How to Use YouTube for Business Purposes
YouTube is ubiquitous these days, its videos enjoyed by tens of millions of viewers a day, shared worldwide via social networks and cellphones, and used in a variety of personal and professional settings. Indeed, YouTube is seen by many as a social media channel primarily designed to entertain. But, with proper planning and implementation, YouTube can be harnessed quite effectively to achieve a number of strategic business objectives as well.
The most popular video sharing service in the world, YouTube was founded by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim in February of 2005. The website allows registered YouTube users to upload videos to the site, as well as view, share, and comment on videos on the site. As a registered user, you can also create unique channels full of unique content and invite YouTube users to subscribe; subscribers receive notifications when you upload new content.
As of 2014, 65 hours of YouTube footage is uploaded every minute, 4.25 billion videos are viewed everyday worldwide, and the site itself receives 900 million unique visits per month. Considering that the company is less than a decade old and that 70% of viewers are from out of the United States, the penetration of its product into the global market place is quite an achievement. Part of its success is no doubt due to the firm’s acquisition by Google in November of 2006, which substantially broadened its reach.
In this article, we look at 1) the purpose of YouTube, 2) the benefits of YouTube for businesses, 3) setting up a YouTube business account and channel, 4) best performing video categories on YouTube, 5) terms specific to YouTube, and 6) YouTube channels in action: DoubltTree’s DTour Marketing Campaign.
PURPOSE OF YOUTUBE
YouTube was started by three former employees of the online escrow service PayPal. The commonly accepted version of the network’s origin is that Hurley and Chen tried unsuccessfully to share a video that they recorded at a dinner party. This difficulty gave rise to the idea for YouTube. However, the founders have also publicly given contradictory accounts of this story. But regardless of the truth of its genesis, its original intent was to share vidoes. Since 2005, the site has grown to allow users the capability to:
- Allow users to view videos outside the YouTube website, such as through embedding the videos on a website or on a social network;
- Allow users to upload and view 3D videos;
- Host live feeds of content, such as press conferences;
- Provide users basic video editing functionality to be applied to their uploaded content;
- Create their own channels of videos they upload, to which other users can subscribe. Subscribers receive email notifications when new content has been uploaded to these channels; and,
- Afford media partners a distribution platform for their content libraries, which usually include television shows and movies. YouTube derives revenue by selling advertising content against the videos. Notable partners include the networks CBS and BBC, and well-known celebrities, such as rapper 50 Cent and Ashton Kutcher.
BENEFITS OF YOUTUBE FOR BUSINESSES
The opportunities offered by integrating YouTube into your marketing mix are endless. Every business can benefit differently from YouTube, since there are many different ways to utilize the social network.
Among other possibilities, you can:
- Create a community of consumers or grow your existing community of online consumers;
- Brand your executive leadership as experts, and grow your firm’s influence;
- Display your firm’s personality through careful curation of your video content and personalization of your business YouTube page;
- Launch new products and services;
- Promote events and/or advertise promotions, contests, and sweepstakes;
- Obtain business intelligence and insights into consumer behavior; and
- Create easily sharable content, which can extend the reach of your marketing messages, and/or be used to increase engagement and traffic to your other digital assets, such as your website or Facebook page.
When incorporating YouTube as a part of a well-thought out strategic marketing plan, this channel can greatly improve your chances of meeting your goals. And you don’t need to be a professional filmmaker to get started.
SETTING UP A YOUTUBE BUSINESS ACCOUNT AND CHANNEL
Creating a YouTube Account And Channel
Setting up a business account for YouTube is simple. Click the “Sign In” link, which can be found in the upper right corner of www.youtube.com. Next, click the “Create Account” link and enter your firm’s information in the form fields, which appear on the following screen, as well as a username. After, you’ve finished, you will have your own YouTube account.
This account allows you to watch, like, and subscribe to videos. However, having a channel allows you to upload videos and have YouTube users subscribe to your content. This is vital to having a YouTube presence, and expanding your presence online in general. Once you’ve created an account, go to www.youtube.com/channel_switcher, and click “Create a new channel”. On the following page, name your channel, select either “Company, Institution, or Organization” or “Product or Brand” as applies to your marketing objectives, and then click “Done”. Congratulations. You now have a channel your firm can use.
Creating a strategy for making videos
Before even creating a YouTube channel, determine your YouTube strategy, which should involve careful consideration of the following questions: (1) What is your marketing objective?, (2) How can a YouTube video (or a series of videos) help me achieve this goal?, and (3) What kind of image am I trying to project?
