1. Sales & Marketing
  2. Finances
  3. Your Team
  4. Technology
  5. Social Media
  6. Security
Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.
Grow Your Business Social Media

YouTube for Business: Everything You Need to Know

YouTube for Business: Everything You Need to Know
Credit: Bloomua / Shutterstock.com

YouTube is a social networking platform that allows users to upload their own video content and interact with other users' videos. The platform, which was launched in 2005 by former PayPal employees Chad Hurley, Steven Chen and Jawed Karim, is web-based, and also has a high-performing mobile application. Google bought the platform a year later, which is why YouTube accounts are linked to Google Plus.

Internet analytics company Alexa currently ranks YouTube No. 2 both domestically and globally in web traffic. It has more than 1 billion users, and more than half of all views come from mobile devices.

For an individual user, the site appears straightforward. But what about for small businesses? What kinds of videos should and shouldn't you upload? How do you engage with other users creating similar content? Can you attract followers who eventually turn into loyal customers? What about creating an advertising campaign? Here's how to use YouTube for business.

  1. Signing up for an account
  2. Customizing your YouTube profile
  3. Interacting with others on YouTube
  4. Verifying your channel
  5. YouTube Live
  6. Trending videos on YouTube
  7. YouTube fandoms
  8. Advertising on YouTube
  9. YouTube Partner Program
  10. YouTube Red
  11. YouTube tips and tricks

Unlike with other sites, you don't have to sign up for YouTube to view content. Unregistered users can watch videos. However, an account is required to upload and engage with other accounts. A membership is also required to view videos flagged as adult content for those 18 years old and up.

To sign up, you must have and be logged in to a Google account. You can sign up using an existing Google account or create a new one. Once you're logged in to your Google account, go to YouTube to customize your YouTube business channel.

In the top left-hand corner of the page, there is a dropdown menu with quite a few options. There are links for the homepage and trending videos, as well as three categories: Library, Subscriptions and More From YouTube. Your library helps you organize which videos you've watched, liked and saved for later. Subscriptions updates you on the channels you're subscribed to, notifying you when they've uploaded new content.

In the top right-hand corner of the page, there are four buttons. The one closest to the center, which is an icon of an arrow pointing up over a dash, directs you to the page where you upload a video. The middle one, which is a square comprising nine smaller squares, is for YouTube apps. The next button is an icon of a bell, and it notifies you of your account activity, such as a new like or comment. The one closest to the edge, which is an icon of your profile picture, will direct you to your account information pulled from Google.

Editor's Note: Looking for a tool to help you with social media management? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.

buyerzone widget

Once you've signed up for YouTube, you'll need to customize your profile with your business's information. Every user is assigned a channel according to their username. Likewise, you'll be given a specific URL so other people can find your channel through a direct link.

To customize your channel, go to your avatar icon in the top right corner of the homepage. Then, click on "my channel." Here you'll be asked to enter your name, but you also have the option to use a business name. Click "use a business or other name," which will take you to a page where you can enter your business's name.

Your can't change your YouTube channel's layout, but you can add channel art, which is similar to a Facebook or Twitter banner. The header is a great place to add your business's logo and/or tagline.

Your profile photo and channel art should represent your brand clearly through high-quality photos. If you don't upload a photo or art, YouTube will fill in generic default images for both. However, your profile photo is pulled directly from your Google account and must be uploaded through Google, not YouTube. It will take a few minutes to sync your Google profile photo to your YouTube account.

It's important to fill out information about your business too. Share information about your business, its services and so on. You can also add your website along with your company's tagline. Other YouTube users, especially subscribers, should get a general understanding of what your business is about and how to find more information by looking at its channel page. After all, every social network is a chance to gain new audiences and, ultimately, loyal customers.

There are several ways to interact with other YouTube users, but only publicly. There isn't a private messaging service, unlike on other social platforms.

  • Comments: Comments can be organized by most popular or newest. Engaging with users who comment on your videos boosts the video's engagement traffic.
  • Likes: This is a more passive form of interacting with content. However, if you've chosen to show your likes publicly on your channel, these videos will appear under the playlists section on your channel.
  • Subscriptions: The best way for users to stay up to date with your brand's content is to subscribe. Every time a user uploads a new video, a subscriber will receive a push notification. You should constantly encourage your channel viewers to do this, especially since it improves engagement traffic and increases the number of views.
  • Playlists: Organize relevant content using the site's playlist feature. If you choose to publicize them, playlists will appear on your channel's page below your uploaded content. You can also organize other users' content through a list. For instance, if you're a marketing agency, you can compile a client's videos into one big list. Otherwise, this is another way to organize your own content on your channel.
  • Sharing: The site's social widget allows users to share videos on other social media networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Blogger, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

How will you know if a channel is verified or not? There will be a small checkbox, which indicates a verification badge, right next to the channel's name. To apply for verification, typically your channel must have 100,000 subscribers. However, interested businesses can contact Google directly to inquire about verification.

Similar to Facebook Live, YouTube has its own livestreaming feature. These broadcasts are usually oriented around news or sports. This isn't as important or significant a feature as the site's standard video format; it's not widely known to the general public, and your account must be verified to conduct a livestream.

If you choose to do a livestream, there are three ways to go about it. The first, which is the quickest, is the Stream Now option. The second is through the Events tab, which gives you more control because you can preview your stream ahead of time. Lastly, there is an option on the site's mobile app; if you use this, the stream will later be archived on your channel.

Trending videos are any videos that YouTube users are interacting with at a very high rate. Often these videos were uploaded within the last couple days. You can view the current trending videos under the Trending tab on the YouTube homepage, even if you're not logged in or don't have an account.

