In my last column I covered a few of the many features incorporated in the YouTube website. For example, the ability to edit videos, add captions and sort into playlists. I also shared some thoughts on how managers can use the site.
Today I'd like to outline different ways businesses can use this "freasy" - free and easy - technology.
There are other video sharing sites such as Viddler and Vimeo. But with over 2 billion site visits a day, there's nothing like YouTube. Think of the potential for introductions to new customers and communication with existing clients, as well as staff. The only caveat to bear in mind is that when IT departments lock out sites such as Trade Me, YouTube is normally added to the no-go zone.
Now, on with some ways in which business can use videos and YouTube:
* Customer service. Do you get queries on how to use your products, fill in forms, put something together or take it apart? Let a how-to video do the work for you. It could be better than trying to explain abstract concepts over the phone. You can also answer frequently asked questions with a creative presentation.
* Your private in-house channel. By setting your account and videos to private, you control who can see your videos (to a maximum of 50 people). This private channel can be used in many ways - between franchises, branches of a business, consultant and clients or in-house training.
* Quotes. This can be business-changing use of technology for the trades. I see the use of private videos as a perfect way to work smarter with clients and more productively within your business. When out quoting, video it and place on YouTube, both for an accurate record and for the potential customer to see.
* Demos of your products. Demos are a clever way to build sales and showcase your product. From baby slings to diamond rings, to industrial parts and supplies. Why not video and put it on your site? Example: Belly Beyond baby Sling.
* Intro you. Say hello on your website. Introduce yourself and your services, group, products or team. It is easier and cheaper to put a video on YouTube and then embed the link and the viewer into your website than to have an IT professional write the code to host it on your own website. Example: Bev Dickey mortgage broker.
* Share your knowledge. Informative presentations, discussions. Want to be seen as a specialist in a particular area? Uploading videos providing authoritative content can help mark you out as an expert in your field. Jayson Bryant set up his own YouTube TV channel, and now has 233 videos online, each reviewing a different wine.
* Introduce your profession. If what you do needs a bit of explaining, isn't a video perfect? National Property Valuers in Australia have their own channel and one of the videos - Top 7 Questions People Ask about Property Valuation - explains why their services are necessary.
* Testimonials. "Straight from the horse's mouth" will impress prospective customers and add much more value than someone from your own business saying how good you are. I have three on my channel, shot on my iPhone:.
* Marketing. Why not try short, sweet tips, ideas or comments as a new form of online newsletter?
* Sales. Do you have ads on television? It's insane not to upload the video to YouTube. Alternatively, create your own ad and upload it. Create videos that outline the reasons your product or service is so valuable to prospective customers. Add a little humour. It will go a long way to make your video more memorable. Have a look here.
* Out of ideas? Interview interesting people. Showcase your clients, an expert in a field. Anything relevant to your business. Add a bit about yourself at the end and give them the video to use too for double the exposure.
There you go. YouTube is free. Easy. Practically universal. You need only one of the new inexpensive video cameras that go straight to YouTube or a smartphone with video. It gives small business the ability to create "ads" that rival the agency creations paid for by large corporations. Can you afford to ignore YouTube?
Debbie Mayo-Smith is a bestselling author and international speaker.