In February 2005, three friends in Silicon Valley launched YouTube, a new video sharing service. The site was immediately popular and users quickly uploaded everything, from tutorials on playing the guitar to funny videos of their cats. Google swooped in less than 18 months later, and purchased the company for a cool $1.65 billion.
Since then, YouTube has exploded. The site boasts more than a billion active monthly users, many of them between 18 and 34. It is the second-largest search engine on the planet—behind Google, of course—and many small businesses are now utilizing the platform to attract and retain customers.
How One Small Business Utilizes YouTube
Nextiva is one such small business currently using YouTube to connect with customers in creative ways. The cloud-based communications provider located in Scottsdale, Ariz., has a robust YouTube channel that features hundreds of videos, ranging from how to use their products to on-camera client testimonials to culturally-relevant videos, like this one on how the company raised more than $13,000 with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
While Nextiva employs a full-time video production team today, it wasn’t always that way. The company started its video effort with smart phones and computer cameras, and upgraded from there.
”We’ve come a long way,” says Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva’s chief marketing officer. ”Other small business owners can do the same. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make an impact. Our videos have helped customers get to know us and our brand better.”
Creative and ambitious small businesses may even find a use for more than one YouTube channel. In addition to its main company page, Nextiva also has a separate YouTube channel that’s strictly dedicated to short, real-time response videos targeted at specific customers. Whenever a customer posts a compliment on the company’s Twitter account or Facebook page, a representative from Nextiva will respond with a video.
”YouTube is valuable to our business in so many ways,” says Masjedi. ”With our real-time response videos, we’ve been able to engage with customers better than ever before.”
Best YouTube Practices for Small Businesses
Small business owners can get started on YouTube by going to the homepage and creating a channel for their company. This process is free and requires a Google account to register. From there, it’s best to customize the page to fit your business. Label it with your brand name, use your company’s colors, and add descriptions of what your business does.
Here’s a list of other tips you can use to take advantage of YouTube for your small business:
- Record how-to videos. Post short videos five to ten minutes long that relate to your industry. If you’re the owner of a flower shop, record a video that shows how to put together a birthday bouquet. If you own a hardware store, post weekly videos on how to fix everything from toilets to dressers to car stereos.
- Think hard about video titles. Be specific when posting a video to YouTube. If you’re showcasing your new line of women’s shoes, don’t just label your video, ”new product.” Be more specific. Explain the type of shoe and why women would be interested. Then, make sure your description includes keywords.
- Post consistently. As soon as you launch your company channel, create a schedule for posting videos. Assign a trusted member of your team to monitor the channel and post regularly—ideally, the same days each week.
- Utilize YouTube for internal communications. YouTube doesn’t need to just be about reaching your audience. Try recording short weekly episodes that wrap up what happened in your company that week, and circulate it among your team. Nextiva does this and calls their video episodes ”NexTV.” The effort is appreciated by employees, and keeps the whole company on the same page.
- Customer testimonials. Every time you come across a happy customer, ask if you can record them saying nice things about your company on camera.
- Share. Alert your network to your latest video by sharing it on other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp.
How to Measure YouTube Success
YouTube offers its users analytics on each channel. As the owner of a company channel, you can see everything from your top ten most-viewed videos to statistics on how much time users spent watching each video. Viewers of your page can also subscribe and get alerts every time you post, which is a great way to track success of your YouTube efforts.
YouTube is an excellent way for small business owners looking to connect with customers and engage employees. Launch your channel today, and soon you’ll start seeing increased engagement with your brand.