Monday, October 7, 2013

YouTube has grown up – a tool for customer engagement

By Mark Helfen


All the cute videos of puppies and babies are still on YouTube. Lady Gaga is still there too - in fact YouTube now is included in the Billboard top 100 music tracks. Hundreds of hours of video get uploaded every minute according to Google statistics, a mix of the weird, the personal, and the important.

But YouTube has also become a way to get customer and market engagement, for you, your brand, or your business. Both business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing can benefit.

The audience is there, the analytical tools are there, and now you need to be there.

Or so says Matt Ballek, speaker at the Monday, October 14 SVForum Marketing and Social Media SIG meeting. The meeting will be at our usual time and place – 6:30 at the Citrix Startup Accelerator (map). Ballek is Director of Strategic Distribution for Magnet Media, and will be speaking on the topic Measuring Success and Engagement on YouTube. You can check out his YouTube channel here.

There are lots of people spending lots of time watching YouTube. Over 1 billion unique visitors show up every month and watch over 6 billion hours of video. Or as Google puts it, “that's almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year.” YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network.

Ballek points out that YouTube is now a major search engine, second only to Google’s web search. Watching his YouTube channel shows Ballek’s expertise in optimizing search results, analogous SEO for Google web search results. Similar to the web search, Google uses their own analytics to judge how much value and engagement their users place on a YouTube video and uses the results to decide search placement.

In addition to search optimization, he will talk about how to design and plan your YouTube marketing, and how to use the “excellent analytic tools” that Google provides to measure your results.

Like elsewhere, content is king. “You can’t optimize unengaging videos.”

Google measures video engagement by how long viewers watch them, how often people click through to a web page, and how often they subscribe and return. High engagement gets higher search engine placement. Because the video is actually on Google’s servers, crowdsourcing based on actual viewing can be factored in.

It’s cheap to start – your smartphone has the capability to produce a useful video, and the cost keeps decreasing. You don’t need high (and expensive) production values to engage customers. What you do need is to provide information that they find interesting or useful, and worth the time. And show up on a regular basis. One idea is to set up a schedule of status updates, so that then your business makes a major announcement your customers are already connected. You can also use YouTube’s search statistics to get an idea of what people are looking for, to give you suggestions for content.

Google+ may also be part of your YouTube engagement solution. Ballek describes Google+ as “the biggest social network you didn’t know you were already using.” Like other Google services, Google+ is getting ever more closely integrated with YouTube. It can help assure more meaningful conversations, and manage customer engagement.

Be sure and sign up at the Marketing and Social Media Meetup site:



Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.
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