I think I’ve done well to establish that utilizing social media for your business is a strong tool that is the future of business success across every industry. It allows for engagement and marketing unlike any previous medium, including instantaneous feedback, issue resolution, and viral word-of-mouth marketing, among other benefits.
With this piece, I want to specifically talk about YouTube. This video platform has moved beyond its stereotyped viral cat video reputation into producing subscription streaming and television services and launching the careers of innumerable “content creators” who are making millions for doing everything from makeup tutorials to narrating themselves playing video games.
YouTube can also be used to promote your brick-and-mortar or online business; you don’t have to be an aspiring actor or a hardcore gamer to find success in the world of online videos.
Like other social media, YouTube provides an outlet for direct engagement with your consumers. Maybe you’ve seen the viral Tweets from brands like Dennys, responding in a clever or sassy way to consumer messages. With YouTube, one of the expected formats is direct to camera, conversational-style address. While this doesn’t have to be the format you use for your brand and business, it should give you an idea of the personalization as well as the possibilities this medium can offer.
Like a blog for your website, YouTube can be a place where you provide expertise or creative, fun updates about your business, your team, the history of your products and so forth. You can use SEO strategies to promote these videos and thereby promote your brand. You can also institute content creation for YouTube that is to varying degrees sovereign from your primary business as another means for income and brand engagement. Anecdotally, I am to this day, at least 15 years later, nostalgic for a gaming website that was curated, for some reason, by Nabisco snacks. Most of the games I played there when I was finished with my assignments in my 6th-grade computer class, had nothing to do with Oreos or crackers; but, I was definitely engaging with their brand in a way I would never have otherwise. Media companies like Buzzfeed and Vox have embraced web video as a means for drawing new audiences to their brand, sometimes seemingly going off brand or stretching the brand in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible or viable and thereby expanding their reach, engagement, and success.
You can use YouTube or web video to enhance your brand as it is or to experiment with and expand your brand. With a blog, writing about topics that aren’t necessarily the primary focus of your branding and marketing helps to draw in potential customers, investors or media attention you might not otherwise get. They come for the expertise on small business strategies and stay for the small batch, single-origin, fair trade coffee beans.
The same is possible with YouTube and web videos. You can use the video platform as much or as little as you’re comfortable with to create content that directly markets your products or services or to merely create content that people will engage with, enjoy, and share, thereby increasing your brand engagement.
There are dance schools who started by uploading videos from class so that students could review them, and learn and practice choreography, and who stumbled into virality by producing content the world became ravenous for. These studios most outside of the dance world had never heard of now have instantaneous visual recognition through their videos, an increase in familiarity, a likely increase in attendance, and the studios and their students now have an increased legitimacy beneficial to future opportunities of all kinds.
In the reality television and celebrity devoted age we live in, YouTube becomes a way for customers to feel directly and intimately connected with people associated with your brand whether that be you through vlogs or your employees through latte art throwdowns, creating a humanity around your brand will increase its comforting, recognizable effect on potential customers. The dancers who have become stars from class videos where they happened to stand out from the crowd use YouTube to promote their other dance work as well as their personality and any other interest, becoming the type of celebrity that feels like a friend and who is therefore emotionally connected to their audience, boosting loyalty and support that leads to longevity and profits.
Perhaps you have a coffee shop that is branded with your name or likeness or a bakery named for your daughter; you can extend that brand by putting yours or their face into videos, either fictionalizing it through scripted skits or personalizing it to the extreme with intimate home videos. If you have celebrities in your contact list or experts who speak and look well on camera, you can bring content that is rewatchable and shareable to your brand. When you’re starting out on YouTube, it only costs as much to produce a video as it does to have WiFi. You can make and edit videos on many smartphones and computers, you can monetize with ads or not, and you don’t have to get into the business, boosting and promoting side of the platform until you’re comfortable enough and it’s worth the added expenditure.
I made my first YouTube videos with the webcam in my laptop and the iMovie editing software. The film Tangerine was filmed entirely on 3 iPhones.
You can go as simple or as complicated as you are comfortable with; you can hire a team, collaborate with established content creators, or utilize your technology-savvy interns to build your YouTube brand and build your brand through YouTube.
If you’re a coffee shop, you can show your customers or employees how to produce the best latte art in a step-by-step video. You can make your own commercials if you’re a new business or celebrate your employees and team by showing them hard at work or having fun off the clock. This article goes into more technical aspects of building a successful YouTube channel and brand, including how to gain more traffic and even how to look good on camera. The woman recommends, for example, starting out with tutorial and educational videos to gain views and followers. “The best way to gain momentum on YouTube is to pick educational topics because the platform is a search engine. Think about creating how-tos, tutorials, and reviews, but don’t necessarily focus on your business niche…For example, a restaurant can do recipe videos or wine reviews.” As a business leader, you can talk about business tips and tricks, management strategies, and so forth.
Finally, always remember to pay attention to the talent around you, within and without of your organization. Maybe you have a barista who does incredible celebrity impersonations; maybe you can create a skit that involves different celebrities serving coffee at your coffee shop. That not only gives a platform and support to your employees it promotes, humanizes and viralizes your brand!
Be open minded and creative and take advantage of all the tools the Internet has to offer.