Video has taken over social media. Technology has created a generation that can create a video anywhere at any time with their smartphones, and businesses hoping to sell to them have to keep pace.

A branded channel on YouTube is the best place to get started in online video marketing. It’s familiar to just about everyone, and YouTube functions as one of the world’s most popular search engines. When people want information, many of them turn immediately to YouTube to find videos on their subject of interest. A popular YouTube channel translates into higher search engine rankings.

We have pulled together our favorite tips to help you take advantage of the opportunities that YouTube offers.

1. Brand Strategy

Be clear about your strategy before you start to upload all your commercial videos. What is the purpose of your channel? Are you trying to attract new customers? Provide education? Increase brand awareness?

What does your target audience watch on YouTube? Are they interested in heartwarming, funny videos, or do they gravitate towards instructional how-tos?

If you are not sure what resonates with your customers, take a grassroots approach and grow it slowly over time. As you receive feedback you can tweak and change your approach to reflect customers’ needs and wants. Don’t be overly concerned about attracting thousands of views and hundreds of subscribers at the beginning. Take the time to review analytics and understand what is working and what isn’t.

2. Feature Reel

The homepage of your YouTube channel should be optimized with a feature reel. This is a video chosen to represent your business and create a first impression on a visitor. Many brands feature a video that tells the company’s story, explains how to use their most popular product, or shares something witty and entertaining to grab attention.

Take advantage of the text space for the featured video to include a description and a link to your website. The text will be displayed next to the video and will act as a welcome paragraph to your YouTube channel.

3. Optimization

Keep in mind that YouTube is a search engine and is owned by Google. Research what keywords and phrases customers are using in searches, and use these keywords in your video titles, descriptions, and playlists.

Consider reaching out to influencers on YouTube and offering them the use of your product that they could include in their own videos. After they post a video, you can share it on your channel. There’s nothing like a celebrity to build an audience.

4. Cross Promotion

Your business is probably using other social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Cross-promote content for better visibility. Every time you post a new video on YouTube, let your other social followers know about it. Embed your YouTube videos on your website and into your blog posts to increase search rankings.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. Unless you have a dedicated social media marketing department or agency working for you, it’s best to focus on just two or three social channels and devote sufficient time to post regularly to each of them.

5. Engage Your Followers

To encourage more engagement, connect with other users by searching for your brand on YouTube. If other people are talking about your products, you can comment on those videos and like and/or subscribe to that channel.

Managing a successful YouTube channel requires time and attention. Customers will ask questions, make comments, and share your videos on a regular basis. You want to be known as an interactive brand that cares about its followers, so you have to respond promptly. To keep social media from consuming your workday, consider assigning  responsibility for posting and responding to a member of your team or to an outside marketing company.

YouTube and video content in general offer exciting ways to reach customers. Start incorporating these strategies today to build your business. Contact ClearBridge Media to help you get started.