YouTube is, of course, the best-known and most widely used video sharing website in the world, and one that has established itself firmly in the public consciousness over the course of its 13-year history. YouTube effectively created an entirely new platform within which anyone can upload and share video content of their own, or view and interact with other site users’ content.
Founded in 2005 by three former PayPal employees, YouTube quickly gained momentum and popularity among both video creators and viewers, filling a gap in the market for a video sharing and self-publishing portal and ultimately, creating a whole new niche. YouTube was bought out by Google in 2006 and now operates as a subsidiary of Google’s wider portfolio, which permits video creators to earn ad revenue from content placed within their videos via Google’s AdSense network.
Today, YouTubes’s most successful and popular content creators can potentially earn significant amounts of income from their content, with the highest paid YouTubers earning annual figures that break the £10 million mark.
From humble beginnings with YouTube vlogs, how-to guides, entertainment content and more, a large number of prominent influencers have reached genuine celebrity status as a result of their success on the platform. Many of those at the top of the tree have become household names, and won lucrative product placement and sponsorship deals from big brands and businesses as a result of this.
YouTube is also commonly used by businesses, brands and corporations of all sizes to post their own corporate media, including educational content, how-to guides, music videos, promotional trailers, live streams, and much more.
YouTube can help businesses of all sizes from one-man start-ups to established multinationals to grow their audience base and reach out to new prospects, making it an important tool in any marketer’s arsenal. If you’re not quite sure how to harness the power of YouTube to target and reach out to your audience with a view to increasing brand awareness or generating sales, this article will give you five ideas to get you started, plus some tips and insight into the YouTube platform itself and how it is used.
How popular is YouTube really?
Before I get started on explaining how to use YouTube to target and reach out to your audience demographics, it is worthwhile to provide a little background into YouTube’s popularity and reach.
To say that video content is popular today would be a massive understatement, and this is something that even many larger corporations don’t really appreciate fully, which is even more likely to be the case for the average SME.
- YouTube is the world’s preferred online video site, with 48% of all online video viewers selecting it as their site of choice. For context, the next highest-ranked video site is Netflix, with 21% of the market share.
- YouTube’s total number of regular users comes in second only to Facebook, at over 1.5 billion.
- YouTube appeals to virtually every age demographic – 96% of teenagers use the site regularly, millennials list it among their top three apps, 75% of Gen X-ers use YouTube at least once a month, and when it comes to the senior market, whilst only 11% of YouTube users are aged over 65, YouTube takes joint first place in the popularity stakes for this demographic, along with Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Around a billion hours of content is watched on YouTube every day.
- The top ten ranked adverts on YouTube have generated well over five million views, and achieved 3.6 million “likes.”
How can YouTube help you to target and reach your desired audience demographics?
YouTube’s userbase is large and diverse in pretty much every way, from geographic location to age and race, and from interests to income. Virtually every intertest and niche you can think of is represented on the platform too, which means that your options in terms of the type of markets that you target and the type of content that you use to reach them are almost limitless.
Once you’ve established the demographics that you wish to target via YouTube, the next step is to research the type of content that they watch and the channels that they subscribe to on the platform and use this information to inform and fine-tune your own content.
Here are five suggestions for how to reach out to YouTube audiences.
1. Use YouTube to establish your brand’s personality
Putting a human face on your business or building your brand persona is something that YouTube can be very effective at achieving, and personalising your brand in this way generates a connection with your audience and invests them in both the content that you post and your brand itself.
First of all, you need to establish what your brand’s personality is, and maintain this theme throughout the content that you post to provide a consistent, reliable voice across all of your video collateral.
Whether you’re a brand-new start-up or an established and growing SME, personalising your brand and business can add value to your interactions with customers and prospects, building brand loyalty and authority and creating that all-important human connection.
The type of content that you use to achieve this is up to you, but you might want to think about introducing and narrating your videos with one consistent personality that your viewers can get to know and appreciate. In terms of the type of content to use here, provide sneak peeks and insights into what your company does and how it does it with behind-the-scenes videos, virtual tours of your facilities, or a series of short “meet the team” videos.
If you’ve got a corporate mascot or even a resident dog in your offices or workplace that belongs to one of the team, don’t be afraid to put them to work, and give your followers an insight into what you’re all about.
The content that you post is what will bring viewers to your videos, but investing them with enthusiasm and personality is what will keep people coming back for more.
2. Share insights, commentary, news and fresh content
Finding a new angle to take when it comes to reaching prospects is an important part of forward-thinking marketing, and presenting such content in video format gives you the best possible chance of achieving a high level of audience exposure.
Whether you want to share news about your business itself or the industry as a whole, provide insights into the state of the market, or offer a personal commentary or hot take on something new, getting such content online quickly and effectively is key.
If you can reliably “scoop” your competitors when it comes to getting ahead on breaking relevant news, advances and discussions to your followers, you will quickly build your subscriber count as viewers learn to check your channel first, before looking around.
