While YouTube (www.youtube.com) has emerged as a marketing juggernaut for auto recyclers, many businesses are also discovering the free video-sharing service that has scores of other uses – all of which are also free for the taking.
Company recruiting, client communications, product/service how-tos, and dissemination of company news are all increasing in popularity on YouTube as recyclers transform the medium into a Swiss Army Knife of business communications.
“If you’ve never visited the YouTube website, you’ve missed out on the hottest thing on the Internet today,” says Michael Miller, author of YouTube for Business, an excellent guide.
“Everywhere you go people are on their Blackberrys, Droids, iPhones,” says Robbie Koepp, a spokesman for Morrison’s Auto Parts, based in Edgerton, Wisconsin. “They feel like they need to be connected to everything. They are always waiting, looking for the next bigger/better thing. When you are right in front of them – on Facebook, Twitter, etc. – with your new deals, or new product line in ‘real time,’ it gives them a feeling that they might be getting this before anyone else, and they are going to want to take advantage of it.”
Indeed, one of the major reasons recyclers and others are flocking to YouTube is its unbridled popularity. Just a blip on the Web’s radar a few years ago, the video-sharing service has rocketed to one of the most visited sites on the Internet. In fact, YouTube now boasts two billion plus views each day, according to recent figures released by the company.
“We had a video on YouTube put up as part of a deal with an online yellow pages service,” says Chuck Richard, assistant manager, Campbell/Nelson Auto Recycling, based in Arlington, Washington. “We haven’t had time to track the results so far. But we are looking at the idea of putting up a series of company-themed videos on YouTube to attract more business.”
Auto recyclers also find YouTube’s ease of entry and low cost hard to resist. Virtually anyone with basic PC skills can upload a video to YouTube for free in a matter of minutes. Since YouTube’s videos are generally viewed in a relatively small viewing screen, there’s no reason for retailers to endure painful budgets for video production costs. In fact, the subtleties of high-end video production are generally lost on YouTube, according to Miller.
Plus, auto recyclers are saving significant coin by shifting hosting responsibilities for their videos onto YouTube. The reason? Ordinarily, a recycler needs to pay bandwidth transmission charges anytime a website visitor views a video hosted on its company website, but when that same video is uploaded to YouTube’s servers, businesses never pay a bandwidth transmission cost no matter how many times that video is viewed.
All told, it’s a frothy mix of remarkable popularity, ease-of-entry, and virtually non-existent costs that have the wheels of
innovation spinning at countless auto recycling shops as they continually find new uses on YouTube.
So far, here are the top ten uses they’ve forged:
Marketing: This is without doubt the most popular business use of YouTube and can be wildly successful. Businesses with shoestring promotional budgets have become overnight stars on the service, often with zany and off-the-wall marketing pitches. Across all industries, one of the classics is “Will It Blend,” a campy series from blender manufacturer Blendtec, which proves the mettle of its product by blending some rather unorthodox items in its blender. Among the hapless victims of the series are an iPhone (www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg1ckCkm8YI), Rake Handle (www.youtube.com/watchv=aM94aorYVS4), and 50 Marbles (www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OmpnfL5PCw).
Besides using humor, auto recyclers can also use the marketing side of YouTube to give video tours of their facilities to generate trust with current and potential customers. They can also feature video interviews with key personnel to reassure current and prospective customers that they’re going to be doing business with a highly professional, people-friendly staff; and for the viscerally oriented, a video showcasing ‘here’s how we crush cars’ is bound to be a hit.
Recruiting: Given that many auto recyclers already have videos touting their businesses as inviting places to work, posting those same productions on YouTube is a no-brainer. “Don’t limit yourself to a single, long puff video,” Miller says. “Produce separate videos for individual departments, as well as to illustrate company values, employee benefits, facilities, and the like.”
Product/Service How-Tos: These videos can, of course, serve a dual purpose for your shop, offering detailed instructions for novice customers, while serving as a promotional spot for looky-loos. A good video in this category would be a video on how to easily buy recycled parts or an in-depth look explaining the grading of used parts (ARA’s used parts code).
Company Video FAQs: Any recycler can leap over the image of faceless, industry players with on-the-fly videos, which feature charming customer service people answering frequently asked questions. Sure, many businesses already have written FAQs on their websites, but there is something to be said for going the extra mile and offering the personal touch that’s inherent in the video medium.
News Video Clips: The beauty of posting your shop’s news to YouTube is that your information is not sliced, diced, or in any other way whittled down to a mere shadow of its former glory. Plus, if you have a Facebook site, you can cross-promote the two online presences by posting company news on Facebook with a link to the YouTube video. Cross links also boost your Search Engine Optimization.
Focus Groups: Many sophisticated users of YouTube are also using the service as a free testing ground for commercials they plan to run on cable, broadcast TV, and elsewhere on the Web. Specifically, they use You-
Tube’s free analytical tool, Insight (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo6HBKTyIzQ), to test the marketing punch of their commercials. Insight’s metrics include the overall popularity of your video, who’s viewing your video, where those viewers are coming from on the Web, and what keywords they’re using to find your video.
Customer Communications: When an e-mail or friendly phone call simply doesn’t cut it, many businesses are posting videos to YouTube to connect with clients concerning project updates, personalized descriptions of new products or services, and the like. The medium conveys the message that the company places a special value on its client or customer and is willing to go the extra distance to prove it.
Plus, such communications can easily be made private on YouTube by selecting the “private” option under its “Broadcast Options” variable. This ensures only the viewers you select get to see the video you’ve uploaded.
A home-run communications video for recyclers, for example, could be a video highlighting how buying a used part actually enables a customer to reduce their carbon footprint and live more green. Another effective green video could be a primer on dismantling a car and selling it for parts – while disposing of fluids properly – is the green way to go.
Employee-to-Employee Communications: As far as Google, the parent company of YouTube is concerned, video mail could be poised to become the e-mail of the next decade (www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWzwLGJ0BIo). In fact, Google has added “Google Video” to its Google Apps suite for business. Makes sense. Why not zip off a response to a thorny problem or challenge using video if it’s easier to do so than in another medium? At the very least, video mail is a trend worth experimenting with and monitoring, either on YouTube or via Google Apps.
Employee Training: Any auto recycler with multiple locations across the United States, or across the world, can immediately see the benefit of posting training videos on YouTube and having the appropriate employees dial in. By using YouTube’s “private broadcast” option, those companies can ensure the training videos stay internal. “Many companies find that YouTube is a fast and effective way to disseminate all kinds of employee information,” Miller says. “Done right, it gets information out there in near-real-time with all the benefit of face-to-face communication.”
Savings on Business Travel: All the videos sent to employees and clients are also enabling business users to rack up substantial savings on business travel. Granted, there are plenty of instances where true face-to-face interaction is irreplaceable. But in many other situations, a video overture is a bulls-eye compromise between basic e-mail and an all-expenses paid business trip for one or more employees to multiple cities.
Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. Contact him at (646) 233-4089 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.joedysart.com.
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