The answers to these questions will dictate how you approach YouTube content creation. For example, if your firm is trying to project a conservative image and launch a product, you may hire a professional videographer to create a formal video detailing the launch, and embed the resulting YouTube video on your website, eschewing your YouTube channel entirely. Or if you are a hip, creative firm, trying to project transparency and informality, you may take a handheld camera, film a project in process and upload and share it widely.
Another thing to consider when determining your own YouTube strategy is what is popular on YouTube. Comedy videos were the most watched category of video in 2013, so even if you aren’t an entertainment firm, try to sprinkle some humor into your content. The second most watched category has real implications for your firm: how-to videos. One effective way to leverage YouTube is to create instructional videos demonstrating product use. Due to YouTube’s inherent sharing capability, your videos may be viewed by consumers who have had no experience with your brand beforehand, and thus increase your reach. Generally, speaking, you should ensure that how you approach your content is consistent from video. But only you can determine the best approach to creating your YouTube content based on your marketing objectives.
Adding video files to YouTube
To the right-hand side of the screen is an “Upload” link, which allows you to take select files from a location on your computer, network or portable device and upload them to YouTube’s servers. Keep in mind that the default upload length of a video is 15 minutes. To increase that limit you must verify your account by linking it to a phone number. You can do so by following the instructions at www.youtube.com/verify. This can increase the time limit on your video from 15 minutes to up to 11 hours.
The uploading process can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours or more, depending on the length of the video, the size of the video file, and your Internet connection speed. Once uploaded, YouTube has some basic editing tools, which allow you to append video files to each other, truncate video files, and add text or links to your video. However, if you’re looking for serious video editing, such as adding complex special effects, you’re better off using a professional video editing platform such as AVS Video Editor or Adobe Premiere Elements before uploading your video to YouTube.
Also, please note that YouTube has a fairly powerful algorithm designed to flag copy-written material. If your video features audio or visual elements that are protected by someone else’s copyright, it is likely that you will receive notice from YouTube before your video goes live. If you post a video without obtaining permission from the copyright holder, you may be subject to legal action.
Sharing your YouTube videos
Under each video on the YouTube site is a “Share” link. Selecting this link takes you to three links: “Share this video”, “Embed”, and “Email”. The first link, “Share this video” takes you to a number of social media icons. Clicking on any one of them will allow you to share the video to your social media account. The “Email” link, which will allow you to email the video to the addresses of your choice. You can also share YouTube videos that are embedded in social media posts by using those social media sharing tools. For example, you can share a YouTube video embedded in a Facebook post by using the “Share” link on Facebook.
Feature links to your YouTube content on your business website
Clicking on the “Embed” link under the “Share” link, which when selected displays the HTML code necessary to display your video on your website. You can copy this code and paste it into your web editor or content management system on the page you wish the video to appear.
The icon of bars beneath the view count under the right side of the video leads to the Analytics for your video. And much like any other web-based application, data is abundant. Not only can you see how many views a video has received, you have access to when they were watched, shared, and how many views were by subscribers. And, by visiting www.google.com/analytics when logged into your account, you can get even more robust analytics on all of your content, including the demographics of your viewers, the devices they used, engagement metrics, such as shares, likes, favorites, and comments, and much more.
This information is crucial to review and analyze. Unless you are running a direct marketing campaign – in which case you are measuring the response rate of consumers to a specific call to action, your measures of YouTube success are often multi-faceted. Before filming or uploading anything, make sure you know what you are trying to achieve and which metrics best measure them.
Beyond these basic steps, you can leverage YouTube to enhance your brand, launch new products and services, expand your presence, address customer issues, and/or firm-wide crises.
Creating or enhance your brand image
The videos you select can enhance your brand image. You can display ads, how-to videos, firm news…really, any kind of content you’d like that would help you connect with consumers. The first step to doing this is creating a YouTube channel and customizing it with your logo, graphics, and of course, video content.
Launch new products and services
YouTube can be especially effective in broadcasting and documenting product launches. An event that might otherwise be limited to industry tastemakers can easily reach a broad audience. In fact, many firms are eschewing the traditional expo or news conference product launch in favor of short, viral videos to garner maximum exposure.
Embed YouTube videos in micro sites, blogs or on other digital assets
Just as you can use the HTML code auto-generated by the “Embed” link, you can use that same code on your other digital assets. You can also share your video on your own social media channels by clicking on Facebook, Twitter and other social media icons that appear under your uploaded content. This can help expand your online presence.
