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How YouTube works

YouTube began in early 2005 and has grown rapidly. Every minute, people around the world upload more than 3 days worth of video footage to YouTube.

YouTube has the second-largest search engine in the world, behind Google (which owns YouTube). This means people are constantly searching for information using YouTube and discovering videos relating to these topics.

YouTube videos

YouTube provides a simple way for people to store videos online and share them with others. YouTube videos cover any topic anyone cares to upload a video about. These videos are easy to share via other forms of social media, email and websites and can also be embedded in other websites.

Beside every video on YouTube is a list of ‘suggested videos’ – videos that YouTube’s search engine calculates are likely to interest people who watch the video you are watching.

YouTube encourages viewers to express their opinion of videos they watch, to store videos to watch later and to share videos they like. You can make a video publicly available to anyone, or share it privately with selected people.

YouTube Insight

YouTube Insight is an analytics and reporting tool. It provides data about each video you upload, so you can easily track how many views it gets, where people are coming from to find it and what type of people are watching it.

YouTube Insight can give you information about:

  • the ‘firsts’ for the video, including the first referral from a related video, first referral from a YouTube search (including the search terms used), first time the video is embedded in another website
  • how many views came from each referral source
  • which gender and age groups the video is most popular with
  • which countries the video is most popular in
  • how many comments and ratings it has received.

As an example, the YouTube Insight for the Queensland Government’s video on ‘Crab rules in Queensland’ on its fisheriesqld channel show that it is most popular with males aged 55-64 in Australia. It also shows that 20% of views have come via the website of a commercial crab pot manufacturer that embedded the video in its site.

YouTube channels

You can set up a YouTube channel for your business, bringing all your videos together. This allows you to customise your channel with images representing your firm. Your channel includes an ‘About’ section where you can provide a short description of your business and a link to your website or contact details.

Your channel is where you group the videos you make and upload, the videos you watch and like, and the playlists of videos you create.

Your channel will have a web address (URL) that you can promote on your website or marketing material. People can subscribe to your channel. This means when they log in to YouTube your videos will be listed on their YouTube homepage.

You can also create ‘playlists’ within your YouTube channel to organise your videos by subject or type. For example, you could have a playlist featuring videos about each of your product categories, or you might have a playlist for videos contributed by your customers for a video competition you run.

YouTube advertising

YouTube incorporates features that let businesses promote their videos to people who might be interested in them, targeting customers by demographics, topics or interests.

Advertisers pay each time someone views their video. You can choose which locations your ad will appear in, what format it will be, and even how much you are prepared to pay per view (if you want to boost the prominence of your ad over your competitors). YouTube’s advertising guide explains how it works.

Other video sharing services

Other examples of video sharing services include:

  • Vimeo: a video website popular with more serious video producers interested in higher quality video production
  • Blip: an online video website with a leaning towards series of videos rather than one-offs
  • Facebook video: the most popular social media site, Facebook, allows users to upload, create and send videos as well as photos and text
  • Flickr: primarily a photo sharing site, but can share videos up to 90 seconds as well.

Tips for using Twitter

Below are some tips for using Twitter in your business. Some of these tips are common sense, some apply to other social media as well and some are specific to Twitter.

Plan your approach

Your business should have a clear agenda for using Twitter. Like any other business strategy, using Twitter is best planned. Think through:

  • what you want to achieve
  • who you are targeting
  • what you want your target audience to do
  • who is going to do what to make it happen
  • how you will know it’s working.

Developing a simple action plan is a good way to be clear about why and how you would use Twitter. In the process of answering these questions, you might decide using Twitter is not for you. If you decide to proceed, you are much more likely to succeed once you are clear about how you’re going to use Twitter.

Integrate with your other marketing

Twitter works best when it’s used in conjunction with other marketing tools, including other social media. Learn more about Facebook, YouTube, location based marketing, coupon marketing and mobile applications.

Remember Twitter’s limitations

Twitter is not a magic bullet to improve a business. It can work well as part of a marketing plan if you invest the time and effort into using it well. But remember, only a small proportion of the population use Twitter, and many people who use it do so irregularly. If they don’t happen to see your tweet within a reasonable time of you posting it, they are unlikely to ever see it.

Attract followers

Twitter will only work if you have followers. It’s not enough to establish a great profile and regularly tweet great material – you need to attract attention. Some ways to do this include:

  • making sure all your other marketing tools, including your website and Facebook page, invite people to follow you on Twitter
  • promoting your Twitter user name widely
  • encouraging people to tweet that they’re at your business, using location based marketing tools
  • following other people or businesses so you can join their conversations.

Fresh is best

Keeping your followers interested relies on you having interesting things to tweet. Social media users have told researchers that they want discounts, giveaways, invitations to events and product information from businesses. Don’t tweet unless you have something to say that your audience wants to hear – but be aware of the importance of maintaining regular conversation.

