YouTube has been around since 2005 and, since being bought by Google, it’s much more than just a video-streaming service. It is now linked to the rest of Google’s subsidiaries, including its social media platform Google+. YouTube is also an intrinsic part of Facebook, where it appears on almost every feed nowadays as embedded videos. Despite its obvious appeal, it is actually one of the more difficult platforms to master for businesses – since most people are not in the habit of making music videos, or movies.
So, the question people ask themselves is this – how does my business promote itself through an avenue it will share with music videos, documentaries and funny cats? Which is, as it happens, the wrong question entirely. Although it’s true that people look to YouTube as a source of entertainment, it’s actually much more than that – it is a repository of audio visual knowledge as well, offering everything from instructional videos to educational lectures to in-depth analysis. Phil Nottingham argues that YouTube isn’t a streaming service at all, rather acting as ‘in-bound TV’ for a modern age:
“No matter how users get to YouTube – through Google universal search, via social media or by navigating directly to youtube.com in their browser – the intent is the same: watch a video. By and large, people don’t go to YouTube to find products or services to buy; they don’t go there to get news, restaurant recommendations, or travel directions. They go there for one reason – to watch a video, with the goal of finding something informative or entertaining.”
Promoting your business
As a business your most rewarding option is likely to be the ‘informative’ route. Share and promote videos that showcase your expertise. This might be in the form of a talk, or an interview. But one method many have found fruitful is to offer viewers something useful, something they didn’t know before they watched it. This will not only leave them with a positive view of your company, it will also draw a bigger audience.
In addition, it’s excellent practice going forward to link these videos with your blog posts. The two complement each other and the synergy created will make your brand much more visible.
Or, paying for ads can work
YouTube’s system of delivering advertisements has been finely tuned, a response that monetises free content and keeps the platform profitable. You can choose from a couple of different ad options, both with benefits and downsides. The first is to buy space before a video plays – although keep in mind that users can skip past the rest of the ad after a certain period of time if the ad is over 20 seconds. If a user chooses to skip, however, you pay nothing for the ad. And ‘engagements’, meaning a user who watches the ad and then watches one of your videos, are obviously incredibly valuable. The second method is to insert ads within your own videos, set to pop onto the screen at points you define beforehand. These could link back to your own website, or perhaps your Google+ profile page.
However you choose to use YouTube for your business needs, remember that great content needs no introduction. You should be confident enough in your service that you don’t need to hard sell it, you simply need to tell your story in a captivating way.