Make no mistake, YouTube is not merely a platform for sharing videos - it is also one of the most widely used search engines on the web, second only to Google itself. With over 1 billion unique visitors each month, YouTube is the third most popular website in the world. Leveraging the power of YouTube for your business has the potential to not only improve your search engine rankings, but also revitalize your current customers, and entice new ones.
YouTube by the Numbers
• 6 Billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every month
• The average YouTube session on mobile is now 40 minutes
• 1 Billion people worldwide use YouTube every month
• YouTube had 153 million unique U.S. viewers in July 2014 alone
• 1 hour of video is uploaded to YouTube EVERY SECOND!
• More U.S. based 18-34 Year-olds watch YouTube than cable TV
• 68% of U.S. viewers choose YouTube to watch videos online
• More than a third of all YouTube view time is for videos that are 20 minutes long
• 700 tweets per minute contain a YouTube link
• 97% of U.S. charities and nonprofits in the U.S. are active on YouTube
Think of YouTube as an Additional Tool in Your Social Media Strategy
When using YouTube as a marketing asset, keep in mind that it is just another tool in your social media strategy. YouTube can be used as a powerful tool for building an audience, but it is not likely to be YouTube itself that benefits your business as a direct source of income (through the YouTube partnership program).
YouTube is a community with a unique official rules and unofficial cultural guidelines that have developed organically over the years.
Before you set up your channel and upload your first videos, take the time to browse through channels (especially those in your industry) and learn how the YouTube environment works. Make note of what is working for other brands by looking at their engagement level in comments and likes. This is a more accurate indicator of a video’s success than just looking at the amount of views, since views can be paid for.
Make sure your YouTube channel is connected to the rest of your social networks through the use of branding, links and content that is cohesive with your business’s established identity. Your channel should also support the key goals of your marketing strategy and focus on sharing valuable content with your followers and customers.
Remember You Are Creating Content Not Ads
As you research what works on YouTube and what doesn’t, you will notice very quickly that the traditional style of advertising will not work on YouTube. Even when it comes to company introductions or product demo videos, performance will be sub-par unless they are executed in a creative and engaging way.
This intro video from advertising firm John St is an excellent example of a company intro video done right.
This Dollar Shave Club video is practically legendary in terms of viral success with over 20,000,000 views.
When developing video content, spend a good amount of time thinking about why and how your followers will share your content. The shareability factor of your content is just as important as the idea and execution of it in video form.
Create an Approachable Company Image
YouTube is a network made of real people who are looking to see, hear and interact with other real people. Their connection to your business will be stronger if you or someone in your company becomes the face of your brand. Rather than looking at videos from yet another company, your viewers are building a relationship with a fellow human. Relationship building is a long term strategy that can secure loyal customers for life.
A large part of communication is achieved subconsciously, and having a real person in your YouTube videos allows viewers to bond with your business on a deeper level. When visitors read your replies on YouTube or a written blog posts on your website, they will imagine that it is you speaking to them. It will no longer be just words on paper but rather a three-dimensional, multi-faceted person that they can relate to.
Another potent strategy is to interlace some of your life stories into your business when it makes sense to do so. Give viewers a look behind the scenes of your business while you are working on a project or in telling them how your company got its start. This level of transparency adds depth and personality to your marketing that may otherwise be left unused.
Don’t Expect to be an Overnight Success
Many people have attempted to use YouTube for business. They sign up for a channel, post a few videos, but get discouraged when they do not instantly get any views or subscribers, abandoning the channel they were initially enthusiastic about. Unfortunately, this frustration is very common.
Considering the amount of content that is uploaded to YouTube every day, it will take some time and patience to establish your YouTube audience. Keep your focus on creating and sharing the best quality and most valuable content possible for your audience.
Once your channel is set up, make sure to tell everyone you can about your new YouTube channel. Make an announcement on your blog, send out an email to your entire network, and promote it on all social platforms. Also, you should add YouTube buttons above the fold to your website and other social media platforms.
Move Your YouTube Viewers to Your Website
In general, it will not do much good for your business if your YouTube subscribers are only hanging out at your channel. In the beginning, you can focus on building subscribers and views on YouTube, but at some point, the focus should switch to getting people to move through YouTube and over to your website.
Use these tips to encourage this switch:
• Include a link to your website in the first line of each video description.
• Add links to your website in your channel's “about” section, and
• Publish content on both YouTube and your website. For example, Part 1 of a video put your channel but Part 2 is only found on your website. Alternatively, you can place a teaser video on YouTube and direct people over to your website for the complete video. You can also post complementary content, such as a blog entry, that is only available on your site.
Don’t Neglect the Value of SEO
The fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google cannot be stressed enough, and the two work well together. Even though Google’s algorithm is top secret, it seems that a YouTube video with proper meta data (tags, title, description) has a greater chance of ranking high in search results than a blog post alone. YouTube videos also appear in Google results with an accompanying thumbnail that adds a healthy, eye-catching quality for someone searching through several results.
You can start your keyword research using Google AdWords Keyword tool to see how popular your targeted keywords are. You can then use those keywords to create videos related to the topics your audience finds the most interesting. Utilize those same keywords in the titles, tags and descriptions of your videos to rank well organically in searches both on YouTube and Google. There are also advanced tools available, like SEMrush, that allow you to find the keywords your website is already ranking for, as well as the keywords your competition is ranking for. This will assist in planning your SEO strategy.
Beyond optimizing your videos on YouTube itself, a good idea is to embed those same YouTube videos on your blog with supporting textual information, or even a transcript of the video, in order to help that page of your website rank better.
Last but Not Least, the All Mighty Call to Action
At the end of every video you upload, and possibly during, you need to have a clear call to action. The purpose is to have your viewers do something after they watch, or you will miss out on the primary benefit of creating videos.
Your video content is a powerful way to capture attention, entertain and inform, as well as build a relationship with potential customers. Once a relationship is established, you can then ask the viewer to take a reasonable action that will benefit both of you. This may be to subscribe to your channel or to go to your website for further details or more information. You may also ask a follow-up question, or ask the user to make a comment below the video. Don’t be afraid to ask viewers to like the video or forward it to their friends if they found it useful.
Don’t be shy with your call to action, YouTube viewers are accustomed to bolder CTAs, but remember to keep them in line with your brand’s visual style and personality. The following "End Card" examples from Zoe's Fancy Cakes and Epic Rap Battle use two very different styles, but each is in keeping with the brand's established image and aesthetic.
Leveraging the power of YouTube for your business should become a vital part of your online marketing plan. There is no sign that the growth of online video will diminish any time soon, and the longer you wait to participate, the further behind your business will be.
This article has just scratched the surface of how to use YouTube for your business. For further details, including how to use YouTube’s analytics to measure your success, download our YouTube Marketing Guide.