if you’re on the ball, you can update them constantly to direct traffic to not only one video but to your whole catalog.

And oh yeah, playlists can help improve your standing in the mystical YouTube algorithm.  They really encourage you to use every tool in the shed, all of which seem to contribute to YouTube’s search capabilities.  You can look at it as a reward for putting in the work to get your video noticed.

Video Responses Are Yet Another Way to Take Action, For You and Your Viewers

You can look at video responses a couple of ways, and you can use both of them.  One is by using it like comments.  The more video responses you have, once again you are appealing to the algorithm by showing a bevy of activity.  You probably should restrict the video responses to where only relevant videos are allowed, mainly because so many people try to leverage popular content regardless of relevance.  If you allow video responses sight unseen, those responses can tend to get spammy.  On YouTube, you can go to almost any random video with a random response, and be left wondering how one video relates to the other.

The other way you can use video responses is by turning it around, and finding a similar channel with content much like yours and posting your video there.  Although this is more likely a move you make when you’re first trying to get noticed.  With video responses, you are limited to one video per response, so you aren’t allowed to spam millions of videos with your content.  So this is an early social move, and should be used wisely.

Reviewing The Playbook: Playlists and Video Responses

Playlists are a great way to organize your videos into a themed set, or seasons.  Video responses allow you to populate the space around your videos with your own content and connect relevant video together, increasing related video traffic.  Playlists show up in search results and related videos, and both of these features improve your content’s ranking in the algorithm.

Optimized Playlists And Video Responses

  • Utilize SEO practices and keywords when titling, tagging, and writing a description for playlists.
  • Use a great thumbnail for your playlist by setting an attractive thumbnail for the first video of the playlist – that’s what gets used.
  • Manage video response approvals for your channel.  Users can set video response to your content, if you want, or you can restrict to just your own content.  Ask viewers to submit video responses as a form of viewer interaction.  Having a lot of video responses to your content helps improve your search ranking.

Playlists Strategies

  • Compile playlists and set video responses using related and relevant content that shares a common thread, suits the interest of the viewer, and encourages them to watch more.
  • Utilize playlists to organize your content and make your channel easier to navigate.
  • Create playlists based on highly searched keywords or trending topics where a set of videos is useful to the viewer.
  • Build playlists to feature your most viewed content with newest uploads to connect your catalogue views to new videos.
  • Curate great content for your audience and become a curatorial force on the platform for certain verticals or niches.
  • Set a “series playlist” if you want to lock-in a group of videos as a rigid set where the videos will always appear alongside one another on watch pages.  Videos that are a part of a series playlist can NOT be included in other playlists.

Playlists Should Be Fun to Make, Thus Fun to Watch

I think anyone who has ever made a playlist, or “mix tape,” or whatever you want to call it, usually puts some thought into it.  If you are making a song playlist, the idea is that the songs should flow one to another so that it sounds like they were always meant to complement each other.  A lot of times, you think about the mood of each song, not wanting to follow something fast with something really slow, you have to have a “bridge” song with medium tempo.

I don’t think videos are any different when constructing the proper playlists.  If you have a theme playlist, let’s say, “Chicks With Guns,” or something your target audience of single males might enjoy, try to figure out how each of those videos flow into one another.  You might want to start with one of your best to hook the viewer, then maybe something of equal or greater value next, spreading out your “weaker” videos.  Or maybe you’re lucky and you have nothing but great videos for one playlist, and you can order them in ascending quality so that the absolute best one is the last one.  Whatever you do, it should be done in a manner that grips the viewer, and give them the same feeling watching it that you had making it.

Reviewing the Playbook: How-To Steps

Set A Strategy Or Use of Playlists for Your Content and Channel

  • Each channel is different, so find the right use of playlists and video responses for your content and audience.
  • Set objectives for what you want to achieve with playlist strategies: (i.e. increase number of videos watched per viewer, better organize your content into themes or sets, curate other content for your audience).
  • Decide if your playlist strategy should or will affect how you produce content or publish it. (i.e. videos produced for a playlist should follow a structure that is tailored for watching a set of connected videos.)

Create Playlists for Your Channel

  • Create different playlists for grouping and organizing your videos into sets or themes.
  • Follow metadata strategies and optimizations for the playlists.  Use keywords for a compelling title, optimize tags of the playlist, and write a keyword-driven and informative description for the playlist.
  • The first video on the playlist will set the thumbnail for the entire playlist, so create a great thumbnail for the first video.

Add New Videos and Maintain Playlists

  • Add new videos to relevant playlists at upload and maintain current playlists to keep them fresh, engaging, and relevant to your audience or new viewers.
  • Add new uploads as video responses to relevant videos or to archive videos that can drive a lot of traffic.

Organize Arrangement and Display of Playlists on Channel Page

  • Arrange and organize playlists on your channel page to make navigation easy for channel visitors.

Playlists And Video Responses Add Life to Your Video Catalog

Playlists add value to your existing catalog and can be fun to make, and like all things mentioned in the Playbook, make it easier to find videos and increase views.  Video responses are just more dynamic comments or related content, and you have a pretty good amount of control over what people post and you can leverage multiple responses into activity YouTube likes.

There are so many ways to call attention and drive traffic to your videos, and playlists are an actual fun way to do it.  Again, always a reminder, with so much content being uploaded to YouTube every day, you need every advantage you can get.  And if you’re prolific enough to have videos to curate, it’s worth a look.


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