Online video–and especially YouTube–is critical to your online marketing and increasing your overall visibility. Julie Perry tells how.
For the highlights of this article be sure to check out How to Make YouTube Part of Your Social Media Marketing at FastCompany.com.
Rich: Hi, this is Rich Brooks, and I have on the phone with me today Julie Perry. She is the social media director at BLASTmedia, which is a PR and social media firm.
I was lucky enough to see her present at BlogWorld in New York on “Killer YouTube Tactics,” and it was a packed room with standing room only. It was an amazing, phenomenal amount of information – so much information that my hands cramped up. I couldn't finish taking notes, so I asked Julie if she would get on the line with me today and we could talk a little bit about some of the YouTube tactics that she talked about at the show.
Julie, thank you very much for your time today.
Julie: Thank you for interviewing me. I'm excited.
Rich: You're a huge fan of YouTube. Tell us, why should businesses and organizations be paying attention to YouTube?
Julie: Well, it's interesting being in social media, and when I start talking to a potential client, the first words out of their mouth are always “Twitter” and “Facebook.” They'll say, “We've heard we need to be there. We heard this is a place where we need to be.”
I'll end up bringing YouTube into the conversation, and the first thing I hear back is, “Well, you know, my kid is on there all the time. I know the kind of content on there. We don't really want to be associated with that. It's not really a professional site.” They worry about the image that it's going to portray. So I will begin to list for them a lot of the benefits that I see—really what I call “the power of YouTube” for marketing purposes—and their eyes pop out of their head. They just can't believe it.
Some of those reasons I'll list for them are for list building and lead generation. First of all, if you're not doing video, that's something that you want to think about doing immediately. There are so many benefits to it. I think people are being trained now to not want to read as much as they just want to be able to push “play,” sit back, and engage with a video where they can hear and they can see who's demonstrating, and almost feel like they have a relationship with the person that they're learning from.
Doing video is really the first key, although I will oftentimes help people get started on YouTube without that content, so we'll touch on that in a bit.
But I will say to them that for driving traffic and list building and leads for your business, putting content out on YouTube allows you to be discovered or found by people that are out searching for information. And if you're creating video content—rather than hoard it on your own website where really no one is even going to find it—you can put it on YouTube where when it comes to online video destination sites, there are others out there that tend to be looked at as more professional, but YouTube has the vast majority of the market.
In fact, the statistics change so rapidly, I hesitate sometimes to give them, but I know in March 2011, YouTube sites had almost 144 million unique viewers just in that month—just in the U.S. That's not even taking into consideration international numbers, so they have tons of eyeballs, tons of people there looking for videos to discover, and not just prank videos or pet videos or baby videos, but actually quality, business-type information and content. They're out there looking for answers, so if you have a business that provides a solution and helps solve their problem, it's a place where you want to be.
By the way, they are now getting 2 billion videos per day internationally. I mentioned that there were 144 million in March that were unique viewers to the site in the U.S., but they're getting about 2 billion views worldwide per day. So with those kinds of numbers in terms of a place to get in front of a potential audience, it's where you want to be.
Once you're on the site, YouTube does a tremendous job of keeping its audience engaged. You'll have the opportunity of coming up in related videos. If you sell, let's say, an iPhone product and Steve Jobs has an announcement that he makes at some convention, and someone makes a video and uploads it to YouTube, you have the opportunity to perhaps come up next to that video. Let's say he announces something for the new iPad and you have an iPad case or cover that your company makes. By playing with some of the tags and titles and things on YouTube from a search perspective, you have an opportunity to come up as a related video.
YouTube is a master at keeping people engaged on the site by showing them content that's relevant to what they're watching that keeps them on the site. They send out emails weekly. If you have subscribed to a channel and you have an account there, they'll tell you what channels you've subscribed to have uploaded new content that week.
When you log in now, it's just like Amazon. When you buy a book through Amazon, the next time you log in to the site, it's recommending all these similar types of books: “We think you'll like this because you liked that.” Ecommerce sites like Nordstrom do a wonderful job of this—so does YouTube. They know how to recommend content to keep people coming back to the site and staying engaged.
