YouTube is where the eyeballs are. In fact YouTube is now where over a billion sets of eyeballs are every single month. The vast majority of those eyeballs belong to what Google & Nielsen are now calling the ‘C Generation’. The C Generation is supposedly a state of mind and is representative of those that ‘care deeply about creation, curation, connection and community.’
Generation C is made up of 80% millennials which also happen to be YouTube’s core audience. YouTube users are also very likely to constantly use a mobile device during the day to consume media so your videos must be optimized for all viewing platforms.
However, the C Generation is not YouTube’s only audience. All demographics are now consuming video online at growing rates and primarily on YouTube.
How do you leverage YouTube for Business effectively?
As you’ve probably noticed, YouTube is bursting with silly, weird and pointless videos uploaded by teenagers and young adults. How is your business going to market successfully in that space? Especially if that’s not your target audience?
If your target audience is the millennials it may seem you’ll have a little easier time leveraging YouTube. However it can be really difficult to get your videos seen and your channel subscribed to in this now overcrowded environment.
Below are my top ten YouTube for Business strategies and best practices:
1. YouTube is a Tool.
When marketing on YouTube keep in mind that it’s just another tool in your social media arsenal. YouTube can be a very powerful audience building tool but it’s most likely not going to be the end destination that benefits your business or an income source in itself (through the YouTube partnership program).
Also remember that YouTube is a community with its official rules and unofficial culture guidelines that have been organically created. Before you create your channel and upload your videos, spend some time browsing and learning how the YouTube ecosystem works. Notice what is working for brands by looking at the engagement level in comments and likes. This is a much better indicator of the success of a video than just looking at views (that may have been completely paid for).
All of your social platforms including YouTube should be interconnected by branding, links and content that makes sense for your business. They should also all support the main goals of your business and focus on the presentation of valuable content to your followers and customers.
Because of the increased engagement and conversion factor of video I recommend prioritizing its creation and using it as your secret ingredient for all of your social media campaigns.
Leverage YouTube as an audience builder for the valuable video content that you create and then motivate that same audience to take actions that benefit them and your business.
2. Make Content, Not Ads.
You will notice very quickly that traditional types of advertising do not work on YouTube. Even company intro or product demo videos don’t perform well unless they are done in a creative and engaging way. The Dollar Shave Club intro video is still one of my favorite examples of a company intro video done right.
Below are a couple more good examples of successful video campaigns by large companies that took the time to create something fun and engaging that tells a story. The integration of a product is very apparent but it’s done in an authentic and relevant way.
When creating video content spend some time thinking about why and how your followers will share your content. This shareability factor is just as important as your idea and the execution of it in video form.
3. Become The Face of Your Business.
YouTube is a community made of real people and they want to see, hear and interact with other real people. The connection to your business becomes much more powerful if you or someone in your organization becomes the face of your brand. It changes the dynamic of the interaction from looking at videos from yet another company to building a relationship with a human. Relationship building becomes a long term strategy that can acquire your company customers for life.
This person (ideally you!) should appear in most of your videos, be included in your channel header and possibly show up on video thumbnails.
Remember that a lot of communication is done subconsciously and a real person appearing in your YouTube videos allows people to connect with your business on a deeper level. Later when visitors are reading your comment replies on YouTube or a written post you wrote on your blog, they can see you in their mind’s eye. You are no longer just words on a paper but instead have become a three dimensional, multi-faceted person that they can relate to.
Another powerful strategy is to weave some of your life story into your business, if it makes sense to do so. Let your viewers see you behind the scenes of your business, working on a project or telling how you started your business. All of this transparency adds depth and color to your marketing that is otherwise left untapped.
4. Everyone Starts at Zero.
Many people attempting to utilize YouTube for business sign-up for a channel, throw up a few videos and get discouraged very quickly when they don’t get any views or subscribers. They often abandon the channel they were initially very excited to build. This is a very common and valid frustration.
Keep in mind that now more than ever it takes some time and patience to build your YouTube audience. Focus on creating the best quality and most valuable content you can for your audience.
Then tell everyone you can about your new YouTube channel. Announce it on your blog, email lists and all social platforms. You should have permanent YouTube buttons above the fold on your website and social media platforms.
While doing everything you can to promote your new channel and videos (most efficiently, by taking advantage of paid views & collaborations, which we talk about below) remember to interact with the followers you do have. In a very crowded space they have chosen to subscribe to you and they should be rewarded for doing so. Respond to any comments they post on your channel as soon as you can, and if they have a channel themselves, visit and comment on it as well.
5. Leverage the New One Channel Design.
While the new channel design is a little controversial for legacy YouTube creators, it is a step in the right direction for utilizing YouTube for business. It makes YouTube as a whole much cleaner and modern looking, as it removes the ability to brand your background image, which a lot of creators did a very poor job of designing.
The design is now responsive so your channel will look good on all mobile and tablet devices.
