We all know that YouTube is the number 2 search engine on the Web in terms of query volume.  It sounds impressive, but what does that mean for local businesses trying to reach customers? After all, aren't most of the 13+ billion clips watched each month on the site Lady Gaga videos?

It turns out that while many views are purely for entertainment, a substantial number of videos are watched by people seeking help and information.  In fact, there are more than 35 million searches each month on YouTube for "how to" videos.  That's at least 35 million opportunities for businesses to reach people that may need their product or service.  (Not to mention the opportunity to show up in parent-company Google's search results.) But how do local businesses capitalize on this trend?  Here are 5 easy ways small businesses can make YouTube work for business.

Create Content that Meets a Need

To reach people that need help you need to create content that satisfies their need.  Simply uploading your existing cable TV ad or shaky footage of a walkthrough of your shop is not going to capture any attention or create any interest in your business. It helps to keep the old marketing acronym AIDA in mind when making and using video for your business.  AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.  Capture attention and create interest by meeting the information need of your audience.

For example, if you're a plumber, a how-to video on fixing a leaky toilet is a great way to get the attention of someone with that problem. You create interest in your service by not only showing how to fix their problem but also providing some additional tips that the viewer might not have considered.

Pay Attention to Production Value

You don't have to be the next Spielberg, but your videos should be professional and easy to watch.  Shaky hand-held camera work, poor audio quality, bad lighting or lack of coherence in the story all lead to viewers changing the virtual channel.  Pay attention to the lighting. Use a tripod to create smooth viewing experience. Use microphones and pay attention to the audio.  Try to tell a story or clearly walk viewers through the video and what you're doing.  By paying attention to these basics you'll standout from the massive amounts of poor quality content on the site – earning you more attention and more interest from viewers.

Optimize for YouTube Search

Nearly 24 hours of new video is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day.  In order to be found you need to optimize your video so that it can be found on the site.  Here are just a few things to think about when adding your video to YouTube.  Include important keywords in the title and be sure your tags include those keywords as well.  Choose an appealing thumbnail that clearly depicts what your video is about.

To continue the plumber example, you may want to title your video "How to fix a leaky toilet. XYZ Plumbing top tips for fixing a leaky toilet."  Your tags might be "how to, toilet, toilets, leaky toilets, running toilet, plumbing, DIY" etc.  The thumbnail could be a shot of you holding the flushing mechanism (assuming that YouTube gives you that as an option). Your title, keywords and thumbnail all gives your viewers the information they need to decide whether your video will help meet their need and solve their problem.

ALSO ►  List of Video Search Engines and Video Search Web Sites (Updated)

Give the Viewers a Follow-Up Action

Following the AIDA model you want to create a desire for viewers to take a follow up action.  If you've created an informational video about fixing leaking toilets you want to give the viewer a compelling reason to follow up with you and a clear path to do so.  One way to do this is to provide a special offer and a unique web address in the video.

For example a call to action such as "Print step by step instructions and receive 10% off our in-home evaluation by visiting MySite.com/youtube," gives your viewers an actionable next step with clear value. The unique URL and discount will also provide you one measurable way to determine how successful your YouTube video is.

Let them Know Who You Are

Don't be afraid to create awareness about who you are and what you do; it's important to let people know who they're getting this valuable information from.  You should encourage users to take a step towards a relationship with your company by having them subscribe to your YouTube channel or company email newsletter (if you have one).  By building your YouTube subscriber base you'll automatically reach a built-in audience of potential customers who have opted-in to seeing your latest videos.

Our plumber in the above example could say "Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more moneysaving tips on how to eliminate leaks around your home,” and include that call to action graphically in the video. Alternatively, driving people to a newsletter is another way to form the start of a relationship with that viewer.

Those are just five quick ways local businesses can take advantage of YouTube.  There are dozens more, but starting with the basics will put you in front of potential customers who need your help.  What tips do you have for making YouTube work for business? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

5 Ways Small Businesses Can Take Advantage of YouTube Morgan Brown 200x204 About our Guest Author: - Morgan Brown is currently the director of marketing for TurnHere, a leading online video production and advertising company based in Emeryville, CA. Over the past 10 years Morgan has been immersed in various roles of marketing and in particular, online marketing.  Morgan is the co-founder of Social Media Club Orange County and has given many talks on how businesses can leverage new technologies to build customer relationships and increase sales, reputation and loyalty.  You can learn more about Morgan via linkedin or his personal blog.

  • [email protected]

    This is a good idea.I think it is practically more profitable and more convenience to everybody because now a days lots of people dealing with you tube.

  • http://www.absinsurance.com John

    Great information! We have been utilizing video in our business and have had a great local response. Keep up the great content!