The demographics really—as much as people want to point to all the silly videos that are on there—are pretty outstanding. I've got some statistics here from 2009 that show that the average or median income was close to $74,000.
The median age of the average YouTube viewer is 33 years old, and I believe that has been edging toward an older age since 2009. Sixty-four percent describe themselves as tech savvy, 71%, employed, and 69%, at least college educated.
It really isn't the younger generations that are just the ones hanging out on YouTube. One of the reasons for that is because of search. [Search] is where I think YouTube really has the power that people aren't realizing. YouTube is now the #2 search engine. As of October 2008, YouTube surpassed Yahoo in terms of the number of searches done as a search engine—it surpassed them in search queries. That means that people are coming over there and directly entering their search terms or keyword phrases of what they're looking for into the YouTube search engine without even going over to Google.
When people are doing that, you want to be there. You want to have quality video content that responds to that search query and the gives the user maybe some tips and advice that then tells them, “Hey, for more information, go to my website,” or tells them about a sale or something and then offers a coupon code and drives that traffic over to your website where they can actually purchase the product that they just heard about.
There are so many opportunities there for being discovered. It's really the way of Web 2.0. You want to be where you can be findable if people want to discover you. YouTube, being a search engine, really gives it a lot of power.
What's even more interesting, though, is that YouTube is owned by Google, and Google is not stupid. They know that in their Google search results, when they return a video on page one of the results with a thumbnail that shows a little snippet of the visual of what's in the video, people are going to be attracted to that. They've done eye-tracking studies—they know that you gravitate more toward the image.
So when someone does a search—let's say they look up “inventory tracking software”—and they get a whole page of results that are just text links. Well, within that, Google has what's called “blended search” or “universal search” and it's not just Google—Yahoo does it and Bing does it. The other search engines are now turning up video content in their results more than ever before. And when someone sees that video over a text link, they're most likely going to click on that. Because Google owns YouTube, Google does it more than anyone else, so you can get to page one of Google often faster with a YouTube video than you can with your own website.
It's usually not for your primary keywords, especially if they're very competitive, but for long-tail searches—long-tail searches, I often find are the best converting searches because they're most specific—you stand a very good chance of coming up in page one of Google with a YouTube video.
Finally, I'd say the other reason that it's so powerful is the accessibility. You can now access YouTube videos from nearly every hot mobile device on the market, as well as now from your home television set. It's accessibility. It's providing content to your audience on their terms—how they want to watch it—not on your terms. Not by hiding it somewhere internally in your website where people have to dig to try to find it, but getting yourself out there, allowing people to watch you on their iPhone or their Android phone.
YouTube's XL program now allows YouTube videos to stream through Netflix, Google TV, Apple TV, and Boxee TV. The Roku box is now allowing you to even be able to, with your own remote control for your television, simply click right over to YouTube from watching your main cable television. That accessibility, being able to have somebody sitting in their living room discovering you on YouTube, is a tremendous benefit.
From a “social media networking” standpoint—these buzzwords we keep hearing about—YouTube over Twitter and Facebook offers a lot of really cool opportunities. With Facebook, it's sort of a closed community. You have to know someone to get to someone, whereas with YouTube, it's all out in the open.
And YouTube is a social network. People forget this. A lot of people don't even know this. Yes, it's a place for free video content hosting, but you can add friends. You can subscribe to channels. You can “like” and “favorite” videos. You can interact with videos by leaving comments. You can discover people with interests similar to your own simply by seeing them comment on another video. You can leave channel comments.
People are now treating their YouTube channels almost like the home page of a website where then each video simply becomes sort of a sub-page of the site. You can link to the videos from the channel, making your channel an actual online destination where you feature maybe not only your content, but content you like, content of your partners, and content that other channels have made about you. If you speak at an event and somebody gets video, they may upload it to their YouTube account, but then you can go and feature that on your channel, drive traffic to your channel, and get people subscribing to you.
