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By Kristy Bonner, Digital Strategist, Foster Marketing

Move over YouTube legends Charlie, techno-unsavvy grandparents and Justin Bieber — a new player is moving in.

Memorable uploads like these have nudged YouTube’s numbers upward to more than 800 million unique visits and more than 4 billion hours of video watched each month. Today, of the 72 hours of video uploaded every minute, a new star is emerging— businesses who want to use the medium to market and sell their products and services.

Most of us have enjoyed a laugh, watched a how-to video or just passed some time on YouTube; and reports are showing more and more businesses are adding their contributions to the mix. Fifty-six percent of B2B companies are using YouTube to share their marketing messages, according to a study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmark, Budgets & Trends.

If your company isn’t making the most of this online opportunity you’re missing out on brand awareness benefits, engagement opportunities and search engine gains. Consider these potential perks to jumping onto the YouTube bandwagon.

  • SEARCH: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has become a hot topic for anyone who wants to edge out the competition. YouTube has pushed its way above Bing and Yahoo! and is second only to Google in its search numbers. YouTube users watch billions of videos daily and billions of searches are typed into the YouTube search box each month.
  • AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: YouTube is the third most visited website on the Internet. Plus, its use of mobile and sharing technology gives your video efforts an added boost. Does your business extend beyond the United States? So does YouTube. You could even create videos in multiple languages to target specific international markets.
  • MARKET COMPETITION: Just about every topic is covered on YouTube, including most industries, products and services. Type in anything from drill pipe to pipeline cleaning and you’ll find something on YouTube.
  • THE POTENTIAL: Visual messages can inform and engage customers. Plus, YouTube allows users to email, share and embed videos into their web pages, so you are increasing the chances of your video going viral!
  • INTEGRATE YOUR EFFORTS: You likely already have content that could be repurposed for YouTube. From trade show kiosk videos to lunch-and-learn PowerPoint presentations, all of these can be formatted for YouTube with a little know-how.

Opportunity is knocking, so answer and get posting. Here’s how to start:

  • CREATE A BRANDED YOUTUBE CHANNEL. Develop a channel with a unique profile name that fits your business and reflects your company’s brand.
  • GET STARTED: Start with the content you already have, and add as you go. Consider posting videos of product demonstrations or on-site installations. Turn images from a photo shoot into a video to showcase the products and services you offer. Convert PowerPoint presentations into videos to share company information and expand your thought leadership efforts on specific topics. Create a video that offers a tour of your facility to spotlight your company’s capabilities. The possibilities are really endless.
  • SET A GOAL: Set a goal of adding a new video to your channel at least every three months. If you really want to build a following, aim for a new video monthly or bi-monthly. In other words, develop a YouTube plan.

Need some inspiration to get your video camera recording? Here are some tips from GigaOM and Google that would work well for oil and gas companies and others working in the business-to-business energy sector.

  • Upload recordings of presentations you’ve given to showcase your knowledge.
  • Share slides from PowerPoint presentations.
  • Conduct an interview with one of your experts.
  • Add your channel URL to marketing collateral (and other social networks).
  • Post customer video testimonials.
  • Show your product in action using movie trailer style: fast, creative and catchy.
  • Create how-to-videos to help your customers use your products.
  • Post solutions to common problems.
  • Embed videos on your website, including product support and facility tours.

Videos can be used for product demonstrations; branding messages; public relations and community efforts; education; and even to encourage or inspire. All you have to do is get creative and use what you have. That’s what these companies did:

  • An LED manufacturer melts chocolate bunnies with competitors’ products to show its energy efficiency.
  • A storage company stacked space with a ton of food (to be donated, of course) to prove just how much stuff you could fit.
  • A vacuum cleaner company has become the go-to place for minor vacuum repairs and maintenance with its how-to helpful approach.

YouTube reports viewer engagement is growing with 100 million people taking a social action such as likes, shares and comments each week; and millions of videos are favorited each day. As an added bonus, your YouTube efforts can bolster your social media efforts as recent figures show 500 years worth of YouTube videos are watched every day via Facebook and more than 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute.

So put on your thinking caps, pull out your cameras and show ’em what you’ve got.

Foster Marketing can help with all your strategic digital efforts, from planning to posting and landing pages to email messaging. Learn more about the services we provide at http://www.fostermarketing.com/.