Facebook’s Trending Topics highlights fake Megyn Kelly story days after dropping editors

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That didn't take long.

Just days after removing editors from curating Trending Topics, Facebook's news-driven section surfaced a fake story about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

This is just about a worst-case scenario for Facebook, which had previously been battling allegations that its Trending editors had discriminated against conservative news outlets. 

Facebook removed the article after a few hours. 

Trending Topics editors originally used data from Facebook users to then curate news stories and write Facebook-friendly headlines and synopses.

Now, algorithms are running almost the entire thing. The headlines are gone, and so are the editors, having reportedly been laid offRead more...

More about Business, Election 2016, Digital Media, Facebook, and Media

8 Data-Backed Strategies to Increase Your Video’s Play and Conversion Rates

8_Data-Backed_Strategies_to_Increase_Your_Videos_Play_and_Converstion_Rates.png
Video production is not just about making videos for awareness purposes. In our experience, using video strategically can help you at every step of the marketing funnel from lead generation to revenue growth.

In order to reach these goals, savvy marketing teams want to make videos that drive conversions. Whether you're hoping someone will find your website organically, sign up for a product demo, or even purchase your product -- a well strategized video can help boost your conversion rate.

A video that converts needs to be clear in its goal. What do you want this video to accomplish? What should be the next step that your viewer takes in their journey after watching your video? You want that next step to be as clear as possible, making conversion a seamless experience for your audience.

Identifying and Leveraging Conversion Opportunities 

Increasing Your Video's Play Rate to Boost Conversion

With just a few simple tweaks, you can dramatically boost your videos' play rates. Small changes can make all the difference for someone watching your video -- whether it be a product video or a webinar.

1) Make the Thumbnail Friendly

The video thumbnail is the first thing your audience sees when they look at your video. Think of it as your video's CEO. It represents your video to your audience, just like a CEO represents her company to the world. When putting up a video, many companies use the generic thumbnail image -- usually a frame somewhere in the middle of your video. Using a custom thumbnail, however, can increase  your play rate by 34%

Your thumbnail should be something to consider before you put your video out into the wild. Each video's thumbnail is either encouraging or discouraging engagement from your audience. If you have a person in your video, choose a thumbnail that features the face of an actor. A smiling, friendly looking person will encourage a viewer to click play and see what the video is all about.

BrandColors.png

2) Show Off Your Brand’s Colors

Your brand's look and feel is crucial to brand recognition. You wouldn't want your video player to stand out in the wrong way. Adjusting your player color will bring your website or email together in a cohesive and branded way. We've found that choosing a custom player color that represents your brand increases your video's play rate by a full 19%. 

You can choose to use a color that is the same as the elements on your website, landing page, or email to bring the content together and make it look more professional, influencing a higher percentage of your audience to click play and ultimately convert.

3) Keep It Short 

You've probably heard it a million times -- in today's age, humans have short attention spans. We're bombarded with content, and much of that content is in video form. In order to keep your audience's engagement strong and convince them to convert, your video should stay within a certain time frame.

We've recently pulled some numbers around video length and engagement, and unsurprisingly, two minutes is the ultimate cutoff. Videos that are up to one minute long have an average 70% play rate -- that's huge! For one minute, 70% of your audience is engaged, willing to stick around and learn more about the content in your video. Once your video gets just over two minutes, however, you're in hot water. Engagement drops by 5% at two minutes, and starts to freefall after that.

Engagement_vs_Length.pngThese simple changes can really make a difference in your play rate, engagement rate, and ultimately, your conversion rate. Just changing your video's thumbnail and player color can increase your play rate by 53%, making it that much more likely that your audience will convert or follow your CTA. Keeping your video under two minutes long will hold your engagement rate right where you want it -- above 65%. These simple actions have a huge impact, and there's so much more you can do to increase your video's conversion rates. Let's look into some of the more in-depth ways where conversion is the main attraction.

Boosting Your Conversion Rate

Whether your call to action is asking someone to sign up to your email list and become a lead, to register for a webinar, to come to a physical event, or maybe to simply buy your product -- your call to action is what makes the conversion. There are many different ways to include a call to action in your video. There are several different options for how to include video CTA beyond just changing the text or color -- consider your video's goal before choosing a type

4) Leverage CTAs and Annotations

When considering where to put your call to action in a video, whether it be an annotation or a lead generation form, think past the usual places. CTAs are most often put at the end of videos, but we've found that CTAs in the middle of the video perform way better, with conversion rates at 16.95%, as compared to 10.98% at the end.

You can make your CTA engaging in the middle of your video by pointing it out in your script. Script around the CTA and weave them together to create an interesting viewer experience that will make folks excited to click. Your CTA should be very clear and have a very specific goal. You can then measure how your CTA does depending on how you weave it into your video. The more custom and clear it is, the better it will convert your viewers.

Turnstile.png

5) Put the Turnstile Where It Counts 

A turnstile is basically a lead generation form. Using a turnstile in your video allows you to capture your audience member's email address by pulling up a form in the beginning, middle, or end of your video. Where you put this turnstile really matters, and the conversion rate differs depending on where in your video the turnstile appears.

Many video marketers choose to put their turnstile in the beginning or the end of the video, so it does not interrupt the viewer's experience. However, we've found that the highest converting position for a turnstile is actually in the middle of the video, with a conversion rate of 22.17%, over a 3.05% or a 8.49% conversion rate for post and pre-roll turnstiles, respectively.

Turnstile2.png

Adding your turnstile to the middle of your video may seem tricky -- doesn't interrupting the viewing experience leave your audience with a bad taste in their mouth? You can incorporate a mid-roll turnstile without making the viewer feel cheated. Add your turnstile into your script in order to work around the lead generation form. Creating a script that flows around the turnstile and warns viewers that it's coming up prepares them for what's next. Try something like "Interested? Enter your email address and let's get in a little deeper", or "Enter your email for more information.

After the Video

Phew! You've gone through the whole process. You've created a custom thumbnail, added your custom player color to match your brand, and made sure your video doesn't go above the two minute mark. You've even woven in a CTA and/or turnstile into your video's script to make it flawless and engaging. You're set up for success–but what now?

6) Leverage Post-Production Analytics

Make sure you're tracking your video's analytics. It's important to keep in mind where folks watched and re-watched your video. Was there a bump in re-watches at a certain point mid-video? That may mean that folks are especially interested in what was conveyed at that time, meaning you have an opportunity to create another video specifically focusing on that topic. Re-watches help you figure out where your audience's interest was piqued, letting you create more relevant content for them in the future.

See how many folks converted on your turnstile and CTAs. You can take that data and test future videos depending on what you've done in the past. Each piece of data counts when making a high-converting, high impact video.

7) Invest In Videos For Lead Nurturing

Once your viewer has converted, you want to take them one step further in the process. Videos can be perfect for nurturing leads that have already raised their hand for your content. Making a short video that welcomes folks who have converted on partnership content, for example, can delight your audience and act as a great reminder of your company and the problems you solve. We do this after large lead generation campaigns, and especially after co-marketing projects.

 

When it comes to onboarding lead nurturing campaigns, video is a great asset in boosting your click through rates, increasing the probability of your audience taking the action you want them to take. You can easily tweak your onboarding workflow to reap the rewards video creates! For example, we've found that using a video thumbnail with a play button in an email, instead of a plain image, resulted in a 300% lift in our CTRs! You can't beat those numbers. 

Your onboarding lead nurturing emails should have a goal, and video can help you test that goal. Our onboarding emails, for example, contain a video thumbnail that links new Wistia users to a video that walks them through uploading a new video to their account. We've found that 48% of users who start watching  the uploading video actually do upload their video—this is huge! Without that video thumbnail in our onboarding workflow, we'd have missed a huge opportunity to get folks to engage more with the product.

8) Focus On the Close

Of course, once you've converted and nurtured a lead, you want to focus on the close. If your final goal is to get your leads to become customers, using video can help you get your close rates up. Specifically, try making videos that are personal and human, creating a relationship with your potential customer. Sending one-on-one videos to prospects introducing yourself and letting them know that you value their business will help create trust, and may just raise your chances of sealing the deal.

Marketing agency Bluleadz does a great job pioneering one-on-videos in the close stage of their prospective customer's journey. They send out a video when the prospect has already talked to sales in-depth and is in decision mode. Their videos look something like this:

 

These one-on-one videos help create the human element behind Bluleadz business -- and they work! Bluleadz has found that prospects who receive these videos before a purchase decision close at a rate of 63%, as compared to 46% for prospects who do not receive videos. That's a big difference!

With all these tips, it's time to put your videos to work! How do you make videos that convert? Let us know in the comments!

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8 Data-Backed Strategies to Increase Your Video’s Play and Conversion Rates

8_Data-Backed_Strategies_to_Increase_Your_Videos_Play_and_Converstion_Rates.png
Video production is not just about making videos for awareness purposes. In our experience, using video strategically can help you at every step of the marketing funnel from lead generation to revenue growth.

In order to reach these goals, savvy marketing teams want to make videos that drive conversions. Whether you're hoping someone will find your website organically, sign up for a product demo, or even purchase your product -- a well strategized video can help boost your conversion rate.