Then when people come across that content through any social networking you might be doing, YouTube allows for cross-platform interactivity. In other words, you can link your YouTube account to, let's say, your Facebook account, your Twitter account, your Tumblr, Blogger, StumbleUpon, and Google Buzz. Everything that you do on the site links over and allows people to find out maybe on Twitter, “Hey, I just favorited a video on YouTube.” It's called “activity sharing,” and so those activities that you're doing, just like you would on Facebook when you like or comment, if you like a video on YouTube, you can actually automatically, by connecting your Twitter account to your YouTube account, allow that information to syndicate out over across your other social profiles.
You can also share videos. Right from beneath a video, you can hit the share button and say, “I want to share this over on Twitter or Facebook,” or you could even automatically just email it directly from YouTube.
That ability to connect, syndicate your content, and have that interactivity across different social media platforms—it's really just incredible what YouTube has done. And like I said, it's more than a place for free video hosting. It's a social network, and it's a place where you can be found and discovered and then drive that traffic over to your blog, website, or other online content. Whether you're selling something or simply providing more information, as a place for traffic generation and lead generation, it's, I think, outstanding.
Rich: Wow, Julie, you have just crushed all the rest of my questions. You have an amazing sense of everything that's going on in YouTube. I hope I'm actually asking some fresh questions here because you did take some of my best follow-up questions away.
We talked a little bit about having a channel. Once you start uploading videos, create an account, and have a channel, why don't you give us some techniques on how to make the most out of a channel from branding to play lists to anything else that you may have?
Julie: As I said, setting your channel up as sort of your main destination is really where YouTube did a revision on the site format. I think it was back in 2009. One of the reasons they did that is because they wanted people to start putting more emphasis on their channel as a destination.
In setting that up, I would say the very first thing to do if you're just getting started is to name and claim your channel. When you do that, put as much thought into the name of your channel as you would, let's say, the domain of a blog or website. You want to use keywords that help brand you, your product, or your service. Whatever it is you're doing, selling, or offering, you want to be able to communicate that through your channel name.
I know when we sign up for personal accounts these days, names are all taken, so you'll usually use something like “JuliePerry1234” as an actual account name. Well, when you do that on YouTube, “JuliePerry1234” becomes your channel name, your profile name, and your account name—it's all the same. Basically, it will be the “YouTube.com/ that word or that name” domain of your channel, so what you don't want to do is have it be something silly like that or just a series of letters and numbers that you willy-nilly type in because you need to put something down. Instead, you want to use keywords for your niche that are going to pique interest and make people want to click over and find out more about you.
Think of it kind of as Twitter, where your Twitter handle is something you want to choose that communicates more about who you are and what you do—because on YouTube, you're oftentimes communicating by leaving comments on other videos or channels or by sending a friend invite or subscribing to a new channel, and all people really have to go on is your channel name. If you've got a channel name that's, say, “Free Yoga Videos” and you send a friend invite to somebody who's expressed interest on their own channel in yoga and they see “Free Yoga Videos,” they're going to be very tempted to click over and see what you've got. So if you're offering free yoga videos to get people hooked and interested in you, your method, and your personality so that later you can drive them over to a main website and sell them on a 10-part DVD series, then that's a way of getting them hooked, piquing their interest, and getting them over to your site.
“Love in 90 Days” is the name of a channel of Dr. Diana Kirschner. She's a New York Times bestselling author who writes books on relationships and finding love. Well, when we were out communicating and trying to social network on YouTube, having the handle “Love in 90 Days” really made a lot of people want to click over and find out more. When they did, there was a video auto-playing of Dr. Diana Kirschner giving dating tips and dating advice. She had a cute little dog sitting on her lap and used YouTube annotations to make some little funny comments like the dog was interacting. People loved it! Subscribers just poured in.
Any time she put up a new video after that, those subscribers received notification on their home page when they logged in, just like you would on Facebook when you log in and see what everybody has been up to recently. If somebody is attached to your channel as a friend or a subscriber, they're privy to what you're doing, so pick a very keyword-focused channel name.
Before you start socializing and trying to network to get people over to your channel, another thing you might want to do is work on the visual branding of your channel. Fill out the portion where they ask you to write a channel description and an “about me” bit. Put copy in there that's almost like writing a sales letter on a website. People are going to come there and they're going to scroll down to learn more about you, so you want to offer hyperlinks to your other online properties. Let them know maybe your Twitter handle if they want to follow you over there.
