By  on November 14, 2007

YouTube offers companies a chance to spread their message to the online community.

Can fashion and luxury houses benefit from YouTube?

You bet, according to Suzie Reider, head of advertising for the Web site, who focused her presentation on "creating connections."

Reider highlighted ways in which brand marketers and retailers can use the environment for alternative branding methods and establishing global brand advocates. And when it comes to YouTube visitors, the sky seems to be the limit. Since launching in December 2005, YouTube has become the eighth most-trafficked Web site in the U.S., with millions of daily viewers who log on to check out entertainment, educational and personal clips.

"When you think about this environment, think about it as a community, think about words like engagement and participation," Reider said. "And also think about the advocates that people will become for your brands in this environment."

And it's not just computer-savvy teens who frequent the site and post their clips. In fact, according to Reider, 19 percent of the audience is aged 55 and over.

"Everybody is on this site, in this environment," she said. "My 13-year-old nephew is on there watching dirt biking videos, and my 71-year-old mother is on there watching people stroll through the canals of Venice. So there truly is something on this site for everybody."

According to Reider, many companies use YouTube to create brand channels, which offer information about the services they offer. As the site developed, so did the community of users, who started turning into fan bases for certain characters responsible for clips. Advertisers, in turn, became interested in attracting those people who clicked in to watch the videos. Companies like Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Ford Models and National Geographic, for instance, have put content on YouTube, and their reach through the Web site is global from the get-go."Seventy percent of YouTube's users actually come from outside of the U.S.," Reider said. "When you want to get a feeling for how something is going to resonate all around the world in a global way, YouTube is an incredible environment to do that in."

Reider highlighted examples such as Faint Star Light, an overweight college student from the U.K. who wanted to connect to Americans and began to catalogue her experiences with dieting — to some 5,200 subscribers; Lee Buckley, who was looking for a bone marrow transplant and had 84,000 views of her video, and William Sled, a gay Gap employee from Kentucky, who waxes on the merits of the murse (aka the man purse).

"All of these guys are sponsor-able," Reider said. "So all of these guys are user partners and there are opportunities for brand marketers to participate and engage with what these guys are doing."

According to Reider, there are many ways in which brand marketers and retailers can be engaged with the YouTube audience, including creating a brand channel that highlights the history, product range and other newsy tidbits about the brands.

"A lot of folks ask the question, 'Do I need a lot of professionally produced content in order to be successful in this environment?' and the answer to that is 'No,'" she said. "What doesn't work in this environment is uploading 30-second [commercial] spots. What does work is authentic, organic. Real content is what this community tends to be looking for."

Reider offered three tips for creating YouTube content: "The first one is to be real, just be authentic. It's not your 30-second spots. It's just real, authentic footage and content. The second one is to be consistent, [create] episodic content, so users will subscribe to you and they will come back again and again if they feel some sense of relationship with your content. And the third one is, obviously, just be interesting; be funny."

With such staggering viewer figures, one member in the audience wanted to know if there has ever been a video that no one has watched.

"I'll say thousands," Reider said. "Of course there are. I mean, my mom posted a video of her parakeet chirping and I got someone from work to write a comment, to say something, and my mother always says, 'Well, that's probably the only person who will watch that video.'"

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