A video that converts needs to be clear in its goal. What do you want this video to accomplish? What should be the next step that your viewer takes in their journey after watching your video? You want that next step to be as clear as possible, making conversion a seamless experience for your audience.

Identifying and Leveraging Conversion Opportunities 

Increasing Your Video's Play Rate to Boost Conversion

With just a few simple tweaks, you can dramatically boost your videos' play rates. Small changes can make all the difference for someone watching your video -- whether it be a product video or a webinar.

1) Make the Thumbnail Friendly

The video thumbnail is the first thing your audience sees when they look at your video. Think of it as your video's CEO. It represents your video to your audience, just like a CEO represents her company to the world. When putting up a video, many companies use the generic thumbnail image -- usually a frame somewhere in the middle of your video. Using a custom thumbnail, however, can increase  your play rate by 34%

Your thumbnail should be something to consider before you put your video out into the wild. Each video's thumbnail is either encouraging or discouraging engagement from your audience. If you have a person in your video, choose a thumbnail that features the face of an actor. A smiling, friendly looking person will encourage a viewer to click play and see what the video is all about.

BrandColors.png

2) Show Off Your Brand’s Colors

Your brand's look and feel is crucial to brand recognition. You wouldn't want your video player to stand out in the wrong way. Adjusting your player color will bring your website or email together in a cohesive and branded way. We've found that choosing a custom player color that represents your brand increases your video's play rate by a full 19%. 

You can choose to use a color that is the same as the elements on your website, landing page, or email to bring the content together and make it look more professional, influencing a higher percentage of your audience to click play and ultimately convert.

3) Keep It Short 

You've probably heard it a million times -- in today's age, humans have short attention spans. We're bombarded with content, and much of that content is in video form. In order to keep your audience's engagement strong and convince them to convert, your video should stay within a certain time frame.

We've recently pulled some numbers around video length and engagement, and unsurprisingly, two minutes is the ultimate cutoff. Videos that are up to one minute long have an average 70% play rate -- that's huge! For one minute, 70% of your audience is engaged, willing to stick around and learn more about the content in your video. Once your video gets just over two minutes, however, you're in hot water. Engagement drops by 5% at two minutes, and starts to freefall after that.

Engagement_vs_Length.pngThese simple changes can really make a difference in your play rate, engagement rate, and ultimately, your conversion rate. Just changing your video's thumbnail and player color can increase your play rate by 53%, making it that much more likely that your audience will convert or follow your CTA. Keeping your video under two minutes long will hold your engagement rate right where you want it -- above 65%. These simple actions have a huge impact, and there's so much more you can do to increase your video's conversion rates. Let's look into some of the more in-depth ways where conversion is the main attraction.

Boosting Your Conversion Rate

Whether your call to action is asking someone to sign up to your email list and become a lead, to register for a webinar, to come to a physical event, or maybe to simply buy your product -- your call to action is what makes the conversion. There are many different ways to include a call to action in your video. There are several different options for how to include video CTA beyond just changing the text or color -- consider your video's goal before choosing a type

4) Leverage CTAs and Annotations

When considering where to put your call to action in a video, whether it be an annotation or a lead generation form, think past the usual places. CTAs are most often put at the end of videos, but we've found that CTAs in the middle of the video perform way better, with conversion rates at 16.95%, as compared to 10.98% at the end.

You can make your CTA engaging in the middle of your video by pointing it out in your script. Script around the CTA and weave them together to create an interesting viewer experience that will make folks excited to click. Your CTA should be very clear and have a very specific goal. You can then measure how your CTA does depending on how you weave it into your video. The more custom and clear it is, the better it will convert your viewers.

Turnstile.png

5) Put the Turnstile Where It Counts 

A turnstile is basically a lead generation form. Using a turnstile in your video allows you to capture your audience member's email address by pulling up a form in the beginning, middle, or end of your video. Where you put this turnstile really matters, and the conversion rate differs depending on where in your video the turnstile appears.

Many video marketers choose to put their turnstile in the beginning or the end of the video, so it does not interrupt the viewer's experience. However, we've found that the highest converting position for a turnstile is actually in the middle of the video, with a conversion rate of 22.17%, over a 3.05% or a 8.49% conversion rate for post and pre-roll turnstiles, respectively.

Turnstile2.png

Adding your turnstile to the middle of your video may seem tricky -- doesn't interrupting the viewing experience leave your audience with a bad taste in their mouth? You can incorporate a mid-roll turnstile without making the viewer feel cheated. Add your turnstile into your script in order to work around the lead generation form. Creating a script that flows around the turnstile and warns viewers that it's coming up prepares them for what's next. Try something like "Interested? Enter your email address and let's get in a little deeper", or "Enter your email for more information.

After the Video

Phew! You've gone through the whole process. You've created a custom thumbnail, added your custom player color to match your brand, and made sure your video doesn't go above the two minute mark. You've even woven in a CTA and/or turnstile into your video's script to make it flawless and engaging. You're set up for success–but what now?

6) Leverage Post-Production Analytics

Make sure you're tracking your video's analytics. It's important to keep in mind where folks watched and re-watched your video. Was there a bump in re-watches at a certain point mid-video? That may mean that folks are especially interested in what was conveyed at that time, meaning you have an opportunity to create another video specifically focusing on that topic. Re-watches help you figure out where your audience's interest was piqued, letting you create more relevant content for them in the future.

See how many folks converted on your turnstile and CTAs. You can take that data and test future videos depending on what you've done in the past. Each piece of data counts when making a high-converting, high impact video.

7) Invest In Videos For Lead Nurturing

Once your viewer has converted, you want to take them one step further in the process. Videos can be perfect for nurturing leads that have already raised their hand for your content. Making a short video that welcomes folks who have converted on partnership content, for example, can delight your audience and act as a great reminder of your company and the problems you solve. We do this after large lead generation campaigns, and especially after co-marketing projects.

 

When it comes to onboarding lead nurturing campaigns, video is a great asset in boosting your click through rates, increasing the probability of your audience taking the action you want them to take. You can easily tweak your onboarding workflow to reap the rewards video creates! For example, we've found that using a video thumbnail with a play button in an email, instead of a plain image, resulted in a 300% lift in our CTRs! You can't beat those numbers. 

Your onboarding lead nurturing emails should have a goal, and video can help you test that goal. Our onboarding emails, for example, contain a video thumbnail that links new Wistia users to a video that walks them through uploading a new video to their account. We've found that 48% of users who start watching  the uploading video actually do upload their video—this is huge! Without that video thumbnail in our onboarding workflow, we'd have missed a huge opportunity to get folks to engage more with the product.

8) Focus On the Close

Of course, once you've converted and nurtured a lead, you want to focus on the close. If your final goal is to get your leads to become customers, using video can help you get your close rates up. Specifically, try making videos that are personal and human, creating a relationship with your potential customer. Sending one-on-one videos to prospects introducing yourself and letting them know that you value their business will help create trust, and may just raise your chances of sealing the deal.

Marketing agency Bluleadz does a great job pioneering one-on-videos in the close stage of their prospective customer's journey. They send out a video when the prospect has already talked to sales in-depth and is in decision mode. Their videos look something like this:

 

These one-on-one videos help create the human element behind Bluleadz business -- and they work! Bluleadz has found that prospects who receive these videos before a purchase decision close at a rate of 63%, as compared to 46% for prospects who do not receive videos. That's a big difference!

With all these tips, it's time to put your videos to work! How do you make videos that convert? Let us know in the comments!

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Mom defends her 3-year-old son’s choice to wear tutus

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No one, especially not a child, should ever feel unsafe based on the clothing they want to wear.

Jen Anderson Shattuck's 3-year-old son Roo likes to wear sparkly tutus everywhere he goes with his mom — from church to the grocery store.

For the most part, Roo and his mom don't run into any issues in their community. But recently, a man stopped her and Roo and told them that Shattuck was a "bad mother" for "allowing" him to wear his favorite wardrobe piece. 

Shattuck shared a story of the encounter on Facebook, in a post shared more than 43,000 times.

"My son and I were accosted by someone who demanded to know why my son was wearing a skirt. We didn't know him, but he appeared to have been watching us for some time," Shattuck wrote. Read more...

More about Facebook, Conversations, Pics, Lifestyle, and Watercooler

Mark Zuckerberg meets the Pope, gives him a model drone

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Even Mark Zuckerberg knows that when in Rome, you have to go kiss the ring.

Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan met with Pope Francis on Monday. And he came bearing gifts. The Facebook CEO gave his holiness a drone — or at least a model. 

Picture below, it's a replica of the Aquila drones that Facebook is developing to beam Internet to places without connectivity.

Image: Facebook/mark zuckerberg

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan at the Vatican on August 29, 2016. On the table is the drone given to the Pope.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan at the Vatican on August 29, 2016. On the table is the drone given to the Pope.

Image: AP/Sipa USA

"We told him how much we admire his message of mercy and tenderness, and how he's found new ways to communicate with people of every faith around the world," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook postRead more...

More about Business, Drones, Mark Zuckerberg, and Facebook

17 Hidden YouTube Hacks, Tips & Features You’ll Want to Know About

hidden-youtube-features.jpg

When people talk about today's most popular social sharing websites, YouTube often gets left out of the conversation in favor of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But don't be fooled: YouTube has a lot going for it. Although Facebook might be the largest social networking site, YouTube has the second greatest reach after Facebook in terms of general usage. It's also the second biggest search engine behind its parent company, Google.

