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How YouTube can be a Marketing Tool for Small Business

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As YouTube becomes the go-to source for everything from music to sports highlights to kitten videos, it’s important for small business owners to get their marketing message in visual form. Yet though YouTube’s popularity has exploded, few entrepreneurs are taking full advantage.

Cynthia Nevels, who runs a marketing firm, taught a class at Mountain View College in Dallas on small business marketing, and  knows firsthand how few entrepreneurs are fully utilizing video. “The women in my class were 27 to 60 years old, and 100% of them were business owners. Yet over 50% of them had never visited YouTube for small business purposes.”

Viral isn’t everything

Not every video can go “Gangnam Style.” In world where viral video phenomenon rule supreme, it is easy to become disheartened at view counts in the mere five digits. Marketing strategies, whether they be targeted through YouTube videos or print ads, ought to conform to the mission and goals of your business.

“Businesses should not make videos specifically to go ‘viral,’” says Aalap, Shah co-founder of SoMe, a startup that helps small businesses with their social media marketing campaigns. “Often times, businesses lose a lot of creativity and authenticity in trying to make something go viral instead of just being themselves and telling a compelling story.

“Video is one of the most powerful ways to visually represent your brand and story,” Shah continues. “Through video, a business owner can convey emotion, quality, and trust, and visually represent his or her passion and dedication to the customer.”

Telling your story

Most small businesses are driven by the passion of their proprietors. That enthusiasm and zeal, particularly for more esoteric products or services, is not always conveyed completely by traditional media. YouTube allows the opportunity to convey your brand, not just your product.

“Though we are now an economy of smartphones, it is still important to connect with people – to let them see you and feel your vibe,” says Jonathan Citrin, founder and CEO of investment advisory firm CitrinGroup.  Text on a page, and even still pictures for that matter, will not suffice.  The right video to the right audience is priceless.”

The story of the inception and history of the business artfully woven in with key testimonials and product reviews can paint a compelling picture for potential consumers. They can also break through to consumers tired of hearing the same lines over and over.

“In my line of work, if you say, ‘The software is easy to use,’ it sounds like typical marketing-speak,” says Jason O’Keefe, whose Dallas-based tech company, Genuitec, has successfully leveraged YouTube to convey why his business is unique. “But to demonstrate visually that it’s easy to use really hammers home the point. Video is key for reinforcing messages.”

Tips and tricks

Brief is better: Your audience probably has an extremely short attention span. A video that clocks in at anywhere over three minutes is unlikely to be watched. Keep videos, short, sweet, and to the point. The art of narrative storytelling allows you to build the story through multiple clips, so as users get invested they can go to your channel and continue exploring.

Be a perfectionist: “It is of particular challenge to reach our audience through a technological method without appearing uncouth or unrefined,” says Citrin, who founded the investment advisory business. “Strong content and proper editing are imperative. Every detail must be reviewed, every angle accounted for. Finding that right balance between marketing and trusted advice is difficult: The content is required to be of the utmost civility and refinement if it is to have a positive impact.”

Don’t go caption-crazy: Take it easy on the captions. Captions and embedded hyperlinks in videos can be a great tool to make videos interactive. Hyperlinks to certain products or your company’s website can lead viewers to sites that they may not bother to look up themselves. However, it is easy to overuse this functionality and allow your videos to become cluttered with captions in every other frame. So use captions sparingly and appropriately.

Success sells:  “Talk about the outcomes you have helped to achieve for your clients, partners or customers, advises Nevels, who taught the community college course. “People like winners; create a video message that proves that you’re getting it right.”

YouTube is only part of a whole

If your company is on YouTube, they may also be on Vimeo. And Twitter. Definitely Facebook. Probably Yelp. Why not throw some Linkedin and Tumblr into the mix. With so many venues for social media outreach, it’s easy to be left with a wildly disparate online presence. So when brainstorming your next YouTube video, try and think about how that video fits into your business’s overall web of social media networks. A cohesive social media strategy, with appropriate crosslinks and embedded videos that targets a specific location and population has a greater likelihood of yielding success.

All in all, there’s really no need to plan a trip to the dentist for your youngest toddler just to get a few more consumers through the door. Play it smart and succinct when it comes to YouTube strategies for your small business.

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