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How to use YouTube for business

YouTube is one of the world’s most popular social media sites. But how can businesses use the site as part of their social media strategy? Learn everything you need to know here

As the two videos above show, all kinds of businesses are using YouTube to find new customers, establish their authority, make sales, and, ultimately, increase profits.

If you’re reading this, chances are you have at least some understanding of what YouTube is – but let’s start with the basics.

YouTube was founded in 2005, and is essentially the undisputed home of online video – a sprawling social media site that allows users to upload, share, and comment on video content.

It’s the world’s second-most popular website (after Google) and, for businesses, is a great way to reach new customers, boost web traffic, and improve brand awareness.

This handy guide will cover everything you need to know about using YouTube for business, including what a YouTube business account is, how to make one, how much it costs, how to optimise it, how to know whether it’s working, whether you should hire external help, and most importantly, how it can help your business.

We’re going to focus on using YouTube for business specifically. If you’re looking for more general information on using social media and managing it effectively in a small business, then check out why small businesses need social media management.

In this article, we’ll cover:

You can skip to the section that you want to read about the most, or scroll down to read the whole article.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to compare quotes now for social media management, simply complete the form at the top of this page.


Why use YouTube for business?

YouTube has nearly two billion users, which is nearly half of total internet users.

YouTube is a global phenomenon, allowing people to watch and share video content wherever they are.

Crucially, YouTube continues to grow rapidly. More and more people are opting for non-traditional entertainment platforms that quickly and easily deliver the video content they want to watch, whenever and wherever they want to watch it. So, what does this mean for your business?

What are the benefits of YouTube for business?

  1. Increase brand awareness – YouTube is a great way of getting the word out about your business, whatever it may be. Producing timely, relevant, high-quality content that attracts viewers and subtly promotes your business will pay dividends in the long run.
  2. Position your business as an authority – Linked to brand awareness, producing relevant and informative video content will help to establish your business as an expert voice in your subject area, whether that’s plumbing, accountancy, law, or anything in between. This helps develop trust, and trust is crucial to your bottom line.
  3. Generate leads and conversions – One of the great things about YouTube is its users are generally not just flicking through for entertainment, but are often actively searching for solutions to a problem. This means that it’s much easier to turn YouTube users into sales leads as, just by having found your video, they are showing a genuine interest in your business and are far more likely to become a customer.
  4. Drive website traffic – You should always think of your social media strategy as a harmonious loop, with your website and social media channels working hand-in-hand. A good YouTube video should direct viewers to your website, where they can learn more about the company and either leave with a positive impression, make a purchase, or offer your business work.
  5. Increase sales – At the end of the day, this is why businesses are on YouTube. Do the above effectively and your sales will increase, as you’ll have targeted and engaged a new community of viewers who, with the right guidance, can become your customers of the future.

Who are YouTube’s users?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to understanding who visits YouTube and why, there are some clear trends. Understanding these will help you to create content that will appeal the most to your target audience.

  • Mobile – users are consuming content on-the-go: according to YouTube, 70% of time spent watching videos on the site comes from mobile devices
  • Millennial – while YouTube attracts users of all age groups, a large proportion of this age bracket visit the site. Millennials are defined as people born between 1981 and 1996, according to the Pew Research Center.
  • Global – available in 80 languages and offering 91 local versions, YouTube can help you connect with your audience wherever they may be.

How much does a YouTube business account cost?

You’ll be happy to hear that YouTube business accounts are free – it’s just like setting up a personal account.

However, there may be some associated costs, such as ensuring you have the right equipment to film videos if you opt to create the content yourself, or the cost of hiring a professional videographer if you want a specialist to do it for you.

If you do create the content yourself, remember that the quality of the videos you produce depends a lot on the equipment you’re using. As such, you should ensure that your devices are up-to-date, and have the right camera and video settings for filming content.

Check out our guides to the best business mobile phones and best laptops for small business for inspiration.


How to set up a YouTube business account

In order to be able to publicly post and share videos, you’ll need to create a channel.

Step 1: Sign into YouTube via your Google account

To create a channel, you must have a Google account (Google bought YouTube in 2006) and it should be specific to your business (don’t use your personal account). If you already have an account, go ahead and sign in. If you don’t, it’s easy to set one up – head here to get started.

Step 2: Select “create a new channel”

There are a few steps to this process, but they’re all pretty straightforward. Follow the instructions below, and you’ll have your very own channel in about 30 seconds (or even fewer for the speedy typers amongst you).