And there are a ton of cool things you can do with YouTube that you might not know about, whether you use YouTube to watch videos, post them, or both. For example, did you know that YouTube automatically creates a written transcript for your videos -- and that polishing them can help you get your videos found more easily in search? Or that you can use YouTube to easily create a photo slideshow, and even set it to music using their royalty-free audio library?

Mind-blowing stuff, people. To help you make the most out of the still very popular platform, we've put together a list of 17 of the lesser-known hacks, tips, and features YouTube has to offer. 

17 Hidden YouTube Features, Tips & Hacks You'll Want to Know About

1) You can create a link that starts a YouTube video at a certain time.

Ever wanted to send someone a YouTube video, but point them to a specific moment? Let's say, for example, that you're trying to recruit your friends to learn the dance in LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" music video with you. 

Instead of sending your friends the general YouTube link and instructing them to fast-forward to the 3:39 minute mark, you can actually send them a specific link that starts the video at whatever time you choose. Click here to see what I mean. I'll wait.

Back? Alright, here's how to do it.

To create a link that starts a YouTube video at a certain time: Open up the video and click "Share" underneath the video title. Then, under the first tab (also labeled "Share"), check the box next to "Start at:" and type in the time (in hours:minutes:seconds) you want. Alternatively, you can pause the video at the time you want it to start and that field will autofill.

start-youtube-video-time.png

After a few moments, you'll see a tag add itself to the end of the generic YouTube link (in this case, ?t=3m39s). Simply copy that link and paste it wherever you'd like.

Alas, you can't embed a video so it starts at a certain time; you can't only link to it.

2) You can easily see the written transcripts of people's videos.

Did you know that YouTube automatically generates a written transcript for every single video uploaded to its website? That's right -- and anyone has access to that transcript, unless the user manually hides it from viewers.

I can think of a number of different situations where video transcripts can come in handy. For example, maybe you want to write down a quote from a video, but the tedium of pausing-and-typing, pausing-and-typing would drive you up a wall. Or perhaps you need to find a specific section of a video, but don't want to rewatch the whole thing to find it. With a transcript in hand, you can find information like this without doing it all by hand.

To see a video's transcript: Open the video in YouTube and press the "More" tab underneath the video title. Choose "Transcript" from the dropdown menu.

youtube-video-transcripts.png

(If you aren't seeing this option, it's because the user chose to hide the transcript.)

The transcript will appear as a new module in the same window. In many cases, the user who uploaded the video will not have gone back and manually polished the transcript, so it won't be perfect. But it'll certainly save you some time and pain.

youtube-video-transcript.png 

3) You can help your video get found in search by editing or uploading a transcript.

Both YouTube and its parent company Google look at a number of factors when ranking videos in search to determine what your video is about, and your transcript is one of them. (An even bigger ranking factor is your video's description, which is why Digital Marketing Consultant Ryan Stewart suggests that you actually paste your transcript right into the description box, too.)

To add a transcript to your video: Open the video on YouTube, and you'll see a row of icons just below the play button. Click the icon on the far right for "Subtitles & CC." (CC stands for "Closed Captions.)

youtube-subtitles.png

Set your language if you haven't already. Then, you'll then be prompted to choose among three different ways to add subtitles or closed captions to your video by ...

  1. Uploading a pre-written text transcript or a timed subtitles file. (Learn more about the file types you can upload and more here.)
  2. Pasting in a full transcript of the video, wherein subtitle timings will be set automatically.
  3. Typing them in as you watch the video.

The folks at YouTube have done some great things to make that third option (typing as you watch) as painless as possible. For example, if you check a box next to "Pause video while typing," it'll make the whole process a lot faster. Here's a GIF showing that in action:

youtube-transcribe.gif

4) You can use YouTube to easily get free transcriptions of your videos and audio files.

This is the last one about transcripts, I promise -- but I'll bet you never thought about them this way.  As you know from #2, YouTube automatically adds a transcript to every video. But if you're looking for a one-off transcription of an audio or video file and don't want to pay for a service, YouTube's built-in captioning system isn't a bad place to start. You can always clean it up later.

To get an automated transcription for a video: Simply upload your video to YouTube, open it on YouTube's website, press the "More" tab underneath the video title, and choose "Transcript" from the dropdown menu. The transcript will appear as a new module in the same window. If you want to clean it up, follow the steps outlined in #3 for a user-friendly experience. 

To get an automated transcription for an audio file: You'll need to upload your audio recording to YouTube using a service like TunesToTube. It'll take anywhere between 2–30 minutes for YouTube to upload it. Then, follow the instructions for getting an automated transcription for a video, outlined above.

5) You can create, share, and collaborate on video playlists.

Just like on your other favorite media sharing sites like Spotify and iTunes, you can create a "playlist" on YouTube -- which is really just a place to store and organize the videos (your own and others'). You can keep playlists private, make them public, or even share them directly with others.

Playlists are useful for a variety of different types of users, from an individual collecting cooking videos for their upcoming dinner party to a brand segmenting their YouTube video content by topic. For example, Tasty's YouTube playlists break up recipes by meal type, making it easier for people to browse and find what they're looking for:

tasty-youtube-playlists.png

To create a playlist on desktop: Go to your Playlists page by clicking here or clicking your account icon in the top right, choosing "Creator Studio," clicking "Video Manager" on the left, and choosing "Playlists." Then, click "New Playlist" on the top right and choose whether you'd like to keep it private or make it public. 

youtube-create-new-playlist.png 

To create a playlist on mobile: Click here for instructions explaining how to create new playlists using your iOS or Android mobile devices.

To add a video to a playlist: If you're adding a video to a playlist while you're watching it, click the "Add to" icon below the video title and check the box next to the playlist you'd like to add it to.

youtube-add-to.png

If you want to add a video to a playlist right from your Playlists page, simply click "Add Video" and either paste in a video URL, choose a video from your uploads, or search for a video on YouTube. Once you find the video you want to add, select the "Add to" menu from that video and add it to the playlist.

Your friends can contribute to your playlists, too. All you have to do is turn on the ability to collaborate on playlists. Once you turn it on, anyone you share a playlist link with can add videos to that playlist. (They can also remove any videos they've added, too.)

To add friends to a playlist: Go to your Playlists page again and open the playlist you want to collaborate on. Click "Playlist Settings" and choose the "Collaborate" tag. Toggle on that collaborators can add videos to the playlist, and from there, you can send them a link where they can add videos to the playlist.

youtube-collaborate-playlist.png

Once your friend's been invited to a playlist, they'll be able to add new videos to it and remove videos they've added in the past. They just have to follow some on-screen instructions first to confirm they want to be a contributor and to save the playlist to their own account.

When you add a video to a playlist you're collaborating on, your name will appear next to the video in the playlist, and everyone who's been invited to collaborate on that playlist will get a notification that a new video has been added.

(To learn more about how to manage contributors, stop accepting contributions to a playlist, and so on, read this YouTube Support page.)

6) You can save videos to watch later.

Ever seen YouTube videos you wished you could bookmark for later? Maybe you aren't able to turn the sound on at the moment, or perhaps you just don't have time to watch it. Well, YouTube took a page out of Facebook's ... book ... by adding something very similar to Facebook's "Save for Later" feature (#2 in this blog post). On YouTube, you can save videos to a "Watch Later" playlist to access whenever you want.

The "Watch Later" playlist operates just like a normal playlist, so the instructions are identical to the previous step (except you can't invite others to collaborate on your "Watch Later" playlist).

To add a video to your "Watch Later" playlist: Open the video on YouTube and click the "Add to" icon below the video title and check the box next to the playlist you'd like to add it to, just like you did in the previous step. The steps are very similar on mobile, but click here if you want the full instructions from YouTube's Support page. 

To access those videos: Simply go to your YouTube homepage and choose "Watch Later" from the menu on the left-hand side of your screen.

youtube-watch-later.png

From there, you can watch the videos you were saving, as well as easily remove videos from that list that you've already watched.

7) You can create your own custom YouTube URL.

Want to give people an easy-to-remember web address to get to your YouTube channel? You can actually create a custom URL, which you can base on things like your display name, your YouTube username, any current vanity URLs that you have, or the name of your linked website. HubSpot's, for example, is https://www.youtube.com/hubspot.

Important Note: Before you do this, make sure you're positive this is the custom URL you want -- because once it's approved, you can't request to change it, nor can you transfer it to someone else. Keep in mind that it'll be linked to both your YouTube channel and your Google+ identity, too.

Unfortunately, not everyone's eligible for a custom URL. To get one, you have to have 100 or more subscribers, be at least 30 days old, have an uploaded photo as channel icon, and have uploaded channel art. If that sounds like you, keep readin'.

To claim your custom URL: Open up your YouTube account settings and click "Advanced" in your name section.

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If you're eligible for a custom URL, you'll be prompted to claim yours by clicking a link.

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Select the box next to "I agree to the Terms of Service." Then, once you're super sure it's the URL you want since you can't ever change it, click "Change URL" to make it final.

8) You can add clickable links to your videos.

