Social media presence a must for today’s business owners

These days, “YouTube Influencer” is a top career choice of middle school students.

Those who went to junior high can learn something from the Minecraft-crazed ‘tweens and their business “strats” (strategies): If you’re not paying attention to social media, your business could suffer. In fact, as trends of online search optimization shift, not having a social media presence could mean your business can’t be found.

Business owners who have been ignoring social media platforms like YouTube because they don’t directly apply to their business will want to take note: Search engines like Google and YouTube are trending toward prioritizing video sites over static websites. So, if your business does not have a social media presence with video content, it could be completely overlooked in an online search.

Long-gone are the days when somebody opened the Yellow Pages to find a local business. Now, most open Google on a smart phone or laptop and type in a few key words. They don’t even have to spell them right. Google brings up a huge list of websites, and most pick something from that first page. If your business is not on that first page, well, it’s likely not going to be found.

Don’t ignore Google, as it owns 96 percent of the online search engine market. The No. 2 slot belongs to YouTube, which is owned by – you guessed it – Google. Google purchased YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion, and that’s when “things started to ramp up,” said Duluth social media guru Molly Solberg. “You could start to monetize videos.” 

During her 11 years with Duluth Pack, Solberg served as director of sales and marketing and started the company’s social media channels. She created a product video for every Duluth Pack bag, showing what it looks like, its functions and its purpose. She was also able to track how many followers watched the videos. 

The idea of creating a YouTube channel to rank higher in search engines may make business owners uneasy. But it doesn’t need to be hard, said Solberg, who now owns her own company, Molly Solberg Marketing (MAS), and works with clients to set up social media channels and create introductory videos of who they are and what they do. “You need a cell phone and a laptop,” she said. “YouTube has a creator app where you can create videos and edit them. They want to make it easy for you, too – so you can purchase ads with them.” 

Ads are another reason business owners shouldn’t ignore YouTube. Targeted ads on YouTube can be specified to highly defined demographics. While at Duluth Pack, Solberg made social media ads in addition to product videos. “On YouTube, I could make sure that ad showed to just people who were interested in American-made, interested in camping, an age group, a demographic. It’s a much better place to advertise,” she said. “So when people searched for outdoor videos, a Duluth Pack ad would show up. Duluth Pack would pay for that ad to be on an outdoor camping video.” Part of the ad fee went to YouTube and part went to the channel where it appeared. Those channels qualify to host ads via the number of their subscribers. 

Hosting ads is another way to make money on YouTube. A business may not want to open themselves up to ads from competitors, but an entrepreneur – say, a local fitness instructor wanting to build her client base – may want to host ads with her instructional videos to earn extra revenue.

The “Intro to making money on YouTube” video, emceed by YouTube’s monetization strategist (another job for middle schoolers to aspire), guides users through the process. Make a channel, post videos, gather an audience of subscribers. You can enter the “YouTube Partner Program” and earn money from ads by crossing the eligibility thresholds: be in good standing with YouTube, accumulate 4,000 public watch hours in the prior 12 months, and have at least 1,000 subscribers. YouTubers in this group earn between 10-30 cents per view, an average 18 cents per view. The average channel with 1 million subscribers makes around $60,000 per year.

The top earners cover a range of video gamers, stunts, toddler shows, and more stunts. Minecraft-playing Preston Arsement, wildly popular with those middle school students, comes in at No. 6 on the top ten list. Last year he earned $19 million by having 3.3 billion views and 33.4 million subscribers worldwide. “MrBeast” earned $24 million in 2020, with 3 billion views and 47.8 million subscribers to watch his stunts. The top earner last year, Ryan Kaji, brought in $29.5M. On “Ryan’s World” he performs science experiments, skits, and DIY arts and crafts. If you’ve heard that “Baby Shark” song, you know him. He’s nine years old.