5 YouTube features to use to boost engagement

by Lindsey Francy Aug 22, 2022 News
5 YouTube features to use to boost engagement

Where do you go when you want to learn a new thing? It's likely to be "YouTube." The second most popular social platform has a long way to go. New features on the video-sharing site are making it more beneficial to marketers and creators.

The majority of consumers think that YouTube will be one of the most used social media platforms this year. High popularity also means high competition. Some of these features can help you stay ahead, grow your audience, and give your channels a boost, even if you are new to the site.

5 free YouTube features you need to use more often

The right tools are needed to help your audience find your videos in the internet.

Here are some tools that you can use to get the most out of your marketing plan.

You may need to verify your account or sign up for the partner program to use some of these features. Take these steps if you can't find some features.

1. YouTube search features

Every rabbithole, deep dive or "how to" inquiry begins with a search. The world's second-largest search engine is thanks to YouTube's powerful search capabilities.

We will look at a few of the search features that can help you reach your audience, know your competitors and manage your community.

Search YouTube comments

A key part of community management is responding to comments. You can find the ones you haven't responded to by searching for them, identifying which commenters have the most subscribers and using FAQ.

You can do this by going to the comments section of the studio. You can see a few ways to look at comments.

The comments search tool in YouTube Studio and the search filters you can use, including not yet responded to, follower count and more.

Hashtag searches

Similar to the micro-messaging service, the phrases are found on the video sharing website. They have their own website. This is a tool that can be used for competitor research.

Hit enter if you want to search for a specific phrase. You can see the videos that use the hashtags by clicking on the large one.

A gif demonstrating how you can search a hashtag in the YouTube search bar to find a results page for that specific hashtag

You can find the same thing from videos. If you look above the title or description, you'll see a blue symbol. You can find them by clicking on the ones you want to look at.

A gif demonstrating how you can click hashtags on youtube videos you're watching to search results for that hashtag.

2. YouTube Live features

42% of consumers say live video is the most engaging type of video content. It is possible to expand your reach by using live video on YouTube.

There are a few things you need to know about using YouTube Live. Minor additional requirements are needed to film on mobile. It can take up to 24 hours to enable your first live stream.

Live chat moderation features

During a live video, the chat window is used to build engagement and community. It can be hard to understand. Live chat moderation tools can be used to create a safe environment for fans. There are a few of those tools.

  • Assigning moderators: Moderators—like coworkers, collaborators or trusted fans—can respond to comments, remove harmful messages and hide users. Assign moderators by going to YouTube Studio > Settings > Community, or while you’re going live.
  • Block certain words: To keep it PG and hate-free, prevent certain words from showing up in your chat by going to YouTube Studio > Community > Blocked words, and add your phrases. Messages containing these words will not appear publicly.
  • Approve live comments: Review comments and decide whether or not to show certain messages. Activate this in YouTube studio > Settings > Defaults > check the box under “Messages in your chat.”
  • Slow mode: If you’re streaming on desktop, limit how many messages each commenter can add to give yourself more time to check messages as they come in.

YouTube Premieres

You can watch a new video as you launch it with a premiere. It's a great way to build community. Sharing new products, making big announcements and more are things to think about. Don't forget to promote your premiere on your channels.

3. Make the most of YouTube Studio features

Powerful tools are offered by the dashboard and studio. It's easy to overlook the best tools.

You can use the features in your dashboard and studio to make a big impact on your channel.

YouTube Channel dashboard

When you open the studio, you will see this window. You can get an at-a-glance view of your channel's health with the latest comments, performance and views over the last 28 days. There are helpful sections like news and tips for creators.

A view of the youtube channel dashboard where you can see channel analytics, latest video performance, ideas for you from YouTube and more

Video editor and Audio Library

There is no editing software. There's no problem. You can easily trim your videos with the video editor tool. In the editor, you can add ready-to-use, copyrighted-free music to your content.

You can find the video editor and audio library by going to the studio.

A gif demonstrating how you can use the youtube editor to trim your videos.


There are links that pop up during a video to direct viewers to related content. You can add up to five cards.

You can add cards that promote another video, a channel, or an external link if you are in the partner program. You can add up to five cards to each video.

