Everyone is getting in on the vertical video game, and YouTube is no exception.
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"Shortform vertical video across the board has been just the fastest growing format of content on every social media platform," says content creator Austin Armstrong. That includes TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, and it's the major topic of Marketing Smarts Episode 550, YouTube Shorts.
Austin shares his secrets to success, including ensuring consistency, knowing your audience, and mastering the structure of vertical video—which is very different from other forms of content.
"You have to open that video up with a really powerful scroll-stopping hook that is going to emotionally trigger them around the value proposition that your business offers," says Austin. "Don't waste 5-10 seconds on telling them who you are and why they should care. They don't care."
The way you end your video is equally important: "Don't say, 'Smash that subscribe button,' or, 'Share this with 10 friends, hit the like button, comment and tag 47 people.' The more options that you give people, the less likely they are to do anything."
Instead, Austin recommends, give a single call to action, like a single button at the bottom of an email.
"[A] single call to action that I like to do.... 'Share this with yourself so that you can take action on it later.' That creates intent."
For more wisdom on vertical video and what matters in marketing with YouTube shorts, check out Episode 550. You can listen to the entire show from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.
George B. Thomas: Are you using YouTube Shorts? Should you? Does it equal B2B marketing success if you do? Today, we're going to talk about that and probably a little bit more about video and all things business video. I'm super excited because we're starting the topic with the title that you read, Leveraging YouTube Shorts for B2B Marketing Success.
Of course, Austin Armstrong is going to be with us today. We talk about what keeps him up at night, how to get started, hurdles along the way, and of course we get some words of wisdom and some things that you should think about. Austin Armstrong is a lifelong digital marketer, a public speaker, host of the TikTok podcast Business Tok, CEO of Sociality Pro, an organic SEO and vertical video marketing agency, and CEO of Syllaby, a brand new marketing tool that helps business owners create a social media content strategy in minutes.
Austin has posted over 2,500 videos on TikTok, tripling his own business revenue and thousands more across his clients' accounts. Austin has leveraged his success on TikTok to gain millions of followers across every social media platform. He loves sharing the strategies that have worked for him to empower you. Today, that is you, the B2B marketers, the Marketing Smarts listeners. Let's get into the good stuff.
You know me, I'm usually excited. I might be exhilarated today, to be honest with you, but we'll just stick with excited. Today we're talking about a topic that I love, video. More specifically, we're talking about a channel that I love, YouTube. More specifically, we're actually talking about video on YouTube that can be used for Shorts, and why B2B marketers can leverage that for success in the future. If that's not enough reasons to be excited, I'm also ecstatically excited because I have Austin Armstrong with me.
Now, you're listening to the podcast, but let me set the stage here. Austin has a YouTube plaque behind him and a book, or a plaque, I'm not sure. I think it's a book, How to Be TikTok Famous Fast. Let's just talk about micro video, let's talk about all the things that we as B2B marketers can do. Austin, how the heck are you today?
Austin Armstrong: I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me on.
George: Absolutely. When I saw this one in my inbox, I was like absolutely, and I don't say that about all of the things that show up in my inbox, trust me.
With this show, one of the things that I like to do is start with what could be considered maybe a little bit of an interesting question, but it does give an interesting answer, usually funny, sometimes depressing, sometimes scary, to be honest. What keeps you up at night when you think about YouTube Shorts and B2B marketers, either a nightmare or a dream? Let us know.
Austin: This is such a good question. I have been deep diving down the AI rabbit hole the last year with all of these tools coming out. I actually launched my own AI SaaS tool a couple months ago. This absolutely excites me, terrifies me, keeps me up at night. The possibilities are endless. I think it's going to drastically change our life, our society, and marketing as we know it. In fact, I'm trying to lead the charge on it.
I think AI will come for digital marketing agency owners and drastically change how we create content. My opinion on that is rather than just sit back and wait for it to happen and see what happens, I want to be the person leading the charge, so that's what I built my tool around. Everything in AI, with how fast these tools are moving, it's exhilarating, it keeps me up at night. The possibilities are endless and I'm just excited and nervous to see where it all goes.
