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YouTube 101

How your company can make an impact on the world’s top video sharing site

A picture is worth a thousand words. If the old expression is true, then it may need to be updated for the 21st century. In today’s environment, where technology rules and speed is king, a video has to be worth at least a million words. For proof, look no further than YouTube (www.youtube.com), the video sharing site that allows users to post, watch and comment on short video clips. The sheer volume of videos on YouTube—more than 100 million—is a testament to the power of the moving image. Think about your own experience on the Web. When your Google search results turn up both lengthy articles and short videos explaining the same concept, which are you more likely to choose? These days, reading text online, even text accompanied by images, is like taking the long way when you could have taken a short cut.

With this in mind, ask yourself: Can I afford not to incorporate video into my company’s marketing strategy?

One piece of advice that can be absolutely crucial to being found by search engines: Make your YouTube user-name the exact same as your company name.

Just as Web sites became the obvious first step in the branding process one decade ago, videos are quickly becoming the newest, most effective way to reach prospective customers and capture a larger share of the market. What’s more, videos are of particular importance to our industry, when complex products and operations can’t easily be expressed in words alone. In many cases, video is the only way to sufficiently demonstrate a product to a potential buyer. Companies both big and small have seen substantial results after posting short, simple clips on the site. By investing a little time and money, your company can reap the benefits of YouTube, too.

Getting Started
To individuals with no experience creating or editing video, producing quality videos and posting them on YouTube may seem like a daunting task. But, rest assured. The process is remarkably simple. Think about it: Would YouTube be so popular if only video wizards and techies could figure it out? Here, broken down into six easy steps, is how to add YouTube to your company’s marketing plan:

Find a Location
At Bastian Material Handling, most of the videos we create are what we call “product spotlights,” 30-second clips intended to demonstrate how a product or technology works. Once we decide what product we want to highlight, the first step is to contact a customer who is currently using that technology and ask if we can come in and record some video. Obviously, it’s in our best interest to first reach out to a company that chose to buy the product from Bastian and/or a company with which our sales team has an excellent relationship. Some companies are hesitant to allow cameras into their warehouses with the fear that their competitors will learn their systems and processes, which is why it helps to approach companies that don’t do anything too specialized. It also helps to tell the company owner that you will provide him with the unedited footage you capture in his facility. That raw video can be used as a marketing piece for his own company. Present the project as another way to reinforce your companies’ partnership, and a venture from which you both will benefit. Usually, this will earn you an enthusiastic “go ahead” from your customer.

Shoot Video
When it comes to videos on YouTube, video content is more important than video quality. You won’t need any special equipment, beyond a camcorder, to shoot your video, and most, if not all, camcorders on the market today work great for capturing high-resolution footage to upload to YouTube. The model we use at Bastian is a mini-DV recorder purchased at Best Buy, and similar cameras are available for under $350. You may also want to invest in a tripod. Tripods are fairly inexpensive, and using one totally eliminates distracting camera-shake, giving your video a sharper look.

When we shoot video, we always keep in mind which one of our varied customer personas is going to be viewing this particular video so we will include shots that we think they would be interested in. For example, our material handling equipment videos are normally viewed by someone with a distinct interest in furthering their understanding of that piece of equipment. For that video, we shoot a large amount of close-ups from multiple angles. When we go to shoot our customer testimonials, which are viewed by a customer looking to see how we solved another problem, we tend to step back and shoot large system views. When we shoot a piece of individual equipment within that system, we focus more on the product and how the piece of equipment manipulates the product to solve the problem. Honestly, if you put the close-up shot of the conveyor drive spinning in the testimonial, people will tune you out.

When it’s time to record the footage, give yourself a few hours in the facility to get your shot. Remember to focus on the product, and be sure to film from an angle and distance that allows viewers to see the full operation of the product. Try to collect footage from several different perspectives. Zoomed in, zoomed out, from the left, from the right, etc. This will come in very handy in the editing process. It doesn’t take a lot of raw video to put a 30-second clip together, but plentiful footage gives you more flexibility when editing, which is the next step.

Think like your customers. What words would they type into Google when seeking out the product featured in your video?

Edit Footage
A common misconception surrounding online video is that it requires expensive, in-depth software to create videos with text, music and graphics. The truth is, video editing software is really very simple, and most PCs and Macs come standard with some type of editing program. Here at Bastian, we use Adobe Premier Pro for PC, which works great for us. Windows Movie Maker is another terrific option that is included in the Windows suite. For Mac users, Final Cut Pro is a video-editing powerhouse and the unofficial industry standard. Each of these programs allows you to build your clip with a simple drag-and-drop function, delete poor shots and insert text, graphics and audio.

