Brian Solis is the author of the new book, The End of Business as Usual. He is also a principal analyst at Altimeter Group. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.

With over 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s difficult to imagine how anyone finds new videos at all. While it plays host to a dizzying assortment of useful, entertaining, vain, and obscure content, what is unmistakable, is that YouTube is the most effective and proven online channel to visually tell your business story.

But it’s not a matter of simply shooting a video and uploading it into the network for customers to feel compelled to jump through their screen and into your world. For YouTube to be successful for your business takes a thoughtful approach packed with mission, purpose, and mutual benefits. It starts with understanding what customers are seeking and why and how your story can help customers accomplish what they couldn’t without you.

Don’t Google Me, YouTube Me!

You may have heard it before, maybe not, but either way, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world second only to its parent company Google. At a minimum, YouTube is a channel between your business and customer needs separated by a digital screen, intent, and your level of discoverability.

Report after report only shows a new reality that customers use Google and YouTube to search for information using keywords related to their interests. The results are consumed in their channel of preference. Some enjoy traditional content while an increasing number of customers would simply rather watch a video.

If Google is where your customers begin their Web search for content related to your business, YouTube is where customers go to learn more about products and services through video…plain and simple.

Whether your customers and prospects take to Google or YouTube or both, the question you must answer, is what appears in the results that can help customers find you. And, you must also determine if that content is it in their favored format? For many, video is your way to align your value proposition to the aim of customer goals.

We must look beyond search engine optimization (SEO) and traditional digital marketing. Useful and engaging YouTube videos are contenders for organic social media optimization (SMO). Meaning, your videos in YouTube are far more versatile than we can initially imagine. Of course videos live in YouTube and additionally, because they’re portable, your videos can be placed on your Website, Facebook Brand page, blogs, and any other digital medium where people choose to retell your story.

You Get Out of YouTube What You Upload

Now, engaging videos take thoughtfulness and creativity. The one common mistake that many businesses make is that they fall victim to what could be best described as “amateur hour” syndrome. This is an occurrence of creating videos because they can. While I’m all for storytelling, I’m also a big believer in telling the story in a way that you want your customers to see you, appreciate you, and value your business and niche.

The biggest advantage that you have here is…you. No one can tell your story your way. This is why your business is in business after all. Whether your shoot a video internally or if you bring in a team, tell the story through a storyboard that goes beyond interesting, make it serve a purpose. And most importantly, design elements of shareability into each episode so that they’re not just viewed, they’re shared. Remember though, the best YouTube videos aren’t commercials. They’re vignettes to spark curiosity, lead people to learn more, trigger a response, or lead desired outcomes.

YouTube Starts Your 15 Minutes of Aim

One of my favorite examples in how small businesses use YouTube to attract customers and build a thriving community is Eve Pearl Cosmetics.  Eve Pearl is a 5-time Emmy Award winning celebrity makeup professional with over 18 years of experience in television, film, theatre and print.

Her story is scalable across any business size, shape and focus, because she started with something that all customers need…direction, help, answers, and advice.  Her business marketing strategy had aim and that aim was to help women with unique complexions learn helpful makeup techniques or find solutions specific to them.

Because she helped people with unique challenges, videos became very personal and as such, struck an emotional chord with each viewer. Using “how to” videos as her platform, Eve Pearl earned the attention of audiences worldwide simply because her videos were designed to help. And, help they did as people personally connected to each, sharing them across social networks around the world making Eve Pearl Cosmetics the beneficiary of a humble investment of time and resources in an ongoing video series designed with purpose.

She didn’t just upload helpful videos, she scoured the web to listen to the questions and needs of people. She then connected her videos directly to people by sharing links with potential customers and also bloggers who covered similar topics. She didn’t just rely on search results, she became the bridge between customer needs and her story.

Yes it took time, time she didn’t really have as she was building her business. But, that time and aim not only paid off, she’s become a celebrity in her own right. She also expanded from a digital to retail presence with people from all over the world visiting her store in New York to not only buy products, but thank her. The common theme across her success and the relationships she earned with her customers are the videos she used to help people do something they couldn’t do before watching her series.

YouTube is much more than a network of social videos. It is a platform where your story can find customers who are looking for engagement. Whether your videos entertain, teach, help, or convey empathy, you have a unique opportunity to convert attention into desired actions and outcomes.

Many customers rely upon YouTube as a preferred means for discovery. And for those videos that connect with the viewer, they will be shared and reshaped to expand your reach and most importantly, establish preference for you and the value your offer. The question is, when someone searches keywords related to your business in YouTube today, will the results lead them to you?