Think YouTube is just a fad? You know, like Rainbow Loom or Psy’s Gangnam Style? Think again! YouTube’s global video-sharing website provides instant access to information, entertainment and inspiration in a way that other media simply can’t—and whether we humans love it because we’re so visually driven, or because we’re wired to respond to the human voice, or maybe it’s just our rapidly decreasing attention spans—we simply can’t get enough of videos, and more specifically, YouTube.
You already know people love watching videos. And they love watching them on YouTube. But you may not know just how much—or, more importantly, that if you aren’t already using a YouTube channel to market your business, you’re seriously missing out. Consider these staggering statistics:
- There are roughly 4 billion video views per day
- Approximately 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
- Daily YouTube viewers have increased by 40% just since March 2014.
- YouTube overall and even on mobile devices only reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year olds than any US cable network.
- In 2016, mobile views of online video will reach an estimated 50.2% versus 49.8% on desktops
YouTube and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
One of YouTube’s many benefits (aside from its most attractive marketing feature—it’s free!) is that you can easily create/upload your own videos but even better, you can create your own YouTube channel, sort of like your own cable TV channel that shows only YOU. A channel leads to better SEO in all sorts of ways. First, you can provide a link to your channel on your website (and why wouldn’t you?!), boosting the odds that visitors will stay on your website longer, and the longer you keep viewers on your website pages and/or watching and engaging with your videos, the higher you’ll probably rank. Second, a channel helps viewers find your videos more easily via organic searches (for example, Googling “laser hair removal in Scottsdale”), thereby making it easier for them to find your business (Hello, potential customers!). Third, because every video can be easily tagged and indexed, your name is more likely to appear when keywords relating to your business are searched organically.
Building a YouTube Channel
Shooting and uploading a single YouTube video couldn’t be easier and creating a YouTube channel is equally easy: it just requires some time and forethought. For free step-by-step guides, check out Google Support (Google owns YouTube, by the way) and Digital Unite for two good examples.
The first thing you’ll want to consider is the overall goal or concept for your channel. That isn’t to say that all of your videos are going to be the exact same format but since you’re creating your channel for marketing purposes, how will your videos help you accomplish that? Will they educate the viewer about your business/industry? Perhaps you’ll focus on certain procedures with plenty of before- and after-photos to inspire others? Or, maybe you’ll offer plenty of excitement —all of these things can motivate buyers (literally and figuratively), without relying on hard sales tactics.
Next, determine your target audience. Is it industry folks who want to keep abreast of the latest treatments/developments, and who will recommend you to others? Or, are you trying to attract spa devotees looking for cutting-edge technology, which you happen to offer? Perhaps you’re hoping to win over a younger crowd who’s fairly new to the industry (but are more likely to engage with your content)? Remember, in marketing and in life, you can’t be all things to all people, so really think about your point of difference—what makes you and your business unique—and incorporate that into your viewer demographic.
It’s All About Engagement
There’s no denying that viewers clicking on your individual videos and attracting subscribers to your channel are good things, but in terms of overall channel success and exposure, your audience needs to engage with your videos. You must produce content that makes viewers want to like it, share it, comment on it, and watch it for as long as possible before clicking over to the next guy. YouTube Analytics (another free service, by the way) can help you figure out where your videos are soaring, and where they may be sinking. For example, if people stick with your video for the first fifteen seconds, then click away—missing your main message and contact information, you might want to move those important items to the beginning of the video, still keeping it entertaining. Plenty of companies out there will be happy, for a fee, to help you track your YouTube channel results, but I always say, start with the free services and see what you can learn from there.
Tips for Successful Content
Once you’ve figured out the goal and audience for your channel, it’s time to get down to business with your smart device (for tips on getting started, see my article in the July 2014 issue of this magazine). If your budget allows, feel free to hire a professional to do the filming but if not, don’t let that deter you—simply pull out your smart phone and you’ll be the cameraperson. It’s really about content, and the more attractive/intriguing the message, the better chances are of getting engagement.
A channel’s the perfect venue for building intrigue, almost like chapters in a book—one leading to the next, keeping the reader hooked by ending with a peek at what’s going to happen next: Thanks for watching this video on Voluma and how it can take 10 years off your face—in my video next week, I’ll show how just a few units of Botox can give you a fuller-looking lip! Be sure to release new content regularly with topics as promised. Most SEO experts suggest releasing one video a week, on the same day if feasible. Consistent new content improves SEO algorithms, meaning better search rankings. If there are too many gaps between your releases, you’ll risk losing the audience you’ve worked hard to build. Keep them coming back for more, with the confidence that there will always be new content for them to view. Of course, frequency will also depend on your goals and your audience.
Mix up content by creating episodes of something different once in a while, for example, you could have one explaining the creative process behind the content you normally produce, or just something fun (click here to see one my company did on Why Botox is Better than a Boyfriend). It’s also a good idea to react to trending topics when it makes sense to your audience.
Even if your content is highly technical, avoid videos that look like straight PowerPoint presentations. Instead, combine a talking head with slides and illustrations. Viewers prefer videos with people (or kittens), movement and sound, and are much more likely to engage when those things are present.
Finally, be sure to integrate your YouTube channel into the rest of your marketing programs and cross reference/promote content across the board. So, for example, on your website, you’ll want a separate page just for your YouTube channel, and in your videos you’ll prominently display your logo, website and contact information (always!), along with a call to action: Check out our website, Be sure to subscribe to our channel, Call us today, etc. On your service menu, you’ll include something like, Be sure to check out our YouTube channel for tons of great skincare tips! and in your reception area, you could run a loop of your videos. You get the idea—always let customers and viewers know how, when and where they can find you and what’s in it for them.
Building a successful YouTube channel takes time, so be patient. It’s better to build a loyal audience than it is to chase page views or produce content with the sole intention of hoping to go viral. Nothing wrong with going viral, believe me, but you don’t want to do it at the expense of your viewers. Track your results at least monthly and if you’re losing viewers, or getting negative comments (or no comments), take a good look at your content and resolve to make it better for your audience.
One more thing, posting videos on your YouTube is just the beginning—don’t expect that you can post and forget about them. You need to check back regularly on the views and comments and respond to them in a positive, professional way. Don’t take it personally if someone responds negatively. Yes, there are a few folks out there who get their jollies being perpetually grumpy, but you can also sometimes learn how to improve your business (and content) by really listening to them.
Good luck—and have fun along the way!
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Louis “The Laser Guy” Silberman is CEO of National Laser Institute, a national cosmetic laser and medical esthetic training center founded a decade ago, and owns medical spas in Scottsdale and Dallas. He’s the author of Make It Happen Online and a motivational marketing speaker. Silberman created the sixth most visited health/beauty website and was a semi-finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2014. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.