George: I like endless possibilities. I also like the fact that here in the near future I'm going to ask you about said AI tool because now you have the audience curious and you have me curious.
Here's the thing. I am a big advocate of being careful of the curse of knowledge. One of the things that I like to do on the show is level-set. While this might sound like a crazy question, believe me, I get questions from people like what is B2B, what is CTA, call to action, what is CRM, customer relationship manager, so I've learned when you're starting out a conversation and you have thousands, hundreds, even two people listening in, whatever it is, you have to set the field.
How would you define YouTube Shorts for any B2B marketer who has not started to use them in their marketing mix yet?
Austin: The biggest opportunity for fast growth in the history of YouTube, short form vertical video across the board. We'll keep it to YouTube, but short form vertical video across the board has been just the fastest growing format of content on every social media platform, not just on YouTube.
I'll paint a picture here for you a little bit, because you mentioned this plaque here. I started my YouTube channel about three-and-a-half years ago, maybe closer to four years ago. I started it when I started my business. It took me three years, fairly consistent, to get to 5,000 subscribers on YouTube. When I figured out YouTube Shorts, in three days I went from 5,000 to 100,000 subscribers.
This happened so fast. This is a crazy stat for you. I had the 5,000 subscribers, but I did not have the 4,000 hours of watch time, so my channel was not actually monetized. Because the time it takes to approve you for monetization versus the time it takes to actually get this plaque, I got the plaque for 100,000 subscribers before my channel was monetized, which I find mind blowing, but that's how fast it can actually change your life.
George: Anybody who pays attention to the YouTube ecosystem knows that's not usually the way it works, so that's super interesting. I want to peel off a little piece here, because you kind of teased it. Even though the title says leveraging YouTube Shorts for B2B marketing success, I feel like some of the stuff we're going to talk about could be used for Instagram Reels, could be used for TikTok, could maybe just be a micro video conversation, even though we're specifically talking in this conversation about YouTube Shorts.
I want to keep digging in here. They kind of know what it is, fast growth, micro video, it's going to have a short show, it's going to be great on mobile devices, things like that. But what are some key elements of YouTube Shorts that B2B marketers should be paying attention to? You can break it down how you want, but my mind goes to are there things in creation, are there things in publication, are there things in promotion. What should we know along the way that we're not just wasting time and we're getting the success, at least our version of success that we could get by doing this?
Austin: Great question. I'm going to go deep here for you, so bear with me on this longwinded rant.
At the beginning, at the core concept of creating good content, regardless of the format, is you need to know exactly who you want to reach. Really clearly define your target buyer, your buyer persona. Know the ins and outs of their emotional needs, wants, desires, the value prop and unique selling proposition that you offer to remedy and reach that individual person. What do they care about most? Really clearly outline that.
When you have that in mind, you will have much better clarity on your content making decisions because you can focus on creating content that resonates with exactly who you want to reach. When you have that format down, you will drastically cut through the noise, reach more of who you want to reach, resonate more with them, and they will ultimately buy from your business much more so.
Now, structuring every content is really important across the board as well. Remember that it's never about you and always about the person that you are trying to reach. As blunt as this is going to sound, nobody gives a shit who you are or what your background is, so cut out your intros. We're talking short form content here, less than 60 seconds. Don't waste 5 to 10 seconds on telling them who you are and why they should care. They don't care. I'm sorry, that's not how any of this works.
You have to open that video up with a really powerful scroll-stopping hook that is going to emotionally trigger them around the value proposition that your business offers. Hook them in, immediately start to build tension and provide value associated with that opening hook, take them along the journey, and then have a single call to action at the end of that video.
Don't say, "Smash that subscribe button," or, "Share this with 10 friends, hit the like button, comment and tag 47 people." The more options that you give people, the less likely they are to do anything. Some of the single call to actions that I like to do are, "Share this with yourself so that you can take action on it later." That creates intent, it tells them one clear thing to do, that's a weighted metric on the platform. Or say, "Follow for more information on this particular topic," again, a topic that they actually care about.
