YouTube is an incredible marketing tool when it comes to sharing brand videos, increasing brand awareness and finding content inspiration.

Video itself is also the most impactful format to catch your target audience’s attention.

Need proof? Just check out these stats:

Promoting your brand on YouTube makes all the sense in the world, but how can you optimize your content to the highest quality ahead of publishing it on the platform?

Coming up with relevant topics to address your audience is not the only challenge you’ll be facing. But fear not, this article will tell you everything you need to know about the best video formats for YouTube and meeting sky high KPIs.

youtube video format

Your checklist might be a long one…

Coming up with relevant topics to address your audience is not the only challenge you’ll be facing. But fear not, this article will tell you everything you need to know about the best video formats for YouTube and meeting sky high KPIs.

6 keys to successful YouTube video formats 👌

Here are the main things you should keep in mind regarding YouTube video formats.

Use the right specs

Did you believe YouTube only supports horizontal videos? While using the standard 16:9 format is recommended, you can also post square and vertical videos on YouTube.

The platform’s player always adapts to the user’s device. This means it will automatically reframe your video to make sure it is displayed perfectly on mobile, tablet and desktop.

While this is great news in theory, a vertical video posted on YouTube won’t look very professional as black or white bars will be added on the side. This is why we strongly recommend posting horizontal videos only.

However, if you only have a square or vertical version of your content, there are ways to make it look better on YouTube without needing to make a whole new video:

  • Add a colored background that fits your brand identity. Include your logo for added branding.
  • Use a video editing tool to create an artistic, blurry background.

This will let you upload a classic 16:9 video on YouTube that looks more professional.

You’ll find the YouTube specs you should use below.

The standard 16:9 aspect ratio requires the following image resolutions:

  • 2160p: 3840px x 2160px
  • 1440p: 2560px x 1440px
  • 1080p: 1920px x 1080px
  • 720p: 1280px x 720px

Avoid using any video bitrate below 720p for 16:9 videos. For 4:3, 640 x 480px should be the minimum resolution.

These are the audio formats that are compatible with YouTube:

  • Audio MP3
  • Audio PCM
  • Audio AAC
  • Audio FLAC

Your video should have a length of at least 33 seconds, and there is no maximum length. If using a professional video editing software, always export your videos to YouTube in the file format MPEG-2 or MPEG-4.

Structure your video

To be able to hold the viewer’s attention, your video content needs to be combined in a clever way.

Here’s a brief outline of what a successful YouTube video should include:

  • An introduction: Its aim is to introduce the topic of the video and tell your viewers what they will be getting from it.
  • Opening titles: Keep it short and quickly show your logo or other branded assets. Make sure your soundtrack is free to use too!
  • Main content: Always edit your video in an entertaining way and pay attention to every detail.
  • CTA: The end of your video should tell viewers what you are expecting from them, whether it is watching another video on your channel or hitting “Subscribe.”

This simple structure is ideal to make a quality video that forms a coherent whole.

Keep your video‘s rhythm and pace in mind

The easiest way to make sure your viewers keep watching is making sure your video’s rhythm and pace are catchy.

This is something that should be on your mind before you even start filming. We recommend always preparing a storyboard to set the foundation of your video and identifying key aspects such as how you should be filming, who should appear in your video, how long it should be etc.

You should definitely spend a few hours on that and prepare a simple PowerPoint presentation afterwards.

It should feature:

  • The situation and context of your video as well as the actions that should happen.
  • Your filming location
  • A list of the props and decor elements you will be needing
  • Your casting

This document is essential—it is your checklist and a great way to make sure your video’s storyline is well-structured and that your messaging is clear.

Write a good title and description

A catchy title requires asking yourself this question: what is my video made for? Is it meant to be an efficient sales pitch? Is it an event teaser? This will help you come up with the most relevant title.

Preferably, your title should begin with a verb as it will trigger the curiosity of potential viewers. Just avoid being too pushy as this can have a negative impact on your brand image.

A powerful description is also an opportunity to generate leads or conversions. Add a link to your blog or to a specific product page on your online shop.

Pick a good thumbnail image

Every social media manager knows that thumbnail images influence the performance of your video.

Here are some key elements:

  • An eye-catching background image
  • An intriguing copy
  • A good image-to-text ratio
  • Brand identity elements
  • A size of 1280px x 720px

If you need help creating your own YouTube video thumbnail image, check out our expert tips!

Note that you won’t need to use a professional image editing software to make a high-performing video—you can just use a tool like Canva instead.

Add subtitles

Lastly, don’t forget to add subtitles! Actually, did you know that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound? This data also applies to other social media platforms and their users.

The only way to keep up with this growing trend is to add subtitles to your YouTube video.

While the platform has its own subtitling tool that will automatically add them to your video, the result is often subpar, so is saving a bit of time really worth it?

Automatic captioning doesn’t really yield the best results in terms of rhythm and timing. Adding subtitles from a text file also isn’t ideal as the result might not fit your branding.

This is why we recommend integrating subtitles at the video editing stage.

Some online video making platforms such as PlayPlay have this feature and it is guaranteed to make your life easier!

What’s next? Optimizing your video’s performance 🏆

Uploading a high-quality YouTube video that fits every requirement is just the first step when it comes to ensuring it helps you reach your marketing goals.

After uploading a video, your next task is helping your target audience find it easily.

As you know, social media platforms have their own algorithm that helps them sort through billions of accounts and posts to show users the most relevant ones. And of course YouTube is no exception!

So how can you make sure your precious video stands out? You guessed it: the answer is SEO.

Check out this short overview:

  • Use the right keywords in your title
  • Create your video with SEO in mind
  • Optimize its metadata

If you want to learn more about SEO for YouTube and increasing the reach of your videos, take a look at our dedicated article.

Need some content ideas for your YouTube videos? There you go:

  • Showcase your products or services: Why not demo your product on camera or create a teaser ahead of releasing a new service?
  • Increase brand awareness: Interview your CEO and make them talk about your company values or show how your products are part of the sharing economy trend.
  • Spread a key message: Share a teaser of your upcoming influencer collab with a fun interview or present your top 10 CSR policies.
  • Generate conversions: You could show an excerpt from a webinar that can be accessed via a form to collect data or introduce a giveaway.

Now that you know everything about the best YouTube video formats, let’s get to work! We’re sure your KPIs will skyrocket now! 💪