  1. Sign into YouTube via your Google account
  2. Go to your user icon in the top right hand corner (it’s the thing that looks like a person)
  3. Find ‘Settings’
  4. Select ‘Create a channel’
  5. Use the ‘Business or other name’ option
  6. Input your business’ name and details
  7. Click ‘Create’

YouTube Profile

And there you have it – your very own business YouTube channel. However, as it is, it’s not going to do much: it needs artwork, a description, and links. In other words, it needs a little finesse.


How to finesse your YouTube business account

To start adding a little sparkle to your channel, hit ‘Customise channel’ and add channel art, a description, and links.

Add channel art

If you’re wondering about the importance of channel art, it’s worth remembering that old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words. This is especially true for YouTube, which is first and foremost a visual platform – you’ll need high quality images that capture the essence of your business and grab attention.

On YouTube, channel art comes in two flavours – a channel icon and a channel banner.

Channel icons are the more visible of the two. These are the little circular images that appear next to your videos, and are typically a company logo or something similar.

The recommended dimensions are as follows:

  • 800 x 800 pixels for the original image, displayed as 98 x 98 pixels (in other words, you’ll need a high quality image that YouTube then shrinks down)

With your channel banner, you can be a bit more creative. This is the long horizontal image that users will see when they’re on your channel homepage. The extra room means extra opportunity to make an impact, so pick a dynamic, relevant image that says something about your business.

Make sure to consider how your image will look on different devices. YouTube gives you a guide for this, but it’s really important to have an image that will stand out even on a mobile phone screen (remember: 70% of YouTube watching is done on mobile devices). To achieve this, using bold colours is a great idea, as is keeping the design relatively simple.

For your channel banner, recommended dimensions are as follows:

  • 2560 × 1440 pixels,
  • Safe area for mobile and web (without text and logo cropping) is 1546 x 423 pixels, maximum file size is 6MB

Thankfully, if you don’t know your pixels from your post-its, then help is at hand. Canva is a fantastic site that has a load of YouTube-ready templates to play around with, allowing you to easily add text to create a great channel banner in minutes. Make sure you download your image as a JPG rather than the default PNG though, otherwise it will exceed the file size limit.

Here's an “amazing” example that took literally five minutes to create, which demonstrates just how useful Canva is.

YouTube Banner

Once you’ve got your desired images, adding them is easy – simply hit the little pencil icon on your blank icon/banner to upload directly from your computer.

And there you have it – two great images that grab attention and perfectly sum up your business. Now they need some words to go with them, which brings us to the channel description.

Add description

No matter how amazing your images are, they won’t be able to sum up everything you want to say about your business. This is where the description comes in.

Descriptions are a great chance to concisely sell your business, i.e. what you do and how you can help the people viewing your videos. You’ll probably have website copy that you can use as a base for this – and speaking of websites, make sure you include a link to your company site.

Don’t skip adding a description, but don’t overthink it either. This is not the place for reams of text – instead, focus on quickly summing up what your business does.

To fill in this section, simply click ‘About’ on the Customise Channel page, hit the plus under Channel Description, type your description, and then click Done.

Under the details section, add a business email and a location, before proceeding to the links section.

YouTube Description

Add links

Here’s where you should plug every social platform associated with your business – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, your home page, and anything else that might be relevant to your potential customers. Adding these in is hugely important: not only does it make the channel look more professional, but sending viewers to your other social platforms will increase their traffic and help potential customers find out more about your company.

Adding these in is easy – just click the ‘+add’ button below the links section on the Customise Channel page, copy in the URLs, and away you go.


