By Paul Pacellin, Staff Writer
April 21, 2014

If you are wondering whether or not your firm should be posting video on YouTube, here are some statistics you ought to think about:

According to YouTube:

• More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
• Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube-that's almost an hour for every person on Earth
• 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
• 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S.
• YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages
• According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network

Millions of new subscribers sign up for YouTube each day, the company says.

There are other video streaming sites besides YouTube, including Vimeo, BigContact and Metacafe, but YouTube is by far the most popular of them all. Softpedia estimates that YouTube is 28 times more popular than its nearest competitor, AOL. However, Yahoo! is looking to mount a serious challenge to YouTube, according to Recode.net. This is not the first time Yahoo! has tried to go toe-to-toe with YouTube. Yahoo! failed in its $300 million attempt to buy DailyMotion last year. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based Yahoo! proposes it will launch its own video platform in the coming months.

Most marketers are undoubtedly champing at the bit to connect with a global audience of that size that YouTube commands. But along with the marketing opportunities it offers, YouTube's popularity could present new challenges. It's probably not enough to simply post a video on YouTube and walk away. With 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, your competitors' messages can easily bury yours.

Channel Evolution

Fortunately, YouTube's "channels" offer content creators a way to build a loyal audience and for visitors to find the content that they want.

Steve P. Young, director of product marketing for SmartShoot, noted that YouTube has evolved from a video-based site to a channels-based site where "subscriptions rule." With YouTube channels you can present your message in a series of short videos. Visitors can subscribe to your channel and easily come back for more each time you upload your latest installment.

Whether your videos are instructional and informational or simply entertaining, subscribers will anticipate each new episode and perhaps share them with others.

So, how difficult is it to create your own YouTube channel? Not difficult at all. But creating an effective channel that visitors will want to subscribe to is more challenging.

Let's begin with the basics.

Getting Started

• You must register with YouTube, or if you have already opened a Google account you can sign into YouTube with your Google user name and password.
• Create an account if you don't already have one by clicking the "create account" button on the top right of the YouTube page and fill in the form. You'll share your name, birthday, a Google username, a password, your gender, an alternate email address and security confirmation information.
• Back at the YouTube home page, sign in. You can now upload video to your account.
• Click on your username at the top of the screen and you'll be taken to your YouTube Channel.
• You do not need to sign up for a channel; it is created automatically for you.
• Note your page's URL. You can post it online or distribute it anyway you like, and with it, others can find your channel.

PiXXart / Shutterstock.com

Why is YouTube important for business?

Some disagree about the benefits of posting a YouTube video on Web pages, for instance, whether search engines favor pages that display video.

"There's no doubt that YouTube videos are given preferential treatment in the SERPs (probably because Google owns it)," says Brian Dean, writing for Backlinko.com. "In fact, Search Engine Land found that YouTube.com traffic increased significantly after Google Panda." However, Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman, says that Google searches do not favor Google's own products and services.

Regardless of the streaming site you use, video is an essential component of establishing a brand's identity, says Tara Hornor, senior editor at Creative Content Experts. "Video content will increase the perceived quality of your website and also move your site further up in Google's search results." She also maintains that videos are "much more likely to ‘go viral' than text-only social media posts."

Extra Opportunities

In addition, posting your own YouTube videos offers some SEO and branding options that you may find beneficial. You can include a link to your website in the description of your video -- it helps Google and your readers find you.

Your video can also contain a call to action, such as suggesting that visitors come to your website, call you or visit a particular location.

You can connect with the YouTube community by commenting on other videos related to your topic of interest. In addition, you can link other YouTube users' videos to your website, Tweet videos or share them on Facebook or Google+. Keep others up to date on your latest uploads by emailing your YouTube channel subscribers each time you post a new video.

Your videos can include your company's logo, which will help to establish and reinforce your brand. You can give your videos a personality that fits in with your other marketing materials and reflects the company's identity. Include the fonts and colors associated with your brand that help express your company's individuality. Apart from merely selling products and services, videos will help build your brand.

Keep it Simple

You don't necessarily have to spend a lot to get your message across. As you become more experienced in producing videos you will learn to operate on a budget and get the most out of each new episode.

An elaborate video made with expensive equipment and featuring tricky special effects may actually overwhelm your message and reflect badly on your firm. Sometimes it can be better to create a more modestly produced video that offers a clear message that your target audience will understand. But this can depend on your target market. Also, it can be a good idea to keep your video short. Shorter videos must make their point more quickly, and that usually means trimming the excess and focusing on your core message. It also reduces the likelihood that your audience will grow bored and tune out before they absorb your message.

If you are cutting production costs to the bone, you may want to splurge a bit on your soundtrack. That might simply mean spending a little more on a microphone. Sound is the vehicle that will deliver a substantial portion of your message, and if viewers have difficulty hearing your soundtrack they will miss what you are trying to convey or will simply become bored and stop watching.

Get the Most Out of Your Channel

Create a custom background image that will frame your videos with text, pictures and graphics.

1. Upload a channel photo by signing in to YouTube and visiting your channel by clicking on your channel's link in your Guide.
2. Click "Add Channel Art" near the top of your channel.
3. If your channel already has channel art you can edit it by hovering your mouse in the top right corner of the channel art until you see the edit icon and clicking "Edit Channel Art."
4. Upload an image of your own, or use YouTube's photo gallery.
5. Once you've selected an image, you can preview how it will appear across devices. To adjust, click "Adjust the Crop."

For optimal results on all devices YouTube recommends uploading a single 2560 x 1440 pixel image that has been optimized to fit the downloadable template you will find on the Channel Art page. The template will guide you on minimum photo dimensions as well as the areas in the image where you can place a logo or text to ensure that they will be visible on screen.

Setting Your Featured Video

After you begin uploading videos to your channel you'll find that the last one you upload is your "Featured" video. You may want to switch another one of your videos to the Featured spot - maybe another video contains a message that you want to reinforce with your viewers.

1. Change your Featured clip:
2. Go to your "My Channel" settings
3. Select "Video and Playlists"
4. Click on the dropdown "Featured Video" menu
5. Choose a video from the list

You also can select "Other," and paste the URL of another person's video you want to feature.

Keep Activity Stream Busy

Your Activity Stream lets others know what you have been doing lately. When you like or favorite YouTube videos your actions will be listed in your Activity Stream and the content creator's Activity Stream, too. This can be an effective way to make new contacts. Video makers whose work you like and favorite are likely to click through and view your videos, too.

Communicate With Others

You can engage your audience using the YouTube Comments section, which allows you to make announcements and have discussions with other users. It is a good way to get viewers involved with your content.

Post Script

Video has become an important part of marketing, and video streaming sites such as YouTube are a useful resource for communicating with large audiences. YouTube allows you to upload videos in just about any format, and you can easily embed YouTube videos in your Web pages. Visitors can also stream your video free of charge. YouTube's social media component and its channels allow you to increase your audience and have two-way communication with them. There are many YouTube followers who are seeking information that you can provide. All you have to do is get your channel up and running so they can come to you.

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