Like social media apps, YouTube has a bad rap in business. Not only do managers worry that their employees will waste too much time watching music videos or comedy skits on company time, YouTube can also chew up a lot of company bandwidth. Yet YouTube has many productive applications for companies that use it wisely.

Here are four of them:

1. Marketing and advertising

The most obvious application for YouTube in business is as a powerful channel to reach prospects and customers with targeted marketing. It’s consistently the second most visited website in South Africa, behind only Google, and South African users spend an average of around 17 minutes a day on the platform, according to Alexa.

You can easily set up a company channel and put up a range of content for customers to explore. This doesn’t need to be TV-style commercials – you can also put up a video of the CEO giving a keynote speech at a major conference, a product unboxing, a customer testimonial or a behind-the-scenes look at your company operations. The only limit is your imagination.

YouTube also offers many flexible ad formats. In-stream ads play before, during or after other videos, while discovery ads appear when a user is searching or browsing content on YouTube or across the web. Short ‘bumper ads’ are videos of six seconds or less that cannot be skipped. Hootsuite’s The Complete Guide to YouTube Ads for Marketers is a good primer.

 2. Customer support and advice

We’re living in a video saturated world and people are increasingly impatient with wading through long FAQ documents or spending hours on the phone when they need help or advice. Here’s where YouTube videos can be a boon to your business. How-to videos are wildly popular. You can shoot short product explainer videos to walk customers through configuring a new device, for example. Or you can create short support videos that help customers with troubleshooting when they encounter a technical problem. It can also be a helpful channel for pre-sales support, for instance, talking customers through different package options, product comparisons, your terms and conditions or how a new feature in a product works.

If your videos are good, they will be a real time saver for your business and the customer. Customers will be able to resolve many queries without sending an email or picking up a phone – at a time that is convenient for them. Your team, meanwhile, can focus on the really tricky jobs that need an expert’s hand or on adding value to the client.

 3. Training

Video is one of the most engaging ways to learn and YouTube is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to share e-learning videos with your team. This can range from informal learning – such as an employee watching an existing YouTube video to get Excel tips and tricks – through to proprietary videos that you create yourself to train staff up in a particular competence.

You can make your own videos private and share them only with the people who should see them, meaning that you don’t need to worry about members of the public exploring your content. One strength of YouTube is that it can be easily integrated into a bigger training course with minimal fuss – many learning management systems will let you add curated YouTube videos to your courses.

Unlike some proprietary video formats, you’ll know anyone on your team with a modern browser can easily access the content. YouTube is flexible, giving you the freedom to create long virtual classroom sessions for a team member getting sales training or snippets for microlearning applications, like showing someone how populate a field in the CRM application.

YouTube is one of the largest search engines on the web, so it’s packed with useful resources in every field, from crash courses in design thinking or project management to in-depth tutorials on programming languages or business leadership advice. Not all of the content is high quality, but there is plenty there to choose from.

 4. Recruitment

YouTube can be an effective tool for recruiting employees, giving them a glimpse of how the company operates, its facilities and what it does. The video can be as simple as a few face-to-face interviews with existing employees about their work experience or a senior leader talking about the company’s story, vision and culture.

Getting started

Tools like YouTube’s Video Builder make it quick and easy for non-expert users to create videos from static assets and, of course, anyone with a mobile phone can shoot and edit video these days. For many audiences, spontaneous and authentic content hits the market – glossy production values are not necessarily required.


[Photo by Andrea-piacquadio from Pexels]