It’s a Wrap!
Originally published: 02.01.13 by Heather Onorati
Why and how to use YouTube to expand your brand awareness
YouTube may conjure images of finger-biting babies, flash mobs, and “Gangnam Style” parodies. But the truth is, YouTube is an engaging and economical marketing outlet that HVACR businesses should not ignore.
YouTube says it is “a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.”
Simply, YouTube is a platform that allows users to upload and store videos that can beshared with YouTube connections and across other social media platforms. In addition, YouTube videos can be embedded within your own website, which saves your site from getting bogged down when your users view the video because it is really hosted within YouTube.
Online videos can help you to raise brand awareness. YouTube is now the No. 2 search engine after Google. That means people are regularly searching for information in video format. According to YouTube, it has more than 2 billion video views happening per day. According to Alexa Internet, a company that maintains a vast database of information and statistics about internet sites, YouTube ranks as the third most popular website in the world, after Facebook and Google.
“From a marketing standpoint, video is the holy grail,” says Erin Gagnon, Senior Account Executive for the Bradford Group. “Consumers’ willingness to watch a 15-second video, for example, extends well beyond reading a 300-word web page or brochure.”
The video can then be referenced or linked to in different ways, she says. For example: social media, a feed into a website or blog, citing the web link in printed materials, and directing traffic to the YouTube channel directly.
As a marketing outlet, it’s perfect for smaller businesses because it doesn’t require much money or planning to make and upload a video. Just a camera and some creativity.
According to Clay Blevins, President of Comfort Supply, and David Butler, Sales Consultant, YouTube is a good way to communicate with customers. The company began its experiment with YouTube videos in 2007 with some basic software, a camera, and a green screen.
Blevins created a channel, www.youtube.com/comfortsupply, during the housing crisis to communicate the impact of the economy on the industry.
“That was pretty helpful for them [customers] because it was a time of crisis for the industry, and it was a good way to communicate with them through the video,” he said.
The company then branched into installation demos and training on the use of new online services. As a result, they noticed a modest bump in traffic to their website as well as an increase in product-related inquiries.
Bay Area Air Conditioning & Heating in Crystal River, Fla., is another company experimenting with YouTube on its channel, TheChillinChannel (www.youtube.com/user/TheChillinChannel).
The company uses their channel as a customer educational outlet, discussing topics ranging from selecting a contractor to when to replace filters, and units and air duct sealing versus cleaning.
According to Dave Hutchins, President and Founder, the company’s main goal was to create the videos to aid search engine optimization. The videos were uploaded to the YouTube channel and repurposed on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as distributed to the company’s email list. They did see modest bumps in traffic corresponding to the times the videos were distributed.
It’s easy to get started with YouTube. If you have a Google account for your business, you can log into YouTube with that Google account to create your YouTube channel. Otherwise, you’d start at YouTube.com and click on “Create an Account.” Once your account is created, you sign in at YouTube.com and create your channel.
It’s smart to keep business and personal accounts separate. If you have a personal Google account, you should create a separate account for your business and use that account to set up your business’ YouTube channel. Be sure to choose a professional name. This is what users will see when they visit your channel. It can’t be changed, so pick a name in line with your brand.
There is an excellent video from Local Pulse Marketing (www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JrQJayTg_s) that walks you through the set up of a YouTube channel if you aren’t familiar with the platform.
Once your channel is set up, you can customize some options, such as the background image and layout. You can upload graphics and your company logo. You’re then ready to upload videos.
Creating video does not require a big investment. Nearly every digital camera and smartphone is video enabled. You can make a fairly professional quality video with just a few pieces of equipment.
Use a tripod for your camera to eliminate the potential for shakiness. You don’t want viewers getting queasy while visiting your channel! You may also want to invest in video-editing software. You want to use only the very best video you capture.
There are several inexpensive software programs, such as iMovie, which comes pre-installed on most Macs as part of Apple’s iLife suite. Adobe Premiere Elements is a lighter version of the higher-end Premier program. It’s simpler to use than the full version but offers enough flare for the home user to create a polished product.
YouTube offers free-video editing capabilities. It’s limited, but it’s easy to learn. A beginner can trim, adjust brightness and contrast, and add transitions, which may be all you need.
Make sure your video has a purpose—product demo, product application, company advertisement, consumer education.
An outline or script will help you stick to your story, but don’t make it overly complicated. The most popular videos are between two and four minutes long, according to Web SEO Analytics.
This brings us to, what do you upload? Video is visual. It’s the perfect outlet for allowing potential customers to see how equipment works without hauling it out to a site.
YouTube also can serve as a sales tool. Instead of demoing during sales calls, direct customers to your YouTube channel to see a product or service in action. For example, a video on smart home technology and how it works.
YouTube can provide you a platform to address frequently asked questions or demonstrate troubleshooting techniques. You can offer easily accessible resources, such as how to operate a thermostat, the importance of and how to change a filter, or information about products, such as the difference between split and packaged systems.
How-to videos can help you cultivate a reputation as a go-to destination whenever your customers need information, according to Business Insider. One company that has created a good example of this is Columbia Water and Light in Columbia, Mo., with its Air Conditioner Maintenance video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEVx7ByV9Rg).
YouTube also offers a platform for creating and widely distributing inexpensive advertisements about your company, products or services.
LA Mech Air/HVAC in Montrose, Calif., is an example of a company who has created a well-done commercial video (www.youtube.com/user/LosAngelesAcRepair). It’s short and simple. It tells the customer what the company offers, how they can help and why the customer should contact them.
Another good example of the use of YouTube is what Rochester Heating and Air Conditioning in Kentucky is doing. Their channel (www.youtube.com/user/fritzhvac) launches with a commercial for their service. The video well holds a number of quality segments that showcase the company’s on-the-job experience and expertise. The viewer gets to ride along and experience the technician at work.
YouTube’s potential as a marketing tool is limited only by your creativity. The key is to keep it fresh and engaging. If you’re using YouTube, we’d love to know what’s working so we can share with our readers. If you begin experimenting, we’d love to hear about your experience! Email Editor Tonya Vinas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Onorati is former editor of HVACR Business and now works as a writer and editor in business communications.