The Truth About YouTube

The truth about YouTube? Are you pondering the reason why your competitor (or maybe even your sloppy, unprofessional uncle) racked up more views than your video that was just released on your company's homepage WITH an associated blog post?! (so frustrating).

If you want to use video as part of your marketing, you are going to have to learn about production... and YouTube.

But what in the world do you need to know? Here are three of the biggest data-points and pro-tips you need in your back pocket BEFORE you start pumping out videos on the interwebs:

1)  Your Audience Doesn't Appreciate Cheapness and Corner-Cutting
This whole idea of "all you need is a webcam" is garbage. And don't take my word for it, just be honest with yourself. When was the last time you actually watched someone's webcam video for an extended period of time? I'd love to tell you differently, but even just one quick peek at the YouTube Trends Blog will say otherwise.

To be fair, it's true that a webcam will suffice in creating content that may luck it's way into receiving exposure... but only if you have an incredibly engaging video personality and are very okay with low levels of production value. Having won the lottery once or twice before may be a good sign.

But let's face the music and stop skimping ourselves:  brands that are willing to spend money on marketing are not okay with receiving low quality. Why? Because it cheapens their brand and compromises their offering. And even less often are those brands video production experts -- and that's okay! They shouldn't be. They should be experts at what they do, not at crafting a video about it.

If you want to use video as part of your marketing, you are going to have to learn about the production process.

Think about it like this:  your competitors are savvy and they are pumping big dollars into video and seeing results. And no, making videos that no one watches and are not tracked is not being competitive; it's wasting your time and potentially your money.

(PS: Thanks to Tommy Walker for helping put words to some of those thoughts!)

2) YouTube Delivers Strong Financial Results and Robust Usage Stats
Again, don't take my word for it. According to a recent article on, "Despite an increasingly competitive environment in which established players and startups alike are venturing headfirst into video content and advertising, YouTube has continued to deliver strong financial results and robust usage stats. The Google-owned platform is poised for further success as marketers continue to regard it as an essential element in their branded content and advertising campaigns, according to a new eMarketer report, "YouTube Advertising: Why Google's Platform Will Stay On Top."

To take it a step further, Andrew Hanelly, senior vice president of audience engagement at Manifest, said: "I would be very interested in hear where others are saying that they feel that YouTube ad targeting comes up short, because I think it's a huge advancement from what we're used to, and I think we're getting spoiled in how we spend our ad and marketing dollars. For video platforms, YouTube does the best job of providing granular targeting opportunities at scale. It's hard to not sound like a spoiled brat when criticizing YouTube, because it's a marketer's dream."

Want one more to really rub home the point? Mark Aikman, marketing communications department manager at Mercedes-Benz USA speaks very highly of YouTube's data analytics capabilities. "As far as video metrics, its' probably the gold standard," he said. "It tells you how many views you're getting, what's the drop-off, where people came into your video from, where they viewed it..."  (for more, read this article:  "What Do Marketers Think of YouTube Data and Analytics?").

3)  There Is a Formula for Success... YouTube Said So!
Here's some little-known information:  back in the day, YouTube adamantly opposed revealing "keys to success" or "best practices" for creating popular content on their channels. The reason? The entire goal of their brand was to create a place where original content was fostered and shared organically. So strong was this push that in July of 2008, the YouTube Spotlight channel uploaded an animated short called, "The Birds and the Biz", which claimed there was no "magic formula" or "secret potion" for content marketing success. "The truth," according to Papa Bear, was YouTubers "never really know what crazy thing will be next" (Search Engine Watch: "YouTube Reveal the Secret Formula to Content Marketing Success").


Well that all COMPLETELY changed when YouTube's CEO, Suzie Reider, lifted the veil. On March 31, 2014, Suzie spoke at the 2014 ANA Media Leadership Conference where, among other things, she unveiled this...


Read it. It will change the way you think about video and marketing forever. That resource was created by YouTube (and Google, their owner) to, and I quote, "Create a YouTube strategy to help your brand stand out in today's evolving digital era. Includes concepts and examples to help you create great content, devise a holistic channel strategy, use paid and non-paid means to promote your videos and learn the tools to measure your results".


Ladies and gentlemen, this isn't smoke and mirrors. The truth about YouTube Marketing is that it's 2015 and the best way to use video to grow your brand isn't a secret. How to market the content isn't disguised behind curtains like the Wizard of Oz anymore. That said, creating that content needs to be done with care and it should never ever be done "easily" or "quickly". You don't do any of your other marketing like that, so why would you start creating your most interpersonal pieces that way?

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About the Author
Jake LeVoir is the Director of Sales at Slate and Main. He has built a career on helping organizations grow by developing engaging video campaigns that drive consumer traffic and increase brand awareness.

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