Archive for the ‘youtube’ Category

A Brief History of the Web

Courtesy of Microsoft comes this amusing “Net History” video – “from bleeding GIFS to pointless status updates.” 

To be honest, some parts of this video annoy me, but the ‘gentleman’ is just so… British…

Since when does Microsoft do funny videos?

Wario Land: Shake It – Drops My Jaw (And The Screen)

I just watched a new promo for the Wii game Wario Land: Shake It. You have to check this out – it’s one of the most creative approaches I’ve seen to an ad in a long time.

The screen shot definitely doesn’t do it justice – check out the video here.

(Hat tip: Greg Kumparak)

Electronic Arts’ Tiger Woods Video: It’s Just That Good

EA Sports, Inc Every so often I come across something from a company that just blows my mind. This is one of those times. I’m a little behind the ball on this one, but it’s still worth highlighting.

Last year (August 2007), a user took a video capture of a glitch in Electronic Arts’ Tiger Woods ’08 game showing that the player could walk on water to play a shot, and posted it on YouTube.

This year, to promote Tiger Woods ’09, EA produced this:

What a fantastic "response," from a company that I would never have expected to take note of a YouTube video.

Of course, not every company could (or should) respond to every video in this way, but I think EA really nailed this one. It’s not part of a regular ad campaign (it refers to the YouTube user by name), it shows they have a sense of humour and it draws attention to the game in a positive way.

Great marketing move. While I don’t like using YouTube views as a success metric, it’s interesting to note that the original video has so far received about 132,000 views. EA’s video, in 3 days, has received over 450,000.

For more on this, check out Mashable’s coverage.

Image credit: Wikipedia

If You Allow Comments, For Goodness Sake ALLOW Comments

If you’re going to encourage your clients to interact with you, for Pete’s sake do it right.

Silenced I was talking to a fellow communications professional this week when she mentioned a recent effort her employer had undertaken. They posted a series of videos on YouTube giving their perspective on a high-profile issue and opened comments on those videos.

All good so far.

However, she then mentioned that they hadn’t allowed any negative comments to be posted. None. Not her choice, but that’s the way negative comments have been handled. She also mentioned that this hadn’t gone un-noticed – that people had posted comments saying “we know you’re censoring comments.” Of course, those weren’t published either.

So far the employer seems to have gotten away with it. Coverage of the videos was positive in general, and I haven’t seen any blog posts calling them out for their censorship.

There’s a lot of potential for a backlash here though.

I wrote a post a while back entitled 8 Questions To Ask Before Using YouTube As A Communications Tool. My third thing to consider: “How will you handle comments?”

“First, are you ready to accept negative comments? Assuming you enable comments, how will you respond to them? And who will respond?”

If you’re not prepared to have a genuine discussion, including allowing respectful disagreement, don’t enable comments.

The employer is asking for trouble. If they continue to communicate this way it will come back to haunt them.

(Photo credit: Gitgat)

8 Questions To Ask Before Using YouTube As A Communications Tool

YouTube As communications professionals, it’s very easy to get caught up in the hype and excitement about all the new online communications tactics we have available to us today. YouTube is a great example. It’s tempting to view tools like this as a silver bullet for our communications woes.

YouTube used to be primarily a great source for videos of music and kids hurting themselves on skateboards. No longer. It’s becoming a more common tool for corporate communications.

Your management may want to rush out, jump into the deep end and start using YouTube to communicate directly with people. If you can, you should get them to pause and consider several questions first:

What are your objectives?

What do you want to get out of this communications effort?

What do you want to achieve? Do you want to drive people to your website? Increase sales elsewhere? Raise awareness? Stimulate behaviour change? Generate discussion? Does video help you reach this objective?

Who’s your target audience?

A few interesting stats for YouTube’s U.S. audience:

  • 51% male; 49% female
  • 60% of users aged over 35 (18% under 18; 20% aged 18-34)
  • 71% employed; 15% students
  • 47% married
  • 69% college educated

Not what you’d expect, is it?

Are you looking for sustained interest?

Is this a one-off, or part of a sustained campaign? Who will produce follow-up videos? What will they be about?

It may not be necessary to publish regular videos (the Dove Evolution video, for example, was highly successful without being part of a frequent series). However, if regular videos are the intention, consider how that process will work.