Want people to not only watch your video, but engage with it, too? On YouTube, you can add clickable links YouTube calls "annotations" to your videos. These annotations work kind of like call-to-action buttons, and you can use them to link people to subscribe to your channel, to link to merchandise or a fundraising campaign, to go to another resource to learn more, and so on.

It's an easy way to encourage people to actually engage and interact with your videos. (For marketers, it might even be a way to send people back to your website.)

What do these clickable links look like? To see one in action, check out the video below. You'll see it pop up at the 10-second mark -- and if you click on it, you'll see it pauses the video and opens up a new tab in your browser for you to explore.

Pretty cool, huh? Here's how you add annotations like that to your own videos.

To add a clickable link/annotation to a video: First, make sure your YouTube account is verified and that you have external linking turned on for your account. 

Once you've got that set up, open up YouTube and go to your Video Manager by clicking here or clicking "Video Manager" near the top of your YouTube home page. Then, find the video you want to add links to and click the arrow next to "Edit." Choose "Annotations" from the drop-down menu.

youtube-add-annotation.png

Click "Add Annotation" to add a new annotation, and choose from the five annotation types in the pull-down menu: Speech bubble, Note, Title, Spotlight, or Label. For this tutorial, we chose the note option. (Read this blog post to see what each of these annotations look like.)

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Once you choose an annotation type, you can then add text, choose your font, size, background color, and transparency. Below the video, you can choose exact start time you want your annotations to start and end.

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Here's the key part: To add a link, tick the checkbox next to "Link" and choose what type of page you'll link to, like an "Associated Website." (Pro Tip: Use tracking tokens on the URL to track how many people actually click it.)

When you're done, click "Publish" -- and you're all set. You can always edit your annotations after publishing by going back into the "Edit Annotation" tool and click "Edit existing annotation."

You can read this blog post for more thorough instructions on adding annotations to videos.

Note: Annotations appear on standard YouTube players and embedded players, but they don't appear on YouTube chromeless players, or on mobile, tablet, and TV devices.

9) YouTube has a big library of high-quality, royalty-free sound effects and music you can browse and download.

Want to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)? YouTube is there for ya. They have a whole library of high-quality, 320kbps audio tracks and sound effects that you can download royalty-free and add to your videos. (Or listen to in your free time. We won't judge.)

To add music or sound effects to your video: Open YouTube's Audio Library by clicking here or opening your Creator Studio, clicking "Create" in the menu on the left-hand side, and choosing "Audio Library."

Now, the fun begins. By default, it'll start you on the "Sound effects" tab. Here, you can search sounds using the search bar, like I did in the screenshot below for motorcycle sounds.

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You can also toggle by category (everything from human voices to weather sounds) or scroll through favorites that you've starred in the past. For easy access in the future, select the star to add the track to your Favorites. The bars next to the songs show how popular a track is.

If you switch over to the "Music" bar, you can browse through all their royalty-free music. You won't find the Beatles in here, but you will find some good stuff -- like suspenseful music, uplifting music, holiday music, jazz, and more. Instead of toggling by category, you can toggle by genre, mood, instrument, duration, and so on. 

(Note: Some of the music files in there may have additional attribution requirements you have to follow, but those are pretty clearly laid out on a song-by-song-basis. You can learn more on YouTube's Support page here.)

Once you've found a track you like, click the arrow to download it and it'll download directly to your computer as an MP3 file. Then, you can do whatever you want with it.

If you want to source sounds for your videos outside of YouTube, you'll just have to make sure to you're following all the rules for sourcing them. Refer to this YouTube Support page for best practices for sourcing audio, and this one to learn YouTube's music policies.

10) You can easily create photo slideshows and set them to music.

Ever wanted to make one of those cheesy photo slideshows for a birthday or a baby shower or a team party? There's no need to download software or use an unfamiliar platform -- YouTube has a special featured designed just for creating photo slideshows. And it's really easy to use.

You can upload as many photos and videos as you'd like, and choose from hundreds of movie styles, transitions, and effects to make it look awesome.

Plus, remember YouTube's Audio Library we just talked about in #9? You can totally source music or sound effects from that and add it to these videos without a hassle.

Here's how you do it. (Pro Tip: I'd recommend gathering all the photos you want into a single folder on your computer before you start making the slideshow to save time selecting them.)

To create a photo slideshow: Log in to YouTube and click the "Upload" button at the top right of your screen. Normally, this is where you'd upload a pre-existing video -- but instead, you'll want to find the "Create Videos" module on the right-hand side of your screen. Find "Photo slideshow" in that module and click "Create".

youtube-photo-slideshow.png

At this point, you'll be able to choose your photos -- either ones you've already uploaded to Google+, or photos on your computer. If you followed my advice above and created a folder for the photos you want, then choose the tab "Upload Photos" and add the folder either by searching for it manually, or by dragging-and-dropping like I did below.

youtube-add-photos-1.gif 

From there, you'll be able to rearrange the photos and add more photos if you'd like.

Press "Next" on the bottom right, and it'll open up the video preview, where YouTube has created the transitions for you based on what's most popular. The default option actually looks pretty good -- but you can always change the slide duration, the slide effect, and the transition. You can still press "Back" if you decide you want to rearrange the photos or add more.

On the right, you'll see a list of suggested the top ad-free songs from the audio library. Pick from this list, search the library for different ones, or check the box next to "No Audio" to keep it silent.

When you're all set, click "Upload" on the bottom right and wait for the video to process. This could take a few minutes. While you're waiting, you can fill out the description, add tags, choose to make it public or private, add it to a playlist, and so on.

Here's the end result of mine, which took me a total of maybe three minutes after choosing the photos:

11) You can live stream videos to YouTube.

Live streaming video has been a big topic of conversation for the past few years. It's seen massive growth, especially in the past few years with the advent of Twitter's Periscope and the recent Facebook Live phenomenon.

YouTube's been ahead of the curve, offering a live streaming option on desktop for the last few years -- but in June 2016, they finally added the ability for people to live stream from their mobile devices, directly from within the app. Unfortunately, the live mobile video streaming is only open to a select few right now, and all we know about timing is that they'll start opening it to more users "soon."

Live streaming on YouTube is a little more complex (and confusing) than than live streaming using Facebook Live, though. On YouTube's easier streaming option, there's no simple "start" button; instead, you actually have to download encoding software and set it up to use live streaming at all. Luckily, YouTube has easy-to-follow instructions for how to do just that.

If you're streaming a live event, though, all you need is a webcam. We'll get to that in a second.

To live stream from your desktop computer: Log in to YouTube and click the "Upload" button at the top right of your screen. Normally, this is where you'd upload a pre-existing video -- but instead, you'll want to find the "Live Streaming" module on the right-hand side of your screen. Click "Get Started" in that module.

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Before you go live, YouTube will first confirm that your channel is verified and that you have no live stream restrictions in the last 90 days. Once that's all set, you have two options for streaming: "Stream now" and "Live Events."

Stream Now

Stream Now is the simpler, quicker option for live streaming, which is why it's YouTube's default for live streaming. You'll see a fancy dashboard like the one below. (Note that live streaming is still in beta as of this posting, so your dashboard may look different from mine.)

youtube-live-streaming-dash.png

Again, you'll notice there's no "start" button on the dashboard. This is where you'll need to open your encoder and start and stop your streaming from there. Here's YouTube's Live Streaming FAQ page for more detailed information.

Live Events

Live Events gives you a lot more control over the live stream. You can preview it before it goes live, it'll give you backup redundancy streams, and you can start and stop the stream when you want.

Choose "Live Events" from your live streaming dashboard once you've enabled it. Here's what the events dashboard looks like, and you can learn more about it here.

youtube-live-event.png

When you stop streaming, we’ll automatically upload an archive of your live stream to your channel. Note that your completed live stream videos are automatically made public on your channel by default as soon as you're done recording. To make them disappear from the public eye once you're done, you can select “Make archive private when complete” in the "Stream Options" section of your live dashboard.

Want to see what live videos others are recording on YouTube? You can browse popular YouTube videos that are live right now by clicking here.

12) You can upload and watch 360-degree videos (live and pre-recorded).

YouTube first announced their support for 360-degree videos back in March 2015, and it was a total novelty -- not to mention a game changer. Since then, brands, athletes, and other users have created some awesome 360-degree content, like this video from Samsung:

As you can see, the experience as a viewer is really, really cool. On desktop, you can click around the video to see all the different angles while the video plays. On mobile, it's even cooler: You can move your camera around to change the angle. You can browse the trending 360-degree videos here.

To actually create a 360-degree video on YouTube yourself, though, you need some serious equipment. Cameras with 360-degree capability that are compatible with YouTube are listed here on YouTube's Support page, along with how to create and upload a 360-degree video file.

What about live video in 360 degrees? That announcement would come a year after the first one, in April 2016 -- the very same week Facebook announced its own design for a 360-degree camera. Luckily for the folks at YouTube, they beat out Facebook by supporting both live video and 360-degree footage all at once.

The Verge called 360 live streamed videos "the gateway drug to virtual reality" for YouTube. Without a hefty price tag (without any price tag, for that matter, other than the time it takes to watch the ads we're already used to seeing, I have to agree. Other than the YouTube website or app, you don't need any fancy equipment to be able to watch a 360-degree live video and feel like you're basically there. Keep an eye on this.

