What is it?

Founded in 2005, YouTube is one of the oldest social media sites on the web, and it has become extremely popular, with more than 1 billion unique user visits each month. Although the site is usually not associated with the label of “social media,” YouTube is in fact a network that provides people with a place to make connections, and the purpose of the site is to share videos. Unregistered users can watch and share videos, but to upload their own, users must register, which is free. All YouTube accounts have to be directly linked to a Google+ account. The YouTube equivalent of a page or profile is called a “channel,” and users who post videos are known as “creators.” Videos can be viewed via the Internet or a smartphone, as there is a mobile-optimized website and an app version of the site.

Who can benefit?

YouTube is filled with both user-generated and corporate video content. Due to its expansive reach and well-known presence, the site is proving to be a viable marketing outlet for businesses. Any business that wants to increase customer engagement or conversion rates could do so through sharing video, and YouTube makes an excellent addition to existing content marketing strategies. Businesses that sell tangible products or services might have a slighter advantage over others because of the ample opportunities for products and services to be integrated into video blogs, original shorts, or educational videos; however, any business, whether a small enterprise or a large corporation, could find ways to utilize YouTube for social media marketing.

How can businesses use it?

Video is the ideal medium for educating, entertaining, and telling stories. Thus, traditional advertising methods with overt promotions simply do not work on YouTube, since viewers do not take much interest in them. Viewers want to be presented with meaningful content to discover and share with others. This shareability factor of video is especially important to consider— YouTube is a social media site, after all.

Blatant sales pitches are easy for viewers to spot, so video campaigns should aim to incorporate any featured products in authentic ways. Businesses should avoid structuring their company introduction videos and product demonstrations like ads, which are neither engaging nor particularly relevant. How-to videos, tutorials, and DIY videos are all examples of product-centric videos that also spread useful information. YouTube can even be utilized as a customer service platform; video FAQs can be made to answer general questions or to show how common product-use problems can be solved.

Besides videos related to products, a business could upload a series of webinars, which could consist of interviews with owners, staff, customers, industry experts, or other YouTube creators. Customer testimonial videos are another option that helps to improve a company’s credibility, while uploads of presentations given can demonstrate public speaking skills. Behind-the-scenes videos that show staff at work on a project or tell the story of how a business was started are likewise interesting to viewers. Additionally, company events can be webcasted, or live-streamed, through YouTube.

It is important to keep in mind that one person should appear in most of the videos, the channel header, and the video thumbnails in order to heighten familiarity with viewers, increase transparency, and enhance brand personality. Putting a distinctive face and voice to a business increases its power to connect with viewers, who go from watching videos about a business to building a relationship with it.

YouTube also makes a great tool for a variety of other things, such as pushing more visitors to company websites. To drive traffic, links can be included in the first line of video descriptions, in the “about” section, and in channel headers. YouTube videos can be used to improve the SEO of blog posts or company websites, because embedding videos on-site with the inclusion of textual information and proper meta data can boost search rankings. YouTube is even helpful for connecting all the branches of a social media strategy; a business can uploaded video projects that have been created from customer-submitted Instagram videos, Pinterest photos, or other relevant social media posts.