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May 7, 2014

Making YouTube Marketing Work for You

YouTube has been a part of our technological consciousness for so long that sometimes we forget what a powerful social media marketing tool it can be. While marketing managers at larger companies seem to be focusing on becoming the next big thing on Twitter, small businesses have been leveraging YouTube’s worldwide audience to their advantage.

Who’s using YouTube?

Etsy, the U.S. online retailer for handmade goods, has used video for years to profile their sellers, feature “how-to” segments and to generally promote its brand. The high quality videos give consumers a peek into the lives of the craftspeople who sell their goods on the website, establishing a personal connection with viewers. Etsy also produces its videos in a number of different languages, thereby reaching an even greater audience.

Makeup artists are no strangers to using YouTube videos, specifically recorded makeup application tutorials, to expand their online presence. One example of these types of videos becoming particularly successful is in the case of Lauren Luke, a woman who started selling makeup on eBay to supplement her income as a taxi dispatcher. The tutorial videos she recorded on YouTube became so popular that her makeup line, By Lauren Luke, was picked up by Sephora in 2009 and sold in stores across the United States and Canada.

A Provo, Utah oral care brand called Orabrush was able to leverage a series of successful YouTube videos into a national distribution deal with Wal-Mart. Original Skateboards is a brand built largely on its YouTube marketing. The list of small businesses utilizing YouTube marketing to the fullest goes on, but larger organizations can, and should, take advantage of this marketing strategy.

The beauty of YouTube is that you can integrate the videos you post into all of your other social media outlets, thus only making it one part of the larger whole of your marketing strategy. YouTube videos don’t have to function separately from your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and in fact they shouldn’t. Posting visuals such as videos on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn is a great way to capture the attention of potential consumers for a few minutes.

Connecting with customers

While these videos are meant to serve the same purpose as a traditional advertisement, they shouldn’t function as such. YouTube videos are an opportunity to tell your business’s story and to connect with consumers on a human level by using customer testimonials or tales of your success in helping your consumers, all wrapped up in a stunning video package. A few things to remember:

The briefer your video is, the better it will be able to capture the attention of an audience notorious for a lack of attention span.

High quality video and editing are also key — use video technology to its fullest.

Don’t expect a video to go viral just because you want it to. Every minute, 48 hours of video are being posted to YouTube, so you are competing with a very large pool of content.

Consider increasing visibility and hedging your bets by purchasing ads on YouTube rather than expecting your video to spontaneously generate organic visitors.

As with any other marketing strategy, make sure to track the ROI on your videos and see if you’re reaching your desired audience. A good way for small businesses to do this is to check out a video’s comment section or to use the YouTube tool Hot Spots, though larger companies will probably have the resources to use focus groups and A/B testing.

Some of the most effective YouTube marketing campaigns, like Etsy’s or Lauren Luke’s, use how-to videos to educate their potential consumers before selling to them. Ads that speak to the particular challenges or questions a consumer might have, while offering a solution, may effectively entice your consumer to purchase your product when they already know the value they can gain from said product.

The Khan Academy, a non-profit educational website, is perhaps the most successful example of how a how-to video can be the best advertising. The Khan Academy started out when Sal Khan posted videos on YouTube for his cousin, who he was remotely tutoring in math. The brand now has its own website and is synonymous with free online teaching.

YouTube marketing is appropriate for organizations of any size and can generate a great deal of new business. With a focus on making high quality video that speaks to their company’s strengths and engages their consumers on a personal level, marketers can utilize one of the largest social media platforms available to benefit their organization.


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Aimee Griffin works for corporate advisory services firm in support of their social media and marketing departments. Aimee has a bachelor's degree from Gettysburg College in English and philosophy and is a contributor to several sites, including MBAPrograms.org.

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