Many businesses have made YouTube a part of their overall marketing strategy and for a very obvious reason: with over a billion users, it is the most popular social media platform. Many businesses, however, have realised that it is also the most difficult platform on which to become a notable presence. Creating a channel, uploading content regularly and even investing in good production quality is not enough to engage an audience on YouTube.
So what exactly is the secret to YouTube success?
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In order to be successful, it is important to not only cater to the needs of your target audience, but to also understand the YouTube audience and cater to their needs.
The YouTube Audience
According to Google, YouTube belongs to the ‘C Generation’. This demographic consists largely of Millennials, people who mostly use mobile devices to access the net. This means that if you want YouTube’s core audience to interact with your content, it needs to be optimised for mobile.
Ensuring that your content is optimised for mobile will not matter, however, if it is not the right content, the kind that people want to interact with. Which begs the question, what does the ‘C Generation’ care about? In short, four words:
- connection, and
Creation suggests ‘how to’ videos, which is definitely an approach to consider, but in the greater scheme of things it simply means ‘information’.
People use this information to fuel their own creative efforts. To give an example: for a blogger who intends to write a piece on the car manufacturing industry, a short film or documentary on the car manufacturing industry would be useful content.
People also use this information to educate themselves on current trends and events, and other subjects of interest. They then form opinions about these matters and these opinions often result in the creation of social posts. There is a strong need amongst the ‘C Generation’ to educate themselves and to share their discoveries.
Information has become more important to YouTube users than production quality, meaning that businesses do not need to spend a lot of money to give their videos a slick look and feel, but should rather focus on producing videos that are rich in information.
Curation, Connection and Community
The ‘C Generation’ needs sharable content. They want content with which they can identify and that they can share with their followers, friends or subscribers.
This is how they maintain and build connections: they curate content, comment on the content that they have curated, and so, hope to start discussions. They perceive themselves and their followers as a collective, a group and these groups convey a strong sense of community and this is important to the ‘C Generation’. Not only do they want to feel that they belong, but that they are also part of something bigger and they want to be regarded as valuable contributors in the circles in which they are the ringleaders. The best way to achieve this, they believe, is by sharing valuable content.
The question evolves into the following: how does one create this type of content?
Creating the right type of content
Straight-forward ads do not work and can actually be detrimental to the perceived integrity of a business’s YouTube channel. It is debatable whether the age of traditional advertising has come to an end, but what is not debatable is that there is nothing more off-putting to a content-driven audience than being bombarded with advertising. People visit YouTube for brand-hype-free content and not for the advertising, so businesses should stay well away from uploading their TV or internet ads to their channels.
It is alright to include videos on product demonstrations, but in order for this not to be viewed as a traditional marketing effort, it is important to always take a creative approach. Think along the lines of alternate uses for your product that your target audience might not be aware of. Example: Fabric softener can be used to wash wigs, so a company that sells fabric softener should consider uploading a video that demonstrates how to do this.
This approach is currently not common amongst brands and businesses, but rather something that individuals do on private channels. Some individuals have had great success with this type of content, so it would be wise for businesses to follow suit.
Another good focus would be on a business’s industry in general. Talk about the latest developments in your industry and give expert insights. Establish your business as an industry leader and manage your YouTube channel as you would an industry news channel.
If you want to tell your business’s story, again, be sure to do this in a creative way. If you have budget to spend on good production quality, this is the piece of content that you should spend it on. For this purpose, interactive videos are a great idea. Engage your audience by asking questions or go as far as allowing them to choose a narrator to tell the story.
Other things to remember
Posting content regularly is still important, but don’t just post for the sake of posting. Make sure that you never lower your standard of quality (read ‘information rich’) and that you post at least once month. Also ensure that your content is search engine optimised so that it gets properly indexed by Google. Yes, the basics are still important and you cannot afford to neglect them.
A lot of businesses feel that if a video does not go viral it should be regarded as a failed attempt. This is not true. After all, in order for your content marketing efforts to be successful, you only need to reach the right percentage of your target audience, meaning the percentage that will buy into your product or service offering and make your business profitable. In other words, you don’t need millions of views. You just need the right views.