YouTube had an astounding 1 trillion views last year, which averages to about 140 views for every person on Earth. That's a huge online audience. And businesses are taking advantage of it, with some reaping big rewards, in the form of new clients, additional revenue and free advertising.
But unlike Twitter and Facebook—where you can interact with customers directly—YouTube is not beneficial for every small business. It may be free to upload videos, but the time, money and effort required to create a professional video may not yield a profitable return for some businesses.
If you're contemplating YouTube, first consider what your business goals are. For example, if you have a very narrow target demographic, it may be more efficient to reach out to that demographic more directly, versus using a platform that reaches millions of people per day.
To help evaluate whether YouTube is right for your business, we've turned to Michael Millner, author of "YouTube for Business: Online Video Marketing for Any Business (2nd Edition)," who provides us with these four guidelines:
Do you have something to sell/show? Selling can be boring, which is why it's important to show viewers why they should buy your product. When advertising on YouTube, you need to present your item in an interesting way. Everyone wants their video to go viral, but there is no formulaic way to make it happen; if there were, all videos would be viral. Your best bet is to make a video that is as innovative and catchy as possible, pulling your audience in.
Some examples of this include: The Tippex Pocketmouse, which is a simple dry correction tape, had an interactive video that went viral garnering over 20 million views. Blendtec, a company that sells blenders, increased their sales by 500 percent after videos of their blenders blending odd items, such as marbles, glow sticks and an iPad, went viral. They spent just $50 creating the first video.
Do you have something to say? If you're starting a petition, a campaign or promoting a non-profit organization, YouTube can help get the message out.
The Hoshyar Foundation educates young girls in Pakistan and created a YouTube video in an attempt to get donations for their cause. In its first month, it received 30,000 views. While it isn't close to the millions garnered by Blendtec and Tippex, their message got across. People from around the world began giving donations and they still receive a steady trickle of donations via PayPal today.
Do you want to generate brand awareness? Unlike selling a specific product, brand awareness encompasses everything about your brand. The Coca-Cola Company spent almost 3 billion on advertising in 2010 while McDonald's spent just over 1 billion. These mega-corporations provide examples for companies on a smaller scale; brand awareness is important. It keeps your business relevant.
The Social Man is a company that coaches men on the importance of living healthier lives. Their YouTube video series, "Ask The Social Man," gave them the ability to interact with potential clients and promote their coaching tactics. A good way to promote brand awareness is by showing others what your company can do and has to offer.
Do you have a service or product to showcase? Much like direct sales, businesses can showcase products and services using YouTube's platform.
"YouTube is a terrific channel for generating direct sales for products and services," says Millner. "All you have to do is show the product in action or provide a clip of the services in question, and then ask for the sale by directing the viewer to your own website."
Instructional videos are a great way to promote products and services. For example, Home Depot makes detailed how-to clips for viewers. One video on tiling a bathroom floor received nearly 1 million views.
Do you use YouTube for your business promotions and advertising?
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