Insights

Using YouTube 101: a guide for use of YouTube in modern communications strategies.



I hope you find Bush-Consulting's guide to using YouTube 101 useful as part of your wider, or dedicated and tactical, communications strategy and why it should be an important element in your communications strategy. Certainly smart communicators and campaigners are embracing the internet as an important medium to monitor and shape the agenda and put across key messages.


YouTube and internet demographics

Surveys show that among 18-29 year old Australians, 40 per cent of their media time is spent online. Among other Australians, the figure exceeds 25%.

Google Australia has approximately 9 million unique visitors per month which easily makes it the leading search engine for Australians, according to Nielsen NetRatings.

You Tube has more than 2.5 million unique visitors per month in Australia, with over 99 million videos watched monthly. The numbers continue to grow exponentially each month especially with the embracing by political parties.

YouTube's demographic spans primarily the 18-55 age range. Eight in ten of our users are over 18 years old. Eighty percent of our users have a high school degree or higher, and 22 percent have a University degree.

Comparative Australian online session times are set out below:

  • YouTube: 38 mins
  • SMH.com.au: 27 mins
  • The Age.com.au: 23 mins
  • Couriermail.com.au: 19 mins
  • Ninemsn.com.au: 14 mins
Source : Nielsen, May 2007

Filming considerations
  • If the YouTube clip is one that involves limited activity i.e. someone speaking to camera from a desk, then it could be fine shot on a DV Cam (keeping costs down). But it really depends on who it is for and the need for the highest quality etc.
  • If there is limited editing to be done i.e one take then paying for an editor is an excessive cost. We have some access to an editing suite here with SOM and with some rough editing programs that Aimee has installed.
  • YouTube clips are best shot on 4.3 rather than 16.9 format.
  • If we are shooting outside or are doing voxpop type clips than a professional cameraman would be our best option.
  • When uploading the clip on YouTube saving it under a number of different file names can ensure more people find it.
  • Always be ready to act as producer because a cameraman is just that. He will advise on lighting and sound but we must always have a clear idea of what the shoot will look like and what we want people to say etc.
  • Sitting down and mapping out the shoot is the best thing to do. Thinking of what the overlay will be vs the questions is a must. It is worth getting to the location early in case any last minute changes need to be made.


How to YouTube - the 101 Guide

How can you make the most of the YT opportunity for your clients? Follows are some tips:

But first, here are five important points to remember as you dive into YouTube 'campaigning':

Five tips on using YouTube:

5. Reach out: Post videos intended directly for viewers on YouTube. Get conversations started around your client, their issues, product, achievements and personality, and what you are trying to achieve. People respond well when they are engaged directly. Look right into the camera and tell them what you think - and don't be afraid to ask them to respond.

4. Listen up: Don't just educate - listen! YouTube is a two-way medium. Show that you're paying attention to the comments and reply videos posted by voters, and your credibility will rise. So will your view counts.

3. Keep it fresh: A steady stream of new videos from you will help you build an audience, and engage repeat visitors. Once people subscribe to your channel, they'll be notified every time you upload a new video. And keep your videos short -- under 5 minutes is best.

2. Keep your camera running: Anything you shoot, you can post - and you never know what will happen. Keep your camera running in formal and informal moments to build a picture of your client, their business and issues, their ideas, and their identity.

1. Be genuine: Most important, be yourself. You don't have to pretend to be "hip" on YouTube- the viewing demographic mirrors the national population. High view counts come from videos that are compelling, not contrived. Pull back that political veneer - this is a unique opportunity for a more grounded, authentic dialogue.

