Alongside the steady growth of social networking has been the rise of User Generated Content (UGC). Today we can all create content, both audio and video to extremely high technical standards. Of course, that doesn’t automatically make us Oscar-winning film directors. The quality (both technically and content wise) of the majority of content on that digital repository of user created video clips that is YouTube is pretty low, although it can be compulsive viewing! In fact, the bandwidth consumed by video on the internet generally, and users accessing YouTube in particular, is of growing concern to many enterprise network managers who grow increasingly concerned about the extent to which it can be displacing other (perhaps more critical traffic).
But as YouTube grows it is also maturing and an increasing number of organisations are starting to investigate its potential as a communications channel for serious content to an otherwise hard to reach audience. In the modern world of news clips and spound bytes, video is an essential element on the marketing mix and YouTube makes uploading, distributing and accessing content remarkably simple. Blogging about the facial recognition capabilities in Apple’s new iPhoto ’09 earlier this week reminded me of a discovery I made just before Christmas. When, in the course of researching global trends I discovered that no less a body than the World Economic Forum (who organise the annual event in Davos, Switzerland (28th Jan through 1st February 2009) attended by world leaders, business leaders and even the odd celebrity or two) now has a channel on YouTube!
Admittedly, this is no ordinary collection of home video clips, but a slickly presented site integrated into YouTube and being used to spread the message and solicit input and opinion. Judging from the fact that the lead video has now been viewed over 290,000 times, it is attracting a fair amount of attention. Mind you, let’s put that in context. Some of the most watched videos on YouTube have now passed 100 million views to date, so there seems little liklihood of YouTube going all serious on us yet!! Nevertheless it demonstrates that YouTube is now being recognised as a valid and viable communications medium. Even Gartner analysts can be found on YouTube with short explanations of their latest research, although we still have a way to go to reach 100 million hits!
In various conversations with organisations on a recent trip “down under”, a number of them revealed that they were seriously experimenting with putting promotional and instructional video material on YouTube. For tourist authorities and the like, the opportunity to reach out to potential visitors without the hassle of having to host video themselves is very appealing. Closer to home I recently found that my teenage daughter routinely uses YouTube as an alternative to Google (or other search engines targeting text-based information) when looking for instructions – such as how to use complex software products such as Adobe’s Photoshop.
The point of all this is simple. No organisation can now afford to ignore video sites like YouTube as a potential communications channel for reaching out to their user and prospect base. It certainly doesn’t replace existing information channels, but can you afford to miss out on any new prospect in the current economic conditions?