Want to do more with YouTube? Wondering how to compete with established YouTube channels?
To explore how to build a brand on YouTube, I interview Salma Jafri on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.
Salma is a video strategist and YouTube coach who specializes in helping other coaches, solopreneurs, and consultants develop their brand with video content. Her YouTube channel is full of useful content focused on building a personal brand with video and her course is called YouTube Launch Pad.
You'll discover how to use Salma's VCP formula to build an audience on YouTube. You'll also learn how to create content that establishes you as a subject matter expert people will trust.
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In 2011, Salma was running a content marketing agency from her home in Pakistan, working with clients such as Dell and LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. When she saw a contest offering a $10K prize, she entered by putting her first video on YouTube. She didn't win but her video did get the attention of the judges and the CEO of the company, who hired her to do his company's training videos.
When she saw the staying power of that one video—it had accumulated more than 80K views and many comments from people who wanted Salma to teach them how to work from home—she wanted to pivot from writing blog posts to doing video.
Then, in 2012, YouTube was banned in Pakistan for 3 years. In 2015, YouTube was once again available in Pakistan and Salma started to dabble. By 2017, she'd decided to go pro and focus on the platform.
Today, in addition to working with her YouTube Launch Pad students and YouTube Intensive coaching clients, she has brand partnerships, affiliate marketing relationships, and speaking engagements, all thanks to YouTube.
Why Build a Brand With Video on YouTube?
Typically, when people think about a YouTube channel, they're hyper-focused on subscribers, views, and monetization. They seem to think that subscribers equal success. Salma challenges that perspective.
She had fewer than 500 subscribers when she did her first sponsored brand deal, fewer than 1,000 subscribers when she was accepted into Entrepreneur magazine's Entrepreneur Network Program, and fewer than 2,000 subscribers when she landed a speaking engagement at Inbound.
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Her own successes are proof that valuable opportunities aren't restricted to YouTube channels with large audiences or viewer numbers. As with any video, it's not how many people watch the video; it's that the right person watches your video.
So why put your videos on YouTube rather than other platforms? The answer comes down to exposure.
When Salma transitioned to video, the feeds on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn were chronological, which meant that the value of the video content she uploaded would depreciate as time went by. However, on YouTube, she found that even videos that were 1 or 2 years old continued to appreciate. Why? Because her videos were continually served in search results for queries initiated by people looking for answers to their questions.
Today, 80% of searches are performed on Google and video can show up in three results tabs: All, Videos, and Images. That's a big opportunity to gain market share exposure for your products and brand.
The VCP Formula to Attract Your Ideal Audience on YouTube
Visibility is how you build brand awareness. The more visibility you get, the more brand awareness you build.
A lot of people who want to get started on YouTube worry they won't be able to compete for brand awareness because their niche seems to be dominated by big, established channels.
However, if you develop content that takes a specific segment of viewers on a deep dive, you can rank above those bigger players.
For example, rather than creating a video to rank for “How to meditate,” you could create a video on “How to do daily meditation in 10 minutes or less” that focuses on helping busy moms add daily meditation to their day. As you develop more meditation content to serve that audience of busy moms, YouTube begins to see you as an authority and will send more of that audience to your channel.
The key takeaway here is that YouTube isn't looking to promote your videos. YouTube is looking for an audience that will consume your videos. It's a subtle difference but it matters. Once you understand what YouTube wants, it's easy to create content that produces the visibility you're looking for.
Credibility is what prompts people to trust a subject matter authority. You build that credibility through the body of content you create and deliver.
What type of content will position you as an authority? It's not always content that positions you as the expert.
When Salma started her YouTube channel, she wasn't trying to position herself as a YouTube expert. She was talking about content marketing, buyer personas, and content marketing funnels. She began talking about YouTube within the context of learning to use the platform herself: sharing the tactics she tried, what she learned, what worked, and so on. The more YouTube-based content she created, the more she enjoyed it. As she went on, her mantra became, “Learn, Share, Teach.”
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That's her advice to others, too. If you want to become an authority, deliver content you enjoy creating. Learn something, share what you learned, and then teach others.
To get started, create videos to answer the questions people ask you most often. If you don't have an audience yet, answer the questions people are asking your closest competitor. Or enter your niche in Google to see what questions people are asking.
The more you share what you know or what you learn, the more others will begin to call you an expert, and that's really when the word expert matters.
How to Find the Right Video Style
Should you do 2-minute videos or 10-minute videos? Vlog-style or tutorial-style?
To guide your content development, Salma suggests you rely on experiments. She uses a spreadsheet to guide her own experiments, which run for 90 days.
For example, you commit to doing a 90-day (12-week) experiment, during which you'll publish one 10-minute video every Tuesday at 9 AM EST. That sounds like a lot but it's only 12 videos.
At the end of the 90 days, look at the analytics in YouTube to see whether people are watching, at which point viewers drop off, and other relevant metrics. Then, based on what you learn, you might test 2-minute videos. Or you might test 10-minute vlog-style videos, and then try tutorial-style.
How to Differentiate Yourself
Your life experience, education, family relationships, and work experience all combine to make you different from everyone else. No one talks the way you do. No one has the same ideas as you or explains things the way you do. All you need to do is tap into that.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask people for feedback. Ask them to express how you come across, use three words to describe your content, and describe the value they gained from your video.
Look for patterns or repeated phrases those people used. Do people often say you're friendly? Or snobby? Or hyper? Do they often say you explain things clearly? Whatever they say most often will be the things that resonate with people or don't.
You won't be for everyone and that's as it should be. In fact, Salma suggests an exercise in which you identify who you're going to appeal to and who you're not going to appeal to—who your haters will be. The more focused you can get about who you are and aren't for, the more successful you will be. If you try to be everything to everyone, you'll be nothing for no one.
Profitability is the process of identifying who you want to work with. To do that, you often need to send people off of a platform to your own website so you can build your email list or generate sales.
While many social media platforms make this difficult for marketers, this is where YouTube shines.
Not only does YouTube allow you to drop links to your website and social channels or lead magnets into your YouTube content, the platform has developed many tools to make that process easy.
Within the content itself, you can add clickable YouTube cards in the middle of a video and clickable endscreens to the end of your video. Within the description, you can drop any number of links, including affiliate links, as long as you properly disclose them.
Final Thoughts From Salma
If you come from a place of integrity, it doesn't matter what your videos are about or what your deeper why is, as long as your video content ties in with your vision for your brand.
Some people want their brand to be seen as an authority, some want to be an influencer, some want to generate a lot of sales… whatever the goal is, creating content with integrity can help you achieve that goal.
If you want to get onto the world's biggest stages and talk, you can do that if you have your own YouTube show. If you want to prove to somebody that you can run their entire media department, you can do that by creating a YouTube show. The opportunities and potential are limitless.
Key Takeaways From the Episode:
- Learn more about Salma and download free resources at salmajafri.com/SME and salmajafri.com/vcp.
- Check out Salma's YouTube channel.
- Explore Salma's YouTube Launch Pad course and her YouTube Intensive coaching program.
- Check out Salma's Facebook group, Personal Branding with Video.
- Learn more about the YouTube Marketing Summit at YTsummit.com.
- Download the Social Media Marketing Industry Report.
- Watch exclusive content and original videos from Social Media Examiner on YouTube.
- Watch our weekly Social Media Marketing Talk Show on Fridays at 10 AM Pacific on YouTube.
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What do you think? What are your thoughts on building a brand on YouTube? Please share your comments below.
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