Content

There are lots of different ways to use YouTube, and you should experiment with them all. Here are a few specific types of content to consider:
  • Direct dialogue: Use YouTube to communicate directly with viewers, eliminating the media as the middleman. If you solicit questions answer them in regular video postings. Think of this as a highly-visible, video version of regular community correspondence. Or you could make a request for ideas or reactions to your work in order to mobilise interest in your campaign.
  • Call to action: Engage viewers by soliciting user-generated content on YouTube. If the issue is health, ask voters to show you a video of a person in their life who deserves better care. If the issue is the economy, ask viewers to make videos expressing their thoughts on important economic priorities. If the issue is workplace relations, ask voters to make you a 30-second video commercial for why we do (or don't) need more workplace flexibility. If you like, use the "Group" function on YouTube to collect these videos together, or try setting up a contest or promotion. Or use the "Group" function to group all videos from Queensland, or from a particular marginal seat.
  • Serial stories: Episodic content does really well on YouTube. Hook people in with a series of videos built around a specific theme, and keep them coming back for more. Maybe it's something as simple as a weekly session in which you'll answer their questions. Or maybe it's a more produced project, like a series of profiles of voters from a particular seat or state (think a marginal seats public affairs campaign). Anything that keeps viewers coming back will increase your view counts and subscriptions to your channel.
  • Crisis response: Respond quickly to prickly issues by posting videos that directly explain your position. Get your message into the content stream so that voters can see where you stand. By directly addressing tough issues on YouTube, you put your side of the story into the same content stream as any "gotcha" videos. People appreciate direct responses on YouTube.
  • News response: Address issues or events that hit the news by posting videos that explain your campaign's position. You can also send these links to your email lists - a tangible video message can be more effective than a text-laden email.
  • Political style commercials: While it shouldn't be the staple of your content, it's a no-brainer to post your political style commercials to YouTube. In addition, consider posting commercials that advertise your YouTube channel. A 30-second spot in which you talk about your channel and show some quick clips from your YouTube videos can serve as a mission statement for your campaign, position you as forward looking and modern, and assist your online video outreach.
  • Eye-catching titles: Try using questions or provocative statements for the titles of your video. YouTube users are sorting through thousands of potential videos to watch - a good title will catch their eye. Don't call your video on the environment, "Our views on climate change." Instead, try, "Don't we need a sensible Australian plan on climate change?" You get the idea.
Using YouTube and channel features

Once you've started building up your content, it's time to design your channel to make it more attractive and accessible.

  • Place videos wisely: The top video on a YT channel automatically plays each time someone visits your page. Choose it wisely. You can try updating this video regularly to keep it fresh, or keep your most important video there for people to see every time.
  • Playlists: Once you've built up a body of work, use the playlist function to create groups of videos. You can use a playlist to target specific viewing demographics or to highlight specific issues, electorates or States. For example a playlist for videos from WA. Or maybe you have separate playlists for education, tax reform, or immigration. You can also add voter-generated content to these playlists.
  • Networking: YouTube isn't just a content distribution system - it's a social networking platform. And one of the most effective ways to draw more eyeballs to your content is to network with other users on the site.
  • Click "subscribe": The most basic currency of friendship on YouTube is to subscribe to someone else's channel. Not only does it show you're interested in their content, but it gives their channel's icon a place on your channel profile. It also allows you to keep track of what other users are up to. Subscribe to people's, constituency groups, journalists, non-profits - anyone whose content you are interested in.
  • Make reply videos: Reply videos are videos that you make specifically in response to a video from someone else on YouTube. You can also designate your existing videos as reply videos to content that you find YouTube. This is a great way to drive traffic to your video, because each time someone watches the video you're replying to, they'll see your video right underneath it. Let's say you post a video on the sanctity of life. Search for other videos on this issue, choose the one that is the most popular (has the highest rating, has the most views, etc.) and designate your video as a reply video to that one. Now your video is attached to a highly-visible video, and your content will get more attention.
  • Interact with your friends: It's a no-brainer to interact with your allies on YouTube - send them messages, favorite their videos, or post comments to their channels or videos to congratulate their work. A little message can go a long way to building support on YouTube.
  • Interact with your enemies: Draw attention to your campaign by interacting with those you disagree with as well. Associate with people who disagree with you on issues, and you'll draw attention to your channel. Consider posting specific reply videos to other campaigns or candidates with views contrary to your own - or even try an online debate with your opponent(s).
  • Distribution: You can use your YouTube channel to drive traffic to your regular website, or use your website to drive traffic to your YouTube channel.
  • Linking back: Drive traffic from your YouTube channel back to your website by giving viewers a reason to do so. Maybe there is something to sign up for, a contest to enter, or some information to receive. Use the compelling nature of video to pique interest, then tell viewers to head to your website for more. You can use YouTube to help build your email lists.
  • Embed, embed, embed: The broader your distribution online, the more people will see your YouTube videos. Use the embed URL that comes with each video to embed your videos on your website, and send the links to blogs that are sympathetic to your cause. Lots and lots of view counts on YouTube come from embedded videos.
  • Badges: Using our developer APIs, you can create YouTube badges on your home page that display your YouTube presence, with our logo, and a link to your YouTube channel. Call out your channel in as many places as you can.
  • Tagging: Tag your video with relevant search terms that will draw people to your video. Think about this from the minds of a user - if you were trying to get information about your campaign or the issue you're addressing, what search terms would you use?
Relevant support links

For general help at YouTube: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/
For video production tips: http://www.youtube.com/t/video_toolbox