With the growth in popularity of video marketing over recent years, it’s no surprise that YouTube plays such a central role in the marketing strategies of many companies. But how should you get started on the platform?

Before you can make tangible progress, you must answer several vital questions. What makes your brand suitable for video content? What types of videos should you create? How can you reach the most relevant people? Here’s a guide to set you on the right path.

Video marketing is hugely successful and is only going to get bigger. For more content on video on other social channels, we recommend reading: A Quick Guide to Instagram’s IGTV.

Prepare your brand identity

Marketing on YouTube isn’t a magic fix capable of turning the world’s dullest company into a household name. It provides you with creatively-freeing exposure, putting you in charge of your promotional destiny, but in doing so it heaps pressure on your shoulders.

If your brand can’t handle that kind of attention — being unable to come across as interesting, or unwilling to engage in the necessary outreach to make the best of it — then it isn’t ready. Before you press the record button, ensure that you have something to record.

Assuming you use YouTube on a frequent basis (a reasonable assumption), think about the channels you like the most — particularly those run by comparable brands. What works about them? Do they offer great personality, or useful tips, or excellent production values?

Try to pick a selling point for your nascent channel, but don’t be too intimidated if you have doubts about your ability to scale it. It will present a significant learning curve, yes, but you’ll have plenty of time to figure things out as you grow.

Identify your YouTube goals

Once you feel confident that your brand can actually thrive on YouTube, you must identify what exactly you want to get out of YouTube. What are your objectives?

You might want to send more traffic to your website, generate more engagement on YouTube itself, or simply boost your reach to make your brand name more recognizable. Your specific goals are up to you, but make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve.

Remember: your objectives will inform every decision that you make in your marketing strategy, and a failure to know what constitutes success in your case will leave you completely unable to gauge the value of your YouTube marketing. How can you improve and optimize if you’re incapable of finding fault?

Get ready to record

Does starting a YouTube channel require some upfront hardware investment? Well, possibly — but you needn’t expect major costs, all because of the viability of the average smartphone. If you have a reasonably new device, you’ll have access to a passable camera, a functional (though limited) microphone, and a platform capable of uploading your videos: enough to get started.

In fact, there are only three major things you should be thinking about at this stage when it comes to production. Let’s run through them:

  • Lighting conditions: Even lighting is vital, not only for ensuring high-quality footage but also for producing videos people actually want to watch (it’s eye-straining to watch dark and blurry content). If you’re recording in an office, balance out the lighting — if you’re taking things outside, make sure there’s plenty of daylight and nothing is over (or under) exposed.
  • Sound quality: A phone microphone won’t be too bad, but it will most likely produce tinny and limited sound. If you’re making content featuring voices, the sound will be hugely important. Consider investing in a budget podcast-targeted microphone (ideally with a pop shield) — it won’t cost much and could prove indispensable for years to come.
  • Editing quality: To begin with, it’s fine to simply upload an unedited video, but for branding purposes, you’ll want to have some signature editing elements (at the very least, in the form of an intro and an outro). If you don’t have anyone who knows video editing basics, now is the time to start learning.

If your channel takes off, you can pick up a better camera, but a lack of production polish won’t hamper you too much if your content is great (and no amount of professional production can salvage poor content).

Set up your channel

Once you’ve prepared your brand, decided on your goals, and figured out your recording setup, it’s time to set up your channel. The first thing to do is to choose your channel’s name. If you already have other social accounts, try to use the same name on YouTube as you use elsewhere to foster greater brand consistency.

Then all you have to do is set up your channel. Fortunately, this is easy enough to do — the video below shows you exactly how to create a YouTube channel for your business in minutes:

Once you’ve set your channel up, start personalizing it to bring it in line with your branding. Add a header, background image and appropriate copy in your “About” section to create a seamless experience between your channel and your website.

If you’re worried about now having to split your time and money between your YouTube content and other marketing, you can always cut some corners (and costs) by using free high-quality stock photos as background images for your channel and on your website. If you want to personalize further, you can add text-overlays and color hues using a free graphic design tool like Canva.

Decide on a publishing schedule

Before you start to create videos, it’s a good idea to come up with a schedule. How often can you realistically upload new videos? Most successful YouTube marketers have a strict schedule that they stick to, and you should do the same.

When it comes to how often you should publish new content, it’s a case of the more the merrier. But this is only true if you can maintain consistently-high quality.

Your audience will come to expect new videos based on your publishing schedule, so make sure you are consistent and stick to your schedule. It takes time to build a large following, but consistency will help.

Choose your ideal video types

Now you are ready to start creating and publishing your videos, but this will require some research and brainstorming first. There are many types of videos you could create, each with their own advantages and functions. The format you choose will depend on the goals you set out earlier, so bear that in mind when you decide. Here are some common options:

  • If you run an e-commerce store, you might want to create product demonstrations in which you highlight the main features and benefits. People enjoy product videos because the videos provide them with a better feel for the products.
  • If you provide services, case studies are a good option. Get your customers to talk on camera and create a video discussing how you solved a problem. This is engaging for viewers, and it’s far better than simply talking about how great your service is.
  • Behind-the-scenes documentaries are also good options for engaging video marketing. You could even take a camera along to an industry event and make a film of it. These are great for creating a personal connection with your customers through candid, personal glimpses of your brand.
  • Short interviews with industry professionals are quick and easy to fill, and they are a good way to provide valuable information in an engaging, personal style.
  • Alternatively, you could stick to providing tips videos. Film someone from your company discussing tips and providing value then publish them in the form of how-to videos. You could even take your blog posts and transform them into video content.

These are just the start, and there are many more types of videos you could create. Whatever you do, try to inject some fun into them. People love to be entertained on YouTube. Make sure you are passionate and show your enthusiasm for what you do.

Make SEO a priority

Remember how YouTube is the second largest search engine? You really want your videos to be found in a search, which means that they’ll need to be optimized accordingly.

Carry out keyword research just like you would for any other content to find the keywords you want to rank for. With your primary keywords selected, use them appropriately throughout your channel — in your video titles, your descriptions, and your tags.

And with YouTube just one part of a larger web of online channels, be sure to drive traffic from your other marketing powerhouses: email marketing, social media, your website, even your paid ads. The more views and watch time each video gets, the better it is going to rank.

Maximize engagement

The secret to success on YouTube is to increase engagement. Don’t just post your videos and disappear. Just like on social platforms, you need to get involved and build a community.

How do you do this?

Use CTAs to encourage people to leave comments on your videos, placing them in the videos themselves or in their descriptions. You’ve seen the “subscribe now” buttons that appear at the end of every vlogger’s videos — the video below shows you how to create custom buttons with ease:

And when people leave comments, don’t just leave them unaddressed — respond as promptly and as usefully as you can. You won’t always have the time to leave a fleshed-out reply, but if you check comments daily, you’ll be able to pick out the most important ones and allocate your time accordingly.

You can also ask for social shares. The simple act of telling people what you want them to do can make a big difference. If people like your videos and get value from them, they will want to help you.

YouTube is a huge website that represents a huge opportunity for businesses of all sizes. If you plan your strategy carefully and commit to regularly publishing high-quality videos, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

So start planning your YouTube strategy today. Set your goals, create your first video, and get it up on the site as soon as you can. Make it a regular part of your marketing activities and take full advantage of the excellent opportunities it provides.