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tony wilson

The end of the world didn't happen on December 21, although for those who still don't appreciate the influence of YouTube, consider this: At around 4 p.m. GMT, on the very day the Mayans predicted the world would end, PSY's Gangnam Style , hit 1-billion views, making it the most viewed video in the history of the Internet, surpassing Justin Bieber's Baby.

A viral video can mean lots of money for the star of the video, as well as Google, which owns YouTube and profits from advertising revenue. It can also mean lucrative contracts for those discovered on YouTube, like Justin Bieber.

But discoveries needn't be teen idols like Bieber or pop culture novelties like Gangnam Style. Havard Rugland of Norway, who has never played a game of football in his life, is trying out for the New York Jets as a direct result of a video called Kickalicious he posted to YouTube that went viral. And would Kate Upton have been quite as famous if she hadn't done the Cat Daddy dance on YouTube?

If you're a small business, it's doubtful any video about your product, service or personnel will be be seen by a billion people – or even a million. But maybe a hundred thousand targeted customers would be nice. To get a fraction of that, you really ought to be using more video in your marketing, particularly through YouTube.

My law firm uses YouTube to advertise its lawyers and certain boutique practice areas, like franchising, animal law and immigration law, giving potential clients information about the practice area and also about the lawyer, who they might feel comfortable enough to hire…or not hire, simply as a result of the video. Other legal, accounting and services based organizations regularly use online video to market their professionals.

Going cheap can mean you look cheap. So hire a professional web video and social media marketing agency to produce and distribute a YouTube friendly video that can be accessed on your company's website and circulated on other social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

And if you've been featured in a traditional television interview, don't let it go to waste. Try to get the interview downloaded to YouTube so that you can alert your clients, potential clients and other interested media. Professional public relations consultants can help you with that.

Perhaps the most important reason why you need more video was summed up best in an article by fellow columnist Lisa Ostrikoff of BizBOXTV: Want a higher search ranking overnight? Here's how to do it. Referring to the need for your company's web page to rank as high as possible in Google searches, she says "a quality web video hosted on your site makes the page 50 times more likely to be shown on the first page of Google search results", which is where you want to be, because often, page 2 results might as well be page 6 results.

She goes on to say "Ever since Google purchased YouTube, the likelihood that [Google] will rank these videos favourably in search algorithms has markedly increased. In fact, it is possible to obtain a high ranking on Google practically overnight when web video is effectively used on a page. Google now rates web video even higher than high-quality, keyword-rich articles."

So the most important reason to use more video is so that you have a better chance of being found higher on Google than your competitors.

What sort of video might you use if you want to avoid talking heads talking about widgets and boring your viewers? As a bit of an adrenaline junkie, the Gold Standard for online video is GoPro, the action camera you often see on the helmets of skiers (it's what I use when I'm skiing, shark diving, rappelling off skyscrapers and sailing). One could spend hours on the GoPro YouTube channel simply watching the videos created by GoPro users. GoPro encourages its users to film the most amazing (and often dangerous) activities. Can you encourage your customers to film your product in action and have them post their videos to YouTube (presuming they're happy customers)? There's nothing like dedicated customers so thrilled with their purchase that they're prepared to upload a video extolling the virtues of your product.

Or you could be a little less ambitious and produce videos that actually help your customers service, fix or assemble your product. Thankfully Ikea now does this for some of their products on their own dedicated YouTube channel. So in addition to having a written instruction manual, have a video version accessible on YouTube.

Don't expect Gangnam Style results, but statistically, the fact that a billion people are prepared to watch a strangely dressed man sing a strange song while doing an even stranger dance on YouTube must mean there are some people in the world that will want to see what your company does too.

Tony Wilson is a franchising, licensing and intellectual property lawyer at Boughton Law Corp. in Vancouver, he is an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University (SFU), and he is the author of two books: Manage Your Online Reputation, and Buying a Franchise in Canada. His opinions do not reflect those of the Law Society of British Columbia, SFU or any other organization.

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