Most commonly, trends reflect popular culture, one-off viral hits and current events. The site also features users tagged with a blue Creator on the Rise or Artist on the Rise badge next their channel names on the trending videos page. These channels are showcased for 24 hours, featuring six creators and artists a week. Criteria includes having more than 1,000 subscribers, but users can only be chosen once.

For brands, the goal of creating trending content isn't necessary. It could be a shoot-for-the-stars goal, because if one of your videos goes viral, it could end up on the trending page and thus gain significant exposure to your company. However, silly commercials, like those on the Super Bowl, have ended up as trending YouTube videos shortly following their television debut.

You might have heard the buzz about YouTubers, or video content creators solely based on YouTube. These are essentially personalities, such as those on television talk shows or reality shows, with their own unique channels. Many specialize in a particular niche like cooking or beauty, while others document their day-to-day lives in the style of a vlog. Many of these personalities have grown and maintained a large following, sometimes with hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers, such as Grace Helbig and Tyler Oakley.

While recruiting such a large following is an admirable goal for small businesses, that isn't the only thing we can learn from YouTubers. In fact, working with YouTube personalities can turn out to be a smart business move.

Many YouTubers have corporate sponsorships. These sponsors send YouTubers their products to mention or use in their videos. Oftentimes, YouTubers will verbally mention the company and how awesome their product is. For instance, makeup companies often send popular beauty bloggers their products so these bloggers can make videos applying the makeup. Some creators upload haul-themed videos where they review several products at once.

There are a few ways to advertise on YouTube, especially since users reap the benefits of the site's free service. Since the site is based on video content, companies are encouraged to add a call-to-action link to their website following their video.

There are three video ad options, including TrueView in-stream ads, which play before, during or after other videos. After five seconds of these ads, users can skip the ad. You'll only be charged for the ad when a viewer watches 30 seconds of the video or interacts with the video.

There are also discovery ads, which appear when a user is searching or browsing content on YouTube or across the web. These clips aren't limited to 30 seconds; they can be as short or long as you wish. You'll be charged every time someone clicks on the ad to watch the full video.

Bumper ads are six seconds or less, and users can't skip these. These ads also appear before, during or after another video.

With the YouTube Partner Program, you can monetize your content on YouTube. You earn money from advertisements on your videos and when YouTube Red subscribers watch your videos. You're eligible for the program once your channel reaches 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months and 1,000 subscribers.

You can check your watch time and subscribers under YouTube Analytics, which is in your dashboard. While it may be difficult to reach these requirements, the program allows you to make money on videos you plan to create anyway.

YouTube Red is a subscription service, starting at $9.99 a month, that allows users to stream video content without advertisements at the beginning of videos. It also lets you download videos to watch offline.

Although you don't need a subscription to operate YouTube for your business, it's good to know the latest news about the site to better familiarize yourself with it. Plus, with this subscription, remember that videos are ad-free. At the end of the day, YouTube Red could hurt your business, because the premium services take users away from in-stream advertisements.

Now that you understand how to use YouTube, here are a few tips and tricks to use the site to your brand's advantage.

Encourage viewers to subscribe. Subscribing is the best way for your audience to know whenever you've uploaded a video, created a new playlist and more. It also gives you an estimated figure as to who will eventually view your video.

Share videos on other social media platforms. Link back to your videos whenever possible on your website and other social media networks. However, don't stop at direct video links. Link back to your channel so your audience can see what it looks like and have the chance to subscribe.

Use relevant keywords in a video's title, tags and description. Experiment with different titles and descriptions. As with other social networking sites, selecting relevant keywords to increase hits is a common SEO strategy for marketers. It helps audiences find content that interests them. A quick exercise would be to watch one of your company's videos from the beginning and then create a list of words and phrases as you watch.

Engage with similar content uploaded by other users. Like and comment on other videos uploaded by other users. Not only might those users stumble upon your videos and channel, but anyone else who sees that comment or like might as well. Do this with videos that share a similar topic, interest or theme to attract new viewers.

Curate playlists. If any of your videos follow a consistent theme, make sure to organize them together. Perhaps you have a Friday series, meaning you upload a video every Friday morning. You should compile all those videos into one spot through a special playlist. These playlists will also appear on your channel's page, right below your uploaded videos.

Upload content regularly. Especially if you've developed a decent pool of subscribers, viewers will be counting on you to create, edit and upload new content. This adds relevancy to your brand. This also applies to any other website where users can follow and engage with your content. It's better to add content whenever possible, even if it isn't as consistent as you'd like.

Use clickable links to reference other content. At the end of videos, you'll notice many videos reference previous, relevant or maybe even newer content with a clickable link inside the video. You can add these while editing your video in the site's video manager. This feature can also link back to any webpages or sites your video covers.

Work with top content creators to place products. Popular YouTubers, especially those with frequently trending content, have hundreds of thousands to millions of subscribers constantly watching their channel. It could be a great business opportunity to reach out to them as a potential sponsor. Many YouTube personalities place products in their videos, which gives a specific brand a larger audience than usual.

Use YouTube stories. YouTube recently created YouTube stories, which is similar to Snapchat or Instagram stories. A story is a collection of short videos that can remain visible for a day or until they're deleted. Google is now testing Al to swap backgrounds in stories, running a beta version of it with some content creators.

Additional reporting by Danielle Corcione.

Editor's Note: Looking for a tool to help you with social media management? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.

buyerzone widget
Saige Driver

Saige Driver graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a degree in journalism. She started her career at a radio station in Indiana, and is currently the social media strategist at Business News Daily. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.