13) YouTube ads target you based on an algorithm similar to Google and Facebook.

We've written about how Google's algorithm works, as well as how the algorithms work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But what about YouTube? How does it decide which ads play on the videos you watch?

Turns out it works a lot like Google and Facebook ads do. Like on other free sites, the advertisers help fund the YouTube experience in return for exposure to their ads. You'll see certain ads over others because of your demographic groups, your interests (which is judged in part by what you search on Google and YouTube) and the content you've viewed before, including whether or not you've interacted with the advertiser's videos, ads, or YouTube channel.

YouTube’s algorithms also try to make sure that people aren’t overloaded with ads while watching their videos -- so they actually sometimes don't know ads on monetizable videos, even when there's a demographic match.

Here are the five ad formats you can expect to see on YouTube, and how they work:

a) Display ads, which show up next to the video and only appear only on desktop and laptop computers. The advertiser gets paid when you see or click on the ad, depending on their selection.

youtube-display-ads.png

Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

b) Overlay ads, which appear across the bottom 20% of the video window and currently only appears only on desktop and laptop computers. You can X out of the ad at any time.

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Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

c) TrueView in-stream, skippable video ads, which are most common ads. These are the ones you can skip after watching for five seconds. Advertisers can put it before, during (yikes!), or after the video plays, and they get paid only if you watch at least 30 second of the clip or to the end of the video ad -- whichever comes first.

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Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

d) Non-skippable video ads, which are those longer, 15-or-more-second ads you see before plays and can't skip after any period of time, no matter how much you shout at your screen. 

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Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

e) Midroll ads, which are ads that are only available for videos over 15 minutes long that are spaced within the video like TV commercials. You need to watch the ad before continuing through the video. How the advertiser gets paid depends on the type of ad: If the midroll is a TrueView ad, then you'd have to watch 30 seconds of the end or the entire ad -- whichever is shorter. If it's a CPM-based ad, then you have to watch the entire ad no matter how long it is.

youtube-midroll-ads-1.png

Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

14) You can remove ads from YouTube videos (and watch videos offline) for 10 bucks a month.

Video ads are the reason you can watch videos for free on YouTube. It's a fact many of us have come to accept. But with YouTube's subscription service YouTube Red, that doesn't necessarily have to be true anymore.

For $9.99 a month, you can watch YouTube videos ... without any ads. And, in addition to ad-free videos, you can save videos on your mobile device and watch them in the background and/or offline, and you can use YouTube's Music App (on iOS and Android) in the background, offline, and/or on audio mode. This is not a drill.

You'd think the lure of ad-free videos would have caused more of an uproar since its launch in late 2015, especially given YouTube's domination in the music space. Surprisingly, I haven't heard much noise about it. But YouTube hasn't disclosed subscriber numbers, so it's hard to tell how well it's doing. Either way, it's good to know about -- especially if you like collecting songs and music videos like I do, but don't like when they get broken up by ads.

15) You can use Google Trends to explore and compare popular YouTube search terms over time.

You might already use Google Trends to look at the popularity of specific search terms over time. (It can be a great marketing tool for making smarter keyword choices, for instance.) But did you know you can use it to compare the popularity of YouTube search queries, specifically?

All you have to do is open Google Trends and type a search term into the "Explore topics" search bar at the top. Once that page opens up, click on "Web Search" to open a dropdown menu, and choose "YouTube Search" so it filters by YouTube searches specifically.

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You might find that, for some search terms, the search trends are very different on Google (above) than on YouTube (below).

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16) There's a "safer" version of YouTube available for your kids.

Any parent will tell you how scary it is for their kids to theoretically have access to everything public on the internet. But for your younger kids, there are ways to curb that access and have more control of what they're watching and finding -- including a kids' version of YouTube called YouTube Kids

The folks at YouTube call YouTube Kids "a safer version of YouTube." It's not a wide-open library of online videos like YouTube is; instead, it uses filters powered by algorithms to select videos from YouTube that are safe for kids to watch. It's also totally free, thanks to ads (which are regulated as carefully as possible).

You can either turn the search feature on or off, depending whether you're cool with your kids searching for videos themselves, or if you'd rather they're limited to a certain set of videos selected by the app, along with those the app recommends based on what they’ve watched already. You can set a timer to limit how much time a child spends on the app, which I imagine is music to many parents' ears.

The algorithm is darn good -- remember, Google is YouTube's parent company -- but, as they warn in their parent's guide, "no algorithm is perfect." 

17) You can learn about YouTube's copyrights terms from a cast of ridiculous puppets.

Made it this far? Here's a little reward: YouTube's "Copyrights Basics" FAQ page, which is, fittingly a YouTube video -- and features a pretty colorful cast of characters. It's actually super informative, and it looks like their video team had a lot of fun making it.

My favorite line is probably, "You know there are links on this webpage, right? You don't have to watch this." Although the chorus of gorilla puppets was pretty great, too.

Enjoy.

We hope we've opened your eyes to some of the more awesome YouTube hacks, tips, and features out there that you may not have known about. Now log on to YouTube and do some exploring yourself. The platform certainly isn't going anywhere.

Which YouTube features can you add to the list? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide to video marketing

17 Hidden YouTube Hacks, Tips & Features You’ll Want to Know About

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When people talk about today's most popular social sharing websites, YouTube often gets left out of the conversation in favor of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But don't be fooled: YouTube has a lot going for it. Although Facebook might be the largest social networking site, YouTube has the second greatest reach after Facebook in terms of general usage. It's also the second biggest search engine behind its parent company, Google.

And there are a ton of cool things you can do with YouTube that you might not know about, whether you use YouTube to watch videos, post them, or both. For example, did you know that YouTube automatically creates a written transcript for your videos -- and that polishing them can help you get your videos found more easily in search? Or that you can use YouTube to easily create a photo slideshow, and even set it to music using their royalty-free audio library?

Mind-blowing stuff, people. To help you make the most out of the still very popular platform, we've put together a list of 17 of the lesser-known hacks, tips, and features YouTube has to offer. 

17 Hidden YouTube Features, Tips & Hacks You'll Want to Know About

1) You can create a link that starts a YouTube video at a certain time.

Ever wanted to send someone a YouTube video, but point them to a specific moment? Let's say, for example, that you're trying to recruit your friends to learn the dance in LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" music video with you. 

Instead of sending your friends the general YouTube link and instructing them to fast-forward to the 3:39 minute mark, you can actually send them a specific link that starts the video at whatever time you choose. Click here to see what I mean. I'll wait.

Back? Alright, here's how to do it.

To create a link that starts a YouTube video at a certain time: Open up the video and click "Share" underneath the video title. Then, under the first tab (also labeled "Share"), check the box next to "Start at:" and type in the time (in hours:minutes:seconds) you want. Alternatively, you can pause the video at the time you want it to start and that field will autofill.

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After a few moments, you'll see a tag add itself to the end of the generic YouTube link (in this case, ?t=3m39s). Simply copy that link and paste it wherever you'd like.

Alas, you can't embed a video so it starts at a certain time; you can't only link to it.

2) You can easily see the written transcripts of people's videos.

Did you know that YouTube automatically generates a written transcript for every single video uploaded to its website? That's right -- and anyone has access to that transcript, unless the user manually hides it from viewers.

I can think of a number of different situations where video transcripts can come in handy. For example, maybe you want to write down a quote from a video, but the tedium of pausing-and-typing, pausing-and-typing would drive you up a wall. Or perhaps you need to find a specific section of a video, but don't want to rewatch the whole thing to find it. With a transcript in hand, you can find information like this without doing it all by hand.

To see a video's transcript: Open the video in YouTube and press the "More" tab underneath the video title. Choose "Transcript" from the dropdown menu.

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(If you aren't seeing this option, it's because the user chose to hide the transcript.)

The transcript will appear as a new module in the same window. In many cases, the user who uploaded the video will not have gone back and manually polished the transcript, so it won't be perfect. But it'll certainly save you some time and pain.

youtube-video-transcript.png 

3) You can help your video get found in search by editing or uploading a transcript.

Both YouTube and its parent company Google look at a number of factors when ranking videos in search to determine what your video is about, and your transcript is one of them. (An even bigger ranking factor is your video's description, which is why Digital Marketing Consultant Ryan Stewart suggests that you actually paste your transcript right into the description box, too.)

To add a transcript to your video: Open the video on YouTube, and you'll see a row of icons just below the play button. Click the icon on the far right for "Subtitles & CC." (CC stands for "Closed Captions.)

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Set your language if you haven't already. Then, you'll then be prompted to choose among three different ways to add subtitles or closed captions to your video by ...

  1. Uploading a pre-written text transcript or a timed subtitles file. (Learn more about the file types you can upload and more here.)
  2. Pasting in a full transcript of the video, wherein subtitle timings will be set automatically.
  3. Typing them in as you watch the video.

The folks at YouTube have done some great things to make that third option (typing as you watch) as painless as possible. For example, if you check a box next to "Pause video while typing," it'll make the whole process a lot faster. Here's a GIF showing that in action:

youtube-transcribe.gif

4) You can use YouTube to easily get free transcriptions of your videos and audio files.

