I love to help brands be successful on YouTube. YouTube is the hardest of all the social media platforms to win at. Most brands are just throwing videos at YouTube hoping it will work. There are experts out there who say you just need content.
How many times have you heard someone say content is king? Well, I have bad news for you. The king is dead. The viewer is now the king and if you don’t make a video that people want to watch, they won’t.
What killed the old king? It was too much content to much noise. It was content that wasn’t valuable. It was content that didn’t have a plan beyond the idea that we just need content. It was also my favorite type of bad content: vanity content. Vanity content says, “We need a video because the CEO says we do.”
Everything you do on for marketing including YouTube needs to have a plan for how it will drive business. Getting business from YouTube requires the right video with a clear message. Start with asking yourself these questions: What brand, product or service will be featured in this video and what does your customer want?
Look for an advantage by researching to see what your competitors are doing. You only need to look at your top 3 competitors. Are they using videos at all? If not, then you have an opportunity to be the leader in your industry with video. No pressure. Don’t mess it up. If your competitors are using video, the secret is to look for what they are not doing with video.
A mistake I see a lot of brands make is they make the same video as their competitors. This sea of sameness makes it hard for buyers to know which brand to choose, so, typically, they will just buy the cheapest.
For example, let’s say you own a company that sells anvils. If all the other anvil companies are making a video that shows the anvil on a table in their warehouse and talks about how great their anvil is, you have an opportunity to be the cool rugged anvil brand that everyone wants to do business with because your brand makes the viewer feel something. You want Wile E Coyote to drop his 69-year-old relationship with the ACME anvil company and be knocking on your door because you are the brand that will finally help him catch that road runner.
Create the Right Type of Videos
There are many different types of video. What is the right visual approach for your message? It shouldn’t be about what you like. It should be what is best for your message and the viewer of that message. I talk with a lot of brands who want to create video style that was popular 3 or 4 years ago. The best example of this are whiteboard videos; which, when done right, can be really impactful.
However, those videos fell out of fashion a few years ago and only work today in certain situations or when combined with other types of video to make a hybrid whiteboard video. You need to focus on what is going to work best for your audience. As of the writing of this post, the current video trend is slow motion video.
While trends are fun, you should focus on the story and, if the trend fits into your story, use it. If not, stick to what works for the story you are trying to tell. There were a lot of videos created in the last few years that feature drone video that doesn’t add to the story and broke some federal laws. Proper story structure is never out of style.
The other element you can use that will always be a win is using real people in your video. People connect with other people. Humanizing your brand is important. I am amazed at the number of companies that haven’t figured out that people want to do business with other people. Animation is fun and all, but it is better used to explain complex ideas and shouldn’t be the first video you create. Remember, the more creative the video, the harder it is for your competitors to duplicate.
Everyone is talking about storytelling but very few understand what storytelling is. Story is an overused word, but it is a real advantage if you can figure it out. When I talk to brands about using story in their videos, they think I want them to start their videos with the words, “Once upon a time.” Even Wikipedia doesn’t understand what story is.
So, what is story? Story is a system for presenting information. Once you know the system, your audience will be able to understand what you are talking about quickly. Our brains want things to be easy to understand and this is done with story.
Having a clear message will help your brand be successful. Story puts your customers at the center, not your brand. It ‘s confusing to brands when I say people don’t care about your brand story. They care about their own story.
The key is to make your customer the hero of the story, not your company or your CEO. I know this is confusing, but it’s the difference between a successful story that sells more stuff and a story that makes your CEO feel good.
Think of it like this: your company story is like the movie Star Wars, your brand is Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi, and your viewer is Luke Skywalker. Your brand is the mentor that helps the viewer solve their problems. People buy your product or service because they have a problem. You need to be the company that has the solution.
Setup Your Video for Success
The most important information you can give YouTube about your video is a custom video thumbnail. The next is a title, description, and tags. While Google has said that tags are no longer as important as they once were, it is still important to add them. You just don’t need to spend as much time on them as you used to.
Make sure your video uses all the YouTube tools available. Make sure you add captions to your video. Use end screens to keep the viewer watching your videos and encourage them to subscribe. Use YouTube cards to get them to interact with your video, if they are not ready to buy yet.
Find and Engage
This is where I get the most pushback from brands, especially B2B companies. If you want your video to be successful, you need to advertise. The great part of YouTube is that it is part of Google so when someone searches for problems that fit the solutions your brand provides your videos can be there to help them.
Social media video advertising is the most underused tool for brands. They don’t know what is possible and spend too much time trying to figure it out themselves. This often leads them to the conclusion that it doesn’t work because they never talked to someone who could make it work or they trusted the wrong person to help them.
Always Be Present
In addition to video advertising, regular weekly content is the next step you should take. Think of it like creating a weekly TV show. This is often called ‘content marketing’ or what I like to call ‘thought leadership’ videos.
Anyone can create content, but people are looking for leaders. It is about more than just creating ‘how to’ videos, even though some of the videos you create might be ‘how to’ videos. It is about being the expert they need.
How Will You Measure Success?
Views don’t matter. Yes, you want people to watch your video, but what you need are those viewers to take action. Don’t be afraid to always ask for something from your viewer. If someone stuck with your video to the end, you need to tell them what to do next. You need to give them a call to action.
Many brands forget the call to action or they are scared to have a call to action for fear that they will come across too salesy. Others make their call to action to weak.
There are two types of call to action: a direct call to action and transitional call to action. The direct call to action is stuff like, ‘contact us for a quote’ or ‘buy my stuff now.’ A transitional call to action is for those who are not quite ready to do business with you. Examples of this are, ‘contact us for a free sample,’ ‘download our report,’ ‘sign up for our free video series,’ or ‘subscribe to our YouTube channel and come back next week for another video.’ YouTube cards are a great way to promote your transitional call to action.
Make sure you use YouTube end screens and properly format the last few seconds of your video to help people know what to do with the end screen elements.