The Untapped Power of YouTube Video for Small Brands


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IMG_8897 This week, I attended the YouTube Immersion Day for partners in Toronto at the Design Exchange.

I've understood the power of YouTube for brands for years, but the case studies and statistics shared during the conference were incredibly powerful and validating. The presenters were able to share some Canadian specific statistics with the audience, like:

  • YouTube reaches 77% of the Canadian internet population
  • There are 2.5 billion videos viewed per month in Canada alone
  • 42% of online shoppers use video as part of their pre-purchase research (not sure if this was Canadian specific or more general), 64% of this group uses YouTube.

In 2006, when Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion, many people scratched their heads about this move. But since then, those head-scratchers have recognized the purchase to make perfect sense.

A statistic you've probably heard many times before is that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, but what you may not know is that people are searching YouTube for everything from how-to videos on creating a look to virtual test drives of cars they are considering to reviews of tech equipment and beyond. The highly visual, very authentic medium of YouTube lends itself well to buyer research.

I was looking to buy some sound equipment the other day and went straight to YouTube to get real comparison videos by YouTube creators that helped me make my decision. But I also watched the corporate brand videos that gave me some more in-depth information about the technology that went into the products as well as to make sure the setup worked with my current equipment. Those brands who didn't have YouTube channels fell off my list quickly. Brands who were more creative and personable in their videos moved up my list.

I'm sure everyone has a few examples of how YouTube has played a part in their own buying journey.

One of the case studies the speakers presented was for Ceilume Ceiling Tiles [YouTube Channel]. This was one of the highlights of the day for me. Not only do I love home décor, so it opened up a whole new dimension of inspiration for me, but it was also an amazing example of how YouTube could work for smaller brands as well.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7it9pe10_C0[/embed]

Ceilume demonstrates how simple, inexpensive and effective video can be for even the 'small guys'.

"We're a small company in a small town. Our two next biggest competitors are a thousand times bigger than we are," Ed Davis, President of Ceilume Ceiling Tiles says, "What video and YouTube allows us to do is to compete on an equal footing with those guys."

There are, literally, hundreds of marketing tactics and platforms now and most companies don't have huge marketing budgets that allow them to invest in everything. Companies like Ceilume don't have deep enough pockets to compete with the big competitors on things like search or advertising. It's important for them to understand the customer path to purchase (awareness, research, decision, use, re-use, refer + love) and find ways to appear along that path as much as possible:

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Therefore, it makes complete sense for them to do YouTube videos as it falls in the path of research and decision nicely. They've even created videos that help with use and re-use of the product (how-to's), and the shareability of YouTube (you can email someone a video) boosts referrals. I also love Davis' point about using the videos to save money on training reps for the brand.

The case study is a few years old and, though Ceilume continues to make videos, they could definitely benefit from going beyond the 23 Hygiene (highly searchable content about the product/brand) videos they currently have. According to their website, they've also diversified on a few other visual sites that have emerged since the YouTube case study: Houzz and Pinterest, though neither of those channels seem to have the same success rate of their YouTube channel (with over 2.3 million views).

The type of content you create also affects the success of your outcome on these platforms. As the speakers repeated over the day, it's important to be entertaining, offer utility and/or teach something with your videos. Uploading a bunch of ads to a YouTube channel won't take you very far. The YouTube Playbook for Brands and Agencies [pdf] is a great resource to start with if you are wondering how to create better content for YouTube, but if you want to really get it, you need to immerse yourself in the culture of YouTube and watch more videos to see what works and what doesn't.

The conference covered a few more great examples - Rokenbok Toys, Modcloth, and TRX - and there are always great examples emerging on Think With Google and Tubefilter. If your budget for marketing is limited, know that it doesn't cost very much to set up a video production studio for YouTube (Casey Neistat uses his iPhone for many of his videos!), it's free to put your videos up on YouTube, there are plenty of videos that will guide you on optimizing your YouTube channel for findability, and there is very little to argue against this tactic.

I've found that the biggest barrier to using YouTube is overthinking it. The easiest way to get going and shake off that fear is to get some basic equipment (and iMovie) and just start messing around with it. The beauty of YouTube is that there are 48 hours of video uploaded every single minute, so even if it's not the best video in the universe, very few people will actually see it to judge you.

In the end, YouTube isn't about the quality of production, it's about the quality of community. So start by watching, subscribing, commenting and experimenting. But start yesterday. The only way you'll lose is missing out.

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