This is the last one about transcripts, I promise -- but I'll bet you never thought about them this way.  As you know from #2, YouTube automatically adds a transcript to every video. But if you're looking for a one-off transcription of an audio or video file and don't want to pay for a service, YouTube's built-in captioning system isn't a bad place to start. You can always clean it up later.

To get an automated transcription for a video: Simply upload your video to YouTube, open it on YouTube's website, press the "More" tab underneath the video title, and choose "Transcript" from the dropdown menu. The transcript will appear as a new module in the same window. If you want to clean it up, follow the steps outlined in #3 for a user-friendly experience. 

To get an automated transcription for an audio file: You'll need to upload your audio recording to YouTube using a service like TunesToTube. It'll take anywhere between 2–30 minutes for YouTube to upload it. Then, follow the instructions for getting an automated transcription for a video, outlined above.

5) You can create, share, and collaborate on video playlists.

Just like on your other favorite media sharing sites like Spotify and iTunes, you can create a "playlist" on YouTube -- which is really just a place to store and organize the videos (your own and others'). You can keep playlists private, make them public, or even share them directly with others.

Playlists are useful for a variety of different types of users, from an individual collecting cooking videos for their upcoming dinner party to a brand segmenting their YouTube video content by topic. For example, Tasty's YouTube playlists break up recipes by meal type, making it easier for people to browse and find what they're looking for:

tasty-youtube-playlists.png

To create a playlist on desktop: Go to your Playlists page by clicking here or clicking your account icon in the top right, choosing "Creator Studio," clicking "Video Manager" on the left, and choosing "Playlists." Then, click "New Playlist" on the top right and choose whether you'd like to keep it private or make it public. 

youtube-create-new-playlist.png 

To create a playlist on mobile: Click here for instructions explaining how to create new playlists using your iOS or Android mobile devices.

To add a video to a playlist: If you're adding a video to a playlist while you're watching it, click the "Add to" icon below the video title and check the box next to the playlist you'd like to add it to.

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If you want to add a video to a playlist right from your Playlists page, simply click "Add Video" and either paste in a video URL, choose a video from your uploads, or search for a video on YouTube. Once you find the video you want to add, select the "Add to" menu from that video and add it to the playlist.

Your friends can contribute to your playlists, too. All you have to do is turn on the ability to collaborate on playlists. Once you turn it on, anyone you share a playlist link with can add videos to that playlist. (They can also remove any videos they've added, too.)

To add friends to a playlist: Go to your Playlists page again and open the playlist you want to collaborate on. Click "Playlist Settings" and choose the "Collaborate" tag. Toggle on that collaborators can add videos to the playlist, and from there, you can send them a link where they can add videos to the playlist.

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Once your friend's been invited to a playlist, they'll be able to add new videos to it and remove videos they've added in the past. They just have to follow some on-screen instructions first to confirm they want to be a contributor and to save the playlist to their own account.

When you add a video to a playlist you're collaborating on, your name will appear next to the video in the playlist, and everyone who's been invited to collaborate on that playlist will get a notification that a new video has been added.

(To learn more about how to manage contributors, stop accepting contributions to a playlist, and so on, read this YouTube Support page.)

6) You can save videos to watch later.

Ever seen YouTube videos you wished you could bookmark for later? Maybe you aren't able to turn the sound on at the moment, or perhaps you just don't have time to watch it. Well, YouTube took a page out of Facebook's ... book ... by adding something very similar to Facebook's "Save for Later" feature (#2 in this blog post). On YouTube, you can save videos to a "Watch Later" playlist to access whenever you want.

The "Watch Later" playlist operates just like a normal playlist, so the instructions are identical to the previous step (except you can't invite others to collaborate on your "Watch Later" playlist).

To add a video to your "Watch Later" playlist: Open the video on YouTube and click the "Add to" icon below the video title and check the box next to the playlist you'd like to add it to, just like you did in the previous step. The steps are very similar on mobile, but click here if you want the full instructions from YouTube's Support page. 

To access those videos: Simply go to your YouTube homepage and choose "Watch Later" from the menu on the left-hand side of your screen.

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From there, you can watch the videos you were saving, as well as easily remove videos from that list that you've already watched.

7) You can create your own custom YouTube URL.

Want to give people an easy-to-remember web address to get to your YouTube channel? You can actually create a custom URL, which you can base on things like your display name, your YouTube username, any current vanity URLs that you have, or the name of your linked website. HubSpot's, for example, is https://www.youtube.com/hubspot.

Important Note: Before you do this, make sure you're positive this is the custom URL you want -- because once it's approved, you can't request to change it, nor can you transfer it to someone else. Keep in mind that it'll be linked to both your YouTube channel and your Google+ identity, too.

Unfortunately, not everyone's eligible for a custom URL. To get one, you have to have 100 or more subscribers, be at least 30 days old, have an uploaded photo as channel icon, and have uploaded channel art. If that sounds like you, keep readin'.

To claim your custom URL: Open up your YouTube account settings and click "Advanced" in your name section.

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If you're eligible for a custom URL, you'll be prompted to claim yours by clicking a link.

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Select the box next to "I agree to the Terms of Service." Then, once you're super sure it's the URL you want since you can't ever change it, click "Change URL" to make it final.

8) You can add clickable links to your videos.

Want people to not only watch your video, but engage with it, too? On YouTube, you can add clickable links YouTube calls "annotations" to your videos. These annotations work kind of like call-to-action buttons, and you can use them to link people to subscribe to your channel, to link to merchandise or a fundraising campaign, to go to another resource to learn more, and so on.

It's an easy way to encourage people to actually engage and interact with your videos. (For marketers, it might even be a way to send people back to your website.)

What do these clickable links look like? To see one in action, check out the video below. You'll see it pop up at the 10-second mark -- and if you click on it, you'll see it pauses the video and opens up a new tab in your browser for you to explore.

Pretty cool, huh? Here's how you add annotations like that to your own videos.

To add a clickable link/annotation to a video: First, make sure your YouTube account is verified and that you have external linking turned on for your account. 

Once you've got that set up, open up YouTube and go to your Video Manager by clicking here or clicking "Video Manager" near the top of your YouTube home page. Then, find the video you want to add links to and click the arrow next to "Edit." Choose "Annotations" from the drop-down menu.

youtube-add-annotation.png

Click "Add Annotation" to add a new annotation, and choose from the five annotation types in the pull-down menu: Speech bubble, Note, Title, Spotlight, or Label. For this tutorial, we chose the note option. (Read this blog post to see what each of these annotations look like.)

add-annotation.png

Once you choose an annotation type, you can then add text, choose your font, size, background color, and transparency. Below the video, you can choose exact start time you want your annotations to start and end.

youtube-annotation-dashboard.png

Here's the key part: To add a link, tick the checkbox next to "Link" and choose what type of page you'll link to, like an "Associated Website." (Pro Tip: Use tracking tokens on the URL to track how many people actually click it.)

When you're done, click "Publish" -- and you're all set. You can always edit your annotations after publishing by going back into the "Edit Annotation" tool and click "Edit existing annotation."

You can read this blog post for more thorough instructions on adding annotations to videos.

Note: Annotations appear on standard YouTube players and embedded players, but they don't appear on YouTube chromeless players, or on mobile, tablet, and TV devices.

9) YouTube has a big library of high-quality, royalty-free sound effects and music you can browse and download.

Want to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)? YouTube is there for ya. They have a whole library of high-quality, 320kbps audio tracks and sound effects that you can download royalty-free and add to your videos. (Or listen to in your free time. We won't judge.)

To add music or sound effects to your video: Open YouTube's Audio Library by clicking here or opening your Creator Studio, clicking "Create" in the menu on the left-hand side, and choosing "Audio Library."

Now, the fun begins. By default, it'll start you on the "Sound effects" tab. Here, you can search sounds using the search bar, like I did in the screenshot below for motorcycle sounds.

youtube-audio-library.png

You can also toggle by category (everything from human voices to weather sounds) or scroll through favorites that you've starred in the past. For easy access in the future, select the star to add the track to your Favorites. The bars next to the songs show how popular a track is.

If you switch over to the "Music" bar, you can browse through all their royalty-free music. You won't find the Beatles in here, but you will find some good stuff -- like suspenseful music, uplifting music, holiday music, jazz, and more. Instead of toggling by category, you can toggle by genre, mood, instrument, duration, and so on. 

(Note: Some of the music files in there may have additional attribution requirements you have to follow, but those are pretty clearly laid out on a song-by-song-basis. You can learn more on YouTube's Support page here.)

Once you've found a track you like, click the arrow to download it and it'll download directly to your computer as an MP3 file. Then, you can do whatever you want with it.

If you want to source sounds for your videos outside of YouTube, you'll just have to make sure to you're following all the rules for sourcing them. Refer to this YouTube Support page for best practices for sourcing audio, and this one to learn YouTube's music policies.

10) You can easily create photo slideshows and set them to music.

Ever wanted to make one of those cheesy photo slideshows for a birthday or a baby shower or a team party? There's no need to download software or use an unfamiliar platform -- YouTube has a special featured designed just for creating photo slideshows. And it's really easy to use.

You can upload as many photos and videos as you'd like, and choose from hundreds of movie styles, transitions, and effects to make it look awesome.

Plus, remember YouTube's Audio Library we just talked about in #9? You can totally source music or sound effects from that and add it to these videos without a hassle.

