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Updated 30 Sep 2020

How to use YouTube to market your business in South Africa

The visual revolution is happening in South Africa, use YouTube to market your business. 

Nicole Crampton, 15 January 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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Content in this guide

YouTube is a video-sharing website, which allows users to upload, view and share videos. It is used to display a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. 

Content that is shown on YouTube includes: Video clips, TV clips, music videos, video blogging, short original videos and educational videos. Use YouTube to market your business in South Africa as popularity is growing fast.

According to Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of technology market research organisation World Wide Worx, this is the beginning of the visual revolution in South Africa’s online usage. The rise in video has been become a global trend and is finally making an impact here.

Related: How to make your YouTube videos compelling

The only thing still holding video back is the cost of mobile data for the emerging smartphone market. However the secret for businesses trying to leverage social networks lies in the number of uses and how heavily those users are engaging in these networks.

How South Africans use YouTube

 Youtube -tablet

The fastest rising social networks within South Africa are the visual platforms. The number of SA YouTube users has increased by 53% over the past year according to the study conducted by the SA Social Media Landscape 2015.

YouTube had an active user base of 7.2 million South Africans in August last year, but it has now reached 8.28 million active users a month in 2015.

YouTube users are normal, well-adjusted members of society who probably fall within your target market. Digital users are also known to be five times more likely to buy video games and twice as likely to buy digital content like books, music and movies. This shows that the perception of who uses YouTube can be skewed compared with the people who do actually use YouTube.

Ways to market your business using YouTube

Youtube -desktop -view

YouTube is considered a reliable source of information as it’s user-generated and so buyers can use it to vet products and services. As a brand that means you can present educational content about your products and convert leads into customers.

Related: Create content that grows your business

Here are a few ideas of how you can market and advertise your business using YouTube:

1. Create a YouTube Channel

By creating a YouTube Channel you can reflect you brand and engage with those interested in your brand.  Through this medium you can give your customers more quality content all in one place. This platform is also an extra source of traffic and can help you tap into a larger customer base.

Once your YouTube channel becomes popular you can use it as another source of income by having YouTube adverts or offering video courses. Videos are very popular, which means you will receive a lot of engagement and attention from opening a YouTube channel.

2. Connect your channel to your social network profiles

Connecting your YouTube channel to your other social media sites will allow you to cross-promote. Helping you connect to those within your target market who don’t follow the popular forms of social media but can now also be catered for.

This will also allow potential customers to see user-generated responses to your product. Whether its common questions that you’ve answered or just feedback from customers about the product, these can help you to increase the chances of potential customers buying your products.

3. Customer testimonials

Customer testimonials add to your credibility and trustworthiness. By adding these to your YouTube channel it shows potential customers that existing customers give your products good ratings and care enough to take the time to make a testimonial video.

Customers can also add uses and compliments about your item that you hadn’t even considered. You could now use that information to advertise to a larger customer base.

4. Explain your product with a creative video

Showing and explaining to potential customers exactly how your product works and what it does will help them make a more informed decision about whether or not it’s what they’re looking for. Customers often hesitate when looking at a product that they need, but don’t know how to use. By offering this creative yet informative video solution you can visually explain it to them.

Don’t make the video like an instruction manual. Make it creative and interesting otherwise it won’t capture and keep the customers’ attention. By making the video fun and engaging people are more likely to share it.

5. Include your staff in videos

When introducing your staff in your videos you legitimise and authenticate your business and the product. The more your team is engaged in the business, the more likely people are to trust your business. Without trust your customer won’t take the chance on your business.

With staff included it paints the picture of a fully-functioning working environment and not just a single salesman. Your staff could express valuable insights about your product, which you can share with your customers. The more useful information you give your customers the easier it will be for them to decide whether to buy your product or not.

6. Working with other businesses or celebrity endorsements

Organise to get your product featured in another business’s YouTube channel and do the same for them. This will help both businesses increase the amount of people seeing the products and can help to introduce you to a new customer base. When customers see that your business is being supported by the other business it makes your product seem more trustworthy and genuine.

