Secrets to Maximizing Your 15 Minutes on YouTube

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YouTube has extended the maximum video length from 10 minutes to 15 minutes to compete against Hulu and keep users engaged on the site longer. While the vast majority of the video clips on YouTube are silly, YouTube also provides a number of benefits for businesses if you know how to use it right.

Break out your megaphone and director's chair and start basking in your 15 minutes of fame on YouTube.
Artwork: Chip Taylor
Every minute, 24 hours' worth of video clips are uploaded to YouTube. Now, YouTube is granting millions of YouTube users five extra minutes to upload even longer pathetically lame--although sometimes vaguely humorous--nonsense. Or, businesses can now have five more minutes to make use of YouTube for marketing, training, and customer service.

Here are some of the ways to get the most out of the YouTube platform:

Customer Support. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is comprised of thousands of pictures streamed together. Rather than explaining processes like installation, configuration, or troubleshooting in a manual, or with text and images on a Web page, create customer service video clips for common tasks and post them on YouTube. Video clips will be appreciated by customers, and take some of the burden off of the help desk.

Marketing. Create a YouTube video clip explaining or demonstrating products and services. One of the advantages of a YouTube video is that once it's created and posted, it can be embedded in blogs or other sites, and it can be easily linked to and shared by viewers--possibly even making your marketing video viral.

Training. Businesses can use YouTube to deliver effective training. Simply giving a training manual to an employee has mixed results--they may not really read it and they may not really understand it if they do. Paying a trainer, or delegating another employee to conduct training costs money, and results may vary depending on the trainer. A video clip allows you to record the training exactly as it should be delivered, and re-use it over and over without incurring any additional costs.

Events and Presentations. When the company hosts team events, sales meetings, press conferences, or other events, they should be recorded and uploaded to YouTube. Generally speaking, everyone can't make the event in person. Posting the video of the presentation on YouTube enables a maximum audience to share in the event, and also archives it for posterity should anyone want to view it in the future.

Companies need to stop looking at social networking and Web 2.0 only as silly consumer Internet technologies and instead build a strategy to capitalize on their popularity. YouTube can be an awesome marketing and communications tool if used properly.

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