Olga Andrienko, VP of Marketing at Semrush suggests why your SME should start to implement video platforms such as YouTube within your marketing strategy. Small businesses have endured a rough 2020 and 2021 so far. They could be forgiven for focusing on the essentials of their business over that time – to make sure that when things stabilise, there is a business for customers to come back to. Marketing is likely to have been one of those areas which fell away in the face of focusing on survival. And yet, as lockdowns start to fade in the distance, making sure that those businesses bounce back and begin to communicate with audiences once more will be equally critical. And one of the most engaging ways for SMEs to tell that story directly is through video. Youtube is one of the reigning sites on the internet, and its influence has only grown over lockdown. Pre-pandemic, it boasted over 2 billion viewers  – that’s roughly a quarter of the planet. During lockdown, that number grew. And it’s growing for business use too. In 2020, Cisco estimated that 82% of the total internet traffic in the world had been video-based. And yet, the most recent estimates say just 9% of SMEs are using the channel as a way to communicate themselves. Just like any other site on the internet, Youtube is also constantly changing and evolving. From growing development of social shopping through its platform to keeping pace with changes within its own algorithms, it can be a daunting place for the inexperienced. This is why Semrush recently ran its  own report looking into major trends on the channel, and how brands can best stay on top of their videos as a means to engage their audiences. Take, for example, how to get a video to stand out in the first place. Our study found that the top ranked videos on Youtube had 50 words or more in their descriptions. Shorter certainly is not sweeter when it comes to finding an audience for a video – although it is a benefit when it comes to video titles. In our sample, 54% of videos had titles of 8 words or fewer. Looking at what kind of content tends to engage is also key. For example, well over half of ‘how to’ videos which proved especially popular in 2020, are longer than 5 minutes. When it comes to most videos on the site, only 33% clock in at over 5 minutes. This is not necessarily a channel where the approach of ‘be brief, be bright, be gone’ is the best one to follow. This ‘bigger is not always better’ learning goes deeper than video length as well. When looking at the channels ranking well on the platform, yes, the bulk of the views is going to popular channels with high subscriber bases. However, 18% of videos coming up in a search come from channels with less than 1000 subscribers. This should be music to the ears of an SME – even with a small, focused audience, they can still have an impact and reach a wider set of eyeballs. Even better, adding links to the video tends to boost its view-ability. Our study discovered that the top ranking videos tended to have three web-links included, and that branded web-links increased click through rates by 39%. If the last 18 months have proven anything, it is the power of community, especially local community. And this is how small businesses tend to thrive. As an engaging option in the small business’ marketing realm, video has a lot to offer. It can be produced cost effectively using just a mobile phone. While the quality of the video can be an asset when it comes to standing out on a site with the scale of Youtube, it’s worth remembering that most small businesses don’t exist to serve a huge mass audience. Many of them just need to share their updates, their stories and their successes with much smaller groups. Videos looking at how the company is returning to the area, how it has engaged with the local community, how it is facing its post-pandemic reopening can all provide its customers (and potential customers) with engaging and personality-fuelled content which is easy to digest and makes the business more distinctive. For those companies looking to re-engage their customers, Youtube may seem like biting off more than they can chew. However, it doesn’t have to be an all-consuming task, as companies can start small with one or two videos, test how they deliver, and learn. The main things SME owners can take from our study are that anyone can use the platform to stand out – it’s not just the biggest or most famous brands. Content should also be shared across other channels too including LinkedIn and Twitter to make sure that it is seen in a number of places, and it shows the business is back. When it comes to video, small steps can make a big difference – and that big difference will help your business to thrive in the long term.

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