  • http://www.mlwebco.com/ Michael Locke

    Great tips. I'm finding all these tips to be true with my youtube channel.

    • http://pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan Brown

      Thanks Michael - any to add from your success? Would love to hear them!

      • http://www.mlwebco.com/ Michael Locke

        You really hit the nail on the head with your tips. For instance, I find that my "how-to" videos are the most popular. My field is web design, internet marketing, etc. and people love my "how-to" videos. If you can provide a video that shows someone how to do something, it will be effective. My how-to videos are the most viewed out of all my videos. Also, be yourself, be authentic, people respect and are attracted to authenticity. Talk about what you know because if you try to fake it, they'll see right through you.

        I started doing videos just as a test, not really knowing where it would go. But with the success of some of my videos, I'm seeing a potential market that I can tap into by providing more premium "how-to" content (videos/DVDs).

        • http://pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan Brown

          That's a great point Michael. Give them the basics on the "how-to" and then you can make your expertise the selling point. Thanks for sharing.

  • ireneturner

    Great points Morgan. I plan to start doing videos in the next couple of weeks and will use this post to help me create the best one's possible! Thanks

    • http://pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan Brown

      Glad to hear! Post a link when you're done - I'd love to see them!

  • J.R. Augustine

    Thanks for the tips Morgan. One thing to remember about the call to action is that it needs to be pretty compelling as we're competing with other calls to action.

    YouTube has established calls to action. Following a simple search there are similar videos that draw attention. When viewing a subscription there are other videos in that subscription that are pulling viewers in.

    The call to action needs to be pretty compelling to outweigh these other calls.

    • http://pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan Brown

      Hi J.R. -

      Great point. There's a lot going on, especially in the YouTube interface. Calls to subscribe, to watch more, to "like," to comment, to share on other services, etc. I think the key is either to make it an offer that YouTube can't beat - like a discount or if you can't beat 'em, join 'em and encourage a YouTube-action, primarily subscribing to the channel or checking out other videos you've created.

      The calls to action are also important for the videos when they're embedded outside of YouTube, in that case you want to make sure that no matter where the video ends up that people have a path back to you via URL, phone number, etc. and a call to action that drives them to do something no matter where they see the video.

      That's my take anyway - what's your approach? Thanks for sharing.


  • webcopywriter

    Great advice all the way through! One of the biggest issues I find with business owners making their own YouTube videos is the quality of the video and audio. A video that is poor quality, coupled with bad audio is a negative reflection on your brand image. I suggest doing some test runs with your camera and making sure that what you put on YouTube is a direct reflection of your brand image.

    • http://pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan Brown

      Thanks! I agree. The production value is critical. It doesn't have to feel like a Madison avenue TV ad, but it should reflect a level of professionalism that matches how you'd want your company portrayed in any other medium. You wouldn't want to send out an email with a bunch of typos and poor grammar - the same applies to video.

  • SaTek

    Thanks Morgan, great article. I have a bunch of videos on my youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/BodyJuggling#p/u/4/a3ieLRTSxFc but until now I was missing the most important element and you smacked me in the face with it! No call to action! How did I miss that???

    But now I am designing all of my promotions into an ongoing podcast series and will focus all of the content around definitive calls to action at the end of each one.

    Thanks bro.



    • http://pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan Brown

      Thanks SaTek for the comment. Let me know how the new videos and adding a call to action work for you!

  • RW

    Youtube is a great medium for content distribution. With our Foreclosure Fight Club series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTpOQcK9IgQ we are able to get the message out to the people.
    Great article!

    • http://pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan Brown

      Thanks for sharing RW. Video can be a great way to educate about complicated subjects. Good luck with getting the word out.

  • https://www.youtube.com/user/yoyoplaydotcom Lars @ Yoyoplay.com

    Great post!

    Our little yoyo store, http://www.yoyoplay.com, has 1.75 million views on our YouTube Channel, youtube.com/yoyoplaydotcom.

    Yoyo demo videos and yoyo trick instructions are what our audience wants to see, and that's what we give them.

    We're doing in HD these days, with a cheap Canon HD camcorder.

    Our production value can be described as "good enough."

    If you're thinking about making YouTube videos for your small business, just do it! The first videos will probably suck, but you'll get better and better as you go along.

    My videos will never be as good as television, but they're good enough to sell a ton of yoyos!

    • http://pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan Brown

      Lars - Thanks for the comment. That is a perfect example of how using video can help sell on YouTube. I love how you demonstrate the product in action and your short video clips are the perfect length for a busy viewer. Plus you have that sense of wonderment that people get when watching someone who has truly mastered something. When I saw some of those yoyo tricks I said to myself "how'd he do that?"

      It's a great example for small businesses on how to use the site effectively. Thanks again for sharing.