Marketing on YouTube: A Double-Edged Sword

“Brands that let their channels lapse and fade away into the wasteland of untidy and untended pages lack a clear understanding of how to use YouTube as a social media vehicle,” writes Catherine-Gail Reinhard, creative director at Videasa, on Mashable.

A branded social media account requires a strong commitment.  B.L. Ochman, a social media strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies and the head of, wrote about how starting a Twitter account and then not using it can be damaging to a company's brand.  A YouTube account can certainly be valuable, but requires just as much care.  

Pros and cons of a social media campaign using YouTube

Opening a social media account can help a brand take control of its image in a particular outlet.  Domino’s Pizza faced a marketing nightmare in April of this year, when two employees filmed a disgusting video they’d later claim was a hoax.  The video, which hit YouTube and spread like wildfire across the web, was followed by a smart response by the company president: terminating and filing suit against the involved employees, gutting the specific store for sanitation reasons, and posting a response on YouTube. The immediate damage from the employees’ video was measurable, but DPZ showed a quick recovery.  

In this instance, a response of some kind was absolutely necessary, and this format was likely to reach those who witnessed the original.  But companies need to be thoughtful when creating a YouTube presence.  A strong YouTube campaign by a brand could give leverage to existing and future negative content, and engaging in online discussion will increase a brand's responsibility to respond to negative User-Generated Content (UGC).  Again, it’s a matter of commitment.

As many bloggers have pointed out (here, and here, and here…), a viral video does not guarantee revenue.  The revenue results from great branding and smart strategy.  So, a company has a video people are talking and tweeting about.  That's great.  But are they going out and buying the product?  Do they even know what the product is?  As always, a smart strategy must come first.


Graphic:  Jessica Forrester

Jessica Forrester is a writer, researcher, freelance marketing consultant, and graduate of the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business.  Jessica's blog is Mini Fad: Innovation, Health, and Style in a Web-Driven World.

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