At the very least, be sure to insert your company logo, your Web site address and the name of the product you’re demonstrating. This information can appear at the start and/or the end of the clip.

Also something to keep in mind: The average person’s attention span is about two minutes long. If your video is one static shot of a belt conveyor at work, you’ll probably lose your viewer within seconds. Maintain visual interest by fading to different angles or perspectives, and keep a quick pace by adding an up-tempo audio track. The video must be entertaining if you want your viewer (and potential customer) to stick around.

Join YouTube
In order to post videos on YouTube, you must first sign up for an account on the site, if you haven’t done so already. This is also quite simple, and only requires that you enter a username, password and e-mail address. But, before you quickly fill out this form and click “Create My Account,” take this one piece of advice that can be absolutely crucial to being found by search engines: Make your YouTube username the exact same as your company name (or as close to it as possible.) For example, our YouTube username is “BastianSolutions.” This is important for several reasons. One, it creates a clear connection for the viewer—he or she knows that the product being demonstrated in the video can be purchased from Bastian. Two, by creating an account in your company name, you’ve added one more way for search engines to find you. Now, when someone searches for your company, your YouTube page will turn up alongside your company site in the results listing, giving Web surfers one more way to find out about your business.

Upload Video to YouTube
The upload process itself only takes a few minutes, but before you can do this, you must enter a video description and “tag” your video, which means attaching key words to your clip, making it easy for others to find. This step is hugely important in the realm of search engine optimization, or SEO. The words you use to describe your video are what search engines will “crawl,” or search through, when delivering results to users. Describe your video with as many specific words as possible, and focus on the phrases customers use to find that specific technology or piece of equipment. Think like your customers. What words would they type into Google when seeking out the product featured in your video? Use those words in your description and tag your video with as many relevant, industry-specific words you can think of. Doing this will boost your chances of not only being found, but being found by the right people—those who have sought out your product and are most likely to buy. Also in the video description, be absolutely certain to include your company Web site. There’s no value in piquing a viewer’s interest if that viewer can’t locate your contact information. Display your Web address prominently, so customers can access your site, and hopefully, place an order.

After entering a description and adding tags, you can now upload your video. The process is very similar—and just as easy—as attaching a file to an e-mail. A “Thank You!” screen will appear when your file has uploaded successfully.

Need an example of a great YouTube video? See two of Bastian Material Handling’s clips at www.TheMhedaJournal.org.

Get the Word Out
Once you’ve created your YouTube page and posted at least one or two videos, spread the word. It may seem like a no-brainer, but including the link to your YouTube page on your company site is the easiest way to direct customers to your videos. Most customers, especially those familiar with YouTube, will be eager to check out your video offerings. There are some other simple ways to be sure your clips get the most exposure. Include the link to your YouTube profile in your e-mail signature, your company’s e-newsletters, business cards or any other promotional material you use. (The address is just youtube.com plus your username, like www.youtube.com/bastiansolutions). It also helps to get active in the YouTube community. Like Facebook and LinkedIn, YouTube has a strong social-networking component. You can add friends, list your favorite videos and respond to other users’ posts. Take advantage of these features by commenting on videos related to material handling, and respond to any questions or comments users post on your own clips. The more times your username appears on the site, the more views your videos will earn.

Measuring Success
When (and how much) can you expect your YouTube efforts to pay off? As with any marketing technique, gauging your YouTube success is difficult. Short of asking each and every new customer how he or she heard about your company, it’s not easy to determine how much business one specific marketing tool is driving.

We look at video as part of a larger Web strategy. Blogs, webcasts, e-mail marketing campaigns, in conjunction with our company site and our page on YouTube, create Bastian’s multifaceted presence on the Web. Our videos complement these other elements, but can hardly stand alone. Instead of expecting video to singularly boost business, use YouTube to bolster your company’s Web strategy and expand your marketing reach. When teamed with other effective online efforts, YouTube can not only help build your brand, but also usher your company into the new age of digital marketing.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

Eric Brunkow Aaron Kleyla Meet the Author
Eric Brunkow (left) is senior multimedia & video producer at Bastian Material Handling, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and on the Web at www.bastiansolutions.com and www.youtube.com/bastiansolutions. Aaron Kleyla is e-commerce content developer for the company.

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