Looking for alternatives to expensive print and television advertising? In this third and final posting on the use of social media for small business, Youtube, Flickr and a few other media sharing websites will be covered.
Before getting started, here are a few essentials you'll be needing:
- Youtube account dedicated to your business (connects to your Google account)
- Flickr photostream account (connects with your Yahoo! account)
- An HD digital camcorder ($500+) / A decent (10-14MP) digital camera ($200+)
- Locate the pre-installed film editing software on your computer. Windows Movie Maker comes standard on all PCs, and Apple iMovie works well for Mac users. If you want to go a little further,Wax (free) is a useful program to enhance your videos, or Adobe Premier (free for 30 days / $799 for newest edition) can help take your videos to new levels.
The first thing you will want to do here is to set up a dedicated channel. After opening an account on Youtube, your personal ‘channel’ will automatically be created with a generic template. You can choose to leave the channel as is, and focus solely on uploading content, or you might decide to jazz it up a bit. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to create a branded youtube channel. All videos you post to Youtube will be hosted on your channel. Here's a quick tutorial on how to get started with 'branding' your Youtube channel.
Youtube is not really geared towards traditional advertising (TV/print) approaches. Making a 30-60 second advertisement might seem like a logical starting point, but is unlikely to appeal to many youtube viewers. Think of your personal viewing habits. Most of us watch television or internet commercials passively when required…and occasionally act on these ads when they appeal to our needs or desires. It’s unlikely, however, that you would spend any great deal of time online on the lookout for ads to watch (usually we're quick to skip over or avoid most ads). With youtube videos, there needs to be a hook.
So what’s the hook? Reflecting on my personal online viewing experiences, there are two reasons to ‘click to play’ an online video: information or entertainment (preferably both). Creating a series of educational how-to videos is a great way to get started on Youtube. At the end your short clip you can advise viewers on how they can reach you for professional sales and service needs. This is also a great way to demonstrate your skills and abilities to potential customers.
Looking at it another way,
I might want to learn how to install pony wall in my basement and come across this video. After watching the video I will probably realize that it’s in my best interest not to do this particular job myself, and instead contact a professional builder – and just like that – the video connects me with the Regina based construction company that produced the video. What better moment to advertise your business, than the exact moment that a need for your services is realized?
Strategies for effective business use of Flickr or other photo sharing websites vary greatly, but a few general guidelines might help you get started with posting photos online:
- Make your photos count – Don’t upload anything that you wouldn’t spend money to print out for yourself. Blurry, cut-off or repetitive photos should be entirely avoided. If, for example you want to upload a photo of your storefront window, one or two shots should be enough – no need to upload 20 different angles. Pick the best shots yourself instead of forcing the viewer to sort for themselves.
- Manage your photos by using albums. You can label albums however you like (theme/event/product or by date), just remember to keep it logical for viewers.
- Use tags! This goes equally for Youtube. When you create a photo or video you should do your best to label it in as many appropriate ways as possible.
Tags used: Campus, University, College, Library, Vancouver, Student, Life, IKBLC, Irving, Barber Centre Undergrad, Study, Academic, Academia, Campus.
The list could go on, but moderation works best. Tag your items with specific tags (the name of your business, product name, industry terms) and a few general descriptors as well. One important tip for tagging is to always use geographic tags (Vancouver). This can help local searchers find your content faster and easier.
Lastly, don’t keep your Flickr/Youtube activities a secret! It’s easy to link your Flickr and Youtube accounts back to your business webpage if you have one, or (if not) consider including your social media contact points on your business cards (check out 'My Name is E' for free digital business cards). If you've taken the time to develop these resources, why wouldn't you want to share them?
Hopefully a few of the ideas and resources presented in these three postings have helped get you started with integrating social media into your business communication stragegy. Just remember - creating online content is not for everyone. It can be difficult to keep up with the latest technology, trends and opportunities, and finding the time and inspiration to transform your creative vision into a tangible product might not come easily to you - after all, you're a businessperson, not a stage director, right? Fortunatly - social media is user-friendly and easy to create, and depending on how far you want to run with it, does not require any significant amount of expertise - it's open to everyone.