The world’s number one platform for sharing and streaming video content has made it to ten years young. And whilst it seems staggering that just over a decade ago we were without the Google-owned behemoth, you can’t argue with the dates.
We’ve been thinking long and hard about the best way to mark this momentous occasion, and whilst it was tempting to piece together a compendium of our favourite YouTube moments, chances are a collection of cat videos wouldn’t be much help to the brands we’re trying to assist by keeping our blog updated with handy information. As such we went back to the drawing board.
Over the years there have been innumerable changes to the site, countless updates, many controversies and a plethora of great achievements. News has been broken, stars have been made, and companies walked away triumphant after investing time and money on creating content specifically for the network. So brands and YouTube can potentially enjoy a great relationship, providing the former gets it right. This got us thinking about the best and worst aspects of actually using the network, and so we present our Top Five Problems and Top Five Plus Points when it comes to YouTube- all in all making 10 factors any company needs to consider, tying in with the whole tenth birthday thing (get it?).
Here we go then.
Top Five Plus Points of YouTube
User numbers and volume of traffic
Back in 2013 YouTube hit the 1billion unique hits per month mark. That’s around 1/7th of the global population logging onto the domain every 30 days, or thereabouts. This figure is even more astonishing when you consider that – a) it’s now 2015; and b) as of 2014 only half of the world’s population had access to the internet. In short, just under one third of all internet users will visit YouTube at least once per month. How’s that for reach?
Ease of use
One of the reasons for YouTube’s phenomenal success is the fact it’s easy to upload, curate, and share content both on and from the site itself. This means that even companies with no digital media training, and those without digital representation, can become part of the YouTube world.
A cornerstone of YouTube, by allowing anyone with an account to create channels containing not just their own content, but content sourced from other users, the network has made us all into potential broadcasting giants. From a brand perspective, this means it’s possible to open a go-to web domain full of every video the company has ever made or shared, which can then be passed to prospective partners, customers and investors- just like a streaming portfolio of marketing highs.
Although this doesn’t always prove popular with users, from a business perspective the fact that YouTube offers copyright protection is definitely a good thing. Nobody wants their original work to be used without permission, and everyone wants to be able to action a complaint, and have stolen content removed when necessary. Without such regulation things would be much messier.
Google search visibility
When Google bought YouTube for a mind-melting $1.6bn in 2006, the move was divisive. Independent early adopters of the platform thought this would signal the death of neutrality, and whilst things have become much more money-oriented (and not always in a good way- see our Top Five Problems), one of the major benefits of this is visibility in Google search. YouTube content that has been correctly tagged by the creator always appears high in Google results, and the search functionality within YouTube itself is now second to none, and more efficient than many rival search engines (mentioning no names… Bing). In short, if you have something on YouTube, people have a good chance of finding it, despite how much content the network hosts.
Top Five Problems with YouTube
As the years have flown by, YouTube’s commercial goals have increased. This has led to an exponential rise in advertising on the platform, which makes some sense from a business perspective (see the audience figures quoted in our number one Plus Point), but for users ads are viewed as intrusive and disruptive of the experience. Not least the 19-second versions that cannot be skipped.
Poor quality event clips
Most relevant from the perspective of music and entertainment companies, nevertheless as smartphone cameras have improved microphones and low-lighting video capture hasn’t come on nearly half as much. This means that for every professionally shot, paid-for clip a company has funded and wants sharing, people searching for footage from an event are likely to be offered a load of poor quality alternatives that never paint the best picture of what happened. There’s nothing that can be done about this, either, such is the nature of user-generated content.
Accidental copyright infringements (and the pains of avoiding them)
OK, so we also included this in our Plus Points, because original content deserves to be protected. That said, it’s easier than many first time brand users think to create a great video, and then realise the footage is unusable during post-production because it features an unrelated brand, or, worse still, elements-either visual or aural- that could well mean the firm is facing a fine due to (C) issues.
The mounting cost of creating good videos
Whilst Johnny286USA can get away with posting videos of any quality, a brand cannot. As technology has developed during the last decade, the expectations of what a good clip should look and sound like have also come on leaps and bounds. If you want to get content shared in a serious way then realistically shooting with anything below HD using an external mic is no longer fit for most purposes, meaning the price of your campaign may be a little more than originally estimated. And that’s before you’ve drafted in someone with deft editing skills to compile the footage at the end of filming.
This video has been removed because it is too long
YouTube experts will understand that the 15-minute maximum length of time for clips on the platform isn’t set in stone. Those who are relatively new to the network won’t. Worse still, you’ll only be told a video is too long after spending valuable time uploading it. Avoid falling foul of the rule by verifying your account properly- log in, click the ‘Upload’ link, then click the smaller link that simply says ‘Upload HD videos in various formats up to 15 minutes. Increase your limit‘. After a short process of inputting information, you’ll be free to create and share longer videos.
Did we miss anything out? Let us know your YouTube highs and lows in the comments box below.