Online videos are a big part of your business. Your products are super high-quality and people really seem to enjoy checking them out. But no matter how specialized your service within the online video world — the industry behemoth elephant is still in the room, demanding to be dealt with.
YouTube. It’s at once the most straightforward and mysterious portal on the web. It’s simplicity is obvious from what it is — an enormous publishing platform for videos online. Basically if something on earth has been recorded and is not copyrighted (or often even if it is) it can be viewed on YouTube. Humans go there knowing for almost certain that they can find footage of giraffes giving Thai massages, stiff Germans doing funny dances, lectures on the theory of relativity, the craziest soccer goals of all time — and everything in between.
The confusion comes in when we think about what YouTube can do. For performers it can clearly broaden the potential audience like never before but for businesses the benefits are much more difficult to place. And while the site continues to roll out nice new features frequently aimed at businesses — Creator Studio, sound effects, Info Cards, etc — there still exists a fundamental paradox.
YouTube is not your site. Every minute you spend posting content to YouTube is time not spent posting that same video content to your domain. Every video you post on YouTube creates a new web page that will almost certainly rank ahead of your site on Google Search (especially since Google owns YouTube; think about it). YouTube has its own business goals and aims and chances are extremely high they are not 100% aligned with yours.
But this is the purely cynical view. There also many benefits to posting your videos on YouTube. For example, let’s say you own a small business called Diane’s Sushi Videos. Obviously, no one unfamiliar with the business is going to wake up one morning and start searching online for “Diane’s Sushi Videos.” And let’s say your business, Diane’s Sushi Videos, makes the best videos of sushi in all of Atlanta. And since your business site is small and new, your company’s website is not yet ranking on Google Search for broader relevant queries like “best sushi in Atlanta.”
Enter the beauty of YouTube: it’s more than possible that several people everyday in the American Southeast crave wasabi and go onto the site searching for “best sushi in Atlanta,” and, assuming you’ve published your video on there, showing the beauties of Diane’s ability to record sushi for marketing purposes, with an SEO-optimized page, your video can show up in YouTube search and people who hadn’t previously heard of Diane’s Sushi Videos or eyeballed the high-end shots get to know the business for the first time when they otherwise wouldn’t have. (And yes that was all one sentence.)
Now all these local sushi fans know about your sushi video business, thanks to YouTube.
It’s important to remember that your video company’s YouTube strategy doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Here are some pragmatic strategies for a hybrid solution.
Post the videos on your site first. And when you promote the vids on your FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and email channels send the traffic back to your domain to watch the video. This way you can get the benefits of all the traffic, and have those folks already on your site, and therefore closer to becoming customers.
Optimize your site’s page hosting your video for SEO. Just because YouTube is much more likely to rank highly for most keywords doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. Home on which terms you want to rank for with the video (like “best sushi in Atlanta”) and put those words in the title and description on the page.
Put your video on YouTube 1-2 weeks after you first publish it on your site. Use your own site for the first wave of attention, usually attracted by social media and email sharing. You wait a week or two, watch the traffic roll in, and then it usually peters out. This is where YouTube comes in; your videos can have something of a second life, in perpetuity. People will be searching YouTube for the next several years (and I assume your site does not have search function) and your video will be seen by folks daily.
Put only previews of your videos on YouTube. This method is mostly for folks not comfortable with “giving away” their videos to YouTube. You worked hard to create that video collateral for your website. Why just give it all away to another site for nothing? The solution is here is to make a preview video, to live on YouTube. That would you reap almost all of the benefits of publishing on the hub — eyeballs, brand awareness, etc — while giving users a tiny a glimpse of your work, before sending them over to your site with a call to action right at the end of your shortened video. This way you get some traffic from YouTube in the form of people who want to see the rest of the video and then learn more about the company.
Make your YouTube company channel look good. Regardless of whether you choose to publish all of your videos on YouTube or just previews of them — your video business should definitely have some sort of presence on there. Consumers seem to have built in expectations when it comes to video companies mastering the YouTube medium. They expect you to go big and go organized on there. So come correct with a nice branded page, indexing all your top vids and previews.
So there’s no way around the elephant in the room. That’s the point: he’s not going on anywhere. You have to learn how to live with him, and figure out how he could even help you. In the case of elephantine YouTube you can boost your traffic and brand awareness (while not giving up all your digital collateral) by crafting a practical plan based on the considerations above.