I admit that the title of this post is not entirely true. The most accurate version would be, “There is a strong possibility that you are misusing YouTube with your business videos and not realizing your full potential,” but our editors said that title is terrible so we shortened it. But the essence remains true: if you are using YouTube just because it is a free place to upload and host your videos, they don’t belong there.
For those of you that can’t be bothered to read the whole post, the short version is this: If you are trying to get the most reach with your videos, use YouTube as you would any social network. If you are trying to communicate with your customers or drive conversions, use a tool like Wistia or Vimeo.
YouTube is primarily a Social & Search Network
Businesses overlook this simple fact again and again and again. YouTube thrives on people subscribing to channels and being notified via email of new uploads to those channels. This drives the users back to the platform with obscene frequency. These subscriber and engagement stats then feed into their search algorithm which is the second largest on the internet and full of people looking for how-to’s, reviews, inspiration, guides and entertainment. Once a user has watched a video, they receive an array of other recommended videos based on views and engagement which feeds back into the platform. YouTube is a closed platform just like Facebook. Their goal is to keep you on the site for as long as possible and they do an excellent job of it with the average viewing session lasting more than 40 minutes.
The only way for you to tap into this incredible reach of YouTube is to garner many subscribers to your channels. You can accomplish this organically like any social network or pay for eyeballs with YouTube’s powerful advertising platform. If you don’t have subscribers and good engagement with your videos, YouTube will not be serving your video in its search results. And if you aren’t appearing in the search results, you’re not going to be getting new subscribers unless you are actively promoting your channel yourself by being featured in other channels or reviewed by other publications.
Simply put, if you are just uploading videos to YouTube and sharing a link, you aren’t getting any of this reach.
What is wrong with just uploading videos to embed on my site?
The biggest reason to avoid embedding YouTube videos on your business site is the simple fact that YouTube wants, above all else, to drive eyeballs to its platform. All YouTube videos are designed to drive people back to YouTube.com and to engage them with the platform. Not your videos. This is potentially a huge hole in your website designed to suck potential customers away from you and onto a platform where any of your competitors can exist.
On top of that, you cannot customize your video player to match with your brand. The colors, the buttons, the naming is all designed for the YouTube brand and quite frankly, the YouTube video player is kind of ugly.
Beyond visuals, the analytics platform is sub par. It is certainly always improving but it still has a ways to go. One of the biggest problems is that it is only based on a subset of your data so you could be missing out on many important opportunities to garner more conversions.
So... what are the other options?
If you are trying to communicate with your customers or trying to convert people into clients, then you should be using a service such as Wistia or Vimeo which are designed specifically for these purposes.
Wistia is a great example because it doesn’t have any sort of network associated with it. It is *only* designed for you to upload videos and then embed them on your website. Vimeo also has some great features but it does still have a social network associated with it. Their network is far smaller though and you don’t need to be a part of it like YouTube.
Either of these tools allow you to make customizations and have much better analytics. Wistia especially has powerful lead conversion features built right in and a fantastic API for you to build on even more features.
YouTube is an extraordinarily powerful social network and there are a great many people who have built entire businesses on the back of it. The key is to understand what the platform truly is so you can use it properly. If you don’t, you are severely limiting yourself and your campaigns will not perform at their highest levels.
Before uploading your next video, ask yourself, “Am I trying to maximize reach by building an audience or am I trying to engage customers?” If you answer that, you’ll know what to do with your videos.