Last Updated on August 19, 2021
For those who understand YouTube, YouTube can be an incredibly powerful tool for events. Millions of people visit YouTube every day, and many of them can and will share anything they find interesting with their friends and social networks. Simply put, there’s enormous potential for viral marketing if a YouTube campaign is put into the hands of a savvy marketer.
Unfortunately, many event marketers don’t seem to fully grasp how YouTube works. They post boring, ‘salesy’ content that treats YouTube videos as little more than extended advertising spots; or they go in with unrealistic expectations and base success on view counts alone; or they only make use of YouTube ads.
If using YouTube for events, don’t rely on YouTube Ads alone
Speaking from experience, using YouTube ads is probably the least useful way to promote your event on YouTube. I’ve yet to meet someone who has bothered to interact with these advertisements in any tangible fashion, other than to wait for it to allow you to click or tap on ‘skip.’
YouTube Ads are simply not a meaningful way of interacting with the platform, they’re an advertising holdover hailing from another time. These ads—which forcibly interrupt a user’s viewing experience—might work on a passive medium like TV, but they simply don’t function well in a medium like YouTube, which is all about active engagement. More often than not, users either tune out entirely or sit and fume, waiting for the ad to be over.
In short, if you want to gain any meaningful benefits through the use of YouTube, you’re going to need to participate in the community. It’s not enough to just throw some money at advertising slots; you need your own YouTube channel. Not only that, you’re going to need to work at uploading meaningful, high quality content—not just sales drivel.
Trust me: YouTube is worth the effort, if you have the audience for it.
Making YouTube work successfully for your event
For the remainder of this article, I’d like to take a look at how the savvy use of YouTube can enrich, enhance, and ultimately lead to the success of an event (and by association, a brand—if you’re more focused on the branding side of things).
When you first think about adding YouTube to your event marketing plan, you might think that all of the work for YouTube is post-event, and that you just need to post videos of the best keynotes or discussions after it’s over. While that can go a long way, it’s leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.
Another possibility is to live stream high-quality video of your event to YouTube so that anyone not attending can get a front-row seat without leaving their computer. Depending on your event, and the rights you have to those keynotes, this may not be an option for all events.
Whether you live stream it or not, why not try to take things a step further, though? Rather than just posting the footage of your event after it’s already happened, why not use it in the lead-up as well?
Just like with Twitter, YouTube can be used to inject some much-needed personality into a brand or organization. Use your videos to tell a story, just like you’d use Tweets on Twitter—you just need to be sure that the story you’re telling is one that your audience wants to hear. You could come up with the most brilliant YouTube campaign in the world, and have it fall completely flat because you didn’t properly tailor it. If you need help with engaging people that are not at your event, you’re in luck, we wrote an article about that too.
Quick ideas you can steal if you’re using YouTube for events
Pre-event marketing for YouTube:
- Have the founder or the “public face” of the event explain the reasons for creating and doing the event.
- Get the speakers for the event to give a quick 1 minute overview of what they can expect from their talk.
- Optionally, have them solicit feedback about the topic at the end of the video so they can tailor the talk even more.
- If it’s a reoccurring event, have someone talk about what’s changed since the last event, and why it’ll be great to return again.
- If your event has sponsors, consider compiling a video showcasing them all and where they’ll be on the floor.
Using YouTube during your event:
- Live stream the keynotes.
- Live stream the entire event.
- Have the MC walk around doing a live stream from their phone to your YouTube channel.
- Walk around an interview speakers, sponsors, guests and post a more off-the-cuff video that captures the hype.
Marketing to YouTube post-event:
- Upload the keynotes, and any major speakers, or highly rated talks you have.
- Post edited down 1-2 minute videos to YouTube.
- Post them directly to Twitter too (upload them directly to Twitter for the best response; they must be under 2 mins, 20 seconds).
- Create a sizzle reel of feedback from your guests about the event. It’ll be great to use parts of it if you do the event again, too.
- Don’t forget to include screenshots of tweets, and maybe some video of your amazing social wall in action. 😉
Don’t forget to check YouTube out after the event!
Before we conclude things, there’s another thing that I should mention about YouTube: it can be a great signal for determining if your event was a success (though it should never be the only signal).
If your event is large enough, there’s a fair chance that you wont be the only one uploading videos. Journalists, consumers, and even other professionals might all go to YouTube to share a particular keynote or announcement. Keep an ear to the ground, and an eye on the stats of these videos; pay attention to what people are saying as well. If plenty of people are watching each video, and the comments are more or less positive, congratulations are in order.
Otherwise… well, at least you’ll be able to figure out what went wrong.
In Summary: Using YouTube for Events
There’s one last thing that also needs to be said: before using YouTube, do your homework and figure out whether or not it’s worth the effort for your event. It’s possible that the demographic you’re targeting doesn’t really use it; remember too that YouTube’s not the only video sharing site out there. Have a look at some of the alternatives, like Vimeo, as well—they might surprise you.
YouTube is a fantastic marketing tool and a fantastic boon for any event planner. At the same time, it’s just that: a tool. It’s not going to be useful for every event. Don’t let YouTube’s enormous potential blind you—that potential doesn’t exist for every event, no matter how savvy the marketer.
Have you used YouTube with success for your event? Let other event planners know, and Tweet about it (and link to this article so they know what you’re talking about). The more we exchange tips, the better everyone’s events will be.
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