So, hook, tell the story, provide that value, tell them what to do next. Have that structure in place.
As far as content creation and getting into the finesse of titling, optimization, and the whole nine yards, I shoot and edit everything on my phone for free. I don't use Premiere Pro anymore. I used to, and I used to edit on my computer for years, but these tools have become so powerful that you don't need any of these things anymore. In fact, how I create content is so low key and down to Earth and easy. The only equipment that I really have is a $15 ring light from Amazon. I literally hold my phone up on my laptop as the prop, or I'll hold it in my hand in selfie mode, and then I'll hold it up to my computer screen to show stuff. That's literally as simple as it gets, but I know who I'm trying to reach, I know how to deliver content, and I know my call to actions.
There are two great free apps that I regularly switch between, InShot and CapCut. Both of these are phenomenal, completely free editing tools. Then I will upload natively onto YouTube, that vertical video short.
I don't like the Shorts editor on YouTube, on my phone at least; I'm using Android. I think in order to use the Shorts editor, it has to be under 15 seconds. But if you upload a 60-second video, it will still be considered a Short. That's why I edit in CapCut or I'll put it into TikTok first and add any royalty free background music there, or add any subtitle headlines or anything like that as the cover photo, and then I'll upload that onto YouTube.
Another great hack that I learned from 600 failures or lessons learned from YouTube Shorts is to make your titles way more broad. Don't play that SEO game. What I mean by that is I literally have uploaded 600 Shorts that didn't do a whole lot. Maybe a couple of them got to like 8,000 to 10,000 views total, drove a couple of subscribers, but didn't really gain any traction. That's a long test to figure out this isn't working and I need to try something new.
What I was doing up until that point is I was leaning into the SEO game. I was going really long on the titles, trying to find long tail keyword questions or things that people were searching for on YouTube, and labeling that as my content. I was also just dumping anything and everything that I was creating. I started as a TikTok-first creator, that's how I learned and mastered short form content, so I was just dumping every single TikTok video that I was creating over to YouTube Shorts, spraying and praying, and it didn't work.
It took 600 lessons to have an epiphany to say I need to be more thoughtful of what content I'm uploading and change the titles as well. That's what I did. Rather than posting everything, I switched to only my most viral videos, which happened to be sharing useful websites.
"These 5 websites feel illegal to know" is a series that really worked well for me. Rather than titling it 5 useful websites for increasing your productivity on a daily basis, which is very specific, I just titled it Top 5 Most Useful Websites. Super broad. Who is this for? What are the websites? Why are they illegal, they're just websites? It created so much intrigue between the opening hook of that video and the broad title.
After doing this consistently, for a week straight I only would upload top 5 useful websites videos, and it clicked, and one hit, and it unlocked all of those other YouTube Shorts videos on my channel that had the same content structure and same titles. It's just fascinating. It unlocked all of these older videos, but it came from YouTube Shorts as the traffic source of all of them. So, it sort of unlocked this audience and YouTube knew who built out that lookalike audience and they knew who the audience was that was interested in this, and they started sending it out to more.
What did I do? As I good marketer, I doubled-down, I went all in. I've still continued to do that. I just upload pretty much only useful website videos. The long term content strategy for that was to build my SaaS business, so it very much has worked for me from an ROI perspective B2B.
Just to wrap up here, in the last 10 months, I went from 5,000 subscribers to 580,000 subscribers because of these little tweaks and that format. Hopefully, people took value from that rant.
George: Oh, I would say they did. There are so many good nuggets. I would say that is probably a rewind point. There's so much good in there. One of the things that came to my brain was how Austin actually had to take his marketing hat off to be a great marketer and not be focused on the SEO keywords. He also then had to put it back on and realize I'm spraying and praying, maybe that's not the best, maybe I should start with strategy. So, there's this happy mix of marketing mindset and non-marketing mindset. Again, hit the rewind. There were multiple tools listed in there. I just love that whole story.