Consider sharing photos and behind the scenes info. It’s great if your followers get information or offers through Twitter that they can’t get any other way. For example, Tourism and Events Queensland has attracted more than 22,000 followers with its mix of competitions, offers and news.

You’re in people’s personal space

People use Twitter and other social media primarily to connect with friends and family, to share photos and videos and – for younger users – to coordinate events and find out about entertainment and popular culture.

Businesses that use Twitter are intruding into a social domain, and need to be careful of how they are perceived. Being seen as a ‘spammer’ is a cardinal sin of the ‘Twitterverse’. You need to be seen to be giving followers something special or helpful – information, connections, discounts etc., rather than just selling your wares.

Be a good conversationalist

Twitter is designed for conversation, not advertising. You can ask questions in your tweets. You should reply to comments, complaints or compliments as close to instantly as possible. You can join in conversations with people or businesses that you follow. And you can retweet interesting tweets from others, as long as you credit the source.

Harness your followers’ followings

Being ‘retweeted’ is the holy grail for businesses using Twitter. This means one of your followers forwards your tweet to their followers. People are more likely to retweet tweets that are interesting or funny, or that they have a personal connection with. To make retweeting more likely, share material that is interesting, not widely known, topical or funny.

Segment your audience

You can set up more than one Twitter account if you want to engage differently with different audiences. For example a coffee roastery with a café attached might have different messages for wholesale buyers and for café customers.

Assign responsibility

Twitter works best when it’s a recognised part of somebody’s role (i.e. the Twitter face of a business). Ideally, the person tweeting on your business’s behalf will be savvy with the Twitter style and language and will be in tune with your Twitter audience. In many small businesses this is the owner or manager.

Track your Twitter results

Many businesses that use Twitter don’t monitor the results. It’s worthwhile to monitor the impact of your Twitter activity on your business, so you know what works and what doesn’t.

You can evaluate success by seeing how many followers you have or how many times your tweets are retweeted, but it’s much more meaningful to track outcomes like impact on sales if you can. For example, you could tweet a promotional code or word that people need to use at the point of sale to get a discount, then track the uptake of this. You can also use internet analytics tools to see how much of your website’s traffic is coming from Twitter.

Tips for using Twitter

Below are some tips for using Twitter in your business. Some of these tips are common sense, some apply to other social media as well and some are specific to Twitter.

Plan your approach

Your business should have a clear agenda for using Twitter. Like any other business strategy, using Twitter is best planned. Think through:

  • what you want to achieve
  • who you are targeting
  • what you want your target audience to do
  • who is going to do what to make it happen
  • how you will know it’s working.

Developing a simple action plan is a good way to be clear about why and how you would use Twitter. In the process of answering these questions, you might decide using Twitter is not for you. If you decide to proceed, you are much more likely to succeed once you are clear about how you’re going to use Twitter.

Integrate with your other marketing

Twitter works best when it’s used in conjunction with other marketing tools, including other social media. Learn more about Facebook, YouTube, location based marketing, coupon marketing and mobile applications.

Remember Twitter’s limitations

Twitter is not a magic bullet to improve a business. It can work well as part of a marketing plan if you invest the time and effort into using it well. But remember, only a small proportion of the population use Twitter, and many people who use it do so irregularly. If they don’t happen to see your tweet within a reasonable time of you posting it, they are unlikely to ever see it.

Attract followers

Twitter will only work if you have followers. It’s not enough to establish a great profile and regularly tweet great material – you need to attract attention. Some ways to do this include:

  • making sure all your other marketing tools, including your website and Facebook page, invite people to follow you on Twitter
  • promoting your Twitter user name widely
  • encouraging people to tweet that they’re at your business, using location based marketing tools
  • following other people or businesses so you can join their conversations.

Fresh is best

Keeping your followers interested relies on you having interesting things to tweet. Social media users have told researchers that they want discounts, giveaways, invitations to events and product information from businesses. Don’t tweet unless you have something to say that your audience wants to hear – but be aware of the importance of maintaining regular conversation.

Consider sharing photos and behind the scenes info. It’s great if your followers get information or offers through Twitter that they can’t get any other way. For example, Tourism and Events Queensland has attracted more than 22,000 followers with its mix of competitions, offers and news.

You’re in people’s personal space

People use Twitter and other social media primarily to connect with friends and family, to share photos and videos and – for younger users – to coordinate events and find out about entertainment and popular culture.

Businesses that use Twitter are intruding into a social domain, and need to be careful of how they are perceived. Being seen as a ‘spammer’ is a cardinal sin of the ‘Twitterverse’. You need to be seen to be giving followers something special or helpful – information, connections, discounts etc., rather than just selling your wares.

