Cash-strapped but need to grow your business?

Here’s the bootstrapping truth about Google’s suite of tools and funds for Black founders and creatives

Cash-Strapped But Need to Grow Your Business? Here’s the bootstrapping truth about Google’s suite of tools and funds for Black founders and creatives.

Working for a digital agency, I came to realise that much of what we know about digital channels is too often taken for granted. I spoke with Google’s Asha Patel, Google’s Head of B2B Marketing in Sub-Saharan Africa & Head of Marketing in South Africa.

Some US$100 million here, US$4 million there. I’m listening to Asha Patel rattle off the sums of money that Google and YouTube have budgeted to help businesses grow. This is real money accessible to startups, along with a host of useful free tools from both platforms that every marketer should know about. 

Regardless of the size business, starting out with marketing or an accomplished expert, Google can help boost your online visibility. You simply need to Google what you’re looking for and will find many solutions, from Maps to customised support.

If you’re not creating video content, you should be. The pandemic reshaped our relationship with video. We now know that customers move seamlessly across channels to find what they’re looking for, and as they do, video is now more influential than ever. YouTube is a central part of this rapid evolution.

YouTube offers everyone a voice. The 2021 release of its Shorts now has 30 billion daily viewers worldwide – an annual growth of five times – mostly among Gen Z and Millennials. 

Patel advises that longer-form content remains popular, and the company has noticed an increase in the length of time people watch videos on the channel. The longest video on YouTube now takes about eight days to watch, for example.

She recommends using the short form to remind your audience of something and the long form to get them to change their minds – especially if you want to get customers to switch brands. 

Google’s research shows that the rules of engagement in the short-form video space differ from region to region. This is why it is vital to research what will work for you, depending on where your audience is.

Show me the money

YouTube has a partner programme for creators who achieve more than 1,000 subscribers and have clocked up more than 4,000 hours of ‘watch time’. Once you achieve these milestones, a YouTube Partner Manager will be alerted and reach out to help you take advantage of what’s on offer. 

This includes a massive fund of US$100 million. This fund is available to successful YouTube creators in more than 100 countries. Google has created the Black Founders Fund, which is worth US$4 million and is designed to support Black-founded start-ups.

The fund has given financial grants to 60 African businesses, of which women founded 50%. And while the money makes a huge difference to start-ups, the fund provides these entrepreneurs something equally valuable: access to a network of mentors and other support through Google Network. 

Patel says the fund already has had 4,000 applicants, demonstrating the creative innovation in Africa, particularly in FinTech, healthcare and e-commerce. 

Another YouTube initiative designed to make it even easier for creators is the Black Voices Fund. This provides professional services, such as access to coaches and production details. 

Patel is clear, though: having access to technology – even an Android phone – enables everyone to become a creator, and fancy production is unnecessary. YouTube’s ABCD Framework is designed to help anyone create content that performs well.

YouTube also has a tool called Market Finder which recently helped a South African company find buyers for their products in Europe. 

ABCD framework for content creation

Attention: The recommendation is to get straight to the heart of your story immediately and use your most compelling content upfront. Remember that this is Africa, so your video must work on a small screen. You need to be seen and heard clearly, so use bold text, have a clear voiceover and zoom in on the presenter.

Branding: Reinforce branding with your logo at the top right of the video throughout. Use all your keywords. 

Connection: You need to make the audience feel something, whether happy or sad. Ordinary, real-life presenters get better responses than celebs. Yes, the latter get attention in the first few seconds, but the audience responds better to someone they can identify with.

Directing: Direct viewers to what you want them to do by including a clear call to action, engagement or exploration.

There will always be an audience for good content, and following a proven framework encourages a bigger audience. Patel reckons hyper-localised content is extremely popular, not least because audiences respond to the nuances that only apply locally. Please listen to my full conversation with Asha Patel at The Lead Creative.

If you aspire to become a wildly successful YouTube content creator, the trick is to figure out what you love and make content based on that. 

This article was published in INC Africa



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