The same applies to celebrity endorsements. By hiring a celebrity to be your brand ambassador you legitimise your business, introduce the celebrity’s following into your customer base and make your brand more trustworthy.

7. Run a competition

This will create excitement around your business. Current customers might share the competition with friends and family, which could help you increase your customer base. Due to the fact that someone they know introduced them to your product, you may be perceived as inherently credible and trustworthy. Competitions are a good way of collecting customer details.

8. Display your company’s information

Include your business name, URL, phone number and email address in every video. Make your business’s information as memorable, fun and creative as possible. Your customers won’t be able to buy your products if they don’t know who you are and where they can find your products.

9. Create specific “how to” videos

This will assist your customer understand exactly how a specific function of one of your products works. If your customer can’t figure out how to use your product they will most likely never buy from you again and will tell everyone in their sphere of influence how difficult your product is.

Explaining in a fun and creative way will add value to your customer and allow them to correctly and easily use your product. Be sure not to sound condescending or insulting in your video, you use your product every day and have a large amount of knowledge on it, your customer does not. Explain how to use your product in a simple and encouraging way.

10. Frequently asked questions

This section is very important for customers who might be deciding whether or not to buy your item and just have a few common questions they want to ask. If you have videos about these, they can find their answer and be persuaded to buy your product.

This will assist customers who are experiencing the same problem as previous customers. Customers in the digital age like to find out everything for themselves before even leaving their home or office, if you have solutions to their problems they’ll be appreciative of your thoughtfulness.

Related: 8 Ways to be more effective on social media

11. Answer specific customer questions

Go the extra mile and make an entire video responding to a customer’s specific question. Your customers will appreciate the added value and the attention they are receiving. Customers who engage with you also need to be engaged with, this will keep informed and feel appreciated.

This question may be on someone else’s mind but they haven’t had the courage to ask you yet. Now they can find the answers to their questions without having to step out of their comfort zones

12. Cater to everyone

Adding closed-captions or subtitles to your videos will allow you to cater to different markets. Keep in mind not everyone can watch or hear videos in the same way.

Also consider having various language options as not everyone is English speaking and you could tap into a whole community by offering subtitles, at the very least, in their home language. Not only will people who benefit from this be appreciative but other customers will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

When filming how to use a product, make sure to use the product with both right and left hand. This will help lefties to understand how they can use the product instead of them having to go through a trial and error phase and teaching themselves how to use your product

13. Useful hints and tips

Reveal personal insights that you have discovered while using your product. Perhaps it was designed to do one function but you discovered that actually it can be used for a variety of functions. You can reveal to your customers easier ways to use your product for specific functions.

Tricks and tips that you’ve picked up along the way can help your customers use your product in an easier and more streamlined way. You can also make this a platform for customers to share what they have discovered while using your product.

14. Interview an expert

Add expertise and authority to your business and products by interviewing experts about your product. Discuss the science behind your product and the benefits customers should experience when using your product. Experts can also contribute added value for your customers with their opinions and testimony.

15. Convert your podcasts into videos and vice versa

With more information about your business and products in both spheres it will help you to expand your reach. There are customers who prefer podcasts over videos and videos over podcasts and both groups of people should be catered to and have access to the same amount of information.

The more people you reach the more potential customers you can convert into new customers. When you look after all your customers well enough, new customers could become loyal customers.

16. Enhance your videos

With YouTube special features you can enhance your videos and make them visually appealing. Customers don’t just want informative videos they also want visually stimulating videos. Features that you can use include: Annotations, audioswap, insights, language options and quick capture.

The more exciting and interesting your video is to watch the longer potential customers will watch it for. If you determine you have a very high bounce rate you may want to look out how stimulating your videos are. Your content might be exceptional but if your visuals are boring potential customers will move on.

