Which Social Media Platform is Right for Your Organization – A Beginner’s Guide to YouTube

21 Nov Which Social Media Platform is Right for Your Organization – A Beginner’s Guide to YouTube


Hello, November! I’m back again with another beginner’s guide to social media and this month I’ll be breaking down YouTube. As Kate pointed out in her post, video has become an integral part of PR strategy, and YouTube is obviously a big player.

Now, on with the show.

The basics: From their own website, “YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.” Founded in 2005 by three former PayPal employees, YouTube has been owned by Google since late 2006.

Demographics: YouTube actually makes it pretty easy to find some of their basic audience stats and I’ve listed a few of them here:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US

Access:  Like the other social media platforms we’ve already discussed, YouTube is easily accessed both from desktop computers and mobile devices. In fact, mobile use is growing quickly — as of Oct. 2013 40% of YouTube traffic was coming from mobile devices. It’s not just viewing, either; creating and sharing videos from smartphones and tablets is also incredibly easy. The ease-of-use of the platform is one of the great things about it, and companies can and should capitalize on this. One of the easiest ways to do so would be to capture video when a company executive is speaking at an event and upload it to YouTube right from your phone. Additionally, if your company has a strong and fun company culture, taking videos of teams competing, whether at foosball, Wii or card games, can really showcase the culture in a way that just saying you have a “fun culture” never can.

How it’s being used: Like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube is a social media platform that is largely used by the general public. On the whole it is dominated by music videos, movie clips, and cat videos.

Businesses should not count YouTube out, though, and while this article is a bit dated (Dec. 2011), it details how five big name brands are using YouTube effectively.  It’s worth reading if you’re looking to set up your company’s YouTube channel – your company’s home page on the site.

The thing to keep in mind with YouTube is that it shouldn’t be used in a silo – don’t just post videos there and wait for someone to find them. Like with all good content, the videos you post on YouTube should be promoted to the masses through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Of course, there’s also social interaction to consider. Users are able to comment on videos, share content on other social media platforms directly within YouTube, or simply give a video a thumbs up or thumbs down.  As with other social networks this ability to comment does mean that company representatives need to remain engaged and keep up with the social activity that’s going on and be able to respond to comments as necessary or appropriate.

YouTube also offers unique privacy settings. You can decide if a video is open to the general public, completely private, or somewhere in the middle, allowing only those with a link to view content.

Finally, YouTube also provides the opportunity to subscribe, or follow, channels that interest them (for me, this is apparently Baby Einstein). YouTube will also make recommendations on other channels you might want to subscribe to (for me, this includes College Humor – YouTube knows me well).

Analytics: It’s not surprising that YouTube seems to be making good use of Google Analytics (it’s a Google platform, after all) and YouTube’s analytics are some of the best I’ve seen for a social media platform. You can gather information on performance (number of views, estimated minutes watched), engagement (likes, dislikes, comments, shares), and demographics. You can customize the timeframe for which you view the analytics and keep track of how many subscribers your channel has. You can also download reports and compare how videos perform against one another.

Pros: One of the biggest selling points about YouTube is it’s ease-of-use and the ability to access it from any device. Whether you go through the mobile app or direct to the website, YouTube has made its site all about the user experience. The ability to customize your channel, set your banner heading, and use your company’s colors and logos is a big plus too. And, as mentioned above, one of the best things about YouTube is the analytics, which provide a wealth of information about video and channel performance.

Cons: YouTube has very few cons, but if I had to come up with one it’s that, to me, it’s not quite as social of a site as Facebook (for example). What I mean by that is I’m not sure how many people are really subscribing to channels and following brands on the platform. But, as I mentioned above, YouTube is a great place to store your content for sharing on other social platforms.

Final thoughts: YouTube has become the default place to go for videos. Just as Google as come to be used as a verb, so has YouTube (as in, just Google/YouTube it).  In fact, per the infographic below, YouTube is the second largest search engine – processing three billion searches a month. If video is important to your organization (and it should be), having an active YouTube channel is a must.



Jennifer Edgerly
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