I remember when YouTube was just a simple video sharing platform designed primarily as a way for friends and family to exchange home video footage. It was neat and certainly useful, but I’m not sure the vast majority of its users understood the full potential of it or what it would eventually mean for content creation and mass media.
Three internet start-up co-workers who first came together through their involvement with the then fairly new PayPal are who we have to thank for YouTube’s creation in 2005. They were Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. Google is who we have to thank for what it has since grown into.
Nearly a decade and a half later, millions of people worldwide are using YouTube daily for a myriad of purposes. For those who have channels on YouTube, it has given them a unique way to express themselves, a great platform through which to teach others and give advice, an opportunity to market their goods or services, and a real potential to become financially independent doing what they love. For those who enjoy viewing YouTube channels, it provides a way to understand topics in a more visual and experiential way and it provides entertainment without the need for a cable subscription.
It’s un-tethered and in some ways unrestricted viewing – that is, with regard to how the viewer controls their scheduled content rather than a network. Viewers also control the types of content they choose to watch, as YouTube is so large that there really is something for everyone. And, any of this content is available to view 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Now that is really something to be in awe over, especially if you remember a time before the internet. It’s just amazing.
YouTube Is Still Growing
The people over at YouTube are continually working on improving the structure, flow, and features within its user interface. 2019 will see many upgrades that creators have been asking for.
In 2018 they joined the movie streaming game to better compete with popular streaming services and rebranded YouTube Red as YouTube Premium. Now, along with access to original content such as Cobra Kai, a YouTube Premium subscription includes their Music Premium service and comes with the ability to enjoy streamed content completely ad free. Learn more here and here. You can even get cable-free live TV now through a YouTube subscription service – see here. And of course, if you’re willing to watch a few ads, much of what YouTube offers remains available for free.
Regardless of how you choose to watch, nearly everyone will agree that this platform is easily one of the most utilized video services available today by people of all ages. There are channels devoted to every topic you can think of. From product reviews to game-play, crafting, and DIY tutorials. You can find narrated stories, poetry, audio books, and personal journals (vlogs). And that just barely scratches the surface.
YouTube – The Game Changer
Children now commonly watch toy reviews and game-play strategies! When I was a kid, you had one way to figure out games and learn about toys… you know, maybe it started with a commercial on TV or maybe we saw someone who had a thing we wanted – first, we had to get our parents to purchase it and then we had to actually play with it. Good ol’ trial and error. Now kids learn about something through other people’s trial and error experiences. They know what they want, why they want it, and how it works before they ever actually handle it in person.
Talk about ideal advertising – much better than simple word of mouth or a two minute commercial. Basic word of mouth can spark our curiosity about a thing and even provide us with a trusted testimonial, but it’s easily forgotten. A commercial on television can attract some attention and briefly show us how a thing could be useful, we may even retain the catchy jingles in our memory banks till the end of time, but it still lacks the trusted independent review that we tend to seek – especially for more costly products – this is one reason why infomercials were so successful!
If you think about it, a lot of the product review videos we see on YouTube are like infomercial 3.0. Only, they’re more like word of mouth. What makes these so relatable is we aren’t viewing the written and rehearsed opinions of hired actors; we’re witnessing the relayed experiences of a real individual who had a personal interest in a particular product and tried it out. This, I believe, makes us trust it a little more.
I think most people today have grown a bit too sophisticated for a lot of the old advertising methods to really reach them. We aren’t so influenced by glitzy photo shoots and rehearsed one liner sales strategies as we once were. Mostly I suspect this is because we’ve seen it all before and the advertising strategies game was revealed to us long ago.
To get our attention, the product ads we allow to play will need a healthy dose of reality interlaced with some excitement or humor (well, special effects never hurt either). Independently created reviews through featured video content has a greater potential for giving that to us because in many ways it provides a more relatable experience and more understanding for the topic covered.
As the content is hosted online in an easy to access manner, we have more opportunities to watch and become engaged with the experiences being shared with us…and I think this helps capture and hold interest. It tends to feel more interactive through features such as commenting, giving us an opportunity to ask questions of and converse with the creators of the videos. In this way, we are included in the process.
What About You?
I think just about everyone has, by this point, considered creating their own video content for YouTube. It’s a great way to put yourself out there and be heard; to share your ideas, thoughts, and experiences. Everyone has an interest, a talent, a hobby, or a profession that can lend itself to helping others on the other side of the screen know more about it. You may wonder why anyone out there would care, but the truth is there isn’t anything you could hold an interest for or knowledge in that wouldn’t be a curiosity or passion for someone else.
Creating video content for YouTube is also a great way to generate traffic for your website or business, since practically everyone uses the platform in one way or another. Keyword searching through Google as well as through YouTube can bring viewers to your content, which can help you to build an audience and lead to more traffic to your other sites. The ability to monetize video content is an additional component that attracts people to the design. It’s certainly worth the time to look into if you work from home, have a blog, or are engaged in any work that requires a social component.
Up till now, I’ve only used my channel to share private videos. However, I would like to do more with it. The main thing that keeps me only thinking about it is that the video capturing and editing process can take quite a bit of time and I tend to be a perfectionist. When I do it, I will want to give it my all. So for now, it’s more about trying to figure out how I will make the time for it. And also, what on Earth to start with…
So, how about it? Do you have a YouTube Channel or do you have an idea for one? Is YouTube your first stop to learn about something your curious about? What are your favorite channels to visit there?