This is something that multinational big-hitter General Electric (GE) has got down to a fine art, with news and industry insights interspersed with unique, fresh content such as this video of advanced materials testing performed on everyday household objects:
This video has almost 1.5 million views and generated a significant social buzz across other channels too.
3. Create tutorials and guides to establish authority
Tutorials and how-to guides are among the most popular types of content posted on YouTube, and today’s internet users will commonly search for video tutorials or guidance in preference to following written instructions or diagrams.
If you can create a tutorial or video guide that provides value for your buyers and viewers, again, you stand a good chance of increasing both your views and subscriber count too. Solving a problem for your viewers is also a good approach to take, so look into the possibilities and preferences of your viewing audience and go from there.
For instance, this simple YouTube video from Eric the Car Guy on how to clean a throttle has well over five million views and nearly 2,000 comments, largely positive and enthusiastic – despite the humble nature of the video’s topic!
4. Tell a story to encourage interaction and sharing
Being able to tell a story effectively and succinctly to an online audience is an underappreciated skill, but one that is apt to pay dividends for companies that can pull it off effectively.
It’s about more than the story you are telling, incorporating the way that you tell it and the takeaways that you leave the audience with – and of course, managing to ensure that your audience watches your content right to the end to get the complete message across effectively.
Tell your audience about your brand’s origins, early days, trials and tribulations, and notable achievements – and failures. An interesting underdog story made good is a great way to engage with your audience and invest them in your journey, so don’t be afraid to show some vulnerability or a funny tale of a near-miss or narrowly avoided disaster that was resolved successfully.
Taking your viewers on a journey with a series of standalone “chapters” to a longer story or a progressive series of interconnected videos is also a great way to keep your viewers watching and returning regularly to check out your new content.
5. Incentivising and calls to action
Posting a fantastic video that racks up a large number of views and generates an organic buzz is every marketer’s dream, but this on its own is not enough to provide value to you and your business. You also need to be able to convert that buzz and interest into meaningful terms to support your goals.
Think first about what you want to achieve with your content. Do you want to increase sales, boost website visitors or create interest in a new product or service? Once you have established this, your video content should be created to support it.
Incentivise views where possible, integrating offers, discounts or deals into your videos and ensuring that they are mentioned within the description and referenced within the first 30 seconds of the content, even if your viewer needs to keep watching to get it.
Tying off your video with the appropriate call to action is important too, and the almost ubiquitous “don’t forget to subscribe” that often accompanies promotional content has reached the point of becoming more or less white noise to regular YouTube viewers. Tell your prospects WHY they should subscribe, what they will get if they do so, and what’s coming up in the future.
Also, direct viewers to your own website or external content where possible, follow, moderate and interact with the comments section, and share your other social media links (and incentives for visiting them) into your content too.
Problems and pitfalls to avoid
Whilst YouTube is a vital tool in the arsenal of any online marketing campaign, it is not without its potential pitfalls for the uninitiated.
- Perhaps the first point to note here is to ensure the quality of your videos themselves, and understand the importance of generating content with excellent production values in order to ensure that they are viewed and appreciated.
Your frames should be well lit, crisp, clear and steady and your audio consistent, clear and audible – and this is just the beginning. Any video that can’t tick off these very basic elements that today’s YouTube viewers have come to expect is unlikely to achieve a lot of views, and it may also cheapen perception of your brand too.
- Make sure that any claims you make within your videos or anything that is presented as a fact or coming from an authority source is both accurate and plausible. Do your due diligence, check your sources and facts, and remember that if your video starts to do well and is later found to be factually incorrect or stretching the boundaries of the truth, one of your viewers will find out and potentially, bring the whole thing tumbling down.
Positing opinions and personal takes on things is fine as long as these are presented as such, and that they don’t mislead or confuse your viewers in terms of their context.
- Knowing how to use and manage the comments section of any video could make up the topic for a whole article of its own, but this is something that you should be prepared for before your first video even goes live. The comments sections of YouTube videos can be fairly rough and ready (to put it mildly) and can quickly become derailed by arguments, trolls and so on, which is why many businesses choose to disable the comments sections on their videos altogether.
This is certainly something to consider if you find yourself running into problems or unable to dedicate the time that you require to following and responding to your comment stream, but the comments section can also provide a lot of value and the chance to respond to and interact with viewers personally too, so this is not always the best approach.
- How regularly you post new content is up to you – there is a balance between keeping people interested with new content and compromising on the value of each video and its content simply in order to keep production rolling along. Never sacrifice quality to quantity, but do have a plan in place for your upcoming content in advance, and promote it across your existing content too.
Finally, consistency is the key to all successful YouTube channels, and this is something that you should factor in from the get-go. One great standalone video on an otherwise unpopulated or underutilised channel won’t achieve its full potential, and you should plan to schedule content regularly and if possible, on the same day and time each time to build your channel and reach the potential waiting audience for your new content.