Using YouTube to build your brand
It may come as good news to you and bad news to Google, but free video hosting on YouTube is a great tool for branding. It's just that YouTube's free service - video hosting - is the most valuable of everything the site has to offer. For the past few years, YouTube has been trying to grow the amount of advertising revenue it brings in with streaming commercials, claiming that is the best way to build a brand using the platform. But that isnít really working for anyone, including Google.
The problem with YouTube ads
The biggest issue with YouTube ads is that such blatant advertisements fly in the face of the underlying appeal of online video sharing. YouTube got its start by not being TV. The platform lets average users post videos that anyone can see easily. So the appeal is the lack of advertisements, the openness to anyone, and the community vibe among YouTubers.
The truth is, the paid ads at the beginning of the videos are just annoying. We all venture onto YouTube to watch videos in an unprecedentedly on-demand way, and those paid ads and prompts to ‘skip video in five seconds' can actually be repellent.
Another problem is that professional ads, with all the over-the-top production, find themselves in strange company against user-generated content on YouTube - a fact that only serves to underline the fact that the watcher is being sold. And that's not a good thing.
What YouTube does best
YouTube is a place for content that can help your brand. Your own how-to and product promotional videos are more valuable than commercial placement on YouTube. Perhaps even more valuable than those things would be positive, viral user-generated content relating to your brand. In all cases, it’s much conducive to good ROI to focus on video - rather than commercial - content on YouTube.
Your ad dollars will be better invested if you put them into creating engaging video content, or enlisting popular niche video bloggers (aka 'vloggers') to help spread your brand’s message, as opposed to pre-video advertisements.
What consumers want on YouTube
- Product/service reviews - more than ever, consumers are doing some homework as part of the product/service discovery process. Trustworthy video reviews are some of the best promotions you could ask for, and YouTube is a go-to place to learn about – and even see – the products we might want to buy.
- Promo videos - Consumers will checkout a new product promo video in a heartbeat. Shoppers feel better about watching content that is advertorial in nature so long as they have sought it out on their terms– a clear distinction from watching a commercial.
- Comments - you have the option to turn off the comments for any video you post to YouTube, but the community aspect is part of the allure of the site. It’s better to allow comments, but monitor them, than to disable them.
- Links - If a video works in gaining a prospective person’s attention, the effort is only worthwhile if you make sure there is something to click in order to move the customer further through the sales funnel. Don’t forget that sales are the ultimate goals.
Google is making a killing. No doubt YouTube and its paid ads represent a nice chunk of Google’s income as of now. But when it comes to your own brand, as usual these days, the best advice is to exhaust all of the free options at your fingertips before you reach for your wallet. YouTube is a great place to build a brand through interesting, customer – engaging videos. The best advice is to preserve the maverick spirit of YouTube when building a brand, and to make sure that even your commercial videos posted on the site don’t translate as commercials.