MHB WEEKLY: By the students, for the world

Not Just Cats: Leadership through YouTube | February 23, 2011

Three few weeks ago, this blog identified six traditional methods behind thought leadership: creating an online presence, flaunting high-quality associations, speaking in public, appearing on television, winning awards and — most importantly — publishing a book. Only hinted at, however, was the defining role that social media can play in the ascent to thought leader status.

Today, then, the focus is on YouTube: the über-popular and indiscriminate video behemoth that hosts everything from political speeches to piano-playing cats. YouTube users watch two billion videos per day through the site. Each minute, 24 new hours of footage emerge for public viewing. And according to estimates, advertising revenue alone brings in $10 million per month due to the site’s widespread renown and use. So with the power of the medium undeniably established, the remaining question is how best to capitalize on YouTube’s unique format and playful reputation in the quest for industry relevance and subsequent authority.

The answer can be found at GigaOM, an online emporium of technological analysis and news. As part of its blog service, GigaOM has provided a how-to guide — in 34 steps — for YouTube use among thought leaders; below, the list is distilled down to five essential methods.

1. Set up a YouTube channel.
Almost every major corporation, company or personality has a YouTube channel, from The White House to Old Spice. Establishing a channel, or a collection of your YouTube videos accompanied by a company description and user subscription options, shows the web audience that you take YouTube seriously as a medium of communication. It also stores all of your videos in one convenient place, so consumers are saved the hassle of sorting through search results for your work. What’s more, you can easily insert a channel button (see right) on your personal blog or Facebook page to create a sense of fluidity across your internet presence.

Continue reading for the rest of our rundown.

2. Enhance your videos with special YouTube features.
The most trustworthy sources on YouTube are the ones who appear most adept at using the site, so endow your posts with insider features. Use Video Annotations to insert information in pop-up form while your video plays, or use AudioSwap to add background music. To record from home, install Quick Capture to upload directly from a webcam. Knowledge of these little tricks can impress viewers and make them envious of your prowess, which facilitates their comfort in learning from you.

3. Use creativity in product promotion.
Since its inception, YouTube has earned a lighthearted rap because many of its most popular videos are silly, stupid or both. But instead of viewing this reputation as a hindrance, embrace the inanity and introduce your product or service with creativity. Take a cue from Taco Bell, which through YouTube has aired several Saturday-morning cartoons to promote its menu (see below). Or look at Home Depot, which posts instructional videos to help users through their household problems. Both represents thoughtful and fun ways to interact with a YouTube audience without selling too strongly. (Always remember that the first priority of YouTube is either entertainment or information, not sales.)

4. Run a contest.
Perhaps easier said than done, running an online contest is a major way to inspire brand awareness and engagement. Effective social media contests are particularly alluring to consumers, especially when they become involved in the creative process — check out the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl video contest, which lead to the creation of this year’s most popular Super Bowl ad, for a great example. When running a contest, it’s important to remember that the prize must be desirable and the conditions for entry must be creative. Entering an email address for a chance to win makeup, while technically a contest, will not enable the same participatory atmosphere as a user-driven show. (And always use popular vote to determine a winner if possible, which causes participants to spread word of the contest through social media, thus propagating your brand name.)

5. Answer customer-specific questions with a video.
A tactic used by celebrities and sports figures alike, answering questions via YouTube provides the aura of an “in-person” response without the hassle. It’s often much easier to be engaging with spoken words than written ones, and answering specific questions validates those who ask them. A strategy like this one can shrink the billions of daily YouTube views down to one-on-one interaction.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] business owners are afraid to be broadcast on Youtube. Don’t be. People want to see who you are, how you are – and experience your knowledge first […]

    Pingback by 10 Tips on How To Exhibit Thought Leadership on Your Social Media Pages - Social Media Impact - Social Media Impact — October 5, 2013 @ 8:37 am


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    Established in 2009 at USC, the Master's of Science in Human Behavior is designed to equip students with knowledge of consumer psychology, social media and market analysis skills. This is our blog. Subscribe

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