When we think about micro video, again, we're talking about YouTube Shorts for B2B marketers and success, do you think there's a myth, have you heard something in the ecosystem of marketers where they're like YouTube Shorts blah, blah, blah? By the way, I love the show Myth Busters, I could watch it forever. Is there a myth that you want to take time to just bust right here on the Marketing Smarts Podcast around YouTube Shorts?
Austin: What are some of the negative things that you hear? I've heard some rumors that your Shorts content can negatively impact your long form content. I just don't see that to be true. Having a larger audience has drastically increased my bottom line views of my long form content as well. I'm actively creating content.
I will say monetization on them is garbage. I was very excited, as were millions of people around the world, that YouTube Shorts ad revenue share is coming out, it's going to be comparable to long form revenue sharing. I think this was the biggest disappointment of Shorts. They even put an example out there, and I was like oh my gosh, I'm going to be making tens of thousands of dollars a month from my YouTube Shorts based on the millions of views that I'm getting. Wrong. It was terrible. It's like three or four cents RPM, or three to four cents for every thousand views that you get. It doesn't equate to much money, so that was pretty terrible.
But the views and reach in and of itself is the key factor here if you're smart at leveraging it. With an influx of views and subscribers comes a couple of opportunities. Driving business through the description of that video and the comments section, having a strong call to action that links to a trackable link with something that you're able to sell or capture leads, however you want to use this as a lead generation tool for your business.
The other thing is the community tab. Once you bring in all of these subscribers, guess what they're going to see? Your community posts. So, leverage that community post even more. I actually did an experiment over the last 28 days on the community tab, posting two to three times a day, every single day, value posts, some lead generation links, all kinds of useful additional value to the same content that I was creating.
Over the last 28 days, the impressions are 830,000+ just from the community tab, and it actually drove 200 subscribers. So, your community tab can actually drive subscribers on your account as well. This is a strategy that's not really talked about that much.
It all ties into one another. Use your Shorts growth opportunity to drive views to your long form content. Use the description and the comments on those Shorts to drive link clicks to your lead magnets or to your offers, to your calendar or phone number, the whole nine yards. Use that community tab as well.
Let me ask you, what are some of the negative rumors that you've heard about Shorts?
George: I think you hit it. When you started to talk about revenue, I was like, yeah, everybody that has talked about Shorts revenue has pretty much said it's just not there at all. As you were talking, I started to think about the fact of don't sleep on that community tab, because it referenced back in my brain when we did an interview with Nick Nimmin. Marketing Smarts listeners, if you haven't checked out the interview that we did with Nick Nimmin, definitely check that out because there are some other nuggets.
I wanted to ask you, do you have any tips, tricks, things like that, but you were just dropping them. You were just dropping gold along the way in that last section. I'm still going to ask you, but I'm going to pivot a little bit. Earlier, I said I would get back to this point, and the point was that you mentioned an AI tool. So, I'm going to still ask if there are any tips, tricks, or templates that B2B marketers can use when creating and leveraging YouTube Shorts for their B2B marketing success? Also, this is a great opportunity to maybe explain the AI tool, how that works and how that helps marketers actually do something that right now might feel a little bit difficult and daunting.
Austin: Absolutely. My tool is Syllaby.io. We built it as a tool to help business owners and entrepreneurs streamline their video marketing creation process. I've been in social media for 18 years. I've been an agency owner for 4 years. I've worked at agencies for the last 8 years.
A lot of the problems that business owners and entrepreneurs face is they know they need to create content—even more specifically, they know they need to create video content—but they don't know what topics or what questions their customers are searching for, they don't know what to say in the videos, they need help staying consistent and accountable because consistency is the most important thing, they don't like being on camera, and a lot of businesses just don't have the budget to hire a full service agency, or maybe they're not even at the point where they can hire an internal staff or marketing team to handle all of that.
