How To Annotate Your YouTube Video

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In a comment on my blog post How to Get Your Videos Found on Youtube in 4 Easy Steps, someone asked for the specifics on how to annotate your video.  I’m going to show you now.

Firstly, what is an annotation? It’s an interactive element that you add to your video after you’ve already uploaded it.  You know when you’re watching a video on Youtube and a small window pops up saying things like “Click here for Episode 2″ or “Click here to subscribe to our channel”?  I’m not talking about the ads.  The other ones that are IN the video.  These are annotations.

Annotating your YouTube videos is a handy platform for linking to your other videos, or providing a ‘call to action’ for your viewers, like “Subscribe”. But first, one basic rule worth  mentioning:

You can only link to another Youtube url in an annotation.

This includes other videos, your channel, your subscribe link, etc.  This does not include any url that doesn’t have at the beginning of it, so don’t even try linking this to your website or Facebook page.  Not my rules – Youtube’s.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s how you make annotations:

1. Once you’re logged into Youtube, click on your username on the top right hand corner to expose a drop down menu. You want to click on ‘Video Manager’. You’ll see it below.

2. Selecting ‘Video Manager’ will take you to a page with all your videos. Scroll down until you find the video you want to annotate. You’ll see a button saying ‘Edit’ with a dropdown arrow next to it. Click on the arrow, and you’ll see the option to add or edit annotations.

3. Now let’s annotate! Pick the point in the video you want your annotation to appear, measuring using the timeline below it, or let the video play and pause it wherever you like.  I’m making this annotation link to another Youtube video. Click on the ‘Add Annotation’ button to the right of the video. You’ll see all your options. We’re using a note-style annotation.

In the same drop down menu, you’ll see the other kinds of annotations available to you. These include:

  • Speech Bubble – as implied, this is a speech bubble than can pop up wherever you like, like coming out of a character’s mouth.  I find speech bubbles to be a bit cheesy, but if your video itself reeks of fromage, this might be for you.
  • Title – Shmuel does the graphics for his videos in Final Cut, but if you don’t have graphics like titles and places, etc. in your video, Youtube makes it easy for you to add them.  Pretty cool.
  • Spotlights and Labels are ways to draw attention to things in the frame. When viewers scroll over the box, text (of your choice) will appear.
  • Pause (the little grey clock in the top left hand corner) – not quite an annotation, but this makes your video pause while your viewer is watching at the moment of your choice. You can display annotations during pauses to bring more attention to them.

4. After clicking the annotation you want, it’ll appear on your video screen. Have a look below; you can see that you can choose the size of the annotation, its positioning, the color of the text and background and how long it remains visible.  To turn this annotation into a link, copy the URL of the video you’d like to link to exactly where it tells you to.

5. For our second annotation (remember: you can add as many as you want), we’re using a regular note with no link.

6. The “Subscribe” annotation is a nice call-to-action.  Especially toward the end; if someone’s gotten this far, they probably like your stuff.  You’ll see that it’s almost like linking to another video (like with the first annotation) but instead of selecting ‘video’, you want to select ‘subscribe’. Then you just type the name of your channel into the cell where I’ve highlighted it in yellow.

7. Don’t forget to hit ‘Publish’. This button is on the top right hand side of your screen. Your annotations won’t go live until you’ve done that. And you can always re-edit or delete your annotations at any time.

I’ve found that I’ve gotten more views since I started linking between videos a long time ago.  It’s similar to linking between blog posts, as I’ve done below.  Heheh.  🙂

You might also like How to Link Your Youtube Channel to Your Facebook Page.

And How to Edit Video: An 8-Point Style Guide.

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