Building Your Brand With YouTube

Although it’s often overlooked as a marketing tool, YouTube provides one of the best platforms for building a brand. The home of personal vlogs and pet videos is also a mobile-optimized search engine with a vast global audience and few direct rivals. As a result, YouTube videos have become popular with businesses as a method of hosting everything from live events to product tutorials.

YouTube’s appeal to business owners and marketing managers can be summed up with a few simple statistics:


  • YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, behind parent company Google.
  • It attracts 1.5 billion monthly active users, a level of engagement surpassed only by Facebook.
  • People spend more time per day on YouTube than any other social media platform.
  • A billion hours of video content is watched every day.

However, these impressive usage statistics have a flip side. 500 hours of content is uploaded every minute, so your material has to fight hard to stand out. While each user spends an average of an hour a day watching content, the optimal length for a corporate video is less than two minutes. Even then, 20% of viewers will abandon a clip within the first ten seconds, with another 13% vanishing by the thirty-second mark.
Building a brand with YouTube videos requires a studied approach. It’s not enough to upload a pre-made TV advert and expect it to go viral, or to create a half-hour documentary with a call to action tacked on at the very end. Your brand needs its own channel, a decent selection of carefully tagged content, and an organic following complemented by targeted advertising.
WestHost knows a thing or two about YouTube videos, with a dedicated channel and a series of how-to guides already online. Our guide to marketing your business on YouTube starts with a tip so obvious that many companies overlook it entirely…

Your content has to be interesting.

People engage with social media because it’s entertaining, and dull content will actively damage your brand’s reputation. A hot rod mechanic will clearly have stronger source material than an accountant, but the latter could still create impressive how-to guides or engaging commentary on recent market events. Humor is great for winning people over, and many podcasts have thrived because their content makes people laugh. Similarly, any company can deploy stylish infographics or eye-catching animations in its content, which brings us onto a related point…

It might cost money to get established.

Anyone can record a three-minute vlog on a smartphone and edit it using an Android app. However, the finished video won’t present professionalism or sophistication. Unless you’re channeling the spirit of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues video, deliberate amateurishness is inadvisable for a modern business. Even supposedly homespun clips like the Dollar Shave Club ad (already viewed over 25 million times) involved a camera crew, a polished script and rehearsals. It also takes several videos to prevent a corporate YouTube channel from looking neglected, even if every clip has a different tone and style.

Advertising can be essential.

Another potential drain on the corporate coffers involves advertising, which is broadly similar to other social platforms. YouTube’s integrated analytics tools help identify specific audience demographics to target, with a variety of advertising models on offer. Options include sidebar display ads or translucent overlays, plus skippable or compulsory video ads. Each option has merits and drawbacks, though display and overlay ads are only suitable for desktop users – instantly halving the total audience. Appearing in YouTube’s “Featured videos” service will spike engagement levels, at a cost.

Think smart.

There are numerous clever ways to optimize your company’s YouTube videos. Decide which frame from a video will pique the audience’s attention, and use this as your thumbnail instead of the default opening frame (often a blank or uninspiring screen). If you’re hiring a film crew, get your money’s worth by producing several videos at once to generate a stockpile of future content. Pieces to camera should be set in front of dramatic local backdrops or iconic settings, rather than a wall in your office or home. Simple ideas like these have a significant impact on engagement and audience retention.

Set targets.

Successfully building a presence on YouTube depends partly on your overall objectives. If you want to maximize eyeballs, following other corporate channels and generating inbound links from different social media platforms are vital. If videos are intended to drive conversions, compelling CTAs are needed during and after each clip. There’s no point investing in content or pursuing followers without an end goal, even if the goal is simply to increase enquiry levels. If it is, be sure to prominently display contact details wherever possible.

Content doesn’t promote itself.

Like any social media account, uploaded content won’t gain traction without an established follower base or existing brand recognition. Occupying just a quarter of available screen space on desktop devices, clips are surrounded by user comments and related content. Collaboration with other brands can help YouTube’s algorithms to recommend their content instead of competitor firms, while interacting with comments is vital for gaining followers. A YouTube account is no different from Facebook or Twitter in terms of developing a rapport with audiences, and active influencers are hugely sought-after commodities. Promote videos with and beyond your existing social accounts, sharing and linking to clips through Digg and StumbleUpon.

Treat YouTube like any other social media outlet.

Like other social platforms, YouTube’s algorithmic search facility is powered by keywords. Tagging content with carefully chosen words and long tail phrases will attract audiences through the on-screen search bar and Google results pages. It’s crucial to fill in any available fields, putting keywords at the front of video titles and adding a selection of relevant tags. To increase the likelihood of content being reposted, allow video embedding on third-party websites. And ensure audiences don’t drift away to external websites by peppering videos with inbound links to your own site.