I see everyday how online video can be an efficient and effective way for entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop their brand and engage with new consumers.
Today, there are one billion users on Youtube - that’s one third of all people on the internet - and online video is set to take 79 percent of online traffic by 2020.
In MENA, the total number of hours spent watching Youtube grows by 60 percent year-on-year - which makes the region second after the US in terms of watch time.
For example, one entrepreneur who is putting it at the centre of his business strategy is Dubai-based Saygin Yalcin, founder of car trading site Sellanycar.com. Saygin uses his Youtube channel to develop his own personal brand and to put a recognizable face behind his company, as well as push his various community initiatives.
But one common challenge the entrepreneurs I work with all share is the struggle to build a long-lasting and authentic connection between their brand and their audience.
What you need to know are the five basics that can help you broadcast your message, increase your reach and engage with a passionate community.
1. Create valuable content around your passion
Be specific and use this opportunity to connect with an engaged audience.
Find what inspires you and define a sweet spot where you can create content that you’re passionate about for an audience that cares. Your message is one of millions online, so it’s important to understand the community you’re in, as well as where you fit into it. Online video platforms host a plethora of niche communities in the Arab world - from fast food reviewers to interior design and alternative music aficionados.
The Arabic online content industry’s lifecycle is still in its early stages, despite the number of hours of uploaded content in Arabic growing by 40 percent year-on-year. This means there is a huge opportunity to develop a place in the market and build a strong community with Arabic-language videos.
2. Develop content consistently
Focus on consistent and useful show formats that offer value to your audience.
I have seen lots of entrepreneurs upload one-off videos on their Youtube channel to push their product, without focusing on their viewers. These videos usually don’t form part of a series or don’t sit on an upload schedule.
Startups that succeed on the platform make content that provides value to viewers: channels that people follow.
A one-off viral video can be helpful, however to truly connect with a community you need to work on a regular upload schedule with a consistent show format. You should use a content framework to develop a compelling content strategy.
One possible framework is hero-hub-help.
3. Connect with your audience
Focus on videos that develop your brand’s personality and interact with your audience.
Creators speak directly to you as a friend. In fact, 39 percent of millennial Youtube subscribers say their favourite creator understands them better than their friends do, according to a study by Ipsos Connect in 2015. They’re also not passive - audiences will leave comments on your videos and share them.
Engaging with your target audience is a key first step to success. That is why it is vital that entrepreneurs work on humanizing their efforts, which could be by featuring a face behind the brand. Having an individual that your community can rally around, listen to and engage with represent the startup as its personality online.
And remember, it’s a two-way relationship, so it’s important to listen to and learn from your community.
4. Collaborate with other creators
Collaborate with other creators and be part of the online video community you join to build trust with your audience.
In 2015, eight out of the top 10 most influential celebrities were Youtube stars and 61 percent of subscribers said their opinions about a brand had been influenced by a creator they follow, according to a Variety magazine study.
Many creators have built global brands by sharing compelling stories with deep sincerity. And they’re already talking to audiences that you want to reach. Knowing how to find—and collaborate with—these influential creatives can increase your credibility with any demographic.
Platforms such as Fame Bit are helping creators and brands find and work with each other through sponsorships and paid promotion. In this example, Alaa Wardi and Anghami figured out the core value they both share: their timeless love for Arabic music.
5. Get your content discovered
Keep an eye out for what people are interested in and searching for at present to make sure you are maximising opportunities for your videos to be found.
Get in on the hype and develop content around what’s trending in your community.
Google Trends is a great free tool that can help you understand what people are searching for. Additionally, if you already have a channel, you can delve into which search terms are being used to surface your content and use that to inform your content strategy.
So get out there. Share your vision, your passions and your ideas with the world, and build that authentic connection with a community that will push your business forward.
Feature image via Pixabay.