Small businesses often don't appreciate all the benefits of online video—and especially YouTube—to their social media marketing. Here are some expert tips on how to use YouTube to your advantage.
Julie Perry is the social media director at BLASTmedia, a PR and social media firm that works with companies on their YouTube strategies. She recently shared some of her top tips on how you can get the most out of your YouTube channel.
1. Make sure that YouTube is part of your social media marketing.
"When I start talking to a potential client, the first words out of their mouth are always 'Twitter' and 'Facebook.' They'll say, 'We've heard we need to be there. We heard this is a place where we need to be.'
"I will say to them that for driving traffic and list building and leads for your business, putting content out on YouTube allows you to be discovered or found by people that are out searching for information. And if you're creating video content—rather than hoard it on your own website where really no one is even going to find it—you can put it on YouTube where when it comes to online video destination sites, there are others out there that tend to be looked at as more professional, but YouTube has the vast majority of the market.
"Once you're on the site, YouTube does a tremendous job of keeping its audience engaged. You'll have the opportunity of coming up in related videos. If you sell, let's say, an iPhone product and Steve Jobs has an announcement that he makes at some convention, and someone makes a video and uploads it to YouTube, you have the opportunity to perhaps come up next to that video. Let's say he announces something for the new iPad and you have an iPad case or cover that your company makes. By playing with some of the tags and titles and things on YouTube from a search perspective, you have an opportunity to come up as a related video."
2. Leverage the Reach of YouTube.
Perry says, "it really isn't the younger generations that are just the ones hanging out on YouTube. One of the reasons for that is because of search. [Search] is where I think YouTube really has the power that people aren't realizing. YouTube is now the #2 search engine.
"I'd say the other reason that it's so powerful is the accessibility. You can now access YouTube videos from nearly every hot mobile device on the market, as well as now from your home television set. It's accessibility. It's providing content to your audience on their terms—how they want to watch it—not on your terms. Not by hiding it somewhere internally in your website where people have to dig to try to find it, but getting yourself out there, allowing people to watch you on their iPhone or their Android phone.
"YouTube's XL program now allows YouTube videos to stream through Netflix, Google TV, Apple TV, and Boxee TV. The Roku box is now allowing you to even be able to, with your own remote control for your television, simply click right over to YouTube from watching your main cable television. That accessibility, being able to have somebody sitting in their living room discovering you on YouTube, is a tremendous benefit.
"And YouTube is a social network. People forget this. A lot of people don't even know this. Yes, it's a place for free video content hosting, but you can add friends. You can subscribe to channels. You can "like" and "favorite" videos. You can interact with videos by leaving comments. You can discover people with interests similar to your own simply by seeing them comment on another video. You can leave channel comments.
"People are now treating their YouTube channels almost like the home page of a website where then each video simply becomes sort of a sub-page of the site. You can link to the videos from the channel, making your channel an actual online destination where you feature maybe not only your content, but content you like, content of your partners, and content that other channels have made about you. Then when people come across that content through any social networking you might be doing, YouTube allows for cross-platform interactivity. In other words, you can link your YouTube account to, let's say, your Facebook account, your Twitter account, your Tumblr, Blogger, StumbleUpon, and Google Buzz.
3. Make your YouTube channel a destination.
"[ YouTube wants you] to start putting more emphasis on their channel as a destination. The very first thing to do if you're just getting started is to name and claim your channel. When you do that, put as much thought into the name of your channel as you would, let's say, the domain of a blog or website. You want to use keywords that help brand you, your product, or your service. Whatever it is you're doing, selling, or offering, you want to be able to communicate that through your channel name. You want to use keywords for your niche that are going to pique interest and make people want to click over and find out more about you.
"Before you start socializing and trying to network to get people over to your channel, another thing you might want to do is work on the visual branding of your channel. Fill out the portion where they ask you to write a channel description and an "about me" bit. Put copy in there that's almost like writing a sales letter on a website. People are going to come there and they're going to scroll down to learn more about you, so you want to offer hyperlinks to your other online properties.
"Offer maybe something free so they will go over to your website.
"You want to auto-play your video on your channel so that when someone comes there, it kicks off automatically and starts talking to them. People are used to that now on YouTube. It's not like going to a website and having the video blare at you as a turnoff in many cases, but it will actually draw people in.
"But if the video doesn't do that, you've got some portions off to the left- and right-hand margins where you can actually tell them more about you and your company so if they don't scroll down to that sales letter, they'll at least maybe see a picture of what you sell. If you do sell, let's say, iPhone gadgets, you want to have some pictures of iPhones so that if the video doesn't communicate that immediately and your channel name only half communicates that, they can at least see in the margins pictures of iPad covers or pictures of barcode scanners.
4. Take advantage of YouTube's advertising.
"[ YouTube is the] 'last frontier' of online advertising. If you've ever taken part in Google pay-per-click or Facebook Ads, the Facebook ads are just getting so outrageously expensive. We're now paying double on Facebook ads than what we paid even six months ago because everybody is flocking to do it. It's the place to be.
"When you're on YouTube, there are actually two different types of advertising. The first is within YouTube Search. They're the number two search engine out there. People are coming there and directly entering in search queries of what they're looking for because they know that they'd rather watch a video than sift through tons of text links and blog articles, so they'll come over to YouTube and search. Well, you can bid on those keywords just as you would Google pay-per-click. But instead of a text ad coming up on the right-hand side as it does on Google, you get a video and a thumbnail of a video.
"The best part is that you can bid on keywords for pennies on the dollar compared to what you pay for a Google text ad or even a Facebook ad. "Of course, the next step is to get them to click over to your website. But if you think about it, if you've done your channel right, by the time they click on your ad, come to your channel, and then click over to your website, the opportunity for you to convert them is going to be a lot higher because they've already engaged with you. They've seen your video, they've seen your channel, they know what they're getting themselves into, and they're going to be a lot more apt to buy something from you, sign up, or give you their email information for more information than they would coming from those other sites or coming from Twitter.
"Then there's another kind of advertising you can do once you've got your videos running. They call them 'Promoted Videos,' by the way. That's the name of the actual YouTube advertising program. Once you have your video submitted as a Promoted Video, it then has the opportunity to run what are called 'CTA' ads. 'CTA' stands for 'call to action.'
For the full transcript of my interview with Julie be sure to read Killer YouTube Marketing Tactics for Your Business.
You can find Julie on Twitter at @JuliePerry and follow her company BLASTmedia at BLASTmediaPR. Their YouTube channel—where they feature a lot of their clients that we work with—is www.YouTube.com/blastmediapr. You can also check out our company at www.BlastMedia.com. Our blog is www.BlastMedia.com/blog.
You can follow, engage and argue with Rich Brooks on Twitter, too.