Whether you’re a large organization or a small business, YouTube is a perfect platform to leverage when it comes to your company’s social media marketing strategy. As the second-largest search engine (coming in just behind its parent company, Google), YouTube offers more than just silly cat videos—it’s a global phenomenon and another social media network you can use to maximize marketing efforts and build a brand. A unique platform that combines SEO with video content to reach target audiences with over two billion active users worldwide, YouTube is where people go to watch videos on everything from gaming to fitness to DIY tutorials to cooking demonstrations to news and yes, entertaining clips to laugh the hours away.

Although it can be time-consuming to plan, film, edit, market, and analyze your videos, it’s worth it in the long run. With more than 500 hours of video uploaded every minute and 55% of marketers using YouTube as part of their marketing strategy, consider adding some YouTube content to your repertoire.

Create a YouTube Channel for Business

First things first: to get your YouTube channel up and running, begin by opening a YouTube Brand account. Creating this kind of account (rather than a personal one) allows multiple people to sign in and out. Having a dedicated account for YouTube also ensures you can manage editing permissions and use the account for more business-centric rather than personal content.

You’ll want to customize your channel with high quality, on-brand images for your profile photo (“or channel icon”) and banner images. Choose a channel name and make sure it’s something recognizable, like the name of your business, product, or brand, since this is the name that will be associated with your entire channel and each video you share.

Next, write a brief description. The channel description is where you get to showcase who you are, what your channel is all about. You even get to provide a channel trailer, offering viewers a 30-60 second preview which provides a sneak-peek into your channel and hopefully compels them to subscribe.

In your YouTube About page, you’ll also have places to include your company email address, as well as links to your company website, landing page, and/or other social platforms. You can use YouTube as a way to guide current and potential subscribers to your other social media networks.

Although YouTube may feel different since it’s all video content, think of it as an extension of your other networks and marketing channels. It’s another way for your business to build brand awareness and create space for connection.

How to Incorporate YouTube into Your Social Media Strategy

Think of creating content for YouTube just like content for any other social media platform. Whether you’re using your channel to gain followers, build brand awareness, make people laugh, or keep folks informed, YouTube is a booming platform to incorporate into your brand’s social media strategy.

Have Tangible Goals

Knowing what purpose you want YouTube to serve for your business is an important first step when it comes to building strategy. Do you want to make it easier for potential subscribers and customers to find you? Do you want to drive business to your other platforms? Are you using YouTube to educate your target audience or share entertaining clips? No matter what, your company’s YouTube channel should be an extension of your brand: it’s a place where you can show current and potential subscribers who you are and invite them to get to know you and your business or brand a little better—as well as offer something they need. Maybe that’s a tutorial of some type or maybe that’s a funny video to lighten the stress of their day. Regardless of how you’re choosing to build your brand, having a clear idea of what exactly you’re planning to use YouTube for will shape your vision and help with your marketing strategy.

Make a Blueprint

No matter what your goals are for YouTube, it’s a good idea to set a schedule regarding how and when to post. Creating a plan allows you to map out your videos ahead of time. This way, you’re not creating videos on the fly (which is difficult to do, regardless!), and you’ll be prepared in terms of location, length, and other critical details.

Research Your Competition

Knowing what other businesses or brands like yours are doing on YouTube can help you shape your strategy. Check out similar accounts and see where they are succeeding and where they’re falling short. Read comments on their videos. See who their subscribers are and if you have similar target audiences. You can poke around the site on your own as well as use tools like Google Ads’ Keyword Planner to see which companies rank for keywords associated with your product or brand. Once you’ve been in the YouTube game for a while you can perform a competitive analysis to see how your channel stacks up against potential rivals.

Incorporate Calls to Action

Calls to action (CTAs) are prompts that encourage the viewer to do something. That “something” can be asking viewers to subscribe to your YouTube channel, click a website link, send an email, like your post, share your video, etc. CTAs are what push viewers to be more active, less passive, and ultimately turn into subscribers and customers. Including CTAs in every video will continue to funnel viewers to other social media sites and grow your business.

You can choose a few different CTA options on YouTube. Try Cards, which are small, transparent CTAs that show up during your video and expand when clicked. You can also use end screens, which appear in the last 5-20 seconds of your videos. Another option is paying for bumper ads, which are unskippable six-second video ads that appear at the start or end of a video. And don’t forget the good ol’ verbal, “like, share, and subscribe.” Although it might seem repetitive, reminding viewers of this at the end of every video keeps their interest piqued and creates more opportunities for them to take action. Plus, the more people who engage with your videos (that is, the more comments and likes your video gets), the higher YouTube will rank it in their search results.