Be a good conversationalist

Twitter is designed for conversation, not advertising. You can ask questions in your tweets. You should reply to comments, complaints or compliments as close to instantly as possible. You can join in conversations with people or businesses that you follow. And you can retweet interesting tweets from others, as long as you credit the source.

Harness your followers’ followings

Being ‘retweeted’ is the holy grail for businesses using Twitter. This means one of your followers forwards your tweet to their followers. People are more likely to retweet tweets that are interesting or funny, or that they have a personal connection with. To make retweeting more likely, share material that is interesting, not widely known, topical or funny.

Segment your audience

You can set up more than one Twitter account if you want to engage differently with different audiences. For example a coffee roastery with a café attached might have different messages for wholesale buyers and for café customers.

Assign responsibility

Twitter works best when it’s a recognised part of somebody’s role (i.e. the Twitter face of a business). Ideally, the person tweeting on your business’s behalf will be savvy with the Twitter style and language and will be in tune with your Twitter audience. In many small businesses this is the owner or manager.

Track your Twitter results

Many businesses that use Twitter don’t monitor the results. It’s worthwhile to monitor the impact of your Twitter activity on your business, so you know what works and what doesn’t.

You can evaluate success by seeing how many followers you have or how many times your tweets are retweeted, but it’s much more meaningful to track outcomes like impact on sales if you can. For example, you could tweet a promotional code or word that people need to use at the point of sale to get a discount, then track the uptake of this. You can also use internet analytics tools to see how much of your website’s traffic is coming from Twitter.

Benefits of Twitter for business

If your current or potential customer base fits with the Twitter user profile, and you can commit to regularly tweeting about things your customers will find interesting, they you may decide to sign up to Twitter.

Twitter has a range of uses and benefits for business, and can complement other communication channels.

Communicating

Twitter is a way to keep your followers up-to-date with current information about your business. Importantly, it lets followers communicate with you too. For example, cinemas use Twitter to converse with patrons, recommend new release movies and retweet interesting tweets from movie buffs and experts.

Generating leads

Tweeting about special offers or new products can encourage your followers to find out more, potentially leading to sales. For example, tourism operators offer special promotions like ‘buy one get one free’ via Twitter.

Showing your brand’s personality

Twitter is a chance to liven up your image. Tweeting about your people and your brand’s personality gives followers a sense of your business as more than just a supplier of goods or services. For example, bookshops can use quirky language and humour to share links to interesting articles, promote events, comment on literary awards and announce new products via Twitter.

Researching trends

You don’t have to tweet to use Twitter. Searching or following tweets can give you an idea of trends and topics that Twitter users are interested in. Twitter operates in real time, so you can search for conversations that are happening right now.

Twitter can tell you the hot topics of the moment, and allows you to see what Twitter users are saying about your brand, your competitors and your product category.

Seeking feedback

Many Australian businesses use social media, including Twitter, to invite online feedback, reviews or comments. This information is useful for businesses that want to improve, and also for potential customers doing research for their own purchases.

Providing customer service

For Twitter-savvy customers, asking questions and getting services via Twitter is very convenient. A large telecommunications company has capitalised on this, providing a 24-hour response service for all sorts of customer queries, with staff using their names and answering in a chatty, personal tone.

Twitter’s business pages provide more information, including a Twitter guide for small business.

How Twitter works

Twitter allows businesses and individuals to create messages (called tweets) of up to 140 characters. These messages are received by people who have subscribed to receive updates from your account (followers).

Messages appear on your follower’s ‘timeline’ (or message feed) on their computer screen or on their mobile phone when they are logged in to Twitter. If you mention a follower by name they receive a notification letting them know they’ve been mentioned.

Twitter profiles

When you register as a Twitter user, you create a profile – a summary description of your business along with an image and a link to your website. Your profile shows how many people follow you and how many you are following, as well as the number of tweets you have generated.

All the messages (tweets) you create are displayed on your Twitter profile. These can be viewed by people searching for information about a particular topic, as well as by your followers.

Tweets

A tweet can include:

  • a hashtag – a word beginning with the # sign. If a user clicks on these words they will go to a list of search results for the term. Conversely, someone searching for that term may see your tweet on the list of results
  • a ‘mention’ – the Twitter username of a business or individual. If a user clicks on a mention it takes them to the mentioned business or person’s Twitter profile
  • links to web sources – Twitter automatically shortens links so they can fit in the character limit for a tweet
  • a photo or video – attach a photo or link to an online video to increase sharing.

Your Twitter followers can reply to any tweet you send (although their followers will only see their side of the conversation unless they also follow you). They can also’retweet’ – pass your tweet along to their followers.

You can also send a direct message to one of your followers by prefacing the message with DM.