Offer maybe something free so they will go over to your website. Dr. Diana Kirschner could offer, “Come over to my website and subscribe to receive my top 20 tips on how to impress a guy on your first date.” Saying that there on the channel and providing a link that people can click over to is what you want to do.
I see so many people ignore that area of their channel or just offer their website domain in the one specific place YouTube designates for that. No, if you are filling out your channel description and your “about me” section, you want to sell, sell, sell or give people more of a reason to want to go over to your website and find out more and link to it.
I would also say from a visual standpoint, when people come to your channel, you've only got in the world of short attention spans two seconds to grab their attention. Sometimes a video doesn't auto-play on a channel. That's a bad idea. You want to auto-play your video on your channel so that when someone comes there, it kicks off automatically and starts talking to them. People are used to that now on YouTube. It's not like going to a website and having the video blare at you as a turnoff in many cases, but it will actually draw people in.
But if the video doesn't do that, you've got some portions off to the left- and right-hand margins where you can actually tell them more about you and your company so if they don't scroll down to that sales letter, they'll at least maybe see a picture of what you sell. If you do sell, let's say, iPhone gadgets, you want to have some pictures of iPhones so that if the video doesn't communicate that immediately and your channel name only half communicates that, they can at least see in the margins pictures of iPad covers or pictures of barcode scanners.
A client of ours is Wasp Barcode. If some of these people see “Wasp,” they don't get what this is about, but they come over and they look and then they see that it's printers and scanners. We even include a bullet list of various benefits and features of their products so that if people don't have time to scroll down or don't want to sit through the first part of the video, they can immediately say, “Oh, I know what this company is and what they've got.”
Include a logo or even visually put your website domain up there. Granted, it won't hyperlink, but you can at least visually brand parts of your channel so that before you even get started with your content, you've got a properly named keyword-rich name for your channel and you've got a video that's auto-playing. Even if it's not your own, you can favorite someone else's video and let that auto-play. Brand your background and fill out that “about me” and channel description section to let people know what it is you've got and where they can go to get it.
Rich: Julie, one thing I'd like to know more about is should people pay to play? In other words, I know that there are some YouTube advertising opportunities. What do you think about that?
Julie: We love them. I call it the “last frontier” of online advertising. If you've ever taken part in Google pay-per-click or Facebook Ads, the Facebook ads are just getting so outrageously expensive. We're now paying double on Facebook ads than what we paid even six months ago because everybody is flocking to do it. It's the place to be.
I also know a lot of people are getting turned off by it because they're on there to look at pictures of their friends they went to grade school with or their niece and nephew or their grandchildren. Whatever the case might be, it's a sacred space, and so many brands have flocked there recently that I really am starting to see and feel a backlash from people just not wanting to be marketed to when they're on Facebook.
When you're on YouTube, there are actually two different types of advertising. The first is within YouTube Search. They're the number two search engine out there. People are coming there and directly entering in search queries of what they're looking for because they know that they'd rather watch a video than sift through tons of text links and blog articles, so they'll come over to YouTube and search. Well, you can bid on those keywords just as you would Google pay-per-click. But instead of a text ad coming up on the right-hand side as it does on Google, you get a video and a thumbnail of a video.
It should, if done right—and YouTube is cracking down on people that try to bid on keywords that aren't relevant to what their video is about—will come up as an option that they aren't turned off by and they actually do look over and see the thumbnail. You can write, just like you would a pay-per-click ad on Google, a headline with two little lines of text. So it will come up as an answer to their search query, but since it has that thumbnail, it's not as big of a turnoff, I think, as when you're on Facebook and you're actually there to socialize and communicate, and you're not really there searching. You're looking for information on YouTube and it's a good way to come up.
The best part is that you can bid on keywords for pennies on the dollar compared to what you pay for a Google text ad or even a Facebook ad.
I will say the difference is that when people click on your YouTube ad on the right-hand side, you can only send them over to your video. The beauty of it is that there's a little box you can check off when you set it up so they open up on your video, but they open up with that video featured on your channel. There again, we have that channel coming up as your main destination.
