Can YouTube really increase sales?

I have a confession to make. I’ve been resisting the YouTube revolution. I know it’s hard to believe as some people think of me as the Social Media Guy. My son loves doing searches on YouTube for Pokemon episodes, and my wife searches for new recipes and cooking ideas on YouTube all the time. Maybe I am a Neanderthal in that when I search Google, I typically shy away from clicking on videos.

What I learned from YouTube expert Julie Perry of BLASTMedia, is that I am definitely missing the boat. Julie was a contributing author of Success Secrets of the Social Media Marketing Superstars. I recently attended a presentation she gave at the Marine Marketers of America meeting at the Miami Boat Show. Google paid $1.65B for YouTube for good reason. They’ve turned the most popular video sharing site into the second most popular search engine on the Internet behind their own flagship site. That’s larger than Yahoo!, Bing, AOL, and many others.

Here are my main takeaways from the meeting:

– For starters, to enhance brand recognition, create a YouTube channel. (Click the YouTube logo above to see our channel). Don’t use your Gmail account, create one that incorporates your company name, product name, service, etc. Also make sure you create a complete profile and upload a relevant profile image. Your channel is your brand’s online TV network.

– YouTube is a social network. Connect your YouTube channel to Facebook and Twitter. Then actively “add friends” or “subscribers” to your channel. Send friend invites even to people you don’t know, but whose videos you like. You don’t get penalized for this like you would on LinkedIn. Furthermore, at the end of your videos, ask people to subscribe.

– Studies show that homespun videos tend to out perform those that are professionally produced. Also, videos should be 2 minutes or less. People just don’t have time anymore. Above all, your video needs to be interesting and relevant to the viewer. Lot’s of blog posts talk about creating a viral video. I still haven’t found the absolute success formula for that. Viral just “is”. Be original and be creative and your video “may” become viral.

– Upload a transcription of the audio. This can be automatically generated using SpeakerText. Why? Because it helps your search engine optimization efforts.

YouTube Promoted Videos are a better deal than Google Adwords or Facebook. Admittedly I haven’t tried this yet, but according to Julie advertising on YouTube has not reached critical mass. Good keywords only cost $0.10 – $0.50 per click through on YouTube. Those same keywords can cost far more on Google Adwords.

– Use “Call To Action” ads. Ads should get people excited about watching your video. Your video should lead them to let’s say a free eBook relevant to your industry, product or service.

– Share your videos using Mixx, StumbleUpon, Delicious, ReddIt and Digg.

YouTube videos can transform a website into a complete media experience if the content is creative and relevant. If you start using the TV analogy as you think through the reasons why a viewer would care about you or what you have to offer, it could really expand your reach.

For further information check out these great links:

YouTube Optimization Techniques from Matthew Liu of YouTube

Five Steps to Creating Successful Screen Casts

The Beginner’s Guide to Marketing and Branding on YouTube