YouTube is the second most used search engine in the world. The first is Google. When you consider the facts that (1) Google owns YouTube, (2) Google’s search engine algorithm weighs heavily the presence of videos on a website (in plain English: if you’ve got videos, your site will appear higher up in Google’s search results), and (3) videos are much more likely to go viral than text-only online content, the conclusion you should draw is obvious: Your facility can benefit from having a presence on YouTube.
But where to begin? Or, if you already have a selection of videos on YouTube, how to optimize? Don’t worry. There are some simple steps you can take to establish yourself in the YouTube universe.
First, if you haven’t already, create a YouTube channel for your facility. This takes seconds to do and allows you to build up a mass of users who subscribe to your account; it also lets you send emails to subscribers. Be sure to upload the videos you create to your channel.
Then consider the production value that’s right for you. Your videos do not have to be perfectly polished works of art; in fact, anything too polished could be off-putting. You want to keep them authentic, comfortable, and welcoming. You also want them to be cost-efficient. This means investing just enough resources to get your point across; you might be able to make a perfectly fine video with just a smartphone attached to a tripod accessory (just make sure you’re paying close attention to sound quality; if you invest in any sort of high-tech equipment, let it be a great microphone).
That said, keep in mind that viewers won’t stick around for long if a video is too low in quality. And you want them to stick around, because the whole point is to give them a direction to take. By the end of your video, you should tell viewers to contact you, stop by, or check out your social media channels. Including a call to action — and making the video compelling enough so that viewers stay long enough to get the call to action — is crucial.
As far as other content goes, the sky — and your imagination — is the limit. Videos featuring quick, helpful routines created by your trainers are an obvious choice, and are sure to be a big hit. But don’t overlook other possibilities: videos of new members, perhaps explaining why they chose to join your facility; videos of staff discussing their favorite parts of their jobs; videos of events you’ve hosted or sponsored, especially if they’re events that show your dedication to your surrounding community. Also, videos of CEOs, managers, or owners offering personal, sincere stories about how they’ve overcome hardship or what motivates them or why they do what they do can be extremely compelling. Don’t forget that humor always attracts attention. As do children!
Other things to keep in mind: You want to be sure to help Google — and viewers — connect your YouTube video with your other online content. That means, in the description of your video, include a link to your website. The flip side of that is connecting your clientele (and potential clientele) with your videos: Be sure to tweet the videos, share them on Facebook and Google+, promote them on Instagram — make them an integrated part of your social media strategy.
As part of that strategy, you should also take time to invest in the YouTube community. Become an integral part of that community by commenting on other videos within your fields of interest. Add links on your website to videos you find interesting. If other YouTube users perceive your facility as a supportive, community-minded entity, they’ll support you, and then the real magic of YouTube will kick in, with word about your facility spreading at lightning speed.
Of course, as with all of your marketing efforts, you’ll want to maintain brand recognition. Include your logo, use fonts and colors associated with your brand, establish a consistent voice and personality, and ensure that the tone conveyed in the video matches the tone you have established elsewhere. The pay-off — a higher profile on Google and a reputation as a video provider — will be huge!