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YouTube offers a law firm marketing opportunity

You can’t get very far into the Internet without encountering a video clip from YouTube.

Whether embedded into your favorite blogs and Web sites, included among your search engine results, posted on your friends’ and colleagues’ social media profiles or on the ever-growing YouTube.com site itself, these online videos have an immense presence on the Web.

With videos relatively inexpensive to create and free to broadcast, YouTube can be a useful marketing solution for firms that aren’t ready to take on pricey TV ads.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s a look at how self-produced videos combined with YouTube resources can help boost your firm’s presence among this popular video-sharing community and the Web at large.

Creating unique videos

Before getting started, the first piece of equipment you’ll need is a video recorder. Nowadays cell phones, webcams and digital cameras all have video recording capabilities, but a camcorder still offers the best quality. If you haven’t already invested in one, set a budget, compare products and prices and visit a local or online electronics retailer.

While the content of your video is certainly up to you, most attorneys use online video as a means of firm marketing. Allowing potential clients to watch you in action can help personalize your practice, create a level of comfort and establish your Web site as a go-to resource.

If you’re not sure what to say, start by giving a statement about your practice. What unique services and resources can you provide? What are your firm’s goals? And while the Virginia State Bar hasn’t put out any ethics rules on video posting, you’ll probably be safe so long as you observe general advertising rules in your video.

You can also use online video to provide advice for members of the public searching the Internet for legal services. This could include an overview of frequently asked questions or a list of tips to follow when considering a lawsuit.

If your firm participates in community or volunteer programs such as food drives, homebuilding projects or charity runs, create a documentary that shows how your team gives back. You can also use online video to promote upcoming events.

For a quick lesson in video creation, YouTube offers tips for producing the best quality video, such as camera angles, lighting and sound. (www.youtube.com/t/yt_hand book_produce)

Once you’ve collected all of your footage, you may want to edit the video for arrangement, length and flow. At this stage, you can also add more creative elements, such as music, captions and animated transitions between clips.

Most newer computers come with basic video editing software built in. For more advanced editing abilities, you can research and purchase higher quality video editing programs online or at your local electronics retailer. Or if it’s in your budget, consider sending your footage to a professional editor.

Just keep in mind that if you plan to upload your video to YouTube, you’ll need to keep your file under 10 minutes and 1 GB.

Promoting your practice on YouTube

To become a YouTube community member, you’ll simply need to create an account. Once registered, you can begin to upload videos immediately by clicking on the yellow button in the top right corner.

To maximize the number of video views, there are a few things to consider.

First, when uploading a video, be sure to “tag” your video with relevant keywords. This will make it easier for users find your video in a search.

You should also give yourself a unique YouTube presence by creating a profile page. This “channel” serves as your homepage within YouTube, showcases all of your uploaded videos and can be customized to reflect your firm’s brand. Members who enjoy your videos can subscribe to your channel to get your latest updates and leave comments on your page.

Of course, you’ll want to market your videos outside of the YouTube site itself. Luckily, YouTube makes it easy to share videos with the Web at large. Copy and paste the link provided with each video to post your content in blogs, social media sites and your firm’s Web site.

Monitoring effectiveness

As with any marketing campaign, you will want to track the interest of your target audience and analyze the feedback. Knowing who your audience is and what it wants will help ensure the success of future videos you post online.

YouTube’s “Insight,” located in your account settings, lets you keep track of the viewers for each of your videos. This valuable analytics tool can tell you which videos people are viewing the most, which geographical regions your viewers are tuning in from and which keywords are bringing the most people to your content.

While this in-depth data is only available to the account holder, YouTube members can provide direct feedback in the form of a comment or a one-to-five star rating on a video’s Web page. Constructive ratings and comments can also be a valuable way to measure the effectiveness of your message.

But since the YouTube community is accessed by the public at large, you may encounter certain users who leave irrelevant negative comments. This is by no means a reflection of the quality of your content, and you have the ability to delete unwanted feedback and block problem users.

If you find this to be a recurring problem in the YouTube community, the site gives you the option under your account settings to disable ratings and comments for each video you post. You can also choose to allow comments only after they pass your approval.

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