The two things your business needs to do to really get the most from the new design is:
1. Create a quality channel header that represents your company and what your content on the channel will be. Spend some money and hire a good graphic designer to do this for you. It is the only place you can graphically brand your channel and you want it to look amazing.
You can download a .PSD template of the header over at Howard Pinsky’s IceflowStudios blog to get started.
2. Create a channel trailer that will only show up for non-subscribers. This is a great way to introduce your channel and showcase your brand in a fun and engaging way. At the end of the video, make sure to include a call to action asking the viewer to subscribe to your channel.
6. Push People To Your Website.
For most businesses, it doesn’t do much good if your YouTube subscribers only hang out at your channel. At first you may be focused on growing subscribers and views on YouTube, but at some point, there should be a focused effort to push people over to your website.
A few tips to encourage this transfer:
1. Include a link to your website in the first line of each video description.
2. Include links to your site in the “about” section and in the header of your channel.
3. Release programming that appears on both YouTube and your site. For example part 1 of a video is on your channel but part 2 can only be found on your site. Or you can use a teaser video on YouTube and direct people over to your site for the complete video. Or you can post supplemental content, like a blog entry, that is only available if they visit your site.
7. Utilize Paid Views.
One of the easiest ways (but also the most expensive) to jumpstart your channel and video view counts is to use Google Adwords for Video. They have a few ad unit types including Trueview which you only pay for if the viewer watches your video for more than 5 seconds.
You can promote any video with this service but I recommend ideally pushing a video that targets the YouTube community. Something like a how-to, a quick tip or something very visually interesting is best. Remember the first five seconds are crucial on these videos so be sure to grab attention right in the beginning (don’t start with branding a motion graphic!).
Take the time to learn how to target your Google Adwords for Video campaigns so you are only reaching and paying for your ad to be clicked by the right people.
Another highly effective way to jumpstart your YouTube endeavors is to collaborate with an already established creator. This could take several different forms but for most businesses this probably means ponying up some cash for the opportunity to work with a known YouTube talent.
Take some time finding creators with 100k or more subscribers that might appeal to your target audience. You can either pay them to appear in a video of yours or have them talk about your product in a video of theirs that will also include an annotated link over to your channel.
YouTube talent are very sensitive to the brand they have created and know that audiences are fickle. They will be very selective in the opportunities they agree to, but if it’s an authentic fit then, they will be happy to be a part of it.
Most YouTube talent have contact info somewhere on their channel and some now have managers that they will refer you to.
Another tip is to make it part of the deal that they also Like and Favorite the video and possibly even talk about the video in a video they post on their own channel.
9. Leverage YouTube Videos For SEO.
YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google and the two play really nicely together. In fact, it seems (although Google’s algorithm is top secret) that a YouTube video with proper meta data (tags, title, description etc.) has an easier time ranking high than just a blog post. Your YouTube listing will also appear with a thumbnail in Google which is very eye catching for someone searching through several results.
Use the Google Adwords Keyword tool to see how popular keywords targeted to your audience are. You can then make videos pertaining to those topics, and utilize those keywords in the titles, tags and descriptions of your videos. There are also advanced tools available, like seomoz Pro, that allow you to more accurately find keywords that would be beneficial to target.
Also embedding those same YouTube videos on your blog and surrounding them with more textual information or a even a transcript of the video, can help that page of your site rank better.
If you use wordpress for your blog I recommend using Yoast’s Video SEO plugin to generate video sitemaps and help with your search engine rankings.
10. Call To Action.
I’ve broken this one off and saved it for the end, because of its of vital importance in leveraging YouTube for Business.
Possibly during, but always at the end of every video you upload, you need to have a clear call to action. You want your viewers to do something after they watch or you miss out on the main benefit of creating videos.
Remember that video content is a way to capture attention, hopefully entertain or inform, and build a relationship. You then can ask the viewer to do something reasonable that will benefit both of you. Maybe this is just to subscribe to your channel or go to your website for full details or more information. You can also ask a question or prompt the user to comment below regarding a certain topic discussed. You can even ask them to like the video or forward it to their friends.
The possibilities are endless and you are encouraged to be creative with your CTAs, possibly even incorporating some sort of contest or prize to add motivation (just make sure it’s within YouTube’s terms and conditions).
Leveraging YouTube for Business should now be a vital part of your online marketing. There is no indication of a reverse in the growth of online video, and the longer you wait to engage this growing audience, the more behind your business will be. This article has just scratched the surface of how to use YouTube for your business. My new video marketing course takes a deeper dive into how to produce and promote valuable video content that people are mentally triggered to share.
Wayne Ford is a digital producer and entrepreneur in Los Angeles, CA. He has been producing and promoting branded programming and editorial video content for the web for over six years. His new venture, Sociable Video, is dedicated to helping small businesses and marketers be awesome at leveraging the power of social web video. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.