Media evolution is often driven by technology. YouTube is no exception. The video-sharing platform has around 3-billion views a day. The mobile version of the platform gets over 400-million views a day, or 13% of the platform’s total views. Few of us, however, think about it as an avenue for making money. And if we do, we probably don’t think of it as something within the grasp of ordinary people.
The truth is, YouTube empowers ordinary people to market themselves in extraordinary ways. Ayite Gaba, a Google Business Development Associate who specialises in YouTube marketing, points out two incredibly pertinent reasons YouTube is able to do this:
- YouTube empowers talent faster: There’s a reason the instant fame offered by the internet is called “Going Viral”. Gaba points to the example of The Beatles. In the 1960s, The Beatles took three years to get on the Ed Sullivan show. In 2009 Susan Boyle became the most viewed video on YouTube one day after hear audition on Britain’s Got Talent.
- It accelerates learning: A great example of this is the channel of the Khan Academy. Despite coming from an emerging market, the academy’s instructional videos get more views every day on YouTube than those of large American universities like Stanford and MIT.
Of course, a large number of the channel’s viewers are from emerging markets themselves. Using YouTube, they can have access to educational content of a higher quality than the infrastructure around them might otherwise allow for. People are hungry for education and YouTube is a great way of enabling that, says Gaba.
That’s why YouTube is a great marketing tool, but how do can you leverage it to your advantage? Although there is no way of guaranteeing you’ll be the next Justin Bieber or Isiah Mustfah, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your channel is competitive as it can be.
These areas of focus can be illustrated with examples of people and brands who have used the platform successfully.
- Know what opportunities are available:
There are three types of YouTube channel: Standard, Branded, Custom.
While having a Standard or Branded Channel won’t make it any more difficult for people to find you, the Custom option allows you to go completely crazy, says Gaba. Tequila flavoured beer brand Desparados, for example, made a completely interactive YouTube campaign, which playfully engages with YouTube’s features.
- Teach people about your product:
It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to leverage a physical product, a service or even yourself, your video’s popularity counts for nothing people end up knowing nothing about it.
This can also be an opportunity to educate people about something you’ve had on the market for some time. Power tool company Black & Decker, for instance, is using its YouTube channel to teach people how to properly use its equipment.
- You can monetise your channel just like your website:
Six Pack Factory is a YouTube success story from South Africa. The channel, run by Peter Carvell, started out as a way of chronicling the formerly obese Peter “Carvell’s” loss of 45kgs.
The workouts demonstrated on the channel became immensely popular. This allowed Carvell to sell advertising space on the channel. It now makes R150 000 a month just in Google AdSense adverts. The lesson here is that you can’t forget the basics of making money off the internet.
- Protect your content:
Nigeria has a flourishing, but largely unregulated and disorganised film industry. Enter NollywoodLove. Its founder, Jason Okuju, saw an opportunity to bring Nigerian cinema onto YouTube.
The scattered nature of the Nigerian film industry means that he is able to snap up the rights to a number of films relatively easily. A side-benefit is that its YouTube channel is likely to become one of the largest official repositories of Nigerian movies. It can’t hurt that the movies get over 2-million views a week.
- Have Substance:
You can’t just put something on the “interwebs” and hope for the best. You have to have an official channel and something worth putting on that channel. Musical group Die Antwoord, for example, already had forceful characters and a unique product. Yes, a series of things went their way, and they eventually got picked up by prominent Boing Boing co-editor Xeni Jardin but they wouldn’t have got anywhere if their first YouTube video didn’t have substance to it.
- Offer continuous, free content:
You have to be part of a group to make money as drummer right? South Africa’s Cobus Potgieter would beg to differ. Potgieter started recording videos of himself drumming in 2006.
Proving that expensive bandwidth needn’t be a barrier to internet relevance, Potgieter sent the videos to a friend in the UK to upload at first.
Potgieter has since released a range of DVDs and merchandise but still uploads free content to YouTube. This free content also lets him retain a level of interaction with his fans. This shows that it’s possible use the content on YouTube to sell merchandise through your own product. The YouTube channel is also used to leverage Potgieter as a live performance drummer.