How to Make Your Tutorial Stand Out in the Crowd
Many instruction and guidance professionals are faced with the Holy Grail of online marketing questions – how to differentiate yourself in an already flooded, highly competitive marketing environment. Advertising is costly, SEO requires an arguably worthwhile amount of work (unless you employ a fleet of writers). Instructors and Guidance professionals, however, have two advantages over most businesses trying to market themselves online:
- Your product is your marketing strategy: instead of having to come up with figures for a fancy infographic or pay a designer for a witty cartoon, in the hope that it will go viral – instructors can just put a taste of their stuff out there and let the search words do the crawling. The trick is, of course, to find a niche that hasn’t been exhausted, where people still look for tutorials. Or else be the early bird on a hot new topic.
- Use the most trivial, existing platform: youtube – instead of slaving away on another page for your website or trying to get noticed by prominent opinion-makers’ in your field, create a channel and upload your tutorials onto it.
What makes the popularity of youtube tutorials so fascinating is the fact that you can find a tutorial for any subject that comes to mind, including functions on widely popular websites with their own extensive knowledgebase or FAQ. Tutorial videos on youtube like How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, for instance, have garnered nearly 130K views. Granted, it was posted 4 years ago, but even then LinkedIn was a globally leading professional network with some kind of Help or How To page.
So how come so many users flock to youtube instead of using on-site resources, written by the product pros?
- Accessibility to the website’s help tools -and this relates to no single website or app in particular- isn’t smooth enough, in terms of UX. After one click too many or upon encountering a complex or elaborate knowledgebase, the user opts for a system s/he is more familiar with and as such, navigates in with more ease.
- Old habits die hard but live long and prosper – This has less to do with the website’s navigation and more to do with users tending to default to familiar browsing patterns. It is quite possible that many users simply prefer the half-automated open-youtube-search-click routine to treading an unknown terrain on a yet unfamiliar website, in terms of UX. The youtube platform is, again, comfortably familiar, no effort required to navigate a new UI.
- Content standardization – users have come to depend on peer review, in some cases far more than on professionals. The general assumption is that your peers share your perspective and challenges and that from that POV, someone has provided the perfect guidance solution. By now, most of the top rated and most viewed tutorials on youtube are done by professionals, but the peer review assumption, most likely, prevails.
The best examples I found for good youtube promotion for instructors and guidance professionals are, unsurprisingly, in the realms of excel: A search for “how to VLOOKUP” lead me to this tutorial and from there on it was a short ride to the instructor’s About page and then to his website.