17. Show the results

Make videos of customers experiencing your product or service. This will add trustworthiness and credibility to you, your business and your product. Customers will also love to be in your videos and will appreciate you taking the time to find them, interact with them and show their visual feedback on your product.

18. Events promotion

Use your past events to promote future events. They can serve as advertising for your future events or even as an example of what your business can do and what customers can expect. Having a visual representation of your events can serve as a comprehensive advertising campaign.

If you include attendee-feedback while they’re at your event it will increase the credibility of the video. This will show future attendee’s what they can expect and if they’ll enjoy your event. It’s also confirmation that guests will enjoy the event if you were to be hired to create an event.

19. YouTube Promoted Videos

It is an option your business should look into as it will help spread your business to new customers. This will also help you to reach your target by ensuring your business shows up in contextually-relevant search results.

20. Google AdWords

These require text-based ads and not videos from your business. You can use these to better determine which words to use and the ideal placement of your adverts. This can assist your product to be advertised by Google when customers are searching for something similar.

Related: Free marketing for business owners

Strategies to get you started

Popular -on -Youtube

YouTube has solidified itself as the premier host for visual content and a valuable online marketing channel. You can easily integrate it into your existing strategies and it can be used with numerous marketing techniques. Here are a few techniques you can use:

1. Develop an engaged community

This is a sustainable advertising strategy, which can increase exposure and obtain traffic. You can accomplish this with the following tips:

  • Be consistent. Create consistently quality videos and release them regularly. Release content, for example, three times a week and stick to that. Keep your content consistent, customers like familiarity as well as recurring characters and themes.
  • Create content specific to your users. Create meaningful and valuable content for your customers. Ask yourself when making the video if it will be relevant, exciting and informative and how will the average viewer respond to it?

2. Advertising

YouTube advertising is typically cost-effective, flexible and has sophisticated targets. There are four different versions: In-stream, in-slate, in-search and in-display. Each has a different purpose but all are effective.

You don’t need to have an existing video in order to go for this option, you just need an active account. This is ideal for businesses that want to invest in YouTube marketing but don’t have the creative team to create consistent and engaging content.

Generating leads using YouTube

Youtube -views

Ensuring potential customers see your video isn’t enough, you need to be able to convert the  majority of your viewers into paying customers. To start an AdWords video campaign only requires an AdWords account and a YouTube channel with one video attached. Here are strategies to help you generate leads:

1. Annotations

Annotations are links embedded into your video that take viewers to your site. You can use an annotation like a call to action, for example, “click here for a free trial”. They add variety and provide links without over-marketing the viewer. Keep changing your annotations and wording them differently to keep your viewers interested.

2. Feedback

Allow your viewers to comment and participate on this platform. If you do enable comments then you’ll need to respond to them right away. You can develop a video from popular comments. Customers become loyal and devoted if they believe their voice is being heard.

3. Collaborate with YouTube giants

Approach influential YouTube users and collaborate on a video of mutual interest. Your topic should be as interactive as possible to raise interest. This will help you to access a larger audience and increase your credibility, both of which will help increase your conversion rates.

Related: 5 Online marketing strategies for a tight budget

Paid marketing techniques

Google -Adwords

Google AdWords are being used to show your credibility rating according to Google and if that rating is good then you’ll be in the top search results, if the rating is bad you’ll be in the bottom of the search results. Here are various ways you can use Google AdWords with YouTube:

1. TrueView In-Search Ads

TrueView is the name of ads that only costs you once people have chosen to watch your video. In-search adverts appear in the YouTube search. They are similar to PPC adverts that appear in Google next to the organic search results.

2. TrueView In-Display Ads

These appear as suggested videos on YouTube. You only pay when people begin to watch your suggested video. Depending on your settings these can also be displayed elsewhere on the Google Display Network.

3. TrueView In-Stream Ads

These are the adverts that play before the video-viewer selected plays. They can be any length and are normally linked to your website. They can be skipped after the five-second mark. You only get charges if the viewer has watched beyond the first thirty seconds. These can also be found elsewhere on the Google Display Network.