Here's how you do it. (Pro Tip: I'd recommend gathering all the photos you want into a single folder on your computer before you start making the slideshow to save time selecting them.)

To create a photo slideshow: Log in to YouTube and click the "Upload" button at the top right of your screen. Normally, this is where you'd upload a pre-existing video -- but instead, you'll want to find the "Create Videos" module on the right-hand side of your screen. Find "Photo slideshow" in that module and click "Create".

youtube-photo-slideshow.png

At this point, you'll be able to choose your photos -- either ones you've already uploaded to Google+, or photos on your computer. If you followed my advice above and created a folder for the photos you want, then choose the tab "Upload Photos" and add the folder either by searching for it manually, or by dragging-and-dropping like I did below.

youtube-add-photos-1.gif 

From there, you'll be able to rearrange the photos and add more photos if you'd like.

Press "Next" on the bottom right, and it'll open up the video preview, where YouTube has created the transitions for you based on what's most popular. The default option actually looks pretty good -- but you can always change the slide duration, the slide effect, and the transition. You can still press "Back" if you decide you want to rearrange the photos or add more.

On the right, you'll see a list of suggested the top ad-free songs from the audio library. Pick from this list, search the library for different ones, or check the box next to "No Audio" to keep it silent.

When you're all set, click "Upload" on the bottom right and wait for the video to process. This could take a few minutes. While you're waiting, you can fill out the description, add tags, choose to make it public or private, add it to a playlist, and so on.

Here's the end result of mine, which took me a total of maybe three minutes after choosing the photos:

11) You can live stream videos to YouTube.

Live streaming video has been a big topic of conversation for the past few years. It's seen massive growth, especially in the past few years with the advent of Twitter's Periscope and the recent Facebook Live phenomenon.

YouTube's been ahead of the curve, offering a live streaming option on desktop for the last few years -- but in June 2016, they finally added the ability for people to live stream from their mobile devices, directly from within the app. Unfortunately, the live mobile video streaming is only open to a select few right now, and all we know about timing is that they'll start opening it to more users "soon."

Live streaming on YouTube is a little more complex (and confusing) than than live streaming using Facebook Live, though. On YouTube's easier streaming option, there's no simple "start" button; instead, you actually have to download encoding software and set it up to use live streaming at all. Luckily, YouTube has easy-to-follow instructions for how to do just that.

If you're streaming a live event, though, all you need is a webcam. We'll get to that in a second.

To live stream from your desktop computer: Log in to YouTube and click the "Upload" button at the top right of your screen. Normally, this is where you'd upload a pre-existing video -- but instead, you'll want to find the "Live Streaming" module on the right-hand side of your screen. Click "Get Started" in that module.

youtube-live-streaming.png

Before you go live, YouTube will first confirm that your channel is verified and that you have no live stream restrictions in the last 90 days. Once that's all set, you have two options for streaming: "Stream now" and "Live Events."

Stream Now

Stream Now is the simpler, quicker option for live streaming, which is why it's YouTube's default for live streaming. You'll see a fancy dashboard like the one below. (Note that live streaming is still in beta as of this posting, so your dashboard may look different from mine.)

youtube-live-streaming-dash.png

Again, you'll notice there's no "start" button on the dashboard. This is where you'll need to open your encoder and start and stop your streaming from there. Here's YouTube's Live Streaming FAQ page for more detailed information.

Live Events

Live Events gives you a lot more control over the live stream. You can preview it before it goes live, it'll give you backup redundancy streams, and you can start and stop the stream when you want.

Choose "Live Events" from your live streaming dashboard once you've enabled it. Here's what the events dashboard looks like, and you can learn more about it here.

youtube-live-event.png

When you stop streaming, we’ll automatically upload an archive of your live stream to your channel. Note that your completed live stream videos are automatically made public on your channel by default as soon as you're done recording. To make them disappear from the public eye once you're done, you can select “Make archive private when complete” in the "Stream Options" section of your live dashboard.

Want to see what live videos others are recording on YouTube? You can browse popular YouTube videos that are live right now by clicking here.

12) You can upload and watch 360-degree videos (live and pre-recorded).

YouTube first announced their support for 360-degree videos back in March 2015, and it was a total novelty -- not to mention a game changer. Since then, brands, athletes, and other users have created some awesome 360-degree content, like this video from Samsung:

As you can see, the experience as a viewer is really, really cool. On desktop, you can click around the video to see all the different angles while the video plays. On mobile, it's even cooler: You can move your camera around to change the angle. You can browse the trending 360-degree videos here.

To actually create a 360-degree video on YouTube yourself, though, you need some serious equipment. Cameras with 360-degree capability that are compatible with YouTube are listed here on YouTube's Support page, along with how to create and upload a 360-degree video file.

What about live video in 360 degrees? That announcement would come a year after the first one, in April 2016 -- the very same week Facebook announced its own design for a 360-degree camera. Luckily for the folks at YouTube, they beat out Facebook by supporting both live video and 360-degree footage all at once.

The Verge called 360 live streamed videos "the gateway drug to virtual reality" for YouTube. Without a hefty price tag (without any price tag, for that matter, other than the time it takes to watch the ads we're already used to seeing, I have to agree. Other than the YouTube website or app, you don't need any fancy equipment to be able to watch a 360-degree live video and feel like you're basically there. Keep an eye on this.

13) YouTube ads target you based on an algorithm similar to Google and Facebook.

We've written about how Google's algorithm works, as well as how the algorithms work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But what about YouTube? How does it decide which ads play on the videos you watch?

Turns out it works a lot like Google and Facebook ads do. Like on other free sites, the advertisers help fund the YouTube experience in return for exposure to their ads. You'll see certain ads over others because of your demographic groups, your interests (which is judged in part by what you search on Google and YouTube) and the content you've viewed before, including whether or not you've interacted with the advertiser's videos, ads, or YouTube channel.

YouTube’s algorithms also try to make sure that people aren’t overloaded with ads while watching their videos -- so they actually sometimes don't know ads on monetizable videos, even when there's a demographic match.

Here are the five ad formats you can expect to see on YouTube, and how they work:

a) Display ads, which show up next to the video and only appear only on desktop and laptop computers. The advertiser gets paid when you see or click on the ad, depending on their selection.

youtube-display-ads.png

Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

b) Overlay ads, which appear across the bottom 20% of the video window and currently only appears only on desktop and laptop computers. You can X out of the ad at any time.

youtube-overlay-ads.png

Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

c) TrueView in-stream, skippable video ads, which are most common ads. These are the ones you can skip after watching for five seconds. Advertisers can put it before, during (yikes!), or after the video plays, and they get paid only if you watch at least 30 second of the clip or to the end of the video ad -- whichever comes first.

youtube-in-stream-skippable-video-ads.png

Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

d) Non-skippable video ads, which are those longer, 15-or-more-second ads you see before plays and can't skip after any period of time, no matter how much you shout at your screen. 

youtube-non-skippable-video-ads-2.png

Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

e) Midroll ads, which are ads that are only available for videos over 15 minutes long that are spaced within the video like TV commercials. You need to watch the ad before continuing through the video. How the advertiser gets paid depends on the type of ad: If the midroll is a TrueView ad, then you'd have to watch 30 seconds of the end or the entire ad -- whichever is shorter. If it's a CPM-based ad, then you have to watch the entire ad no matter how long it is.

youtube-midroll-ads-1.png

Image Credit: YouTube's Creator Academy

14) You can remove ads from YouTube videos (and watch videos offline) for 10 bucks a month.

Video ads are the reason you can watch videos for free on YouTube. It's a fact many of us have come to accept. But with YouTube's subscription service YouTube Red, that doesn't necessarily have to be true anymore.

For $9.99 a month, you can watch YouTube videos ... without any ads. And, in addition to ad-free videos, you can save videos on your mobile device and watch them in the background and/or offline, and you can use YouTube's Music App (on iOS and Android) in the background, offline, and/or on audio mode. This is not a drill.

You'd think the lure of ad-free videos would have caused more of an uproar since its launch in late 2015, especially given YouTube's domination in the music space. Surprisingly, I haven't heard much noise about it. But YouTube hasn't disclosed subscriber numbers, so it's hard to tell how well it's doing. Either way, it's good to know about -- especially if you like collecting songs and music videos like I do, but don't like when they get broken up by ads.

15) You can use Google Trends to explore and compare popular YouTube search terms over time.

You might already use Google Trends to look at the popularity of specific search terms over time. (It can be a great marketing tool for making smarter keyword choices, for instance.) But did you know you can use it to compare the popularity of YouTube search queries, specifically?

All you have to do is open Google Trends and type a search term into the "Explore topics" search bar at the top. Once that page opens up, click on "Web Search" to open a dropdown menu, and choose "YouTube Search" so it filters by YouTube searches specifically.

google-trends-youtube-search-2.png

You might find that, for some search terms, the search trends are very different on Google (above) than on YouTube (below).

google-trends-youtube-search-view.png

16) There's a "safer" version of YouTube available for your kids.

Any parent will tell you how scary it is for their kids to theoretically have access to everything public on the internet. But for your younger kids, there are ways to curb that access and have more control of what they're watching and finding -- including a kids' version of YouTube called YouTube Kids

The folks at YouTube call YouTube Kids "a safer version of YouTube." It's not a wide-open library of online videos like YouTube is; instead, it uses filters powered by algorithms to select videos from YouTube that are safe for kids to watch. It's also totally free, thanks to ads (which are regulated as carefully as possible).