Addressing customer issues and/or firm-wide crises
YouTube can also be instrumental in resolving customer service issues and in crisis communications. If you become aware of a widespread issue with one of your products or services, you can create a video featuring your official response, post it on your YouTube channel and embed it on your website. The comments section gives you instant feedback as to how your response is received, and allows you a forum to engage with your consumers.
BEST PERFORMING VIDEO CATEGORIES ON YOUTUBE
While many types of businesses make ample use of YouTube, often those firms in the entertainment industry provide the most popular content – music, movie trailers, behind-the-scenes clips of movies and events, and more. This platform has allowed artists and small entertainment firms to compete on the global stage with vastly reduced distribution costs. And it has also allowed regular people to create content. Indeed, part of YouTube’s ubiquity is that its users can watch and/or create content. To reemphasize a previously mentioned point, when planning your own YouTube content strategy, it’s worth taking a look at not just best practices for business content on YouTube, but what people content connect with on YouTube in general.
YouTube’s vast library of content can be classified by category. Categories are channels grouped by similarity of content and according to Wizdeo, a YouTube-certified data tracking tool, include:
- Autos & Vehicles;
- Film & Animation;
- Howto & Style;
- News & Politics;
- People & Blogs;
- Pets & Animals;
- Science & Technology;
- Sports; and
- Travel & Events.
Music is by far the best performing category on YouTube. With 71,082 channels, and over 1 billion subscribers to music channels, music content is highly searched and viewed on YouTube. Many record companies and artists use the site as a significant component of their distribution strategy. Other users often upload music to which they may not own the rights, risking legal action. However the content has landed on YouTube, music content alone has netted the site over 556 billion views to-date.
In addition to record labels, many film studios distribute movie trailers on YouTube. YouTube content is sharable, which means that a trailer for a highly anticipated film or a compelling trailer for a relatively unknown film could be widely and rapidly distributed by viewers online. Data on distribution and viewer engagement is instantaneously available through YouTube Analytics. Further, YouTube’s Partner Program allows content creators to monetize their videos through advertisements, merchandise, and paid subscriptions. This affords also film studios another source of revenue.
Educational how-tos are another popular category. Wizdeo lists “Howto & Style” as a category that has garnered over 100 billion views. Particularly popular these days are howto videos about video games, as well as animated science videos explaining natural phenomena. “Education” as a category has netted YouTube 47 billion views to date, bolstered no doubt by the growing Open Education Movement and the rise of Massively Open Online Courses.
Of course, there’s a lot of other content on YouTube: home videos, full-length films, old television shows, amateur films, mashups of music and film clips, classic sports matches, video blogs, and lots of other fun stuff, all garnering hundreds of millions if not billions of views. People often create content that is compelling or useful to them without any deeper reason. And that has generated some of the most compelling content in YouTube history. Who can forget this notable wedding video that quickly went viral, and has to-date garnered almost 100 million views?
TERMS SPECIFIC TO YOUTUBE
While you are planning to immerse yourself in YouTube content creation, here are some terms you will find helpful:
Annotation – an overlay of text and/or link(s) on your video.
Channel – the public page for a YouTube account that lets users upload photos and displays your activity as a user.
Engagement – Interaction between users and the content creator.
Playlist – a curated selection of videos that you can create and display on your channel page.
Tags – Keywords and phrases that are used to describe online content, in this case, your YouTube videos.
Vlog – a video blog. A regularly updated series of videos that provide an informal or personal insight into a firm or brand.
A further YouTube Glossary can be found here.
YOUTUBE CHANNELS IN ACTION: DOUBLETREE’S DTOUR MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Even though YouTube has been around less than a decade, many firms have made exceptional use of this platform. Many of them are music, television and film production companies, as well as other entertainment companies, which have the advantage of regularly producing multimedia content. But you don’t have to have an existing film library to be competitive on YouTube. You can engage users to create content for you with the right engagement strategy.
One firm that harnessed YouTube exceptionally well is Hilton Worldwide, during its “DTour” marketing campaign begun in 2013. The crux of the campaign was a contest to find six vacationers to travel globally and share their experiences through YouTube and other popular social media channels. To enter the contest, participants had to create videos between 30 seconds and 3 minutes, describing an interesting landmark or experience. Winners would receive $2,000 dollars to travel to DoubleTree locations on six continents.
This contest’s main landing page was their YouTube channel page, which featured promotional videos, travel apps, social media updates from their other social assets, and more. During this campaign, the firm saw considerable ad value (nearly 300 million impressions), a nearly 8% increase in revenue, and a considerable increase in followers across its social media assets. They also received more than 1,700 submissions –content they can leverage on YouTube in other marketing endeavors.
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