The most popular YouTube videos involve talking animals, pop stars and news channels. But retailers have found a home on the site, too. Here is a list of 12 popular retail brands on YouTube — with descriptions of how each uses its channel there — and the lesson to learn from each.
Apple’s YouTube channel is straightforward: repurpose its television commercial content, archive special announcements by founder Steve Jobs, and republish longer product-related videos from its website.
Lesson: Use YouTube as a channel to archive and repurpose content found elsewhere.
2. Bed, Bath & Beyond
With 266 videos, Bed, Bath & Beyond makes ample use of its channel. To make the videos easier to access, the company has categorized them into playlists, such as kitchen tools, bedding, electronics, baby products and seasonal items.
Lesson: Organize videos into categories using playlists to make them easier to find.
3. Best Buy
Best Buy must believe that, if one YouTube channel is good, then more is better. It offers eight different YouTube channels covering videos related to the company itself, Geek Squad computer repair, Best Buy Unboxed online community, Twelpforce Twitter community, its Insignia products line, Napster music (owned by Best Buy), Best Buy @15 teen channel, and the main channel, which features product videos.
Lesson: Rather than place all video content into one channel, consider creating multiple channels. Users can join each channel through the “Subscribe” and “Like” features. Share content across channels using Playlists.
Blendtec, manufacturer of high-quality commercial-grade blenders, is well known for using homemade video to build brand and increase market share. Its first YouTube video — which resembles more of an industry video than an advertisement — was shot with a camcorder, contained relatively low production values, costs almost no money, when posted to YouTube, was seen over 5 million times within 30 days.
So popular was the first video that others were shot in much the same low-budget fashion. Eventually, the company launched its own YouTube video channel, Will It Blend?, which contains a collection of well over 80 videos. The videos drive most of Blendtec’s marketing and have turned company CEO, Tom Dickson, into a celebrity.
Lesson: Producing video content does not have to be expensive.
Coca-Cola is currently using its channel to promote a special campaign called “Unlock the Secret Formula.” At points during the featured video, an icon of a Coca-Cola bottle appears. When clicked, it takes users to its Facebook Page or MyCoke website where the promotion is continued.
Lesson: Get creative and use YouTube as part of promotional campaigns.
Dell’s video channel, which the company refers to as a video blog (vlog), is one part of its overall social media outreach that includes the Direct2Dell blog community, customer forums, Twitter channel and Facebook page. Dell categorizes its videos into playlists, covering topics such social media, case studies, healthcare technology, cloud computing, special events and more.
Lesson: Integrate YouTube as one part of a coordinated social media plan.
7. French Connection
Fashion retailer French Connection refers to its highly stylized YouTube channel as “Youtique.” Considering the design concept, branding and content, the company makes perhaps the best use of YouTube of any included in this list. There are videos that discuss fashion trends, fashion tips, as well as its television commercials. The design of the channel incorporates links to its online store, Twitter, Facebook, email newsletter and blog.
Lesson: Provide helpful information targeted to the interests of consumers, and incorporate custom graphics to enhance branding.
Video game retailer GameStop uses its channel to show trailers from popular video games — such as Halo and Call of Duty — as well as behind-the-scenes videos of how the games themselves are made.
Lesson: Use YouTube to promote products.
You may not consider GEICO a “retailer,” but the company’s use of YouTube is unique.
The company is well known for its quirky, creative advertising — who doesn’t love the gecko? That creativity carries over to its YouTube channel, which GEICO uses to promote an mobile-phone entertainment app called Brostache.
Lesson: Entertaining videos are always a hit and have the potential to quickly go viral. You don’t have to have a large budget to create them either — remember Blendtec’s example.
OfficeMax utilizes its YouTube channel to focus mainly on building brand awareness around its rubber band ball. A favorite video on the channel was inspired by a father-son project to create the world’s largest rubber band ball.
Lesson: Consider using consumer-generated content as part of your video marketing efforts.
Pepsi’s YouTube marketing efforts are primarily directed at its Pepsi Refresh project, which provides grants to community development projects. The YouTube channel contains a playlist of videos related to the campaign.
Lesson: Use video to promote charitable efforts in which your company participates.
VitaminWater’s videos feature celebrities, actors and sports figures in a series of offbeat commercials.
Lesson: You may not have access to sports stars such as basketball player Steve Nash or actor Gary Busey, but you can feature your own “celebrities” — employees and customers — in case study videos, testimonials, and how-tos.