Why All Businesses Need a YouTube Channel

When it comes to advertising, nothing beats building a genuine relationship with your customers

George Free
The Startup


Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Breaking into an industry is hard, particularly in the digital world. You’re up against worldwide competition, ranging from small shops to tech giants. To stand out you have to do something special. If no one knows who you are, or what your business offers then how can you expect to succeed?

Digital promotion comes in several flavours. A common approach is to focus on optimising your website to rank higher in search results — search engine optimisation, or SEO. Paid advertising is another frequently used way of publicising your business and it’s services. Although these methods often return great results, there’s a high financial cost associated with their undertaking and implementation.

The Traditional Mindset

The use of social media as a means of advertising is nothing new. Ever since it’s inception businesses have recognised the value in using it to develop their brand, and build a relationship with their customers. I see many businesses utilise Instagram to good effect but when those same businesses use Youtube they often post sporadically, and simply recycle promotional content. This is not the way to build a following.

Arguably, there are two reasons that most businesses overlook Youtube. The first being a lack of understanding. The conversion of a viewer to a customer can be less apparent than with a traditional advert, and therefore the value of a Youtube account isn’t necessarily clear. Second is the time investment required to build up an audience. To be successful on Youtube you must post at least once a week (ideally twice) and the content should be somewhat varied. With such clear potential for increased exposure, but a lack of corporate take-up, having a Youtube channel represents a great opportunity for small businesses to compete with “The Big Guys”.

Even if you have a large enough budget to seriously compete with more established companies using traditional advertising you shouldn’t overlook Youtube. Consider redistributing some of your budget and hire a videographer. Just make sure that your output doesn’t appear too corporate. I recommend having the presenter be an active participant in the activities being shown.

Getting it Right

If you want to succeed as a business on Youtube you need to show more than your company’s top vaneer. Simply showing a finished product, and perhaps some b-roll of a happy customer enjoying their item/service is unlikely to have as much of an impact as taking a behind-the-scenes approach. To build a relationship with your viewers you need to take them on a journey; show your viewers the going-ons of your business — make them feel involved.

Let’s use an example. Consider the luxury British fashion brand Mulberry. Mulberry have uploaded 64 videos, which for the most part are campaigns intended for TV. In contrast, Ashville, an aggregate firm have 63 videos. Unlike Mulberry, Ashville post long-form behind-the-scenes vlogs detailing day-to-day going ons. You might suspect that Mulberry has at least as many subscribers as Ashville, possibly even more. However, this is not the case. Mulberry currently has 17.2k subscribers, whereas Ashville have 231k. This isn’t a unique example, either. The same can be seen across many business sectors.

Yes, Your Business Is Right For Youtube

You might believe that the day-to-day running of your business isn’t interesting enough to build and retain an audience. It’s definitely true that some sectors do better than others on Youtube — car manufacturers do particularly well, for example. But this shouldn’t stop you utilising the platform. Let’s consider the Youtuber Thomas Nagy. Nagy’s a London-based electrician — not traditionally considered an interesting job to observe — who makes videos detailing his current work, and has amassed more than 86k subscribers in the process.

By presenting high-quality workmanship, and casually mentioning the rough area in which he works, Nagy’s positioned himself to convert viewers into customers. If you were a viewer living in central London who needed their kitchen rewired, when you thought of “electrician” who would spring to mind first? Thomas Nagy, of course.

Many believe that their business wouldn’t benefit from Youtube: “the sort of people who buy my products don’t watch Youtube”. As Youtube has gotten older, the age of it’s user base has broadened. My friends and I are now at the age where we’re beginning to buy houses (mid-twenties) and spend up to an hour a night on the site, but the viewer age reaches down by 15 years. We’re far from the oldest group using the site, either. Also, a key factor that many overlook is the transit of digital interactions into the physical world. If a friend needed an electrician I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest they contact Thomas Nagy — even though I’ve only ever interacted with him through Youtube.

Getting Started

If you decide to take the plunge, and commit to frequent, entertaining Youtube uploads then remember that results won’t be apparent overnight. The minimum time you want to wait before determining the platform isn’t for you is one year. In an ideal world you’d upload twice a week during the first 12-month period, however, this requires a large time commitment which might affect other aspects of your business. It takes time for users to find your channel, and it’s unlikely your first videos will be your best work— you’re going to be experimenting and learning for your first few videos.

High-flying Youtubers (of all varieties) are prone to saying that equipment doesn’t matter, and that you can start out using your phone. This is true, to an extent. Implemented literally, however, sets the want-to-be Youtuber up for failure. If you have low-quality equipment then you need to sell a strong story with a great edit. As you slide along the non-linear scale of “better” equipment these two factors become less crucial, but remain extremely important. In my opinion, a good place to start is with a middle-of-the-range camera paired with an external microphone. You also want to invest some time learning to edit. A video really is made in the edit.

Whilst more traditional means of advertising remain relevant, Youtube represents a great way to build a relationship with potential customers. What’s more, many established brands are neglecting to produce content which is in-fitting with the platform’s culture. As a result, Youtube represents a great opportunity to promote your business on a budget.