How Small Businesses Can Build and Grow Their YouTube Channel
YouTube is the world’s leading source of on-demand video content, with over a billion daily users. With such a large, receptive audience to potentially be tapped, it’s no wonder brands consider their YouTube presence vital for business. A recent HubSpot State of Inbound report indicated nearly half (48 percent) of marketers in the U.S. are planning to increase their use of YouTube in campaigns over the next year.
If you’re thinking about incorporating video into your marketing activities, here are our tips to build and grow your YouTube channel.
Don’t Go in Blind. Prepare a Strategy
To get the most out of YouTube, brands ideally want their videos to have a high ranking in search results; a large number of views; a broad, growing subscriber base; and, most importantly, know what the intention of your channel is.
Just like starting off on any social media platform, growing a large, engaged audience takes time and consistent effort. You need to be in it for the long haul. You can’t just throw videos into the abyss and hope they gain traction.
Map out the kinds of videos you want to produce, starting with purpose of the videos. Why are you doing this? To increase brand awareness? Show customers how your products work? Drive traffic to your website and increase sales? Determine the themes, key messages and takeaways, through to aesthetic, duration and content — including headings and subtitles.
Branding Your Channel
Just like every other touchpoint for your business, your YouTube channel should reflect your brand voice. You can create a branded banner and icon for your YouTube page itself, but your brand should also be reflected in your videos. For any business creating a series of videos, you'll want them all to have the same look and feel.
Creating the Videos
Here are some considerations once you're ready to start filming:
- Determine where will the videos will be filmed. You want to make sure you have a nice looking background. Tip: Never film against a window. The light should always come from behind the camera.
- While creative editing can fix bad footage, sound can never be fixed in editing. Make sure you film in a quiet place where you can’t hear outside noise.
- Will you have a person on camera? If so, who is the best person for that?
- What's the tone of your videos? Fast? Funny? Professional? Informative?
Production value is important too, but it doesn’t need to be expensive to get good production value. Good footage is all about good angles and light. Choose the person who is best behind the camera to ensure you get good-looking, well-shot videos.
Don’t Bore Your Audience
When creating your video, think about the kind of value you want viewers to gain. If they’re not being entertained or learning something of interest, they'll disengage quickly and are unlikely to return.
Types of content that work well for brands include tutorials; AMAs and interviews with brand ambassadors; case studies; trend reports; and organic, fun "behind the scenes" with staff. An informal approach is best, as videos that do well are generally comical, unusual or useful.
Keep in mind, the nature of video is changing and content is being digested in small, impactful pieces. This means your video needs to catch and retain the audience’s attention in the first 15 seconds or less. If you’re waiting any longer to give them the best bits, you’re already losing eyeballs. Generally, the best performing videos are around 33 seconds long.
It seems straightforward, however, too often brands make videos and then just put them up without editing them or enhancing them. Don’t forget these five editing essentials:
- Add a large placement holder at the start that can be read from a distance. Therefore, people can quickly see from the feed what your video is about. This helps you get more views.
- Add music (don’t forget to credit your source).
- Add fonts.
- Cut out mistakes and boring parts (make any funny mistakes into a bloopers roll!).
- Add a closing page with a call to action — e.g., visit the website, redeem a promo, subscribe/comment, etc.
Below the Video
Don’t forget, the section below each video is valuable real estate. Use it to add a link to your website or a coupon code to track how many leads or sales your channel is converting. Include contact details so viewers can get in touch and learn more about your brand.
Finally, don’t just expect viewers to engage. Make sure that at the end of each video you add a call to action, whether that be a reminder to subscribe, comment or share with a friend, or visit your website to redeem an offer. Periodically, you should also email your business databases with a reminder to subscribe or a link to new content, as well as encourage them to repeat buy with tailored offers and discounts.
Be Seen: Getting Video Views and Subscribers
Just like any social media platform, it takes time to grow a following and you have to work at building your audio and video views.
- YouTube SEO: YouTube has its own search engine optimization algorithm that ranks videos in its search engine similar to Google’s. A few simple ways to boost your YouTube SEO include correct tagging with keywords relevant to your content and brand, as well as tricks like enabling functionality for YouTube to transcribe the video in video settings. Using strong keywords, titles, hashtags and making the most of the description box can help to generate more traffic. However, external marketing is imperative for a channel to truly build an audience.
- Share with your audience: YouTube makes it easy to do so by proving a number of integrated social links that allow you to share videos to multiple platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and more with a single click. Sharing posts is a great, free way to drive additional traffic, however, you may also want to further amplify their reach with social media promotion.
- Grow your subscribers: Another way YouTube ranks videos is based on the number of subscribers you have to your channel. The quickest ways to grow your number of subscribers is to promote your new channel with all your existing customers or followers via email or social media and ask them to subscribe. Many YouTubers add a note at the end of every video asking people to subscribe. That way, they will get an alert every time you post a new video. Finally, collaborating with other high-profile YouTubers to be in your videos and them helping promote the videos increases your views and subscribers.
- When it comes to views, it comes down to quality and not quantity: If you're a software company with a product demo video, this is obviously something only serious customers would watch. Some businesses lend themselves more to a busy YouTube channel than others. If you have a beauty, educational, lifestyle, health and wellness or personal empowerment business, you're going to have a lot more to communicate with your customers on a regular basis.
While, a few years ago it would have required a team of professionals and tens of thousands of dollars to create a single video, today’s camera phones can have the same video quality as an expensive camera would have had a few years ago. Combined with the accessibility of user-friendly editing software, small businesses can create great-looking and meaningful videos in-house on a fraction of the budget and compete with the bigger brands.
Anna Ji is the director of growth at online video creation platform Clipchamp. She's a senior business leader with a decade of experience in growth strategy, through-the-line marketing, entrepreneurship, digital strategy and management.
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