Twitter advertising

Twitter offers a range of advertising services to help businesses promote themselves, including:

  • promoted tweets – advertising with targeting options to reach people who fit your target market
  • promoted accounts – designed to increase your base of followers.

Other micro-blogging services

Other examples of micro-blogging services include:

  • Instagram – a photo-based service that allows people to share their photos
  • Tumblr – a micro-blogging service that allows for different types of updates
  • Yammer – a corporate micro-blogging service that is restricted to users within a company or organisation.

Creating a business page on Facebook

Creating a Facebook page for your business is a relatively simple process. In fact, it’s so easy and affordable that many small businesses are now using Facebook pages rather than establishing a website.

Facebook provides its own step-by-step guide to creating a business page. Many other online guides also provide information and advice about establishing an effective Facebook page for your business. It’s a good idea to read a number of these before you set up your page to get an idea of some of the choices you will need to make in establishing your page, and the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.

Tips for successful marketing through Facebook

To market your business successfully on Facebook, you need to understand Facebook’s unique opportunities, and how it differs from other media. Just as you wouldn’t run a radio ad on television, you shouldn’t market on Facebook the way you’d market in a magazine or on your website.

Don’t use Facebook for the ‘hard sell’

People regard Facebook as a fun social space where they chat to friends, check out photos and videos, and relax. You need to join conversations and become part of a community, rather than being a business ‘outsider’ who tries to sell aggressively.

Hard-sell tactics – such as using advertising slogans, posting repeatedly about a particular product or service, or providing lists of products and prices in isolation from any related conversation – will result in other users ‘unfollowing’ you. They may even post negative comments about your business.

Have a clear goal and strategy

It’s important to have a clear goal for using Facebook, and a strategy to achieve that goal. For example, a coffee shop might decide that its goal is to increase sales generated by Facebook by 10% in the next 6 months. Their strategy could include:

  • creating a post every morning featuring a special of the day, using a coupon code so that the sale can be tracked to Facebook
  • posting a daily photo featuring a customer who is its ‘Coffee King or Queen’ of the day
  • encouraging users to post their own photos of them enjoying a coffee.

Setting a goal and strategy gives you direction for your Facebook marketing and a way to measure your success.

Create a human voice for your business

Facebook users like to talk to other people – not to an impersonal business. Whoever manages your Facebook page must be able to write in a voice that sounds real and likeable, using a style that suits your business. They also need permission to express things in their own words, not in the company’s jargon or ‘official line’.

Post regularly

Unlike traditional media (such as magazines or television), or other online media (such as web pages), social media are built around frequent updates.

Statistics show that around 50% of all Facebook users check their page at least once a day, and they need to see that you are regularly posting new material. Some guides recommend posting at least once a day, but the core principles are to post when you have interesting content, and to judge how often your audience wants to hear from you.

Encourage comments and reply quickly

Encourage other Facebook users to respond to your posts or to post their own comments about your business or a topic that’s of interest to them and you. When they do post, respond quickly – within 24 hours is best. Failing to respond will weaken your Facebook friends’ willingness to engage with you, and they will gradually drift away.

Use pictures and videos

Pictures and videos are a major element of Facebook’s appeal. Use them frequently to keep your friends engaged and entertained. For example:

  • a clothing retailer could post photos of new stock as it arrives
  • an architect or builder could post day-by-day pictures of a house under renovation
  • a personal trainer could post an instructional video of how to do a particular exercise.

Get interactive with offers, contests, games, surveys, etc.People like it when Facebook is fun, and when it delivers something that they can’t get any other way.

Research shows that discounts and giveaways are the most popular reason for a customer to follow a business’s Facebook page. Likewise, contests and games can be used to liven up your page.

Facebook can also be used to distribute customer surveys. If you do this, make sure that you keep surveys short, and provide a survey link that users can easily click, ignore or share with their friends.

Nurture your relationships

It takes time to build good relationships with other Facebook users, so be patient. Engage sincerely in conversations, provide useful content, and develop rewards for loyal customers to help foster positive relationships.

Promote your Facebook page

If you have a Facebook page, promote it throughout your business so that your social media works hand-in-hand with more traditional marketing methods. Provide your Facebook address on your letterhead, business card and website, in store, in advertisements, and in your email signature.

Use Facebook Insights to learn more about your customers

Facebook Insights can tell you more about the people who choose to like your page. Once you know your Facebook friends’ characteristics, you can tailor your posts and offers to meet their needs and interests.

For example, if you’re a book store that caters to customers of all ages, but most of your Facebook friends are aged 18-25 years, your Facebook offers might concentrate on books suitable for that age group (while your in-store offers are broader). Or, if you’re an online seller who never meets your customers, you might be able to get a clearer picture of what they think and feel by reviewing their interests, ages and locations on Facebook.