On average, Canadians are watching online videos for 84 minutes a day. And 54% of them are looking for more than “Gordon Ramsay’s Video Critique of Spicy Wings“; they are watching their favourite brands to understand who they are and why they should buy from them.
In fact, according to smartinsights.com, 73% of consumers said they’d been influenced by a brand’s social media before buying.
This means all small business owners should be joining the 87% of marketing professionals who are using YouTube to promote their brand. Being an especially visual channel, YouTube offers small business owners the opportunity to create more engaging content. In fact, Diode Digital recently found that online video is a 600% more effective marketing tool than print and direct mail combined.
A World on YouTube
More than two billion people, that’s almost one-third of Internet users, are on YouTube each month. Every day, people watch more than a billion hours of videos. And for the 18 to 34-year-old category, they are spending more time on YouTube than on any TV network.
So how does the average small business owner tap into these viewers? By creating their own YouTube channel, of course.
A Beginner’s Guide to YouTube for Small Business
If you don’t yet have a YouTube account, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Log in to the Gmail account you would like to associate with your channel
- Click on your avatar in the top right-hand corner
- Click ‘your channel’ and fill in the necessary information
- Begin creating excellent content and uploading it to your channel
Now you have an account, but there is a bit more to it than that.
Be Seen by the Right People
How do you ensure your content is being seen?
- Create a variety of high-quality content
- Publish quality content on a consistent and timely basis
- Engage with your subscribers or viewers
- Write great titles and descriptions, add tags, use playlists and end cards, and other YouTube options to help your videos stand out in the crowd.
But let’s step back a bit.
What is your YouTube business goal? Are you looking to increase the traffic to your website or increase awareness, engagement, or subscriber numbers?
Once you know what you want to achieve with your YouTube channel, you can create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals to ensure you reach your target over a specific period of time. You can also use key performance indicators (KPI) to help measure results.
YouTube has its own set of analytics and KPIs that are different from other digital marketing channels. According to Databox, who surveyed 42 marketers, some of the most important metrics you should consider are: engagement, watch time, audience retention & subscriber growth. Don’t follow just the KPIs, but, with time, try to look a little deeper. For example, look at what videos are bringing new subscribers and then try to identify the reasons why those videos worked.
After deciding your goals and KPIs, you can go to the next step, delivering relevant content for your audience.
YouTube, like every other social media platform, is all about creating great content that people will want to consume and share.
High-quality doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have the best video recording equipment or editing software, but it does mean ensuring you create videos that offer your viewer something they want or need.
There are endless ideas for YouTube videos for the small business owner, including:
- Listicles: a piece of writing or other content presented wholly or partly in the form of a list. These are popular in blog posts (in a list format) and in videos (using a slideshow format). Listicles can include things such as fun ways to use your product or best responses to a social media post.
- Behind-the-scenes videos are popular for small business owners as they allow consumers to learn more about their business and the people behind it.
- How-to videos showing how to use a product or service.
- Interviews and testimonials from satisfied customers.
Don’t forget to change up your content. Just because you’ve created how-to videos, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try creating an engaging listicle.
Timing Is Everything
The way to get your content seen is by ensuring your viewers are online when you’re posting. Use analytics to figure out where your viewers live and schedule posts to go up when people get online.
Howsociable.com released a guide detailing the best day and time to upload to YouTube based on when the social media platform indexes its content to show up in search engines. According to them, the best day to post is Thursday or Friday between 2 and 4 p.m. On weekends, though, content should be posted earlier, between 10 and 11 a.m.
In addition to timing, it’s also important to publish on a consistent basis so your viewers will know when to look for your content.
While you may only be able to produce quality content once or twice a week, it doesn’t mean that in between those times you’ll ignore your YouTube channel.
You should schedule time every day to check comments and notifications, engaging with viewers who are connecting with you. Respond to comments on a timely basis, create a conversation and share comments (on YouTube and other social media platforms). You want people to know they’re being heard and seen.
Customizing Your Videos
When you upload your video, a screen pops up with various sections to fill in. Pay attention to these sections as they will help viewers find your content.
The title and descriptions share with the viewer – and YouTube itself – what your video is about and encourage them to watch it.
The title should include keywords that viewers would use for a search when looking for your video and can also include hashtags. YouTube titles are 100 characters, but YouTube suggests people keep it to 60 characters with keywords at the beginning and less important information, such as episode numbers and branding, at the end.
Titles should accurately describe what the video is about. If it’s not accurate and is deliberately misleading, YouTube can shut down your channel. Learn more about YouTube’s policies here.
Your description is another way to ensure viewers understand what they’re going to watch. The description should match the title.
Stick to a couple of sentences; otherwise, YouTube will truncate or cut it. However, the information below the “see more”, also known as below the fold, can have more information about the video, including collaborators, links to other videos and information about products used in the making of the video, among other things.
Hashtags and Tags
Appropriate hashtags are encouraged in descriptions, but add more than 15, and YouTube will ignore your video.
Tags are not allowed in descriptions and should be inserted in the tag section. Tags should only use words that make sense and are related to the video topic. They should not be stacked, which would be misleading and against YouTube policies.
Thumbnails, like titles, are also one of the first things people first see when deciding if they want to view your YouTube video. The thumbnail offers another way for viewers to understand what your video is about. According to YouTube, 90% of successful videos contain customized thumbnails that look good, both large and small (bear in mind that 70% of YouTube viewers are watching on a mobile device). Customized thumbnails use graphics, fonts, and other imagery to encourage viewers to click and watch.
Card and End Screens
Cards and end screens encourage viewer action. When created, the cards option appears on the right-hand side of a video. When clicked, viewers will be asked to do something. End screens usually appear in the last five to 20 seconds of a video and encourage the viewer to do something – watch another video, subscribe to your channel, visit your website, or purchase merchandise.
Sections and Playlists
Sections group your videos in a particular way so viewers can easily find the content they love. Playlists are videos you’ve created with a specific theme. Your playlists can include your content as well as other people’s work.
So you’ve created great content, published it consistently, and during the period YouTube likes best and crafted great titles and descriptions. You might feel you’ve effectively beat YouTube’s algorithm.
According to YouTube, “the algorithm follows the audience.”
That means YouTube tries to match viewers to the content they like, aiming to keep them on the site for as long as possible and to come back often. So instead of worrying about the algorithm, which is paying attention to things like what people watch and for how long, YouTube suggests small business owners pay attention to getting to know their audience.
What type of content gets the most views or engagement? What content has your customers saying they want to find out more? Experiment and try new types of videos and topics. See what works and doesn’t work. And don’t look at the fluctuation of your channel, but the overall numbers.
Advertising on YouTube
In addition to making money from your videos themselves, small business owners can also create ads on YouTube.
There are a variety of ads available, including TrueView In-Stream (where after five seconds viewers can skip an ad), TrueView Discovery (located besides videos under the heading of related videos), and bumper ads (which can’t be skipped).
There are also various types of ad structures, including cost-per-click, cost-per-thousand viewable impressions, and cost-per-view, among others. Once you know your advertising goal, you can decide which method works best for you. Learn more about YouTube ads here.
Get Started on YouTube and Optimize as Your Channel Grows
If you’re a small business owner, our advice would be to take advantage of the benefits of using videos and having a Business YouTube Channel. Start by trying out all sorts of video types, and you’ll gradually discover what makes your viewers click!