Do you have the resources to do this in-house? Do you have the budget to outsource it? You may be better off buying a decent video camera and editing suite and training your staff to produce and edit video. You’ll re-coup this cost quickly if you’re producing videos regularly.

How will you measure success?

Please, oh please, don’t use views as your only success criteria.

Yes, video views are a helpful indicator of your video’s reach. However, they don’t tell you whether people absorbed your message or whether they took any action based on it. I’m no measurement guru, but video views SUCK as a success criteria. It’s like citing TV audience as a success criteria for TV advertising.

Find a way to at least measure a proxy for your objectives.

Do you have a good visual for video?

Rigid, scripted talking heads make for boring video. Don’t expect great pick-up if your video is boring. Be interesting or be forgotten.

How will you handle comments?

Decide how you’re going to deal with comments on the video – both text and video.

First, are you ready to accept negative comments? Assuming you enable comments, how will you respond to them? And who will respond?

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article outlining five approaches that companies use to deal with "negative consumer- and employee-generated content on the Web."

  1. Do nothing
  2. Put the lawyers on it
  3. Throw money at the problem
  4. Invite and engage the critics
  5. Stop it before it starts

If your company plans to do anything other than options four or five, consider whether you should enable comments. You may get criticized for not doing so, but it may be better than the criticism you’ll get if you allow them and don’t respond or respond inappropriately.

Will you allow ratings?

Are you going to let people rate your video?

I would suggest that if you’re not confident about the video, you shouldn’t upload it but we all know that sometimes these decisions are out of our hands.

Will you let people embed the video?

This may be a no-brainer, but the last thing you want is your boss calling you up and asking why your video is up on someone else’s website. You could argue that if people don’t like the possibility of this happening then maybe you should re-examine YouTube videos as a tactic for your campaign.

YouTube can be a great tactic but if you’re looking for a traditional one-way, controlled information flow, perhaps it isn’t the best tactic for you.


This is a basic list of fundamental questions you should answer before you launch into using videos on YouTube (or another video site) as a communications tactic. This is just a start, and some of these questions should already be part of your communications planning process.

Also, please remember, don’t have a YouTube strategy. This is just another tactic to add to your toolkit.

If you treat YouTube videos as a standalone piece, handled separately from the rest of your communications, they’re likely to fail. Throwing out random videos is about as likely to get you somewhere as throwing out random press releases (if a video is published and no-one views it, was it really published?). Think strategically. Think about this in conjunction with your other communications products.

If you’ve used YouTube as a communications tool, what lessons have you learned? What other questions should people ask before diving in?

YouTube As An Effective Crime-Solving Tool


Every so often I hear cool stories of the creative ways people use new media to solve problems. This one is particularly cool.

A friend of ours recently discovered that another driver had hit his parked car and taken off without leaving his details.

Fortunately, our friend had parked where he did because he know a business owner who had a camera trained on the parking spot.

Our friend posted the video of the incident on YouTube, and appealed for help finding the perpetrator.

Sure enough, 400 views and a couple of days later our friend had not only identified the person that hit his car, but had contacted him and received a reply.

This is by no means the first time that people have used YouTube to solve crimes. Regardless, it’s an effective illustration that applications like YouTube aren’t just toys. Used well, they become highly effective tools.

Have you come across other examples like this? What are the most creative uses of YouTube that you’ve come across?

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Stop Using Views To Measure YouTube Success

Measurement is a hot theme right now. Lots of smart people are writing about it regularly and Joseph Thornley (also a smart guy) is even organizing a social media measurement roundtable.

Here’s a measurement issue that’s bugged me for a while.

I keep seeing and hearing people citing video views as a critical success measure.

For example, Dan Ackerman-Greenberg pushed views as his key success measure with his (*shudder*) "viral" YouTube strategies.

On the other (i.e. right) side of the ethical fence, Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson talked about the number of views of Microsoft’s YouTube videos on a recent episode of FIR.

Isn’t there a better way to measure the success of videos?

It really seems like people take the route of least resistance by using an easily available bit of data to measure success without considering whether it actually shows success or not.

  • Does the video change peoples’ knowledge, perceptions or behaviour?
  • Do viewers get the message?
  • Do they go to your website after viewing the video?
  • Do they buy your product/service after seeing your promo?
  • Do they take whatever other action you want them to take?

Views don’t answer any of these questions. Sure, they’re nice to know and a large number of viewers may well be better than a small number, but not necessarily.

