How To Use YouTube As a Business

Imogen Davies

Social Media Expert
How To Use YouTube As a Business

Chances are, you’ve probably heard of YouTube as a platform. That being said, in case you’re unaware - YouTube is an online video sharing and social media platform that is owned by Google. In fact, it’s the second most visited website, after Google itself.  

With more than two billion monthly active users - who are collectively watching more than one billion hours of video content per day, it’s a force to be reckoned with. Especially if you’re a business owner looking to promote your services or products, because the opportunities for advertising and sharing content is so wide on this platform.

In this blog, we will discuss all things YouTube - from how to sign-up and get started with your video inspiration to aspect ratios and formatting. By the end of this blog, you’ll know whether YouTube is a good fit for your business - and how to go about beginning your YouTube journey.

Signing up and getting started:

  1. Sign into a Google account: Whether you’re using an existing email address or creating a specific account for your business, this is the first step - and it’s a key one.
  2. Set up your channel: Follow the steps to set up your channel and give it a name. We might be stating the obvious here, but naming the channel after your business name is the best choice! If your business name is already taken, try thinking of clever ways to incorporate your business name to your channel - such as adding a location to your channel name, e.g. Red Ant Social UK.
  3. Set up your channel icon and artwork: Your YouTube profile should be coherent with your company branding - if you have a logo and a colour scheme, it’s best practise to match across all of your social media channels. Not sure of the YouTube channel artwork dimensions? There are plenty of online resources to help you figure this out. Here’s a helpful link to help you create your assets!
  4. Fill out your channel description on the front-end: Your company bio, including your services and products etc. is a great place to start - this is where users will come to find out more about you, including what you can offer them as potential new customers.
  5. Featured channels: You may want to highlight any other channels that are applicable to your business. E.g. a sister company, your CEO’s channel or another extension of your channel.

Aspect ratios and format

When uploading to YouTube you want to make sure that you fit the following criteria - for best practise: 

  • YouTube videos: should ideally be around 7-15 minutes, as Social Media Examiner suggests this is the ideal length for content on the platform. The standard aspect ratio for a YouTube video on a computer is 16:9 - if you have a different aspect ratio, the YouTube player will automatically adjust the video to its ideal size to match the video and your viewer’s devices. 
  • YouTube video ads: Bumper ads are 6 seconds and pre-roll ads run for 15-20 seconds. YouTube ads also follow a 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • Shorts: Content is limited to 60 seconds in length. A YouTube short follows a vertical format, similar to TikTok and Reels, in a 9:16 aspect ratio.

Speaking generally, the length of a YouTube video really depends on the type of video you’re uploading. As an example, a training video could be longer than a product showcase - but you get to choose, and that’s a great thing about YouTube, there isn’t much restriction. 

Another great thing about YouTube is the ability for its users to share videos that are easily able to be shared across other social media platforms, via email - and even come with their own embed codes to be added across websites and forums across the internet.

Now that you’re signed into YouTube and you know the best practice when it comes to uploading on the platform, let’s talk about content!

YouTube homepage

An introduction to content on YouTube

YouTube’s sole purpose is for users to upload videos and share them with others. When it comes to creating content on YouTube, the possibilities are endless. Users can upload YouTube videos, host live streaming videos and recently the platform introduced Shorts - YouTube’s answer to short-form video content taking over the world. Since Shorts was introduced, it has accumulated over 5 trillion views. Not only is YouTube a great platform for uploading content in the ways previously mentioned, but you can also use YouTube to market and advertise your business via YouTube ads!

There is a wide source of content opportunities available on YouTube, but getting inspiration is a whole other discussion. After all, how do you narrow down which types of videos will work best for your business - and where do you find inspiration on an app that is oversaturated with content? 

In the grand scheme of things, YouTube videos can generally cover any range of topics, from unboxing videos, to tutorials and how-to guides, all the way to true crime makeup videos. Yes, that’s a real genre. Pretty much, if you can think of it: there’s an audience. However, as with any social media platform, it’s important to find your niche and draw inspiration from other businesses and competitors.

Let’s say for example, your business solely offers website design services. Think about what you want to offer your audience on YouTube. Do you want to teach your audience the basics of creating a website, or do you want to show-off your greatest designs? Try searching for the services you offer on YouTube, and take inspiration from other videos. You may find content such as “How-to create a website” and “My favourite website designs” useful as topic coverage for your business - but from there, it’s up to you to add your own creative spin.

YouTube top tips!

  • Quality is everything.

It’s best practice when uploading to YouTube to make sure your videos are the highest quality they can be. When it comes to video production, the truth is that you don’t need a large budget behind you to create high quality videos - which is great news for small businesses and startups looking to explore this platform. You can do a lot with a mobile phone and an editing app! And if you’re looking for ways to balance video production amongst your day-to-day work tasks, try scheduling time into your calendar specifically for creating your YouTube content.

  • Substance is key.

The clearer your video content is, the more likely people will watch until the end, and the better your completion rate will be. This is important because it helps with YouTube SEO and your videos will rank better on the platform. When planning content, keep in mind that YouTube prefers longer videos that can be watched for longer periods. Therefore, the longer your videos are watched, the higher your ranking is likely to be.

  • Grab attention with an engaging thumbnail.

Similarly to any search engine, when you search on YouTube for a specific result - several options will show up on the results page. If you think about what realistically drives users to click on a video - it’s usually because the thumbnail has invited them in and intrigued them more than other options. When creating YouTube thumbnails for your videos, the aspect ratio should be 1280 x 720. If you don’t have any specific software to complete this, try out some of the online editing platforms like Canva (a life saving website for small businesses and start-ups!)

YouTube thumbnail examples

How does the YouTube algorithm work?

The main goal of YouTube’s platform is to keep viewers engaged on the site for a long time, so that in-video advertisements - which are YouTube’s primary revenue source -  get viewed as much as possible. Therefore, the YouTube algorithm focuses on feeding viewers as many relevant videos as possible to keep them engaged as much as possible.

So, how does YouTube know what videos people want to watch? 

Well - it takes the following into consideration:

  • Sequences of videos that are often watched after each other
  • Videos the users have previously watched
  • Videos related by topic - involving keyword searches.

Out of those three factors, you can only really control the last one - so keywords are an important part of your business strategy on YouTube. Make sure to describe your video topic and its category during the upload process - and try your best to think about which words a user may use to search for that specific video in the YouTube search engine. If you’re struggling to think of ways to write your YouTube description - there are plenty of resources online to help you.

So, should my business be on YouTube?

There’s no doubt that YouTube is an incredibly effective tool for marketing small businesses and startups - no matter the industry or profession you’re in. It’s a great way to share your story, services and/or products through content and you can utilise YouTube in the ways listed above to potentially reach millions of users and build a community online - as with many other social media platforms.

If you believe you can create engaging long-form video content that is relevant to your business and offers something to your target audience, then YouTube is definitely an avenue worth exploring.