One Word: YouTube
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me which platform they should be investing in right now, I'd be abundantly wealthy. Now, the truth is there is no one platform that's going to help make your brand an internet superstar. No, that would be far too easy and completely against how everything in life (and the web) works. But there is one platform that I'm recommending all of my clients pay very special attention to. As you may have guessed by the title of this article, the platform in question is YouTube.
Sure, YouTube is omnipresent at this point so maybe I'm not telling you much when I say it's worth investing time and energy there. But, YouTube is more than just an elegant and stable video delivery platform.
Yes, Google's little baby is growing... and it's growing fast. We don't need to delve into the dwindling TV numbers to tell that web video is a growing arena that shows no signs of letting up. If you sat down and thought about it, how many minutes or hours of online video do you consume in a month? My hunch is, it's more than you think. But again, I'm not here to prove that YouTube will be successful because it already is. What I would like to do is go into the specific reasons you and your brand should be developing a focused and consistent YouTube strategy.More Broadband = More Video = Bigger Audience
As broadband continues to spread throughout the world, consuming high bandwidth content like streaming video is on the upswing. This means more access to online video and a larger potential audience. If I told you in 1995 that you needed to have a website you might have been skeptical. Now? Not so much. I'm telling you now, if you have or can generate the content, you need a YouTube channel.Let Us Count The Ways In Which YouTube Rules
Let's go into some of the specifics of how YouTube can benefit you and your brand.
1. Human Interaction
What's the biggest knock on the web? Well, people misguidedly knock the online world a lot but a few of those criticisms are actually warranted. One that resonates with me is how the web is too impersonalized and robotic. While I think a lot of this has to do with the way people use the web, there is something to be said for actually watching a real live human do something. We like seeing people's faces and if we can't be in front of them in-person, seeing their faces via our screens can be a moving experience nonetheless. Let's not forget the web is just a tool. It's our consciousness that breathes life into it.
2. Personalities Can Shine
Why are there so many YouTube stars out there today? Because anyone can make a connection with an audience if they're being authentic. I'm a firm believer that every person has something unique to offer to the world. That doesn't necessarily mean that everyone should have a YouTube channel to make videos about what they ate for lunch today. It does mean that if you have a story to tell or a message to communicate, using video to communicate with people is extremely effective. Which leads us to...
3. More Opportunities for Story-Telling
How many life-coaches or professional consultants have you heard talk about the importance of story-telling? Pretty much all of them. That's because stories are deeply embedded into our being. Be they myths, actual events or fiction, stories resonate with us. And what better way to tell a story than by actually telling it? We can do this now with online video. Let your audience see emotions and personalities. That allows you to communicate your message effectively.
4. Explicit Calls-to-Action via Human Prompt
To borrow a marketing term, CTA's or calls-to-action are a marketers best friend. They help users make decisions and get them to where they should go. What better way to ask someone to do something by, you know, actually asking them to do something. Having a verbal CTA is powerful. When you combine asking someone to do something with the technical features YouTube offers, you're really on to something.Technical Features
YouTube isn't just a place where you upload video and then direct people towards it or embed it on your website. Although those are both worthy features if you look under the hood you'll find YouTube is a lot more powerful than you think. Let's go some of the technical benefits of YouTube.
If you don't already know how I feel about analytics then get to reading. Data + Intuition = Magic. YouTube has the best video analytics around thanks to Google. Need I say more?
2. Hangouts on Air (Branded YouTube Channels and Events)
Have you ever wanted to run your own TV station? Well, now you can. Google has merged YouTube and one of the best features of Google+, "Hangouts on Air." Now you can set up a live broadcast that goes out to the entire world with no bandwidth limits. The potential for this feature is only limited by your imagination. There are already channels and events set up for cooking shows, home shopping, radio broadcasts, podcasts, conferences, lectures... you name it and someone is doing it.
3. Google+ Integration
Yes, I get that not everyone realizes how awesome Google+ is... yet. But the truth is while the other social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest send a ton of referral traffic, Google+ is continuing to build up a strong user-base with even stronger features. I already mentioned the Hangouts on Air feature above but there are so many other creative ways to use the platform and now YouTube is directly connected to Google+. Verifying your Google+ page with your website and YouTube channel gives you a huge leg up (think sumo wrestler sized leg) on your competitors who continue to sleep on the plus.
4. Annotation Feature
Have you ever been watching a YouTube video and then towards the end all those fancy boxes pop-up encouraging you to subscribe to a channel or watch another video or visit a website? Well, those are called annotations and can be an excellent way to create a really awesome user experience for your audience. Not to mention, it's easy to get users from place to place by gently guiding them where you want them to go.
5. Donate Buttons for Non-Profits
Are you a non-profit? Well, if you are you can sign-up for a Google Grant for YouTube and link up a bank account to YouTube. Then you can start accepting donations directly from your YouTube page. Pretty self-explanatory. If you're not a non-profit there are still ways to link people to a PayPal or any other 3rd party payment system from your YouTube homepage.
6. Massive Community
People, people and more people. That's what YouTube has going for it. There are just so many people using YouTube that your doing your brand and yourself a disservice if you ignore that massive community. Go to the places where you audience and potential audience are already hanging out. Then create quality content and organically get it in front of their shining eyes. Rinse and repeat and you have yourself a YouTube strategy.
7. Monetization Options
Let's not fool ourselves here, often one of the main priorities of a brand, organization or individual is to create revenue streams. Well, let's say you've already done the hard part and created a successful YouTube channel and are getting thousands about thousands (maybe even millions) of views. Views are great and all and a wonderful way to gauge whether people are enjoying your content, but wouldn't it be nice if you could make some money from that? Well, you can. Turn on the monetization options for your YouTube channel and you've instantly created a new revenue stream for your brand. YouTube will gladly show targeted ads before your video and each view puts some shekels in your pocket. Not a bad deal right?Conclusion
As I mentioned up above, I'm not hear to convince you that YouTube is going to be popular because it already is. I am trying to convey that if you're taking stock of the web and social networks make sure video is an important part of your strategy. All of these strategies are predicated on having quality content that provides value for your audience. If you're able to create that type of content setting up a YouTube channel and making it a large part of your online strategy will only help you as time moves on.
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