Creating and maintaining a compelling YouTube channel is one of the most effective ways for brands to expand their marketing footprint and awareness among consumers. Firms already active on the world’s most popular video channel are positioned more favorably against competitors that haven’t followed suit. In fact, up to 87% of consumers expect more videos from their favorite brands, a trend that will only increase over time as internet adoption continues to proliferate globally.
Of course, being on the leading video platform owned by the world’s largest search engine doesn’t hurt, either. YouTube video titles and descriptions should include relevant keywords to optimize rankings in both YouTube and Google search results. The first page returned to users may include featured video snippets that the search algorithm believes to be most relevant to the audience, based on their search terms.
SEO efforts ultimately hinge on the choice of language, but for many would-be YouTube channel owners, selecting the proper one is not as straightforward as it may seem. English is often the default choice, but failing to cover widely spoken languages such as Mandarin, Spanish, or French may result in channel owners losing out on the potential for visibility in sizable markets.
The 3 Multilingual YouTube Channel Models
Fortunately, YouTube allows displaying videos in more than one language. Integrating multilingual content into a YouTube video channel can be accomplished using one of the following three models:
1. One Channel: Videos in Different Languages
With this model, video creators upload multilingual content to the same channel. Videos are usually categorized into playlists to give viewers an expectation of what is coming down the line. This is recommended for organizations that are undergoing rapid growth and in the midst of expanding internationally. Their channels may already have a bit of international visibility. By focusing on one channel, they can continue to leverage its growing popularity—instead of fighting for rank with a brand-new one.
A potential downside to this model is that audiences may get confused about the multilingual options— and, worse, get stuck in one particular mode. This can be partially remedied by adding optional English subtitles to all non-English videos. As an example, international technology giant Siemens posts content in multiple languages on the same channel.
2. Multiple Channels: One Channel per Language
Another model involves launching a separate YouTube channel per language, region, or country. Firms that are present internationally but just starting out with YouTube benefit the most from this approach. Since audiences are more clearly defined, there is less chance that video content will be misaligned with viewers.
This model’s drawback is that each channel will have a separate audience. Subsequently, views and followers will be split among the respective channels. This of course is less than optimal for search rankings.
A primary example of a multinational brand with one channel per language is Decathlon. The French retailer of sports and outdoor gear has locations all around the globe, with a YouTube channel dedicated to each region.
3. Multiple Channels: One Main Global Channel and Other Channels for Local Markets
A third option leverages a hybrid of the first two models. In this scenario, the organization creates one main, global channel followed by sub-channels for local markets. This top-down approach enables organizations to deliver global messages at the main channel level and propagate them to the appropriate sub-channels for localization. Similar to the way Red Bull and Nike run global channels with dedicated sub-channels for individual sports, this model follows the same approach but with regions and languages.
The primary advantage of this model is that it enables cross-promotional content from various sub-channels and delivery of a global message without the need to translate every single video. That said, the audience traffic and views are still split among sub-channels rather than consolidated under one entity—resulting in fragmented views and diminished rankings.
As an example, Fortinet caters to its global audience through one main global channel and several others localized to specific markets or regions, such as Fortinet Taiwan. Similarly, Cisco’s main global channel acts as a hub to its other regional channels, such as Cisco Japan. Palo Alto Networks also maintains local channels like Palo Alto Networks Korea dedicated to the local South Korean market.
Choosing The Right Multilingual YouTube Channel Model
Multiple factors need to be taken into consideration before deciding on the appropriate YouTube channel model.
- Audience: First, organizations should determine whether or not they already have an audience. If they already have a well-established channel with a global viewership in place, it’s advised to start publishing content in different languages under the main account or channel. If starting anew, multiple channels or a global channel with localized sub-channels are the better options.
- Branding and product focus: If firms wish to maintain a consistent global strategy, one channel with many languages is the ideal model. If different regions mean different products or branding, a multiple channel approach is likely to be a better fit.
- Keywords: If the organization relies on consistently branded keywords across the globe, the single channel approach may work better. If the firm depends more on a specific product category or long-tail keywords, the second or the last approach is more suitable.
- Actual viewer behavior: This can be determined by viewing the channel’s analytics. For example, if viewers are mostly arriving from Google search results and leaving after one viewing, having them all on one channel may be more desirable, as this approach will aggregate the number of views. A heavily engaged audience that shares similar interests would benefit the most from a global channel with multiple sub-channels. If the audience is engaged, but their interests vary, separate channels for different countries may be ideal.
Capture Your Target Market with the Right Channel Model
These are just a few examples and key considerations when creating and managing a multilingual YouTube channel. Each of the previously mentioned models has its respective pros and cons. Regardless of which is used, organizations should be prepared to make data-driven decisions, as it may be surprising where channel growth ends up coming from. However, making a concerted effort in identifying the right YouTube channel model is the first, crucial step towards reaching the ideal audience.