As my series on using social media marketing platforms to market your small business comes to a close (check out past installments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn), we arrive at what is possibly the most niche platform in terms of content: YouTube.
If you want to use YouTube to market your small business, you’ll be creating videos, plain and simple. While this seems obvious, it’s worth noting that while social platforms like Facebook lend themselves to creating, posting, and sharing a variety of types of content (videos, images, long-form text posts, short updates, and so on), creating content on YouTube means you’ll be investing your time in video production and video production only.
This note isn’t meant to dissuade you, but rather to point out that a strong interest in creating video content is necessary before jumping into YouTube. Don’t just start a YouTube channel in an effort to take advantage of all possible forms of social media marketing if you aren’t actually interested in making videos. The process of creating videos is time-consuming and has a bit of a learning curve, so make sure that this platform is one you really have time for and interest in.
With that out of the way, let’s get started.
Set up your YouTube channel
Setting up a channel couldn’t be easier; in fact, if you already have a Google account, you technically already have a YouTube channel, even if you don’t know it.
That being said, here is a guide from YouTube that illustrates the basic steps involved in getting your YouTube account set up.
A word of warning: Even if you already have a YouTube channel tied to your Gmail account, it may be a good idea to set up a new account specifically for your business in order to segregate your personal and professional Google and YouTube activity.
Now, you’ll want to choose a name for your new YouTube channel. As with all your other social profiles, choosing one that is as close to your business name as possible (or best demonstrates what kind of content you will be creating) is best.
Need to change your channel name? Nowadays, you’re in luck: Prior to 2015, you were locked into your channel name permanently, but now you can change it if you need to later on. That being said, spend some time selecting a strong channel name that represents your business and your brand, because the more continuity and brand reputation you can build around a name, the better (and it’s confusing to customers and followers if you’re continually changing your branding!).
Add a banner and create a trailer
Before you start focusing on putting out video content regularly, it’s important to make your page on YouTube visually appealing.
You can create a YouTube banner in a few different ways. If you are working with a graphic designer, this would be a good small project to turn to them for. If you’re going the DIY branding route, as always I recommend Canva, which has a designated template specifically for your YouTube banner (use the one called YouTube Channel Art).
A trailer on YouTube is that first autoplay video that visitors see when they come to your YouTube page. It’s their first taste of what your brand is about, and what your YouTube channel will contain.
Now, your channel will most likely get visitors one of two ways: They’ll end up on your channel due to a link from one of your other social sites, your blog, or your website, or they’ll navigate to your channel themselves after having organically stumbled upon one of your videos (via search, related videos, links from other sites, and so on). Keep these two entry paths in mind when creating your trailer.
Here is YouTube’s guide for creating a channel trailer, and check out What Makes a Good YouTube Channel Trailer? by Fullscreen Media for a solid, succinct overview of the necessary elements.
Create videos that reflect your brand
Is your brand serious and formal? Prank or joke-style videos are probably a bad fit. On the flip side, if you’ve built your brand tone around a light, conversational style, don’t create video content that feels stuffy or overly professional.
While this seems obvious, it might be a good idea to take a look at your brand tone of voice before you proceed. Your videos should be a clear continuation of the existing tone of voice that you’ve established for your brand. Otherwise, you may find yourself building a subscriber base that has no connection with your actual product or service (and who will never use it!), and your existing customers may feel put off or mislead.
In short: Spend some time making sure the content you plan to produce matches the brand image and tone of voice you hope to convey.
Focus on informational videos, how-to style content, video series, or vlog content
If you have a product or service, feature videos of your product in use. Similarly, if you offer a service, show how your service benefits customers. Informational videos can be a great place to showcase your product or service in “the real world,” to give customers a sense of what’s in store for them if they buy from you.
YouTube videos can also be a great place to offer something “extra” to your fans at no cost to them. Don’t just stick with showing how customers can use your product; what else can you show them how to do?
