4 Smart Ways to Use YouTube

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

4 Smart Ways to Use YouTube

When it comes to search engines, Google may seem like the most dominant, but a close second is YouTube. The fact that Google owns YouTube and prominently places YouTube videos in its search results gives YouTube a major advantage over other video hosting sites. Having a channel on YouTube, however, doesn’t automatically guarantee you views, much less subscribers.

Here are several says you can leverage YouTube to build your brand, provide customer service, and support your other social media marketing efforts.

1. Post regularly.

Getting visibility on any popular social network takes time – and in most cases, unfortunately, money in the form of paid advertising. However, your YouTube channel could still get a boost if you upload videos to it regularly – and, if possible, frequently.

Having a regular upload schedule for your videos also serves another purpose: it lets your audience know when to expect new content from you, to anticipate it, and to pay attention to it when it arrives. Not every business owner can produce a video "show" or podcast. The amount of time it takes to produce regular multimedia content can be challenging when also running your business.

Come up with a plan for the types of videos you can either produce easily or ones that directly support your business goals. If you have a product that can benefit from demonstrating how it can or should be used, make a series of demos that can support marketing that can help lead to sales. If your customers ask you questions that you typically post to your website as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, consider making video versions of their questions and your answers to support customer service. Gather video testimonials from satisfied clients, then get their permission to post them to your YouTube channel.

Think short, snappy videos that add some kind of value, even if it is simply entertainment – as long as it is on-brand. With a little planning, you should be able to come up with a set of videos you could make that are strategic and effective.

2. Archive and organize your video content

There are other ways to generate video content that can keep your YouTube channel fresh. One way is to gather the videos you’re already creating on other social networks and funnel them into YouTube. Create playlists that group your videos together such as by topic or even by social network.

For example, your Facebook Live videos can be downloaded to your smartphone or computer then uploaded to YouTube. Have you noticed that the Instagram and Facebook stories you make with images and animated embellishments save as videos? These short snippets can be archived if they are saved to your mobile device and then uploaded through either the YouTube app or transferred to your computer and uploaded through the YouTube website directly to your channel.

3. Take advantage of the "Trailer" feature

First impressions count. YouTube lets you designate a single video as the prominent trailer that will play when someone new arrives at your channel. Make sure your trailer is representative of your brand and contains the key messages about your company, products or services you want to convey.

Keep your trailer under 30 seconds long. Include a call to action for people to subscribe to your channel. Put the most important information in the first 10 seconds of the video. Studies show that people do not spend more than 10 seconds glancing at a video before deciding if they want to continue watching or to move on to other content.

Also consider adding captions or visual cues to your videos in case people are viewing with the sound off. Design your video so it is optimized for mobile devices since other studies show people tend to spend more time looking at social media on their mobile device than on a desktop computer.

4. Make direct asks for subscribers

Building a call to action to subscribe to your YouTube channel on your YouTube videos makes sense, but you also want to leverage the attention you may be getting on other social networks to encourage visitors and subscribers to your YouTube channel. Embed or link to YouTube videos in the messages you post to your more frequently used social networks.

The exceptions to this tactic are Facebook and Instagram. Facebook is Google’s competitor and Facebook owns Instagram so be creative how you mention your YouTube channel on those platforms. Posting links to YouTube on Facebook or Instagram may not be effective, but you can mention the channel and lead people to a page on your website where the videos are embedded.

Look for other workarounds such as embedding YouTube videos into your email newsletter so people can play them directly in email or click to watch them on YouTube. Include your YouTube channel subscription call to action in your emails as well.

If you’re not in the business of producing videos, you should still have video content available to post to your YouTube channel, whether it is a commercial or a television, a video podcast interview or a virtual event where you’ve participated. You are most likely producing some kind of videos on other social networks – from Stories to Live streaming. Don’t let any videos that appropriately convey your brand image and messages go to waste. Use YouTube as a one-stop place for all your company’s videos, then invite your prospects and customers to your YouTube channel to learn more about you.