Although according to lore YouTube was created as a dating site, it has evolved into much more. Here’s a fun fact. According to Mashable.com, YouTube was created when one founder, Jawed Karim, unsuccessfully searched for footage of Janet Jackson’s now famous “wardrobe malfunction, and when he and his two friends Chad Hurley and Steven Chen realized they could not share videos through email because of attachment limitations. The three realized the missing link for sharing and sending videos, and YouTube was born.
You Tube isn’t just a video platform, it is also a social network. Because of YouTube’s easy to use format, messages are spread quickly and efficiently across a variety of mediums including Facebook and Twitter, embedded in websites, and via email. You can easily add a YouTube video to your website or your Facebook account, and the end user does not need any special viewer like Windows Media Player or Quick Time to view it.
400 tweets per minute contain a YouTube video, and YouTube’s search bar is the number two search bar on the Internet, second only to Google. Collectively we spend 2.9 billion hours on YouTube in one month. So, if you’re using social media for marketing, YouTube has the potential to be an important part of your overall strategy.
So what’s a marketer to do if you want to make use of the medium, but don’t have a media department or the first idea of how to make videos? You might not have access to Steven Spielberg, or even Ken Burns, but you can still use YouTube to highlight and reinforce your message and to create dialoge around your content. Here’s how.
Customize Your Channel
YouTube allows customization of your channel to compliment your branding, as well as to highlight the content you want center stage. You can set which video displays first and how your playlists and content are displayed. By signing up for YouTube, you automatically have a channel – that’s how YouTube works. Customize your channel to and add a description of its contents. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll have access to a menu that looks like this:
This is where you can set up your theme and colors, the modules you want displayed (other channels, comments, subscribers), and decide what playlists, layout and which video you’d like to appear in the “featured” spot. You can even set that video to auto play when users arrive at your channel.
A note about comments. Decide in advance how you want to handle comments, and base this decision on your overall social media strategy. How much engagement do you want? If you are serious about the “social” in social media, the answer will be ” as much as I can get,” but if your strategy is broadcast only, you might decide against using comments. If you allow comments think about who will be assigned to moderate them, and what features you’d like. There are several options:
- Everyone can automatically comment
- Friends can comment, others need approval
- Only friends can comment
- Everyone needs approval
My advice is to either allow all comments or allow comments with approval. Even though there is a friend option, people don’t use friends like they do on Facebook. If your channel becomes popular and you have “everyone needs approval” checked, you risk cutting off the sharing you’re trying to encourage (because their comment won’t post immediately), and you also risk clogging up your email box with requests for comment approvals. Since comments are emailed to the address associated with the account, you should see the comments as they come in. Be prepared to respond to them quickly if needed.
You can use YouTube to curate content from other channels without uploading a single original video. Use keyword searches to search by category, duration, upload date, features and more, and choose a few videos to add to your channel to get started. Create a favorite list or a playlist, then use the playlist settings to arrange the videos and choose which lists you want displayed. The beauty of these playlists is that the list itself can be embedded into your blog or your website so that when a video is added it is automatically updated on your website. To get the embed code, open your playlist and choose edit My Playlist, then click on the share tab. The embed code is displayed there and can be dropped into your existing website or blog.
Maybe you don’t have a professional media department, but don’t let that stop you from creating good content. With a simple flip camera, or even a mobile phone with video capabilities, you can create basic videos. When deciding what kind of original content to create, consider these ideas.
Repurpose content you already have. You can use movie making software to create video content out of still photos and slides from a presentation, which you can turn into video. Add some music and perhaps a voiceover, and you have fresh new content for your channel.
Interview clients or experts on a variety of relevant topics. Decide in advance the questions you plan to ask, allow your expert to see those questions and research the answers, then video the interview. Official channels do not have a length requirement, but if you’re using a regular channel remember to keep the video length to under 15 minutes.
Create How-to videos on a variety of topics. Check out howcast.com, which is a company that helps make how to videos, for more ideas on this type of content. Remember you aren’t going for an Oscar, just relevancy and authenticity with your videos. The key is regular posting, allowing your audience to see the real you, and consistent communication with your citizens. Don’t worry about getting every detail exactly right on a homemade video – just worry about being authentic.
Search engines can see that you have a video, but they can’t determine the content. To make sure people are finding your channel you must tag your videos and your channel, properly describe your channel, and pay close attention to video titles. If you allow embedding people will be able to spread your message for you without you having to do anything! Cross connect your YouTube channel to your other social media accounts and to your website to encourage sharing, and remind people to subscribe to your channel so they won’t miss important updates.
There you have it. This is really just the beginning of using YouTube for marketing! Do some research to see how other agencies are using the platform to engage, and use those ideas as a jumping off point for your channel. Get creative and have fun.