YouTube: A Hidden Social Networking Gem

It’s amazing how often YouTube is overlooked by social network marketers – and online marketers in general – given that the site generates more than one billion daily hits. While it’s undoubtedly true that many of those are visitors looking to find videos of kittens running across keyboards or snowboarding accidents set to music, many are looking for videos that can help them make money, advance their careers, or run their businesses more effectively. These are the men and women who might have an interest in your services.

The use of video makes YouTube a bit of a different animal, but most of the standard rules still apply. Here are a few things you can do to turn watchers into buyers:

Start a channel. On YouTube, your profile is actually a channel – which includes a short description about you (or your company), along with a list of videos you’ve uploaded or recommend. The more informative segments you have to share, the larger your following and the greater your chances of gaining customers through video.

Think network broadcast, not cable access infomercial. The two things that would most quickly destroy any chance you had a gaining customers through YouTube will be grainy, low production videos and uploading pieces that look like infomercials for you or your company. Invest the time and money to produce something that looks like it was done by a professional team, along with an interesting or insightful message, or don’t bother putting them up at all. There are literally tens of millions of videos on YouTube right now; if yours isn’t saying anything worth watching, viewers will respond by channel surfing elsewhere.

Include your URL. Just because you shouldn’t sell overtly through YouTube video doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give interested prospective customers away to find out more about you and your services. The best way to accomplish this is with a quick call to action (something like “if you’d like to find more about our products…”), followed by your website’s URL. Given that anyone viewing the video will already be online, it only makes sense for them to follow you through to website.

Tie in to other videos and social networking. Why go through the trouble of producing the video if you don’t want people to see it? Your YouTube channel shouldn’t be an island – make sure that your Facebook, LinkedIn, company blog, and other profiles either have posted copies of the videos, or links back to your YouTube page. The more viewers you can drive toward your YouTube creations, the more long-term impact they are going to have.