Guidelines for Successful YouTube Videos

At 2017 Summer NAMM, Mitch Gallagher, editorial director for independent retail giant Sweetwater, shared expert tips to create effective YouTube videos that help drive business. Gallagher, who hosts three Sweetwater video shows a week, is also in charge of video content for the company’s website and 167,000 YouTube channel subscribers.

According to Gallagher, the reason to do video is to connect with your customers. He stressed being natural, viewing your customers as friends and communicating one-on-one when you create videos to share to your website and social media.

Watch the full session for sample video clips, along with Gallagher’s tips and answers to frequently asked questions. Here are session highlights.

What You Need and Don’t Need
• You don’t need special expertise. Sweetwater started on YouTube in 2009 with simple videos.

• You don’t need a pro video studio. Keep it casual and organic. Grassroots videos have sprung up and can be very effective.

• You do need gear for video, editing and audio. If you have a smartphone, you can create a video, post it and be live on Facebook within minutes. As far as editing goes, all you need is basic software to add a video title, crop and set up your video to post. You can get this with a basic package. Remember to have memory and hard drive space to store and back up your videos. What’s most important for editing is a fast internet connection.

That said, sound quality is a different story. “We’re in the music business, so people expect better sound quality from us,” Gallagher said. Typically, with an iPhone video, he’ll plug in an IK Multimedia iRig Mic. At the very least, capture sound with a hand-held or lavalier mic, so you get good sound quality.

Work in Your Wheelhouse
If you’re a drum store, focus on drum demos. Don’t try to do too much. Focus on your strengths.

Be Yourself
Be genuine. Speak with viewers as friends, not customers.

Target Your Audience
Different demographics and audiences want different things. Find the balance between talking and doing, especially when you’re creating for younger or older audiences. (More on this later.) Ask yourself which of your friends is going to be interested in this product. And again, always be yourself.

To Script or Not to Script?
Gallagher shared that he doesn’t script his videos because it feels more genuine when he’s not reading from a script. Occasionally, he’ll write up short bullet points, but he tends to keep it free form and casual. Still, he cautioned that some videos without scripts aren’t worth watching, and trying to edit them just doesn’t work. Scripts and notes can be helpful to organize your thoughts and speak clearly about a topic. Do some trial runs to see what the video looks like. Find the balance between real and rehearsed.

Four Main Types of Videos
1. Branding. Your video should connect with customers in a way that builds confidence in your business. There are many types of brand videos, such as a store tour, a new-employee video or an introduction to a new feature on your website. You want people to watch these videos and feel as if they know you. Ask yourself what differentiates you. If you can show what you’re good at without bragging or selling, then you’re helping the customer get to know you better.

2. Product demo. Gallagher acknowledged these can be hard videos to do right—they require distilling a lot of information and making it entertaining and easy to watch. Avoid the hard sell; it turns people off.

• Establish the expertise of your store. Build the customer’s confidence. It should come across that you’re an expert at what you’re demonstrating. Do the research, and practice in front of the video camera. Consider including a manufacturer’s rep because he or she has expertise and can speak knowledgeably about the product.

• Playing versus talking. According to Gallagher, younger audiences expect more playing and less talking. For older audiences, more talking is acceptable.

• Importance of playing well. It’s more critical to play the right thing than to play like a professional.

• Material under copyright. Sweetwater never uses copyrighted material for its videos. Gallagher remarked that this can be a challenge, but it’s the right thing to do.

3. How to. These videos build credibility and help customers without directly selling to them. Show them how to use or get better results with a product they’ve purchased. How-to videos are important to building a connection with customers, according to Gallagher.

4. Interview. It’s a lot of work to get touring artists to come in for an interview when they’re in town. Gallagher suggested interviewing engineers, producers, musicians and manufacturers. And remember, it’s not about you. Speak as little as possible to get things rolling and establish a connection. If you want to practice or rehearse, interview employees, local artists or studio owners and engineers.

To Sell or Not to Sell
According to Gallagher, Sweetwater demonstrates, shows and entertains but doesn't consider its videos to be a sales tool. Before you create a video, ask whom the product is for, why they want it, how it’s going to be helpful to them and why they should spend their dollars on it. This has been an effective approach for the company.

Posting to YouTube
Establish a regular schedule. Gallagher shared that he hosts three shows per week: Sound Check, Guitars and Gear, and Sweetwater Minute on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, respectively. In between, he posts product videos. It’s important that viewers can count on a regular schedule and subscribe on Facebook and YouTube. Gallagher stressed that it’s more effective to build an audience through consistent, regular posts. (Don’t take a long break, or you’ll lose your audience.)

Use descriptions to drive traffic. On YouTube, there’s a space beneath the video to write descriptions. Use this as an opportunity to sell and link to your website. Experiment with your descriptions. Gallagher recommended keeping them short.

Responding to comments. You want a thick skin because you’ll get negative comments. Don’t engage with these commentators. Look for viewer questions, and respond to those. Connect with those friends.