10 top tips for using YouTube to market your business

  1. Post content consistently – This is number 1 for a reason – it’s the single most important thing you need to do in order for your YouTube channel to be a success. Just like any other social media platform, you’ll need to upload content on a regular basis in order to build a following and keep people interested. It’s useful to create a content schedule – what content will you post, and when? Common strategies include posting one video every week, or every other week. And if you can’t commit to this, why not take a day to shoot a load of video content, which can then be released week by week? The video above was posted by a bicycle repair company. It forms part of a regular series called “Tech Tuesday”, which focuses on technical bicycle repairs. This feature has no doubt contributed to the success of the channel, which has over 300,000 subscribers. Consider implementing a similar strategy – for example, selecting a particular day of the week to focus on a specific topic.
  2. Include calls-to-action (CTAs) – While your target audience may be browsing YouTube for fun or to learn something new, your business should know exactly what it wants people to do after watching one of its videos. Examples of CTAs include subscribing to your channel, signing up to receive your email newsletter, or sharing your video via social networks.
  3. Create a community – It’s easy to think that as soon as you upload a video, all you need to do is sit back and wait for the views to come in. But to really build an engaged customer base on YouTube, your business should be active on the platform, and interacting with other users. Sharing content, liking videos, and replying to comments are essential. When doing any of these, make sure to use your commercial judgment – don’t share or like videos produced by your competitors, only like relevant content, and give human, personal responses to the comments posted on your videos.
  4. Post with a purpose – With so many social media platforms out there, it can be easy to jump from one to another in an effort to keep up with the latest trends. However, it’s key to know why you’re using YouTube in the first place. Consider what results you want to see – for example, whether you want to increase traffic to your website, or just raise general brand awareness.
  5. Target keywords – Every time you upload a video, always remember that its name, description, and tags are all opportunities to target the keywords associated with your business. Just like writing a blog post or composing a social media message, you’ll want to use language that matches what your target audience are searching for online. To really nail your keyword strategy, it can help to hire a specialist social media management agency – and by filling in the form at the top of this page, you can compare quotes from a range of top suppliers.
  6. Be specific – Always create video content with your target audience in mind. Understanding who your customers are, where they’re coming from, and why they’re watching your video will help you to refine your YouTube marketing strategy. You can find all this out using YouTube analytics – see below for more information.
  7. Collaborate with other YouTubers – Consider working with other companies or influencers on YouTube that complement your business. Not only is it an opportunity for you to extend your network, it’s also a way to reach more people and diversify your content offering.
  8. Create a playlist – Once you’ve built up a catalogue of videos, consider grouping them together into playlists, so that users can see similar content from your business in one place.
  9. Stay topical – If you can, it’s a great idea to quickly produce videos that cover new developments in your industry, whether that’s new product launches or impending government regulation. Not only will this help to position your business as a leading authority in the field, but videos that address relevant news stories will attract large amounts of engaged viewers.
  10. Create custom thumbnails – Every YouTube video you create will need a thumbnail, and while it’s fine to choose a still from the video when you get started, creating a custom thumbnail for each video will make a big difference. Make sure this is bold and attention grabbing, with text and images that concisely sum up your video and a visual style that makes an impact even on a phone screen. The thumbnail below gives a good idea of what you're aiming for. The use of bold colour and relevant images immediately grabs your attention, and makes you more likely to watch the video.

YouTube thumbnail


Define your success metrics

As mentioned earlier, in order to know whether your YouTube business channel is a success, you need to know exactly what you want to achieve with your videos. If your goal is simply to raise brand awareness, then it may be enough to just look at views (how many people are watching your video) and watch time (how long are they watching for). However, if your aim is to increase website traffic or boost sales, then you’ll need to look at YouTube stats in conjunction with things like website traffic or sales figures.

To know exactly how well your videos are doing, you’ll need to check out YouTube analytics.


A (very) quick guide to YouTube analytics

Depending on how much you love data, it might take you a bit of time to get the hang of YouTube analytics, but it’s well worth the effort. Understand what it’s telling you, and it becomes a hugely valuable source of insight into:

  • Who’s watching your videos
  • How long they’re watching for
  • What devices they’re watching on
  • What they do after watching

In short, YouTube analytics can help you with almost everything you need to know to find and engage your audience. If you’re really struggling though, or want to take your analytics experience to the next level, then it might be a good idea to hire a specialist social media management company.

We’re going to keep things uber simple here, though, and discuss a few key stats that are easy to understand – and vital to the success of your YouTube business channel.

To get started, find your analytics data by clicking your Channel icon (in the top right corner of the page), then selecting YouTube Studio (beta). This will take you to your dashboard page, where you’ll find analytics on the left hand side.

Watch time, views, and average duration

There are two things you should really pay attention to on this overview page: views, and watch time.

  • Views – This is the simplest stat on YouTube – how many times your video has been watched. There is an important caveat, though: a YouTube video only earns a view when it is watched for 30 seconds or more. In other words, every view listed here is genuinely valuable, as this stat filters out people who clicked on your video by accident or quickly realised it wasn’t relevant to them.
  • Watch time – This one is also pretty straightforward – it’s the total amount of time that people have watched your videos for, which will obviously be influenced by how many videos you’ve uploaded and how many times they’ve been watched. Both of these basic stats tell you something on their own, but YouTube combines them into something far more interesting: average view duration.

To find this, click the engagement tab.

  • Average view duration – This may sound complex, but really isn’t that complicated – it’s just your total watch time divided by your total views, which gives you the average length of time each viewer watched your video for. Provided all your videos are of a similar length (if not, clicking ‘see more’ will allow you to view this data on a per video basis), this should give you a good insight into whether your videos are good at holding the attention of your viewers. A high number here will also help your videos to rank highly in the YouTube algorithm (how YouTube decides what videos to recommend to people on their search pages and after they’ve watched a video).

