By Leah Golob | September 2017

With more than one billion users, YouTube LLC's video-sharing platform offers an enormous reach that can help financial advisors connect with their clients and prospects.

According to the San Bruno, Calif.-based company, more than one billion YouTube users account for almost one-third of all people on the Internet.

"YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world," says Michelle Matson, vice president of marketing for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Matson Money Inc. "If you don't have a YouTube channel, then some people, especially the younger generation, may not really [view your business] as established."

Generally speaking, people often spend more time watching videos than they do reading articles, adds Richard Heft, president of Ext. Marketing Inc. in Toronto. He believes producing video content on YouTube is a good way for advisors to share their message with clients and prospects.

To make the most of YouTube, here are several tips:

- CREATE EDUCATIONAL CONTENT

Matson Money uses communication tools, especially YouTube, to help clients maintain their financial strategy over the long term.

"Investing is a complex, complicated and often emotional topic for a lot of people," Matson says. "What we try to help people do is stay educated."

The firm accomplishes this by sharing videos ranging from "quick hits" (short videos breaking down a specific topic) to longer recordings of speaker presentations and a monthly (formerly weekly) series entitled Money Matson Live that dives deeper into financial issues and events.

For example, the firm might use longer videos to address and share research on the effects of a heated political climate on the investment industry.

When brainstorming educational topics, consider using video to answer questions and concerns that arise regularly with your clients and focus your content on fulfilling that need, Heft adds.

- DON'T PUSH A SALE

One of the quickest ways to lose an audience is to focus solely on products and sales. Viewers will be uninterested if content takes the form of a commercial.

"Anything that's a hard sell or investment advice-related can run afoul of regulators and regulations around the industry," Heft says. "You can't become a cowboy out there and say everything you want."

- CREATE BRIEF VIDEOS

Matson Money didn't establish an audience for its YouTube presence overnight. Matson's advice is to begin small with a tight focus, then save the lengthier videos for when your audience expresses a desire to learn more. Matson believes that three to five minutes is the ideal length for videos. Any longer and you greatly increase the risk of losing your viewers, she says.

For Heft, an ideal beginner video is even shorter: 90 seconds or less.

Despite the appeal of videos, Heft says, "you don't want something that is tremendously long."

- USE KEYWORDS

Keywords in the title and descriptive copy can help attract viewers using Google and YouTube search engines, says Adrianne Lima, growth lead at Ext. Marketing. These can be a mix of one-word terms, such as "finance," and phrases known as "long-tail keywords," such as "financial advisors in Toronto downtown area."

Google AdWords can be a go-to tool to help advisors discover which keywords are trending and typically searched for online, Lima adds.

- KEEP IT SIMPLE

Technology has made creating videos easier than ever. You can get away with using simple techniques in using a smartphone, a microphone, a camera stand and iMovie or another simple video editing software, says Lima.

Although Matson Money sometimes creates content that employs a lot of scripting and editing, Matson adds, other content follows a "vlog" (i.e., video blog) format in that it's one-take, "off the cuff" and in the speaker's natural environment.

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