We took all of those pain points and built Syllaby into a streamlined process. What Syllaby does is it shows you the top questions that your customers are searching for online with a lot of data backed up behind that, and then it generates viral video scripts for you for short form content for YouTube Shorts, for TikTok, for Instagram Reels, etcetera, or long form YouTube content as well, around specifically the questions your customers are searching for.
We actually dropped just this week AI video creation. It will create a video with a human-realistic avatar that looks and sounds like a real person, taking that script and reading that script, so you don't even need to be on camera anymore. We have the content calendar and consistency tracker so that you can stay consistent with all of it.
Circling back to the very beginning of this, AI is coming for everything that I do in a business, and I know that because I'm building the tool to replace my agency. There are so many hacks with AI that can level up your productivity toward creating better, more frequent, and consistent short form vertical video content.
George: I love this so much. Marketing Smarts listeners, you'll definitely want to check out Syllaby.io. I actually pulled it up in a browser tab as you were talking and I'm like I know what the rest of my afternoon looks like. We'll have to check that out and see what's up.
I think it was last night or the night before, I heard this website mentioned by somebody online. It might have been you, to be honest. It was these three websites paired together will change your life through AI, and this was one where they talked about the scripting. I was like oh my gosh, I know this guy, he's famous. Here's the thing. It's not about us, it's about them, so let's get back to the actual show.
You're building a tool, and you're building a tool because you understand there have been some historical hurdles. You mentioned being on camera and stuff like that, which I don't get that, by the way. God gave you that face. Just get in front of the camera and be you. Anyway, nevertheless, it is what it is. We all have our own thing. But I love seeing your face whenever I get a chance to see your face in real life, so just show it on camera more.
But there are other hurdles, things that just make it fundamentally difficult, and you mentioned the word consistency, which is a key thing when it's any type of content creation. What are hurdles that you've seen B2B marketers face when trying to get started or use YouTube Shorts inside of an organization and they're shouting the praises of we could have some marketing growth here, we could get some awareness? What usually are the stumbling blocks?
Austin: There's a lot of them. It depends on the industry that you're in as well. If you're in a heavily regulated industry, it's sometimes hard to pass some of these marketing decisions. You have to pass everything through your legal department, or you have to get everything approved by HR or your executive team, or anything like that.
You have to get leadership on board as well. I've been in that marketing role at companies where you have these brilliant ideas, and you're listening to podcasts like this, you're reading books, you're watching videos, you're going to conferences, and you're like I know this is going to work, I love this, and then your boss is like I don't know, paid ads though. So, it really depends on your industry. Those are a lot of the hurdles that I see.
Even on the smaller business side, those things that I mentioned. If you're a solopreneur, if you're a startup business and it's really just you and maybe one other person, there's a time commitment there that can be a struggle. It's a hard thing to commit to creating consistent content. Consistency looks different to everybody. I'm really an advocate for daily content because it's just getting so saturated. You have to show up and stay top of mind constantly. You're going to get better results if you just continue to provide incredible free value every single day, no matter where your target audience is at in their journey, because when they're ready, you're going to be the first person that they think of.
You have to get in the mindset of there's going to be growing pains at first, it's going to be a little frustrating, it's going to be time-consuming, but like all things that we do consistently, once you build that habit, it gets easier and easier. It gets more rewarding over time as well.
George: So good. I love the idea of building that content muscle and then just being able to be a beast on a daily basis. I want to ask you about success, but I'm going to give you a caveat. We heard your story, which by the way, I would say that's success, you can see these things and you can tie back to it.
My fear is that some of the Marketing Smarts listeners may have heard some of those numbers and been like, "That's not me. That's probably not what we're going to do. We manufacture these purple widgets that are not sexy at all. But I still want to try this, I still think it will work." By the way, you could be the next Flobee or whatever. Anyway, I digress. It doesn't matter if you think it's sexy or not.
What does success look like to mere mortal humans who are going to try to leverage what we've talked about today?
Austin: I'm a mere mortal human. We all are mere mortal humans. Success is defined differently for each person. I had clear success goals in my mind. I've been a student of social media marketing since MySpace, since the beginning. Like I said, I've been doing this for 18 years. I started back when I was 14 years old and I've been doing it ever since. I've listened to amazing podcasts over the years, I've gone to conferences over the years, I've idolized and looked up to so many of these amazing digital marketers and content creators.
