YouTube Marketing: Viral Appeal Or Marginal Gains? (Part 1).

Need help promoting your small business?

Got an idea or concept which you think your followers might find interesting? Then have you ever considered the idea of video marketing through platforms like YouTube? Most people, rightly or wrongly, have a jaundiced view about YouTube. Many consider it to be nothing other than a gimmick where you can watch videos of cats doing improbable things: others view it as a bit of a freak show where users indulge their occasionally twisted fantasies.

For all the criticism however, YouTube is an invaluable marketing tool.

Did you know, for instance, that 35 hours’ worth of video is downloaded to the site every minute, and that YouTube is the most popular social media platform out there? If you can come up with an original concept or video which captures the audience’s imagination, then within hours it has the potential to go viral. Think what that could mean for your small business? One minute you could be serving local customers – then the next you could have the attention of a worldwide audience. No wonder people are falling over themselves to get a slice of the action. But how do you get the most out of YouTube? How can you make the platform work for the benefit of your small business, and turn your views into pounds or dollars? Well, hopefully the following tips might get you on your way.

Watch what other users are posting on YouTube.

If you haven’t spent time watching YouTube then it will be impossible to get to grips with what it does, and to understand what it’s about. Think of it as research and then you’ll see the business case in spending time watching online video. Have a look at what’s hot, and what gains the most attention. The ultimate aim is to be able to recognise the good ideas and understand the thinking behind them.

Find your niche market.

Once you’ve spent time watching hours of YouTube programming, you should have a good idea about the type of ideas that work, and more importantly those that don’t. Users will only watch videos that are good. The problem is the ’good’ area of the market is congested: every business is trying to get a foot in the door, so you may have to refine your original ideas and target a specific niche to get the maximum effect. The chances of making a spectacular ad are slim, so what businesses should do is either position themselves as experts in their own particular field, or market their brand or product as a lifestyle choice.

So what about if your business sells what most people might term as mundane products, like plumbing supplies. Is it possible to make that sound interesting or entertaining? Well yes it is because these products are essential to modern living: ever tried living without a toilet? So try to think like potential customers and give them video information that will prove helpful and informative. Imagine coming home from an evening out and discovering a burst pipe or a broken toilet: what would you do? What likely information would you want someone to give you? Don’t try to think like a traditional advertiser. YouTube marketing isn’t really about advertising per se, it’s more about creating content that connects with people and helping them to explore. If you provide this sort of content users will be more likely to like what you’ve done for them and go on to visit your website.

Manage your expectations.

It’s important to manage your expectations. You’re unlikely to replicate the success of the Old Spice Man video, so be realistic. Remember that 35 hours of video footage are uploaded to YouTube every minute, so your video is just a small; link in the global chain. It’s unlikely that your video will go viral. What small businesses should be looking for is resonance and connecting to an audience and building a relationship. It’s a bit like Team Sky’s approach to cycling: it’s all about marginal gains. Video marketing isn’t simply a matter of attracting raw numbers and massive viewing figures. Obviously that would be nice, but just because someone watches your video doesn’t mean they’ll go on to buy your products. It’s much better just to aim to position yourself amongst the right kind of audience, and then look to capitalize on that later.

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