5 YouTube Features You Should Try

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

5 YouTube Features You Should Try

Video is wildly popular in social media and easily made and viewed on smartphones. While popular apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter let you create and post videos, YouTube remains the top video platform as well as the second most-used search engine next to Google.

Keeping up to date with the features any social network rolls out can be hard as they are all constantly changing. Here are five features that YouTube offers that you may not know about but that can give your YouTube channel more impact.

Link Within a Video

When you share a video in social media, often you want to draw attention to a particular section within the video but you end up having to tell people the minute mark where they should fast forward. Now you can generate a link that goes to exactly where you’d like them to start watching.

To grab a link to a specific time within a video, first note the hours:minutes:seconds mark where you’d like the video to begin. Then open up your video, click Share, and at the Share tab, click the checkbox next to “Start at:” and fill in the time. You can also advance your video to any point then click Share and the start time should auto-fill.

Leverage Your Automatically-Generated Video Transcript

YouTube automatically transcribes most videos, and you can use this automatic transcription in other ways. After you’ve uploaded and published a video, click on the More option underneath a video, then choose Open Transcript.

A transcription box will open on the upper right portion of your screen and advance as your video plays. Pause your video and highlight and copy the transcript. Paste it into a Word document. The transcript will contain time stamps that can be handy for editing your video or locating specific sections within it. You can also clean up the transcript, removing time stamps and fixing spelling and spacing. Upload transcripts to your website or blog as an article or as accompanying transcription to your embedded video.

Add Captions to Your Videos

Subtitles and captions on your YouTube videos can help you reach a wider audience including the deaf or hearing impaired as well as viewers who speak another language. You can manage subtitles and captions in your YouTube Video Manager. Subtitles and captions options are listed as Subtitles/CC in the drop-down menu next to the Edit button next to each video you’ve uploaded to YouTube.

While you can create subtitles and captions from scratch, upload a specially formatted caption file, or transcribe your video and auto-sync it, YouTube also offers an automatic caption feature that uses speech recognition technology to create captions for your videos. If automatic captions are available for your video, they'll automatically be published onto the video.

360-Degree Video

YouTube lets you upload 360-degree video to provide more engaging video experiences for your audience. Making 360-degree videos requires special cameras, and YouTube does require that you first modify the video file with an app such as 360° Video Metadata.

Using the YouTube smartphone app, viewers can touch their phone screens to rotate a 360-degree video played on the YouTube app, moving the scene they are watching side to side or up and down for different perspectives. To watch 360-degree videos on a computer, viewers need the latest version of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, or MS Edge.

Think of strategic ways to use 360-degree videos such as giving virtual tours of your company’s facilities or at a business event like a conference or expo.

Live Streaming Video

For streaming live video on YouTube, you first need to have a verified YouTube channel without any restrictions. For live streaming with the YouTube mobile app, you need at least 100 subscribers.

You’ll also need to enable Live Streaming on your YouTube Channel.

To live stream from a computer, go to Creator Studio tools then select Live Streaming. You have three ways to live stream although mobile live streaming is only available if you have enough subscribers. The other two ways are Stream Now for quick, on the fly live streaming or Events that lets you preview your live stream and control when it starts and stops.

What’s next? With the right video camera, you can live stream in 360 degrees. YouTube is also jumping on the Virtual Reality (VR) bandwagon to support videos that provide a more dimensional and immersive experience. While it may be premature for most small businesses to delve into VR, you should know what is on the horizon. Check out Google’s Virtual Reality channel to get an idea of what’s now possible with video.

To view VR videos, you need the latest YouTube app and a VR viewer such as Daydream View headset that works with specific Android smartphones and costs about $50. For compatibility with more smartphones including iPhone, you can purchase Google Cardboard through a number of Google certified manufacturers and ranging in price from from $6 to $70.