Syed Balkhi is an entrepreneur and a public speaker. His passion revolves around helping businesses succeed. He is known for his creative marketing skills and Web development experience. He is the founder of WPBeginner and List25—sites that have been featured on NYTimes, Mashable, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and TechCrunch.

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I invited Syed to Marketing Smarts to discuss video marketing and YouTube for brands, his incredibly popular sites WPBeginner and List25, and lessons marketers can learn from his success creating shareable content.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Great content creates an immediate emotional connection (05:43): "I think the secret behind List25 is that it cures boredom. It intrigues you at...first sight.... It has emotional value. The moment you read the headline, you're either shocked or frightened or happy... it stirs some sort of emotion. When that kind of thing happens, you're bound to click on it. And once you click on it, it's like a whirlpool: You get sucked in."

Embedding video is an easy and highly valuable marketing tool (07:48): "What people don't realize [is that] videos are very easy to embed. So, sharing your article on somebody else's website is a little bit harder, but when you create a video it has a bigger chance of getting picked up by news sites, bigger sites. A lot of local news stations were picking up our videos. Our video was shown on Good Morning America, The Today Show, etc., so they pick up the video and talk about it."

One simple tweak can radically improve engagement for your YouTube content (08:54): "One of the things I've noticed a lot of people don't know about is the end cards.... Basically, once the video ends, you have a screen with two related videos or four related videos, and a link to your site and a 'subscribe' button. There's one extra thing that people don't know how to do: Instead of linking directly to your video, you should link to your playlist, because what happens is, once somebody is visiting your video on a playlist, then YouTube automatically takes them to the next video as soon as one video ends. So, they never get a chance to see the related videos that YouTube suggests, which consist of other brands and other competitors, so your audience engagement and retention goes up. And when that goes up, then your channel's search algorithm ranking goes up, too, and you're ranking higher in YouTube search, which is the second largest search engine in the world.... What you do is you add the playlist ID at the end of the URL. So you just add the YouTube video URL, and then at the end of it say ampersand (like "&") and the playlist ID.... Then, YouTube loads that video, but inside of a playlist."

Pay attention to what your audience likes, and do more of it (13:54): "We wanted to have beefy information, so factual stuff, but we made it so you only have like two or three lines per item. So, it's very easy for you to skim through and read through. Like 54% of our traffic is actually mobile right now. And whenever we notice that somebody goes on our 'bizarre' category, for example, they spend about 20 minutes on our site. You just have to do a lot of testing in terms of how your mobile layout looks, [are] your categories worded the right way? Before, our categories were like 'Science and Technology.' Nobody really wants to click on 'Science and Technology,' but people would happily click on like 'Bizarre.' So, instead of saying 'Science and Technology,' we just cut it down to Science."

To learn more, visit or follow Syed on Twitter: @SyedBalkhi.

Syed and I covered much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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