An electronic tablet mounted horizontally on a tripod captures the image of a woman sitting at a table and showing a tube of lipstick to the viewer. The woman has long, straight, dark hair and wears a black tank top. She extends an open tube of red lipstick to the viewer and uses her other hand to steady a circular mirror. The table in front of the woman is covered with makeup and beauty accessories: a couple of eyeshadow palettes, a heart-shaped blush container, a white makeup bag, and about a dozen makeup brushes of different sizes. Behind the woman is a set of white doors in the middle of a brick wall. In the background beyond the tablet are the same woman in the same room, out-of-focus.
You can interact directly with your customers (and maybe attract some new ones) by hosting a live how-to video. — Getty Images/eclipse_images

A how-to video is a great way to engage your existing customers, showcase your industry expertise, and recruit new customers. A Google/Ipsos study found that how-to videos earn the most attention of any content category on YouTube: More than 70% of people prefer to learn about a product or service through video.

Even if your product or service doesn’t seem to need a how-to, there are ways to use this type of content to grow your audience on YouTube and other video channels.

Learn what your audience needs to know

Often, the best way to come up with a topic for a how-to video is to work backward. Start by researching what your audience is searching for using tools like Google Trends or YouTube’s autocomplete function. Simply starting to type the topic of your channel or the topic you wish to make videos about in YouTube’s search bar will show you some popular search terms people are using.

From there, you can begin to craft ideas for how-to videos. Note that your topics needn’t be directly tied to your product. For instance, a restaurant can do a simple how-to video that shows different ways how to prepare a seasonal product — ending with a new menu announcement or a CTA to make a reservation.

“Your how-to videos don't necessarily need to be about a dry topic related to your industry. If you create a fascinating piece of content that goes viral, you'll generate interest in your brand that way,” wrote HubSpot.

[Read more: 5 Video Hosting Platforms and How They Can Help Your Small Business]

Find a way to stand out

A search for “how to shuck an oyster” pulls up hundreds, if not thousands, of search results on YouTube. The key to any how-to video is to find a way to stand out from the other content creators.

“What is it about the product you’re trying to sell or the service you’re offering that makes it different from the competition?” wrote the YouTube creators behind the channel MyFroggyStuff. “That same exercise — figuring out what need you can fulfill better than anyone else — is the most important part of a how-to video plan.”

If you create a fascinating piece of content that goes viral, you'll generate interest in your brand that way.

Sophia Bernazzani, HubSpot

It may take some trial and error to find your footing, but look for ways to showcase your expertise, entertain your audience, and differentiate your channel from all other competitors in your area. Start with the main reason customers turn to your brand: This is always a good foundation for building consistent, compelling content.

[Read more: 4 Best Practices for Creating Engaging Social Media Videos]

Write a script

Showing is better than telling, but narrating what you’re doing in easy-to-understand language will help users follow along as you walk them through your process. A script will help you stay organized and focused. It can also help you determine how long your video is. Shorter videos seem to perform better, but take the time you need to describe the topic fully.

A script is also helpful in creating instructions to post in the video notes, as well as subtitles for those watching without sound. Make sure your video is accessible to everyone watching — and that goes for formatting your video properly, too.

Consider going live

Alternatively, consider tossing out the script altogether and hosting a live video. A how-to is a perfect format for live videos — which can garner tons of engagement. Host a how-to and allow followers to ask questions as they follow along. For the team at MyFroggyStuff, these videos see engagement skyrocket. “One weekly live video generates more comments — as many as 15,000 — than all the other videos from the week combined,” reported the creators.

Plus, live videos are a good source for other topic ideas. Use the questions your followers ask during a live session to spark more ideas for future how-to videos. And make sure to record your live video to post it later on your channel!

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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