Video provides a powerful tool for any business to promote its products and services. YouTube, however, is particularly useful for small businesses as it is free, easy to use, and reaches a mass market audience.
The concept of filming, editing and uploading video can be very intimidating for someone with no experience with the medium, but creating video for YouTube is not as difficult as you might think and there are plenty of user-friendly tools and tips out there to help you on your way (more below).
Some ways in which YouTube can help you run and promote your business more efficiently include:
- Advertising products and services, and creating brand awareness
- Driving traffic to your website
- Generating conversation about your brand
- Highlights of executive presentations and meetings for employees/clients that cannot attend
- Training employees
- Online “help-desk” for clients’ FAQ’s
- Highlights of company events
YouTube, like any social media tool, needs to be used properly however to get the most out of it. Here are some tips to get you on your way:
- Make sure YouTube is relevant to your business
- Customise your account
Think carefully about your brand and how you want to promote it, and if YouTube is really for you — it may be more useful for private internal use. Don’t just create a YouTube account for the sake of it because it is trendy — that approach will do more harm than good.
The more your profile stands out from the default, the more your brand will be remembered, so once you have created your YouTube account (read this if you need help), take the time to customise it properly. This includes:
- Completing your account profile fully, and providing an interesting and keyword-rich description of your brand
- Changing account playback setup, to allow users with slower internet connections to switch to a lower quality
- Controlling privacy settings for your profile and individual videos
- Adding your company’s branding, customising colours to match your company’s look, and making sure you add links back to your website and other social media accounts.
- Offering YouTube users the option to subscribe to your account and to search your uploaded content among other tools.
YouTube videos are more about content than quality for the most part, so the key thing to remember when creating a video is to make it interesting, useful or funny to engage viewers. YouTube users are sensitive to blatant advertising, so be clever with the content e.g. a company selling pet toys might upload a video on how to train your dog to play fetch, or a cycling store might might upload a clip on basic mountain biking technique.
Consider the title of the video and how users might search for it using phrases on YouTube or search engines. Make sure that the video description is relevant and keyword-rich, and includes your brand name and a link back to your website. In terms of video technique, the YouTube handbook offers good tips and is worth a look, and you should stick with their recommended settings for the best presentation (MPEG4 (Divx, Xvid) format, 320×240 resolution, good quality MP3 audio, 30 frames per second).
You can choose how to order the videos you upload, so make sure they are listed in a user-friendly way, by grouping topics together for example.
YouTube works by implementing a tagging system: single word tags are added by users to each video and then YouTube uses these tags to collate related videos together. Users can search by tag as well, so think carefully about the tags you use and don’t forget to add them – they should be logical, relevant keywords. It might help to do a search on the tags you choose first as well, to see what kind of content comes up.
It’s not enough simply to create your account, upload your videos and then sit back and wait. YouTube is a community and you need to actively engage in it by replying to relevant user comments or questions, making ‘friends’ with users who have similar accounts or brands, selecting other ‘favourite’ videos (not your own) which will show on your account, and using ‘video replies’ on other users’ videos. The other accounts and videos you engage with should all be similar in content to yours.
There are a lot of abusive, rude, bored and just plain loony people on YouTube who might comment on your videos, as well as spammers, so make sure you keep an eagle eye on comments so that you can remove them if you need to and block the nasties. You can also disable comments on your videos completely.
It is easy to interlink your YouTube account with your other social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook, and a good idea to do so – you can even do it all at once with Tubemogul. YouTube videos are also easy to embed on your company website or blog.
YouTube offers users free analytics data via the “Insight” button on every uploaded video. This data should not be overlooked as it can offer valuable info on views stats, demographics, community, and info on how users came across the video which is very important.
As with all social networking, your YouTube account needs to be maintained and updated on a regular basis or it will not be taken seriously and it will not drive any traffic to your website. If you don’t have time to maintain it, don’t do it.
On a final note, YouTube accepts video files from most digital cameras, camcorders, and cell phones in the .WMV, .AVI, .MOV and .MPG file formats. It does however impose some restrictions: For regular accounts, videos must be less than 100MB in size and 10 minutes in length, so for longer presentations and events, you will have to include only the highlights or break them into separate videos. You can also apply for a “Director” account which allows you to post videos longer than 10 minutes with an accompanying logo and website URL.