For instance, if you run a yard care and landscaping business, consider shooting short videos with instructions on how customers can DIY some elements of their lawn care. This helps build trust, and position you as reputable go-to for information beyond just the product or service you sell.
Similarly, creating vlog-style videos can help your brand build a more personal connection with your audience, and can give you an opportunity to create content with a lifestyle focus. This helps make your brand feel more authentic, and can also work to build trust and brand loyalty.
Feature client testimonials or other customer feedback
When brainstorming what kinds of content you can feature on your new YouTube channel, you may want to look to your satisfied clients and customers. What can they say about your business that would make a valuable addition to your video content?
This could look like testimonials, interviews with specific clients who have had success because of working with your business, a series that looks at how different customers use your particular product or service—the list goes on, and will (of course) depend on what kind of business you run.
However, as with all content marketing, avoid the overly “salesy” approach. The goal here is to show subscribers the varied experiences of real, actual people who use your product or service; authenticity is key.
Pay attention to title keywords
Much of your organic traffic will be search-driven. That is to say, if someone is searching “braided updo tutorial,” and you just happen to have those keywords in the title of your YouTube video, there is a higher chance that searchers will find your video.
YouTube titles abide by the same rules as titles elsewhere on the internet, so it’s a good idea to spend some time familiarizing yourself with basic SEO before you get to creating videos. I generally point people in the direction of the Moz Beginners Guide to SEO, which is exactly what it sounds like, and a great starting resource.
Subscribe to similar channels and interact with them
One of the best ways to get your YouTube channel out in front of a potential new set of viewers is to leave a thoughtful comment on other YouTuber’s videos (ideally, on a YouTube channel that produces content similar to your own). Hopefully, your comment will be upvoted by other viewers, increasing its visibility and therefore potential clicks back to your own channel.
To be successful here, the key is commenting as early as possible and having something unique, substantive, or funny to add to the conversation. So, this doesn’t just mean commenting “Great video!” and waiting for followers to roll in—there’s some strategy involved.
For example, let’s say you run a hair salon. Your strategy might include subscribing to several similar YouTube channels focusing on hair, makeup, and other aspects of the beauty industry. When one of your favorites puts out a new video, comment and let them know how much you liked it, what you liked about it, and why.
Adding a unique contribution to the comments section “conversation” positions you as another potentially valuable channel that viewers could check out. (You can also go the route of mentioning your channel in your comment, but try to avoid being overly self-promotional.)
Interact with your viewers
Once you start getting engagement on your own videos, make sure you are reciprocating! Respond to your YouTube comments in a thoughtful way that makes it clear you are tailoring your response to each commenter. Make sure you avoid responses that sound canned or insincere.
Now, it may so happen that your YouTube channel reaches a level of popularity where you simply can’t be expected to respond to each and every comment. However, if that does happen, it will most certainly be a long way off. Responding to every comment at the outset helps show viewers that you are about their feedback and comments, and welcomes engagement with your brand.
Include a call to action and track your success
What is your goal with creating YouTube videos?
Is it to increase brand awareness, build up a more comprehensive social media presence, drive viewers back to your site? There are plenty of different goals you could establish, and you should be clear what they are early on. Including a call to action in your YouTube videos is a great way to push people to take the steps you’d like them to take that coincide with your chosen goal.
For example, if your goal is simply more subscribers, making sure to tell viewers to like and subscribe at the end of each video is a must. If your goal is to drive clicks back to your site, make sure to encourage viewers to click, include the URL in your video and your description box below, and so on.
As with all goals, be sure to track your success over the short and long term to make sure you are meeting necessary benchmarks. YouTube has good internal analytics that you can refer to (they are owned by Google, after all), and check out this article for more on measuring the success of your YouTube content.
Do you have any additional questions about YouTube marketing that you’d like me to discuss? Shoot a short YouTube video with your questions and send it to me.
Okay, I’m kidding—but you can reach out to me on Twitter, or connect with Bplans on Twitter or Facebook.