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The power of helping others through video (and how it can grow your business).

What was the last video you looked up on YouTube? There's probably a pretty good chance it was something to help you. A special recipe? Marketing plans? A tutorial for a new piece of software you're learning?

There's a reason why YouTube is used by almost one third of all people in the world - it's an amazing resource for when you need visual information quickly and with relevance.

One of the simplest things that any business can do to help boost community engagement is to offer helpful content via their website and social channels. In the industry we call it 'becoming a thought leader' or building a 'content destination'. It's easy & cost effective to implement once you put a plan together.

So, how does it work and what makes it so powerful?

Let's take a really simple example. John is a car enthusiast.

This is John. He likes cars, and has recently taken to using YouTube tutorials to help him with trickier tasks.

As John started getting more and more into his hobby, he found that he lacked the knowledge he needed to work on the more complex tasks. He asked his son, who told him about YouTube tutorials. Now, John searches YouTube when he's stuck.

Now John searches when he's stuck. He usually clicks on the video with the most straightforward title & relevant picture.

John found that a lot of the videos he was watching ended up coming from the one creator. Luckily for him, the creator that makes this content is also the supplier who carries the spare parts that he needs. So, next time he needs a part he already knows where to go and that they're experts on his car type.

John searches for the company and calls them directly from the search results. In future transactions, he emails them or contacts them from the information they have in their videos.

And that's as simple as it gets. Whilst this is an example of a retailer making a direct sale as a result of using helpful content, it also works across most other industries, especially those that offer a service. The keys to success are:

1. Keep it relevant and interesting. Tell people information that will actually help them to achieve something.

2. Don't sell. Avoid the temptation to sell your product or service. Offer free help and simply have the video branded. It's OK to put a brief call to action at the end, but nothing more.

3. Offer a clear path to purchase. Make sure the video description and surrounding fields have your website, business phone number, email etc. If people want to buy from you, they want to make contact quickly and easily.

4. Captions/subtitles. Many people prefer to watch videos without the sound on if they can. Use a provider like to get your videos titled - it's cheap and easy.

5. Keep it coming and host on your website. If you can produce content regularly you'll find that your audience continues to grow and mature. Host it on your website where it's easy to find and you'll become known as a location for great, helpful content.

6. Finally (and this is really important) - you need to understand your voice before you produce. Choose a style, tone and production level and stick to it. Cheap and cheerful may work for a small car part supplier, but it could damage the reputation of a professional services firm. Find the right balance between production values and efficiency and start getting them out there!

Good luck! Of course, if you need a hand developing a plan for your helpful content I'd love to have a chat.

Andrew McLean is a content consultant and producer based in Sydney, Australia. He works with businesses to help them make better, more relevant and cost effective content.