Ever find yourself completely sucked into YouTube? Not just by one video, but by all those engrossing “recommendations” they make that seem eerily relevant to topics that pique your interest? Those are the YouTube algorithms hard at work. Even if you are not on the site but come across a YouTube video embedded in another website, be it a blog, a news article, or a company's website, the video finishes and there are those recommendations again.
Algorithms Can Be As Helpful As They Are Creepy
If you have not heard or read by now, Google, which owns YouTube, tracks all your searches, locations (if you use their maps on your phone), most of the web pages you visit (based on code most web developers include on pages to track visits), and every YouTube video you watch.
Though this may seem creepy, it also has a very helpful flip side. The more you use Google and YouTube, the more relevant YouTube video suggestions become. Their hope is that knowing more about you makes YouTube video recommendations more interesting specifically for you making you more likely to watch. Of course this comes with ads, but even those ads will be more relevant. Ever notice you searched on something yesterday, only to be trailed by ads that seemed to know what you searched?
Everyone's Personal YouTube Video Librarian
Google and YouTube provide tools you could use to delete these histories, but virtually nobody does. Partly out of naivety and partly because the tailored recommendations are so helpful and engrossing. It's like having a personal librarian. You are one of billions of viewers, each enjoying a personal watch list catered to whatever narrow topics you enjoy.
It might be motivational TED Talks, how-to videos about sleight-of-hand card tricks, Alton Brown showing how to caramelize crème brûlée, or a flight instructor taking you through the basics of aircraft maintenance.
What Is the Benefit of Using a YouTube Video (or Video Collection) for PR?
Think about that in terms of your organization's audiences. Every organization has a collection of audiences they need to reach. You don't just want to “get the word out”. That is generic. Think in terms of each type of customer (casual or hard-core or hard-core for a specific product or service), each type of employee (various levels of education, life stages, and economic status), those affected immediately by your organization's operations, those curious about what you do, and the community of support companies and personnel who rely on your products and services.
That is just a smattering of your unique YouTube audiences. Even if you don't see these audiences as big YouTube video consumers (and you might be surprised), their kids and grandkids do. A YouTube video collection makes an excellent public relations tool.
The bottom line is your organization's YouTube video library, on a variety of audience-specific topics, gets delivered to that audience by YouTube's own algorithms.
Is There a Need to Use YouTube for PR?
Creating (and constantly updating) a YouTube video library about topics relevant to specific audiences allows you to leverage the YouTube video algorithms to reach those audience members based on their interests, locations (i.e. proximity to your organization and/or its products/services), and immediate interest in your organization and what it does.
Who Are Your Top 10 Audiences?
We should note that doing this successfully requires some effort to first identify and prioritize those audiences most relevant to your organization. A good tool is to start with a “top 10” list of audiences you can identify. Who are the biggest beneficiaries for your organization's products, services, and mission? If you don't already know this, the exercise itself can be an eye-opener for your management team. Once you know the audiences, identify what topics are most relevant to this audience. Can you make a YouTube video addressing that topic?
Your Organization's FAQs as a Starting Point
One way to quickly asses what most interests your organization's audiences and assemble a list of YouTube video topic possibilities is to find your organization's frequently asked questions (FAQs). If you don't already have a list of these, start with your most immediate audiences:
- 1Talk to your organization's front line phone answerers. They might be the lowest on your totem pole, but they are the first ones answering questions.
- 2Talk to HR. What are your employee's FAQs about your company?
- 3Talk to anyone involved in sales, business development, or fundraising. Ask them specifically for the questions that make them roll their eyes; the ones they answer most often.
- 4If you have a service or customer support department, what are their FAQs?
- 5Note the questions your get asked about your organization by colleagues, friends, and family.
Every one of those questions are ripe for answering, demonstrating, or otherwise addressing in a YouTube video. Not only are these topics ripe for addressing in a YouTube video, the individuals who deal with these questions on a regular basis will appreciate your making their job just a little bit easier.
Ways to Use YouTube for PR
In addition to using videos to address each of your top FAQs, here are nine additional ideas for bolstering your public relations efforts by adding to your YouTube video collection.
Whether it be training your dog, a DIY car oil change, or using video game cheat codes, the “how to” is among the most common YouTube video. If you have a product or service that can be explained in a video, then you have a ripe public relations opportunity. You might already have customers providing these video instructions. A quick search might jump start your video production efforts.
Direct Address to Audience
If your organization has an issue it needs to address, having your top-level leader or a company spokesperson address the issue in a video can help you speak directly to your audience as well as provide material that news outlets can quote from or present directly.
Give a Tour
If your organization has factories, facilities, or locations that make for an interesting or requested tour you can give the tour via YouTube video. This allows your audience to learn about your organization's work without having to travel to the location itself. In the same vein, you can give video product tours.
Testimonials and Endorsements
There's no more powerful way to earn more customers or supporters than word-of-mouth. A YouTube video means testimonials and endorsements show up when YouTubers are looking for exactly what your organization offers.
Engage Your Geeks
Your organization's biggest fans might know as much (maybe even more) about you and your products or services. That's because they geek out on it. Why not encourage, or even help them directly, by providing the product or service in exchange for a review or even producing the video featuring their thoughts?
Provide Examples of Product in Action
Similar to a product or service tour, show it working, how it works, or demonstrate actual implementations or products in the field. Combine this with a customer testimonial for twice the impact.
Use YouTube Video Cross-Posting to Bolster Your SEO Efforts
This isn't so much about creating a video as it is about using the collection you already have. A major factor in Google search rankings is how popular your site is based on how many other pages point to it. This includes YouTube popularity. Cross-posting your YouTube video to your own website, blogs, social media pages (and getting others to do the same) not only exposes more people to the video, it helps bolster your Google search rankings.
Mingle Your YouTube Video with Others of Relevant Topics
YouTube is more than a video hosting site. It is a social media community with topic-based micro-communities sharing and discussing topics via video. Spending some time finding discussions and opinion leaders can not only be a great source of ideas for your own videos. It can help you join and contribute to discussions about your products or services and industry.
Trending or Relevant Topic Commentary
Since your organization is an expert in its industry, using a quick YouTube video to provide updates and commentary on trending industry-relevant topics, particularly if your video features an acknowledged expert on the particular topic can lend credibility to your organization within its own field(s).
If you are an organization just starting out using a YouTube video for a public relations purpose, this might seem daunting. Not only do you have to come up with worthwhile video topics, you also have to produce videos with enough substance and quality that your audience will actually watch them. Rest assured, everyone started somewhere.
Practice producing videos will help you refine your audiences, messages, and production quality (also know that it is as easy to delete your videos as it is to upload them, so you won't be forever stuck with a dud). With the suggestions here, including doing the first major sort of your prospective audiences, addressing FAQs, then a list of YouTube video use cases, you will be starting with a solid foundation and can build a solid collection from there.