There are two places where you can watch that video—one is on the channel and the other is on what you'd call the “video watch” page. We're all used to seeing that, where while you're watching a video, off to the right-hand side, they're showing you those related videos. The other videos are trying to grab your attention. There again is that engagement that YouTube does so well. “We know you're watching this. We think you'll like this.”
Well, that can be distracting, so what you want to do is have your ad open up on your YouTube channel where it's all about you. It's your content. It's your sales letter. It's your branding.
Of course, the next step is to get them to click over to your website. But if you think about it, if you've done your channel right, by the time they click on your ad, come to your channel, and then click over to your website, the opportunity for you to convert them is going to be a lot higher because they've already engaged with you. They've seen your video, they've seen your channel, they know what they're getting themselves into, and they're going to be a lot more apt to buy something from you, sign up, or give you their email information for more information than they would coming from those other sites or coming from Twitter.
We find that with our traffic that comes over from Twitter, we can get a lot better numbers in terms of volume, but they don't convert as well. They don't stick around very long. The bounce rate is much higher, which makes sense. People see a 140-character tweet with a link and they're intrigued. They click, they say, “Okay, that's what that was,” and they hit the back button.
But if someone has clicked on your YouTube ad, gone and watched your video on your channel, seen what you are, what you've got, what other information you have or what you have to sell or offer, and then they click over to your website, you are halfway home to conversion. We find that those numbers view more pages on the site, they do convert, and sales go up.
We've got a couple of clients that get an incredible amount of sales each month. We're tracking their e-commerce numbers and where their traffic is coming from, and YouTube converts so much higher. Facebook sends a lot of traffic oftentimes, but they're not new visitors. They're not unique visitors. They're people that have been there before. In a lot of cases, it's your mom, your dad, and your friends. If you have a blog post, they're going to be nice and come over and read it. Or they're an existing customer and they've already bought your product.
That's great for customer retention, but in terms of discovering a new audience, that lead generation and list building I was talking about, getting yourself out there to be found and discovered by a vast sea of a potential target audience, YouTube and running ads over there, like I said, costs pennies on the dollar for what you'll pay for the Google ads and the Facebook ads.
Then there's another kind of advertising you can do once you've got your videos running. They call them “Promoted Videos,” by the way. That's the name of the actual YouTube advertising program. Once you have your video submitted as a Promoted Video, it then has the opportunity to run what are called “CTA” ads. “CTA” stands for “call to action.” I often also think of it as “click-through ad” because they're clickable and they allow you to click right over from a video to a website.
We all are used to seeing those ads that pop up in the bottom one-eighth of the screen. They're transparent flash ads on YouTube. But did you know that you can actually run your own ads on your own video? To do that, simply submit your video into the YouTube Promoted Videos campaign. If you don't want to spend a lot of money on your keywords, you can set the maximum bid a day to five cents or 10 cents. Believe me, you can do incredible things with $2 a day. We have some clients that even only run $90 a month and see incredible amounts of targeted quality traffic coming to their ads and then over to their website.
CTA ads, though, would be what you get as not coming up in search, but actually an ad that comes up on the actual video itself. Like I said, it is clickable, and it's clickable to something offsite of YouTube. You can actually send people directly to your e-commerce store, your blog, an affiliate link, or wherever you want. If you're an affiliate marketer, it's an amazing way to drive traffic.
Yes, YouTube advertising, I say go for it—the “last frontier.”
Rich: Awesome. That is an insane amount of quality information and I don't want you to give away all of your best secrets today, so let's just wrap this up. I want you to tell me where we can find out more about you and more about BLASTmedia online.
Julie: Our YouTube channel where we feature a lot of our clients that we work with—which is a great place to go to see some good case studies of, I would say, how to do it right—is www.YouTube.com/blastmediapr. You can also check out our company at www.BlastMedia.com. Our blog is www.BlastMedia.com/blog.
Rich: Thank you very much, Julie. I definitely appreciate the time you've given us today.
Julie: Thank you, Rich. I enjoyed talking a lot!