You are uploading a video. You can add them to existing videos by going to the studio and selecting the cards you would like to use. You can change how long your cards stay on the screen.

A gif showing an example of youtube cards on a sprout video that all link out to sprout social articles.

Adding more links and a subscribe button in the same window is a good idea. You can add up to four elements.

The end screen of a Sprout Social YouTube video that includes two video cards you can click and watch and a subscribe button

Adding closed captions

It's a good practice to use closed caption on social media to make it more accessible.

Adding a caption to your video will help it stand out. The auto-captions should be edited for accuracy and embarrassment. After uploading a video, auto caption can take a while. You can add your own subtitles to the studio.

A gif demonstrating where you can add subtitles to videos in your YouTube Studio and how you can edit them

Video spotlight

When people visit your channel, your video spotlight can be played. While building your views and watching time as visitors scroll your channel, engage visitors immediately.

An example of a channel trailer at the top of the AllBirds YouTube channel.

You can put a channel trailer for non-subscribers and a featured video in the spotlight. You can add this to your channel by going to the studio.

Featured sections and playlists

There are features on your channel that aren't just "set it and forget it" There are four sections to your channel: Shorts, Uploads, Created and Public Subscriptions. You can include as many sections as you want to keep your channel fresh, give new life to old videos and keep people coming back.

A view of the playlists on Sprout's channel, including a playlist for the Sprout podcast, Sprout Sessions and more

Visitors can be pointed to the content you want to promote first. There is clearly a preference for short-form video at the top of theshopify channel.

Shopify's YouTube channel where their vertical Shorts videos appear at the top of their channel

Headspace chose to feature supportive mental health videos first, followed by children's videos.

A gif of headspace's YouTube channel where Shorts are at the bottom of their channel

YouTube Analytics

You can explore the Analytics section of your dashboard. Overview, Content, Audience and Research are the four tabs of data that you can explore in your Channel analytic section.

Each section gives a high level look at your channel performance. If you have tapped into other social media channels, you will see many of these metrics.

There are a lot of metrics that are not found on other platforms.

  • What your audience and viewers search for
  • Watch time—an important signal the YouTube algorithm uses to rank content in search.
  • When your viewers are on YouTube
  • Other channels/videos your audience watches

Analytics for Premium YouTube features

Premium has one of the perks of not having ads. There isn't much you can do with the premium features on the marketer side. You can see what's happening in the analysis.

  • Watch time and views that come from Premium viewers
  • Earnings from Premium viewers—you can see this in the revenue tab, if your channel is set up for monetization.

SEO tools

It's your greatest strength when it comes to people finding your stuff on the internet. The goal is for the best content to be shown to viewers.

You can use these tools to increase your ranking in the results page.

  • Metadata in each video: Your video title and description are the best places to include keywords and search terms that your audience might use to find your video.
  • Hashtags: When you type hashtags into your description, YouTube will show you how popular a hashtag is, which can help you identify popular topics and niche topics to rank for.
A view of YouTube video upload screen showing how you can type hashtags into the description of the video to see its search volume.
  • Tags: While tags don’t boost your SEO, they are a great way to include common misspellings of your brand name or channel to guide people searching for you.
  • Chapters: Besides helping your audience navigate longer videos, video chapter titles are a prime place to include keywords to show up in both YouTube and Google search. These can be auto-generated, or you can add them manually when you upload your video.
  • The Research tab in Analytics: This tab in your Content Analytics is a powerful keyword tool to explore what new viewers and your audience are searching for on YouTube. Type in a word or topic to see what phrases and words people use when they search for those topics. Use this to inspire titles and keywords in your description to boost your chances of being found in search.
A view of the research tab in YouTube Analytics where you can search terms that your viewers search for

Custom graphics

Your content needs to be seen. Professional flair is enhanced by custom watermarks. Video thumbnail can be used to visually connect related videos. The majority of top-performing videos on the site include custom thumbnail images.

Click the video you want to edit, select an auto-thumbnail, or upload a custom design, to add thumbnail to it.

Add watermarks in the studio

A screenshot of Sprout's Always On YouTube series showing how each video has the same thumbnail

4. YouTube browse features to watch

I know what you are thinking, but what are the browse features on the video sharing website? Think about the last time you were on the video sharing site and used its browse features. The aim of the browse features is to help viewers find new videos and to get content in front of relevant eyes.