That should get you started, but exploring your analytics will give you all sorts of insights, from the demographics of who is watching your videos (like the country they’re in and how old they are) to how they’re finding your video (such as via YouTube itself, Google, or other social media sites). When exploring analytics, hold your mouse over anything on the page for more info on how the stat is calculated/used; if you need a more thorough explanation, just click ‘Learn more’.

To learn more about monitoring and tracking content, make sure to check out our articles on social media management.


Should I outsource my YouTube business account management?

Whether or not to outsource the management of your YouTube channel is a key decision. Whether outsourcing is right for you will depend on the skills you have in-house, and whether you’ve got time to master things like YouTube SEO and the nuances of promoting your videos. Here, we take a look at the benefits of in-house management vs outsourcing.

Benefits of in-house management

The chief benefit of managing your own YouTube business channel is, of course, cost. Unless you need to purchase video equipment, running your channel won’t come with additional expense that impacts your bottom line.

Of course, this option works best if you already have relevant skills among your existing employees. Getting a YouTube channel to flourish will be much easier if you already have an SEO specialist and video expert on the payroll, for example. If you’re starting from scratch, or need a little help with the nuances of promoting your videos, then outsourcing could be a great option.

Benefits of outsourcing

While it does come with an additional cost, hiring a social media management company with experience of optimising and promoting a YouTube business channel could make a huge difference to its success and deliver significant ROI. Bear in mind that even if you manage your channel in-house, then any time spent working on it (or learning its nuances) is time that could be spent doing any of the vital things that make your business run.

Employ an agency, on the other hand, and it’s one less thing to worry about. They will be experts in SEO and promotion already, and will know how to both attract the maximum number of viewers to your videos, and how to convert these viewers into customers for your business. If you do decide you need help, then fill in the form at the top of this page to compare quotes from a range of leading agencies.


Is YouTube right for my business?

There’s no doubt that with the right strategy, a YouTube channel can make a big difference to the success of your business. However, it’s not right for everyone. So, if you’re wondering whether to take the plunge, here’s a quick guide to the pros and cons of having a YouTube business channel.

ProsCons
Free – YouTube allows you to easily and quickly create a channel, upload content, and connect with users – all at no cost to your business.Advertising – since YouTube is a free site, videos are likely to appear with ads – and you can’t control which ads are displayed on your video. Also, YouTube decides which related content to show users, meaning you have little control over which ads and videos are displayed with your company’s content.
Instant – people are watching and engaging with content on the site all the time, and sometimes videos can become internet sensations very quickly. The possibility of going viral – and making your small business a well-known name – is there with every upload.Comments – unless you opt to restrict it, users will be able to leave comments and reviews directly beneath your video. Your business won’t be able to manage what users say and how they say it, meaning your video comments section could end up filled with negative reviews or online arguments.
Trusted – YouTube is a recognised brand and people understand how it works, so they already expect to watch video content from the site.Time – creating videos and uploading them to YouTube can be a lengthy process, so you’ll have to allocate sufficient time for it. This might detract from other key tasks you (or your team members) need to complete, so you’ll have to assess if the potential rewards are worth your time.
SEO – YouTube is a part of Google, and it’s also a search engine. This provides the opportunity to include keywords in the description and name of your videos to rank for keywords. These are the phrases and words people use to find your business in search engines; the higher you rank in the results, the more likely people are to click on your business’ content.Quantity – with millions of videos on YouTube, it can be challenging to get your business to stand out from the crowd. Without using targeted advertising and optimising your content for search engines, it can be difficult for people to find content organically.
Variety – One of the site's main advantages is the freedom available to users. Whether you're looking to make a 30-second ad or a one hour webinar, you can – and you can upload it to YouTube in just about any style or format you like.Competition – following on from the above, as there are so many videos out there, people can become distracted easily. If the content isn’t engaging, users can just click on to the next video or skip an ad completely.

If implemented properly, there's no doubt a YouTube channel can make a big difference to the success of your business – helping you find an engaged audience that could easily become your customers of the future.

However, if you want to streamline your socials and get some expert help with your YouTube business channel, but don't know where to start, then help is at hand. We can put you in touch with an array of social media management companies, so your small business can enjoy all the perks of social without the faff of managing it yourself.

Simply fill in the form at the top of this page to be put in touch with a selection of leading suppliers.

Alec Hawley
Alec Hawley

Alec is Startups’ resident expert on mobiles, investment, and politics. Before joining, he worked in the media for over a decade, conducting media analysis at Kantar Media and YouGov, writing for computer games sites like Gaming Respawn and Gamespew, and taking on a wide variety of freelance roles. 

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