In our last post in the inbound marketing series we discussed Vine, Twitter’s platform for six-second stop-motion videos. Vine is a very stylized format, and one that some people have a lot of fun working with – but, as I said in the post, it’s not for everyone.
Vine can allow small companies without the budget or equipment to produce a commercial to make a creative video to promote their brand without spending much – or even any – money. But what if you do have the budget to create a longer, slicker commercial and you want to make sure it gets as much exposure as possible? Or you have a do-it-yourself video idea that simply can’t be condensed to six seconds? This is where YouTube comes in.
YouTube – It’s Not Just For Cat Videos!
There are probably very few internet users who haven’t watched a YouTube video at some point. YouTube has become all but synonymous with videos online – and it’s no mystery as to why. YouTube is a user friendly, accessible resource, making it free for anyone to both watch and post videos.
Since YouTube is a Google service (Google purchased YouTube in 2006) you can manage a YouTube channel using an existing Google account. Any new user can upload videos up to 15 minutes in length, and Google only requires that you go through a simple verification process in order to be allowed to upload longer videos – there is at least one video on YouTube that is over 10 hours long!
Once you’ve uploaded your video to YouTube you can embed it on your website or promote it through whichever social media you use, driving as many people as possible to watch that video, all without paying anything for the hosting. In fact, even if you have a solid hosting service, it is still recommended that you host videos on YouTube rather than uploading them directly to your hosting account.
There are multiple reasons for this – first off, there’s no reason to use server space and bandwidth that you pay for in order to host videos when a site that is highly optimized to handle them for you is willing to do so for free. Also, videos that are embedded or shared from YouTube come with a full set of controls – including the ability to easily share the video on social media. Anyone with a YouTube account can also add your video to their favorites list, “like” or comment on that video through YouTube or see how many others have previously viewed that video.
Beyond Commercials – Embracing Inbound Marketing Through Video
Although YouTube has a broader appeal than Vine, using videos is still not something that every business will have an interest in. Not every business has a commercial, or the desire to produce one. The opportunities go way beyond just commercials, however, so don’t overlook the more outside-the-box possibilities!
You could record your own instructional video – useful, easy to follow videos on frequently Googled topics (i.e. “How do I … ?”) are likely to get shared and added to favorites lists, spreading awareness of your brand. If you’ve ever dreamed about having your own talk show, you could promote your business in a more informal way by posting regular vlogs (video blogs) – mix up informational material with opinions, talk about local events and happenings – any interest that you might share with your audience!
Using videos for imparting useful information or entertaining your audience rather than simply hyping your business commercial-style is, after all, more in line with the concept of inbound marketing. Becoming a source of practical and/or fun videos will do far more to keep people coming back to your site than simply using the video format for blatant promotion.
Videos and SEO
The effect that having an active YouTube channel has on your SEO is going to be more indirect than the effect of, say, having an active blog. Just posting videos isn’t going to give Google more keywords to index on your site, and when your video is shared it will drive users to your YouTube channel rather than directly to your site. The effect on your brand visibility, however, has the potential to be strong and broadly reaching, and there are a few things that you can do to make the SEO aspect work for you as well.
Make sure to optimize your YouTube profile – when a viewer clicks “About” on your YouTube channel you want them to see a clear, concise description of your business as well as a link to your website. Also, make sure that each video you post has a descriptive title – if your video is about how to bake a soufflé you should title it accordingly. Naming it vaguely and without relevant keywords – for example, “Natasha in the Kitchen” – won’t bring in potential viewers who Google “how do I bake a soufflé?”
Also, though simply embedding the videos on your site won’t provide Google with keywords to index, adding a text description of your video will. Make sure to take that opportunity and write a brief description, including relevant keywords, whenever you post a video.
You Probably Already Have Everything You Need!
The days of needing expensive equipment and a large advertising budget to get your video out into the world are over. If you have a smartphone you have everything you need to create, publish and promote your video. Of course a more professional, polished video will require more time and resources than a fun, informal vlog – but even then the start-up costs and requirements for that kind of project are much less than they used to be. Take advantage of this opportunity and get filming!