  • YouTube homepage
  • Subscriptions
  • Watch Later
  • Trending/Explore
  • Suggested videos
  • Other browsing features

Understanding how your audience finds your content can be helped byAnalyzing which of these sources your content is showing up in. You can find this in the YouTube studio.

You want to show up in browse with 70% of your views coming from recommended videos We will look at how to make your videos browse-friendly.

YouTube homepage

It looks different for everyone on the website. The home chooses videos based on a few factors.

  • Video performance: How well your video has performed with similar viewers.
  • Personalization: The watch and search history of your audience, how often they watch a channel and topic, and how often the video has already been shown to them.

Optimizing videos to show up in search can help them show up on someone's home page. All of your titles, descriptions, and chapters need to have some helpful words in them. Make sure your thumbnail is visually appealing while you're at it.


Users can find the latest content from their channels on the Subscriptions tab. It's a great place to get views from fans.

A view of the YouTube Subscriptions tab where you can see new videos from the channels you are subscribed to.

If you see that most of your audience finds your content in the Subscriptions tab, you should post videos when they're most active. You can schedule YouTube videos to be published at peak engagement times with the help of a tool. It is possible to tell the best times to publish on a given day.

A view of Sprout Social's Compose window where Sprout's optimal send times is providing the best times to publish on YouTube for more audience engagement.

How do you get people to subscribe to your service? Asking is one of the best ways to get something. People are encouraged to subscribe to your channel.

Suggested videos

Next to the videos you are watching are suggested videos. Videos featured here connect you to future fans because they are relevant to the content you are watching.

If you want your videos to show up in the Suggested feed, you need to check your video's search engine. Is your title clear and accurate? Did you include the words "Keyword" in your description?

5. Other YouTube features brands are using

YouTube Shorts

One of the social media trends that is here to stay is short-form video. If you want to engage your audience with content they love, use YouTube Shorts.

It's possible to give viewers a sample of a larger topic before directing them to a longer video if you use shorts.

A screenshot of Shopify's YouTube channel where Shorts are displayed at the top of the page.

You can either film a short on a mobile device or pre-record it for later use. A vertical video under 60 seconds will become a Short.

You can convert existing long-form videos into shorts without having to reupload them if you use the mobile app.

A demonstration of how to make a YouTube Short using the mobile app

Creator monetization features

Expansion of monetization tools for creators is being worked on by the platform. There are a few features that can be used by creators.

  • Super Chat and Super Stickers: Encourage fans to purchase digital stickers for live chats.
  • YouTube shopping: Eligible Creators can sell merch to fans below their videos, during live streams and through a digital storefront on their channel.
  • BrandConnect: This YouTube influencer marketing tool connects brands and Creators to work together on campaigns.
  • Memberships: Fans can become members of a channel by opting into a recurring payment in exchange for perks and exclusive content.
  • Gifted memberships: Encourage fans to gift their friends memberships to your channel.

If you want to make money from your channels, videos and shorts, you need at least 1,000 subscribers. If you already monetize your channel, use Adsense to choose what kinds of ads you want to show.

A screenshot of the YouTube Channel Bedtime Stories demonstrating what their channel membership offering looks like.

Most replayed

You can see how many times your videos have been played on YouTube. Key moments of audience interest can be identified using this. It can tip you off to moments that the audience doesn't like.

When you hover over the progress bar, you'll see a graph.

A screenshot of a YouTube video on mobile where you can see the most replayed moments graph behind the progress bar at the bottom of the video

What’s next: YouTube Experimental features to keep an eye on

If you have a subscription to the premium version of the video-sharing website, you will see these features in the new page. These features will be on the horizon if not.

Go Live together

It will make it easier to collaborate and add to the social side of the platform.

Selling NFTs

There are a lot of details that are a little mysterious. We can tell from what we can see that the creators will be able to sell NFTs.

“Press play” on these YouTube features to give your channel a major boost

You don't need to use all of the tools on the site. It can feel overwhelming to navigate which features to focus on. Some of the features mentioned in the article can be used to build your confidence.

If you're stuck in a content rut or not sure what kind of videos to make for your channel, check out our YouTube content ideas article.