4. Standard in-stream ads

These are different to TrueView in-stream adverts because you can’t skip these and they are limited to 15 seconds for videos under ten minutes or 30 seconds for videos over ten minutes.

5. Display YouTube ads

You can purchase these banners to be displayed to targeted viewers, next to suggested videos and as an in-video overlay. You either pay per click or per impression.

How to create viral videos

Youtube -on -mobile

A study by Elon University identified nine characteristics that contributed to videos success:

  1. Title length
  2. Run time
  3. Laughter
  4. Element of surprise
  5. Element of irony
  6. Minority presence
  7. Music quality
  8. Youth presence
  9. Talent.

Obviously you can’t always include all of these in every video you do, so here is a more concise list of what to include to enhance your videos chance of going viral:

  • Surprise
  • Interest
  • Intensity
  • Positivity
  • Action.

Viral content needs to be awe-inspiring, positive, the kind of video that makes your day. You’ll eventually share or comment on this type of content because you genuinely care. It’s recommended to approach a project with creativity, research and curiosity to create content of this nature.

Related: 6 Strategies for marketing your retail business online

Marketing mistakes to avoid

Youtube -video -search

The path to success can be littered with seen and unseen pot-holes that a small business can’t afford to get derailed by. Here are several common mistakes made by small businesses on video-sharing platforms:

1. Unrealistic expectations

Your video probably won’t instantly go viral and waiting for viewers to watch by the millions very rarely happens according to Sarah Wood, founder of social video distribution and engagement company Unruly Media.

There are 35 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every minute, making competition intense. Manage your expectations; there are many high-quality company-made videos that never get more than a few thousand views.

2. Think small

However, viral success isn’t completely out of reach just because you’re a small business. Any sized business can score a hit in social videos. Last year a small company had a Christmas Food Court Flash Mob video that achieved 30 million views and 773 000 shares.

3. Viral videos aren’t commercials

YouTube is a social channel where customers want to engage and share, so don’t push sales on them. This is not a dumping ground for marketing videos and requires as much thought as any other social media channel. All of your posts need to represent your brands personality and inspire a reaction from your viewers.

4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

YouTube is the biggest, but not the only online video platform. Vimeo, as an example, is considered more credible specifically for creative professionals. Mpora the action-sport site and Funny or Die the comedy site also has the ability to help your video go viral. They have high-quality video engagement and have a more specific niche demographic.

5. Don’t base your success on the view count

Meaningful engagement is more important than stats or view counts. Brand engagement is important and should be one of your focuses.

Big brands making a name for themselves

Red -Bull -marketing

Video marketing is now a “must-have” for a business marketing strategy. Consider learning from these giants that have successful YouTube marketing campaigns.

Red Bull

Even though they are an energy drink, their marketing focus is on active lifestyles, which require energy. They have 4 million subscribers and a billion total video views in 6 years. Embody the ideal lifestyle that your customer would have after using your product.

Red Bull


They consistently include their logo in the left hand corner of all their content, which reinforces the company and reminds the users who created the video. Company branding is vital when creating video content because it is another way to increase visibility.

Playstation Logo

Small businesses succeeding on YouTube

There is a strategy and a craft behind a YouTube campaign, which can be accomplished by small businesses. Here are some examples of smaller brands that are making waves on YouTube.

Rush T-shirts

Use creative people in your advertising campaign, lose your pre-conceived notions of advertising and finish your video with promotions. See more on Rush T-Shirts here.

Shoes of Prey

Offer your customers contests or giveaways, be sure to have your channel and playlist ready. You can also involve a popular vlogger who can promote your brand. See more on Shoes of Prey here.

Related: Drone photography and video business idea

Tools to help you with YouTube


  • Helps you to create high-quality videos for your business 


  • Will help you to create animation videos for your business


  • Will give you resources and video marketing tips. 
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About the author

Nicole Crampton

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