As a small business, it’s very important to market yourself in as many ways as possible, taking advantage of multiple channels. This may include optimizing your site to appear highly on search engine results pages, as well as involving yourself in social media outlets to gain traffic and fans. While Facebook and Twitter are important, there’s another website where you could establish a presence: YouTube.
YouTube is one of the most popular search engines in the world, with over 1 billion unique visitors each month. It’s a fabulous promotional tool that can help you gain a following and reach new fans. YouTube is a hosting service that’s free and very easy to use, making it attractive to those who want to post video content somewhere on the web. Owned by Google, YouTube has the advantage of being connected to the Google Display Network, making it an excellent place to advertise. It also has elements of social media, with a robust comment system and easy share features; Facebook and Twitter both integrate YouTube embeds into their frameworks, allowing users to watch videos directly from the sites instead of leaving them and clicking on links.
So should you have a YouTube channel? The answer is “maybe”. The thing to remember is that people go to YouTube for one reason: to watch videos. They aren’t searching for brand products to potentially buy; they’re looking for entertainment or information. So the key to a good YouTube channel and campaign is to create informative, interesting content that people will want to see. Moz.com puts it very well: “If your customers, or the influencers of your customers are watching videos on YouTube related to your industry, then you should have a YouTube channel.”
The best business content on YouTube fulfills a purpose, and strives for long-term usefulness instead of one-time viral popularity. Create tutorials explaining how things related to your business work—a zipline company could have a series on the various knots they tie in their ropes courses, for instance. Take your viewers behind the scenes and give them interesting trivia about you, your business, and your industry. If you have a good idea for a spoof video or something that might go viral, don’t expect the popularity to last forever; make it your goal to produce interesting, viewable content. The “Will it Blend?” series is a good example of consistent marketing content; the videos show Blendtec blenders devouring everything from remotes to golf balls, showing off the machines in an interesting and entertaining manner. While YouTube can drive some site traffic, Moz.com estimates that it’s only got about a 1% click-through-rate or less. The goal of having a channel should be brand recognition and reputation.
Another way to use YouTube is to simply create an ad and pay to have it shown as a pre-roll before other videos. This is a great way to get your brand some recognition and exposure, but be aware that customers can often skip the ad after the first five or ten seconds—so be compelling and draw their interest. One good thing about YouTube advertising is its connection to the Google Display Network; this allows for remarketing opportunities later. People who have seen your video ad can be shown your text ads across partner sites—an excellent way to jog their memory and increase awareness of your brand.
When Should You Not Have a YouTube Channel?
YouTube works in a very specific way, and the most successful campaigns will harness those eccentricities instead of try to work against them. YouTube is not for everyone! For instance, if your content is heavily focused towards your products and the videos only make sense in the context of your website and business, then they will be confusing for those who stumble upon them on YouTube. If you want your videos to help your landing pages rank, then YouTube may not be a good choice either, since YouTube videos often outrank websites in universal searches and thus split link value down the middle. If your main goal is to build links directly back to your landing pages, YouTube isn’t for you either; embedded videos link only back to YouTube. In these sorts of cases, you’re better off either hosting the videos yourself or using a paid platform that has stricter embedding rules.
Video marketing is an exciting challenge, and for some companies it can really pay off. Having a well-optimized YouTube channel with interesting content can seriously increase your audience, and rank you in the second most popular search engine in the world. There’s a lot of detail to a good channel, including keyword optimization and use of annotations; so do your research, get creative, and turn on those cameras.