Social networking: what can YouTube do for your self-catering business?

What is it?

If you’ve spent any time in front of a computer over the last few years, the chances are you have been on YouTube at some point.  Possibly to look at cute kittens, see that goal you missed or a video on how to change the drum seals on your washing machine – they are all on there!

Although YouTube does have a considerable amount of such random stuff, it is also an online marketing stream which any business ignores at its peril.  With an impressive three billion daily views, the video-sharing platform is widely recognised as the world’s second-largest search engine (behind Google –who, by the way, also own YouTube) and the third most-visited website in the world.  Obviously then, there could be considerable benefits if you use it in the right way.

Any video you publish on YouTube has the potential to be seen by some of that massive number of viewers. First, your content can be found from within YouTube’s search facility.  Secondly, your video can be indexed inside Google’s search results.  It can also be embedded on blogs and shared across other social networking platforms.  Ideally, you should use your videos to perform drive traffic to your website.

How can it work?

Although many people think that you need some wild or hilarious footage to achieve good results on YouTube, you can actually have considerable success with some well thought out, professional looking video.  Make sure you use the opportunity to tell a story about you or your property.  If you have an unusual feature to show people maybe you could use that, like our clients Water Mill Retreat, who have a video of the mill on a summer’s day.

Like using a professional photographer for your website, I’d always recommend hiring a professional video producer for best results.  Shooting and producing a short, good quality web-ready video for your website will start at a few hundred pounds.  However, a “slideshow” of images (perhaps with a walkthrough of your property or inviting pictures of your local area) would certainly be better than nothing and could be a good place to start if you have no budget for video this year.  These can be created on readily-available free software – you may already have something like Windows Movie Maker on your machine.  If you have a Mac, iMovie offers great options.   Nowadays, viewers are also used to footage from digital cameras and mobile phones, so if you have one of decent quality, include a short personal introduction.

Tips:

Make sure the sound is at a good level (not too loud and distorted, or so quiet you have to crank up your speakers to hear it) and not interrupted by background noise.

Try to make sure there’s plenty of light in your shot as digital cameras and mobile phone lenses are generally smaller so you if you’re not carefully you’ll end up with video which is grainy or dark.

Add music, but avoid anything twee or cheesy.

To avoid copyright problems look for music that has a Creative Commons licence (the publisher allows free use, subject to a few conditions). Jamendo is a good starting point (but do check terms and conditions)

Make sure you include a call to action at the end.  Some simple text along the lines of:
“find out more and check availability at www.mycutecottage.co.uk”

Include good detail (and a link to your website) in the “Description” box which will appear below the video.

Think carefully about the “tags” you assign to the video to help it be found easily.

Good bits?

It’s free and a great way to get further exposure.  With a little time and effort, you can get a professional-looking presence.

Bad bits?

There is a lot of material on YouTube, so it’s essential that you think carefully about your content, add good tags and descriptions to cut across the “noise”.