You can either turn the search feature on or off, depending whether you're cool with your kids searching for videos themselves, or if you'd rather they're limited to a certain set of videos selected by the app, along with those the app recommends based on what they’ve watched already. You can set a timer to limit how much time a child spends on the app, which I imagine is music to many parents' ears.

The algorithm is darn good -- remember, Google is YouTube's parent company -- but, as they warn in their parent's guide, "no algorithm is perfect." 

17) You can learn about YouTube's copyrights terms from a cast of ridiculous puppets.

Made it this far? Here's a little reward: YouTube's "Copyrights Basics" FAQ page, which is, fittingly a YouTube video -- and features a pretty colorful cast of characters. It's actually super informative, and it looks like their video team had a lot of fun making it.

My favorite line is probably, "You know there are links on this webpage, right? You don't have to watch this." Although the chorus of gorilla puppets was pretty great, too.

Enjoy.

We hope we've opened your eyes to some of the more awesome YouTube hacks, tips, and features out there that you may not have known about. Now log on to YouTube and do some exploring yourself. The platform certainly isn't going anywhere.

Which YouTube features can you add to the list? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide to video marketing

The Evolution of Virtual Reality [Infographic]

Virtual_Reality_.jpg

Imagine being able to transport yourself to a completely different place -- an idyllic beach paradise, a front row seat at a Paul McCartney concert, an unexplored planet -- with the click of a button? Thanks to technological advancements in the world of virtual reality (VR), these immersive experiences define just a small taste of what's possible.

NASA defines VR as “the use of computer technology to create the effect of an interactive three-dimensional world in which the objects have a sense of spatial presence.” And the level of personalization and immersion that VR provides makes it a great opportunity for brands to engage with their tech-savvy audiences. 

In fact, brands such as The North Face, Coca Cola, and Sony Pictures have already started using VR to delight their consumers and build loyalty in ways that are highly innovative and, in some cases, very affordable.

To learn more about how the evolution of virtual reality -- from the 1930s to present day -- check out the infographic from Communications@Syracuse below. (And to learn more about other game-changing trends you should incorporate into your marketing strategy, check out this blog post.)

learn about the future of marketing

The Evolution of Virtual Reality [Infographic]

Virtual_Reality_.jpg

Imagine being able to transport yourself to a completely different place -- an idyllic beach paradise, a front row seat at a Paul McCartney concert, an unexplored planet -- with the click of a button? Thanks to technological advancements in the world of virtual reality (VR), these immersive experiences define just a small taste of what's possible.

NASA defines VR as “the use of computer technology to create the effect of an interactive three-dimensional world in which the objects have a sense of spatial presence.” And the level of personalization and immersion that VR provides makes it a great opportunity for brands to engage with their tech-savvy audiences. 

In fact, brands such as The North Face, Coca Cola, and Sony Pictures have already started using VR to delight their consumers and build loyalty in ways that are highly innovative and, in some cases, very affordable.

To learn more about how the evolution of virtual reality -- from the 1930s to present day -- check out the infographic from Communications@Syracuse below. (And to learn more about other game-changing trends you should incorporate into your marketing strategy, check out this blog post.)

learn about the future of marketing

16 of the Most Creative Business Card Designs From Agencies

The business card isn't dead yet.

As long as there are parties, industry events, and networking opportunities, there will be business cards. And it's important that yours isn't thrown to the bottom of the pile because of a lackluster design.

Whether you work at a bigwig agency or as a freelancer, your business card should make a memorable first impression. To help you out on the inspiration front, we've compiled a list of 16 top-notch business cards from agencies and designers around the world. Ranging from artistically elaborate to decidedly simple, these examples are certain to inspire your next business card redesign.

16 Inspiring Business Card Design Examples

1) Aurora

Featuring a botanical illustration of tropical blooms and a clean sans-serif font, these business cards from Aurora certainly make a stylish first impression. The South African studio specializes in whimsical artwork and design, so it's fitting that their business cards reflect their unique skill set. The cards were designed in-house and include gold embossed details.

Aurora

Image via Aurora

2) Chomp

In a literal interpretation of the company's name, London-based agency Chomp designed business cards with a bite-size chunk missing from one corner. The shape of the card stock mimics the detail of their logo -- which also bears teeth marks.  

Chomp

Image via How Design

3) Matheus Dacosta

Brazilian designer Matheus Dacosta puts an artistic spin on traditional business cards, adding kaleidoscopic, hand-painted designs to every individual card. Each miniature work of art is sure to make a memorable impact -- or at the very least, make the recipient reluctant to simply toss it.

Dacosta Dacosta

Images via Design Milk

4) Nymbl

Nymbl, a 3D design and virtual reality studio, wanted to project a more accessible, playful image in their new marketing materials. To get the job done right, they turned to UK-based agency Big Fan, who spun up a bold, two-tone business card design concept as part of their new branding. The cards feature paper cut-outs on royal purple stock.

Nymbl

Image via Big Fan

5) Wendigo

This video production agency may get its name from a spooky folk creature, but the quality of their business card design is far from terrifying. Designed by the talented folks at The Distillery, these unusual cards put the focus on meticulously detailed, embossed illustration: a feather, a piece of wood, and a beastly skull can be seen behind the contact information. A pair of interlocking antlers -- presumably from the feared Wendigo itself -- form the "W" in the agency's name.

Wendigo

Image via The Distillery

6) Katsy Garcia

Illustrator and graphic designer Katsy Garcia whipped up this simple but effective business card concept for her own personal branding. Instead of displaying her contact information in the usual straightforward format, Garcia serves up a fresh twist, displaying hers in an instantly recognizable text message composition. The resulting effect is equal parts charming and sharply clever.

Katsy Garcia

Image via Katsy Garcia's Behance Portfolio

7) Omelet

In a nod to their native L.A., Omelet created business cards centered around sleek city imagery. The photographs are artfully silhouetted by their company logo -- which if you look closely, is actually an ambigram.

Omelet

Image via Digiday

8) Counter Creatives

Designed to resemble a classic take-a-number ticket, this inventive business card was devised for Dutch agency Counter Creatives by designer and art director Valery Overhoff. The compact format and unconventional shape called for a creative use of space, and Overhoff manages to feature multiple typefaces and both vertical and horizontal text.

Counter Creatives

Image via Valery Overhoff's Cargo Collective Portfolio

9) IS Creative Studio

Thanks to airy swipes of neon spray paint, these otherwise minimal business cards from IS Creative Studio make a big impact. The Peru-based agency has developed three iterations of these award-winning cards, increasing the breadth and intensity of the color pallette each time. This most recent version highlights everything from electric pinks to vibrant greens.

IS Creative Studio IS Creative Studio

Images via IS Creative Studio's Behance Portfolio

10) Confetti Studio

These business cards from Confetti Studio combine two powerful elements -- punchy orange card stock and gold embossed metallics -- to a create a mesmerizing and modern effect. One side of the card is completely covered in gilded speckles, while the other side displays the agency's logo and contact information -- also gilded. They fittingly call the end result "cardfetti."

Confetti Studio

Image via Confetti Studio

11) Tricota

Buenos Aires-based agency Tricota found an interesting way to highlight the two sides of their business: perforated cards that split in half. Once side features information for their communications and graphic design services, while info for their illustration services appear on the other side. Each half includes a variation of their "T" logo: a typeface "T" for their communications side and and an hand-drawn "T" for their illustration side.

Tricota

Image via Tricota's Behance Portfolio

12) Tait

When this design studio wanted to give their corporate identity a facelift, they turned to fresh card stock in yellow, smokey blue, and azure. Using minimal text against a sophisticated color palette yields sleek results.

Tait

Image via Tait's Behance Portfolio

13) Claire Bruining

Graphic designer Claire Bruining developed these playful business cards for her own personal branding. Splashes of overlapping patterns and colors appear on one side, and Bruining's contact information appears on the reverse in a clean sans serif font. The dark blue text and border adds an unexpected pop to the basic layout.

Claire Bruining

Image via Claire Bruining's Behance Portfolio

14) Don't Try Studio

Monge Quentin, the Parisian illustrator behind Don't Try Studio, created these lively and colorful business cards to promote his design work. Thanks to an embossing technique, the face of the cards are embellished with confetti-like brush strokes and shapes in a muted orange and blue color scheme. His name appears in a handwritten print. 

Don't Try Studio

Image via Don't Try Studio

15) Bespoke

The logo on these business cards for digital production studio Bespoke is so large, it actually wraps around from the front of the card to the back. A fellow New York agency -- Studio Newwork -- designed these cards to be both minimal and unexpected.

Bespoke

Image via Studio Newwork

16) Atelier Irradié

At first glance, the face of these Atelier Irradié business cards look like otherworldly color swatches. In stark contrast to the metallic, jewel-toned gradient on the front, the back of these cards don't even use ink -- just simple, imprinted text displaying their contact information.

Atelier Irradié Atelier Irradié

Image via Atelier Irradié's Behance Portfolio

Feature image credit: Atelier Irradié's Behance Portfolio

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