Optimize Your Channel to Draw in Subscribers

Ever wonder how certain videos make it to the top of the search feed? The answer is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO means using certain keywords to help a website or a piece of content rise higher in a Google search. You can optimize your YouTube channel to make sure your videos rank high in both Google and YouTube searches. A big step toward making sure your brand’s videos are searched for and seen is by optimizing its metadata. Metadata provides information about your videos, including their title, description, tags, category, thumbnail, subtitles, and closed captions.

Although YouTube may be a video-based platform, that doesn’t mean that words aren't important—it makes them hold even more weight. The title of your videos offers the chance to draw viewers in, and encourage them to tap the “show more.” Because of this, make sure the titles and descriptions of your videos include relevant keywords that match your video’s topic—no click baiting! People don’t want to feel like they've been tricked into watching your video—that's not the kind of brand awareness anyone wants. People on social media appreciate authenticity, and YouTube is no different. So be sure you’re using keywords and phrases that adequately represent your business, product, or brand.

Tags are words that associate your video with other similar videos which enable more people to see it. Categories are sections that YouTube allows you to choose for your video. The final element you can optimize to draw in subscribers is your video’s thumbnail. The thumbnail is the first image people see when scrolling YouTube. According to YouTube’s internal research, 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. Make it stand out.

Types of YouTube Videos

Feeling overwhelmed yet? YouTube is a massive platform that provides opportunities for all kinds of video content. Determining which type matches up best for your business or product will help your strategy and boost your brand. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 51% of people turn to YouTube looking to learn, while 28% say they visit to pass time. Considering that statistics may drive your decision-making when it comes to figuring out what types of content to create for your channel.

If your aim is education, you can create project demonstrations, give tutorials, or offer reviews and commentary. Want to get conversations flowing? Try a Q&A session, a video blog (vlog), a YouTube challenge, or launch YouTube Live. If you want to give your evaluations, format them into a “Best of” or a “Top Five” video. If making your subscribers laugh is your main goal, create funny videos or memes based on popular culture or celebrity news.

The fun thing about YouTube is that you can create a wide variety of content to serve different purposes for your product or business. As long as each of your videos is serving a purpose and helping you reach your goals (whatever those may be!), your channel doesn’t always have to have just one type of video. Have fun with it!

Best Practices

When creating content for your YouTube channel, there are so many elements to keep in mind it can feel like a lot to remember. Here are a few best practices to keep you on top of your video-creation game, and keep viewers coming back for more.

Make Playlists

Collating YouTube playlists is a great way to organize your channel and keep videos with a certain theme in one place. You can put together a collection of your original videos along with videos made by other people to inspire viewers to keep watching the same types of videos. Making custom playlists also makes your content more discoverable. Help control the narrative and guide your viewers and subscribers toward rather than the YouTube algorithm doing it for you.

Create Quality Content

To get good quality videos, invest in a tripod (you don’t want to make your viewers woozy with a shaky picture!), and a high-quality microphone (so they can hear what you have to say!). You’d be surprised how much a steady shot and great sound can keep viewers interested.

Speaking of sound, another way to add depth to your videos and ultimately make them more clickable is by incorporating music and sound effects. Music can create the mood, add elements of suspense, and overall set the tone for the video as a whole. Sound helps show your viewers who you are. There are plenty of sources for royalty-free music especially for YouTube videos, so you don’t have to blow your entire budget to get the sound just right.

Consider Collaboration

Another way to promote your channel and showcase your product or company on YouTube is through collaboration. Showing up on friends’ channels, having an industry expert make a video on your channel, hosting special guests, or working with an influencer can all help boost your brand. Making videos with other people diversifies your channel and offers viewers fresh content. Finding other people or channels that align with yours can be a great way to connect with viewers and gain subscribers.

Add Closed Captions and Translations/Subtitles

YouTube is a massive global platform that can be accessed in 80 different languages. Adding closed captions and translations to your videos can provide opportunities for you to help viewers as well as reach more people across the world. Letting your current and potential subscribers know you want your videos and channel to be inclusive goes a long way. Additionally, closed captions and translations can help with your videos’ SEO because it offers another chance to amplify specific keywords.