Now, over the last couple of years, I've had the privilege of becoming friends with a lot of these people that I've looked up to, sharing the stage with them, hanging out with them outside of just conversations, being on podcasts with them, doing video collaborations with them, and being able to just shoot them a text message. Aside from monetary success, for me at least, I digress for a second, I think there is a little bit of ego there, of course. A little healthy ego, I think is okay in business.
That's success to me, that I've become a peer and I've become recognized to the people that I've looked up to for so long. That was really important to me, and it took a long time to get to this point. Even if I didn't make any money, I think that would still be a success metric to me. We can go into the money. I'm pretty open book, I'm happy to share monetary results.
But you have to define what success looks like for you. Set those goals, set those big ambitious goals, and do whatever it takes to work consistently towards that no matter how much time it takes. I'm a firm believer if you just never give up, you learn from those failures, you learn from those lessons, you can do anything.
George: I love so much about that. We've mentioned consistency. This last segment while you were talking, I just kept hearing pounding in my brain, patience. But consistency and patience tied to that I actually have these goals, I know where I want to get to, I've broken those goals down to six months, one year, five years. Maybe you blast them out and you do way better than you thought. I liked that you started with we're all mere mortal humans. You can, too. You can achieve this. To me, that was another thing that I hope people rewind and listen. You can unlock your own mindset, your own belief structure, that you too can do these things if you're leveraging success, focused on goals, with patience and consistency.
Austin, one of the things that I like to do to end the show is I actually like to get some words of wisdom. Trust me, if you're building an AI tool, a SaaS tool, if you have a plaque sitting behind you, if you started on a TikTok journey, you've been on a journey and you've learned some stuff. You're now talking to B2B marketers. What are some words of wisdom that you would want to give to them as we send them back to their regularly scheduled day?
Austin: I'm going to assign you all some homework so that you can begin to take some action steps along the way. If you don't have a buyer persona sheet outlined, go on Google, type in buyer persona cheat sheet, and you'll find one. Print it out, download it, whatever you need to do, and fill that out so that you have a really clear outline of who you want to reach.
Then outline a content strategy. What we'll typically do is outline four core categories of content that are meant for that buyer persona. These are frequently asked questions that you get, perhaps SEO keyword questions that they are searching for online, the value proposition of the services that you have, and maybe the most emotional pain points that your clients have. Maybe a fifth category is do a little bit of competitor research and outline all of your competitor's top performing videos that you can recreate in your own unique way.
Below each one of those categories, outline 5-10 ideas that you can create content on with that structure. Again, opening hook, provide value, single call to action. Through this practice, you will have a month or two worth of content ideas. Start to create daily content. Do one video every single day. Just commit to it, say this is now a thing that I do. If you are ready to change your life and be successful, do this. Do a video every single day. You're going to repurpose that short form vertical video on YouTube Shorts, TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Facebook Reels. Do it for 30 days straight, and you're going to generate leads for your B2B business.
George: Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity after this podcast episode? Make sure you reach out and let us know in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.
I also have to ask are you a free member of the MarketingProfs community yet? If not, head over to Mprofs.com/mptoday. You won't regret the additional B2B marketing education that you'll be adding to your life.
We'd like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we'd love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until we meet in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast where we talk with Frank Belzer about building a partner community for B2B marketing and sales success, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you'd like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. We'll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.
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Published on June 15, 2023
Austin Armstrong, a lifelong digital marketer, public speaker, and host of the TikTok podcast BusinessTok. He is the CEO of Socialty Pro, an organic SEO and vertical video marketing agency, and the CEO of Syllaby, a brand-new marketing tool that helps business owners create a social media content strategy in minutes. Austin has posted over 2500 videos on TikTok, tripling his own business's revenue and thousands more across his clients' accounts.
LinkedIn: Austin Armstrong
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