I recently came across two contradictory articles about the effectiveness of YouTube.
First, the bad. In December, 2017, Business Insider had an article about how many (but not all) of the biggest stars on YouTube are seeing both their followers and their video views dwindle.
Now, the good. In January, 2018, a popular blog called IncomeMediary had an article about 8 SEO trends and listed YouTube as being the place where it’s at. (According to that site, YouTube is the second most searched platform on the Web.)
So, what’s the truth?
My suspicion is, like anything, the truth is what personally works for you. For some people, YouTube will always work great even if the overall trend shows it’s less and less effective. For others, YouTube will never work no matter how hot of a platform it is.
But, as that’s not the most helpful advice, I did a little research on my own on the YouTube experts I follow.
While I can’t be sure about the diminished followers part, I will say that overall watches in 2017 were down compared to previous years.
I will also say that some of the claims around video I found in the IncomeMediary post directly contradicted the stats I’ve seen on video watching over the years. Now, that doesn’t mean IncomeMediary is lying or being otherwise untruthful. It may very well be that the site is pulling data from other industries that I’m not as familiar with.
Which, brings me back to my earlier point, which is different marketing strategies are going to work or not work for different people regardless of what the overall trend is. Not to mention different marketing strategies and tactics are going to work better or differently depending on the industry and the specific ideal client group you’re trying to attract.
So, where does that leave us with YouTube? And if Business Insider is correct, why is the overall watches and followers dropping?
Well, the Business Insider article didn’t really have an answer for why this was happening, so I thought I’d take a stab at it.
Is the problem the videos themselves? In other words, are fewer people watching videos these days?
I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case. People still appear to be watching as many videos online as they ever did. In the U.S. alone, 85% of the Internet audience watches videos online, which is likely why there are so many platforms for watching them. For example, on Facebook, you can both upload existing videos and create Facebook Lives, Twitter has Periscope, Instagram allows for videos, and let’s not forget Snapchat, which is all about videos.
And, if you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, using videos as part of your overall marketing strategy makes sense. One statistic I’ve seen claims that business that use video grow their revenue 49% faster than non-video users.
However, it’s important to note that not EVERYONE likes to watch videos (at least in regard to educational purposes—it’s a lot higher than that when we’re talking watching a movie or an episode of Game of Thrones). Only about 25% of your customers prefer watching videos over audio or reading.
BUT, people who DO watch videos are far more likely to become buyers, which is why it makes sense to integrate videos into your overall marketing strategy.
So, taking all of that into consideration, my suspicion as to what’s affecting YouTube is the number of options we now have for viewing videos online. Years ago, there was only YouTube. So, if you wanted to watch a video, you went to YouTube.
And, while you can certainly comment and like videos on YouTube, it’s not precisely a social networking platform. YouTube is about watching videos. Period. Commenting and liking is secondary.
Whereas if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, you’re there for the networking and the connection. So, if you can also get your video “fix” there, why wouldn’t you?
People are busy. Going to YouTube to watch a video is an additional step and an additional distraction in a busy day.
People are also lazy. Going to YouTube to watch a video is an additional step they may not feel like taking.
So, as an entrepreneur, what makes sense for you?
Let’s start with videos. Should you or should you not use them in your marketing?
I believe you absolutely SHOULD and here’s why:
1. Yes, only about 25% PREFER learning via video, that doesn’t meant only 25% will WATCH.
It’s been my experience that far more folks than that will at least take a quick peek at your videos. Even if it’s only one to two videos total. (IncomeMediary says 55% of online users watch videos every day, and that is a stat I can believe, although let’s keep in mind that stat likely includes people wasting time watching cat videos.)
Video is also great for creating connection. People will get a much faster sense of who you are and if they want to learn from you via video than any other medium. So, a lot of people will watch from time to time, even if it’s not their preferred method, and if they like your energy and how you present yourself on video, they’re more likely to stick around (and maybe even eventually buy something).
2. If you want people to consume your marketing materials, it helps if you provide them options so they can choose HOW they prefer to consume it.
Just like in your paid training, people have their favorite way to learn whether it’s via reading, listening, watching videos, or interacting with the training in some way. That’s why giving people choices of watching videos, listening to audio, or reading a transcript is a great way to serve all learning styles.
And, if you want to market more effectively, it’s nice to do the same for your marketing materials. Give your audience options on how they choose to learn from you, even if it’s completely free on your blog, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.
3. If you’re interested in expanding your marketing reach and visibility, creating videos gives you more options.
If you’re willing to do videos, you can have a presence on Snapchat and on YouTube. You can also expand the presence you have on platforms like Facebook if you start using videos. Those may be smart marketing moves.
Now, let’s look at YouTube. Should you build up your presence there or not?
Only if you’re planning on shooting stand-alone videos. If you are, then sure, why not load them up on YouTube as well. But, if your video strategy right now is to focus on something like Facebook Lives, I wouldn’t bother.
It’s early yet and things could turn around for YouTube, but right now, it’s sure looking like becoming a YouTube star isn’t what it used to be.
Speaking of YouTube stars, this is yet another great reminder about how all of these social network platforms are great to have a presence on, because they’re likely where your ideal clients, customers, and buyers are, BUT building your entire brand and platform on someone else’s site is (ahem) foolish. Your focus when you use these sites should always be to connect and encourage people to follow you to your blog or website, or some other platform you 100% control. (Personally, blogs are my fave.)
If your entire audience is on YouTube and you have no subscriber list and no blog and no following outside of YouTube, then the only way you can “talk” to your audience is by posting a video. But, what happens if the video is a dud? Or what if something technical happens and your audience doesn’t get the notification you posted a new video? Or what if your audience stops hanging around YouTube (as what appears to be happening now)? Or what if YouTube decides to ban you or shut down your account for some reason?
That’s why building your own brand on your own platform that you control is soooo important. Use YouTube as the tool it is, not as a substitute for building your own business.
YouTube is one more tool to use in your marketing toolbox, but don’t use it as substitute for building your own brand on your own platform.
If you liked this post, you may also like my “Love-Based Online Marketing” book.