Embrace Consistency

When working to build and maintain your channel, it’s important to post consistently. Subscribers who love your content will come to expect new videos, and sharing them on a regular schedule will also draw in new viewers. The more active you are, the more chances your channel has of attracting new viewers. YouTube is different from other social media platforms where people are often posting multiple times a day, but aiming for one video per week is a good ballpark goal.

Connect Your Platforms

Now that you’ve your channel created with content ready to go, it’s time to let the world know. And what’s the best way to do that? By using your other social media networks to direct your friends, followers, and fans to your YouTube channel.

Play the Long Game

Likely, you won’t find YouTube fame or instant success overnight. Don’t worry. Just like on other platforms, it takes time and patience to build a following on YouTube. Remember to engage with your audience. Respond in a timely way to comments, answer questions, and be responsive to feedback. Provide chances for viewers and subscribers to get in touch with you. Let your genuine self shine through your videos! Keep creating, keep making videos, and keep working to reach your target audience and you will carve out a space for yourself and your business, product, or brand through your channel.

YouTube Analytics

Keep your target audience engaged by knowing what they like (and what they don’t!). By using YouTube analytics, you can measure watch time, retention rate, traffic sources, demographics like age, gender, and location. Analytics will also show your videos’ typical performance, your top videos, and your performance in real-time. You can even see which videos people are clicking, sharing, commenting, and promoting!

Remember that keeping an eye on your competition can help, too. You can use YouTube Analytics to see what other videos your audience has watched. Knowing what your target audience is interested in can help you create content to keep them interested in you. The more you know about your audience, the more you can create videos that resonate—and avoid what doesn’t.

The YouTube Algorithm has evolved and shifted over the years, from prioritizing videos that got the most clicks to having more transparency and trying to provide a wider range of videos for each viewer. In 2021, YouTube bases its decision to show specific videos to certain people on the overall audience/market (external factors), the video’s overall success on the platform (performance), and also the viewer’s history and preferences (personalization).

YouTube Advertising

As the world’s second most popular website with massive reach and targeting capabilities, YouTube is a platform where businesses and brands should focus their advertising. Since 70% of people bought from a brand after seeing it on YouTube, it behooves companies to create an advertising strategy for the platform.

Once you’ve decided to advertise on YouTube, you’ll create your campaign and define your parameters like budget, bid strategy, where you want your ads to show up, and your audience’s language and location. All these elements will help get your ads in front of interested eyeballs.

Types of YouTube Ads

When it comes to YouTube ads, choose what fits best with your brand and your budget. Let’s break it down.

Skippable in-stream ads are advertisements that play before or during a video. They are the ads we’ve likely all seen when playing a video on YouTube—the ones that you can choose to skip after the first 5 seconds.

But since 76% of people share that they automatically skip ads (guilty!), perhaps you’d rather opt for a non-skippable in-stream ad. These advertisements are typically 15-20 seconds long and don’t give viewers the option to skip. There is also a shorter version of non-skippable ads called bumper ads, which last only six seconds.

Video discovery ads are ads that appear next to organic search results, encouraging users to watch them rather than what they had been looking for. Think of these as similar to the ads you see on Google’s search results page. And just like the text ads that appear on Google, YouTube’s Discovery Ads also say “Ad” in a box to let users know they are paid for results. These ads can appear on the YouTube homepage, the search results page, and the video watch page.

For the more budget-conscious or those who are just dipping their feet into the YouTube experience, there are non-video ads. One type of non-video ad is called banner ads or display ads. They show up on the right-hand sidebar, while a video is playing. They normally have an image and text, as well as a call to action and a button to click which leads to your website. Another type is called overlay ads, which show up floating on top of video content from monetized YouTube channels.

Learn YouTube Marketing

Ready to use YouTube to grow your business, product, or brand? Noble Desktop offers a variety of social media marketing classes. These courses are available in-person at Noble’s NYC location, or students can attend live online social media marketing classes from anywhere in the world. Noble’s Social Media Video Marketing: TikTok & YouTube class teaches how to develop a storyboard and monitor video trends and topics on YouTube. Participants come away from the course with a firm grasp of how to build a following, as well as video ad creation and optimization on YouTube. You can also find other social media marketing classes in your area using Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me tool.