  • Are all those people your intended audience?
  • Are they influential in their field?

If not, then all those views may mean nothing.

Does several hundred thousand views of Microsoft’s new videos mean they’ve succeeded? Maybe. On the other hand, the negative comments would seem to indicate otherwise. Only more useful measures will tell.

Sure, it would be more work to find out more useful stats but really, what’s the point if you don’t?

I’m no measurement expert so I put the question out to you: What’s a better way to do this?

ING Direct’s Tentative Social Media Effort

I received an email today from ING Direct. Normally their emails go straight into my trash folder, but this one caught my eye.

ING Direct EmailThis one advertised a contest leveraging social media.

The Canadian Superstar Saver Search (try saying that three times quickly) is straightforward – create a video explaining the creative ways you save money, upload it to YouTube Canada, enter the competition and you’re in with a shot at winning $10,000.

I think there are several cool things about what ING is doing:

  • They’re getting involved in social media and user-generated content, however tentatively
  • They’re leveraging word of mouth – by using YouTube instead of their own video hosting system, they’re allowing people to embed the videos on their own sites and spread the word
  • They’re putting power in the hands of the community – the eventual winners will be chosen by the YouTube community, not by the suits in ING’s office
  • They’re aware enough of new media events to piggy-back on the launch of YouTube Canada.

However, I don’t think they thought the whole thing carefully before they launched.

  • I couldn’t find one link to YouTube Canada anywhere on their site. All of the links were to the international YouTube site. Bad ING. Bad. Go to your room.
  • For a contest about user-generated content, the prize isn’t exactly creative. Why not use that content somehow – in a TV ad perhaps? Their terms & conditions already allow for it, why not make it part of the prize? Or find an even more creative way to reward the winner
  • The competition uses social media; why not leverage it to spread the word? Their contest design shows they’re targeting a younger demographic that’s social media-savvy, so where are the social bookmarking links?  Where’s their Facebook or MySpace page promoting the contest? So many missed opportunities.

This all smacks of a company that wants to capitalize on the popularity new media without really taking the time to look into it.

Kudos to ING Direct for dipping its toe into the waters of social media. Next time, though, maybe they should think it through more carefully first.

5 Keys To Creating A Cutting-Edge Online Newsroom

What should an online newsroom look like?

I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the last few days researching the current state of online newsrooms. I’ve looked at the private sector and the public sector, both within Canada (federal, provincial and municipal) and internationally.

My conclusion: most organizations aren’t using their newsrooms effectively.

From the 28 newsrooms I examined, most limit their new media functionality to RSS feeds. A few incorporate ‘new media’ elements like video or audio; fewer still include social media features.

What characterizes a leading-edge online newsroom?

What would help a newsroom stand out from the masses?

  1. Built on a blogging platform
    • Allows direct user input via comments
    • Permits trackbacks, to show reactions on other sites
    • Ideally incorporates a regularly-updated organizational blog
  2. Uses categories/tagging to classify content
    • Categorizes content with relevant tags
    • Displays tag cloud or list on the newsroom homepage
    • Identifies relevant articles via those tags
    • Allows news to be viewed by key topics, built-in to the navigation
  3. Makes multimedia content easily available throughout
    • Graphical, photographic, video and audio resources accessible from the homepage
    • Provides relevant multimedia content from each document
  4. Makes content easy to access and share
    • Uses social media tools (Flickr and YouTube are obvious examples)
    • Allows users to bookmark and share content through sites like, Digg, Technorati (leading sites commonly allow sharing via up to 14 sites)
    • Provides RSS feeds for all newsroom areas including key topics
    • Advanced search capabilities
  5. Social media news releases
    • See the template here

I don’t think all of these features are essential. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. However, for a newsroom to truly consider itself a leader I think it should aspire to all five feature sets.

My conclusions largely mirror those of Todd Defren and his colleagues, who launched the social newsroom template back in February.

Who are the leaders?

From the limited sample I examined, three stood out:

Interview: LearnAsOne Founder Steve Heyes

LearnAsOne is a new charity set up to fund new schools and support their running costs throughout the developing world.

I recently had a chance to ask Steve Heyes, founder of LearnAsOne (and an ex-roommate of mine from university) about his thoughts on social media, how he’s using it to promote his organization and the challenges of being a “digital charity.”

Dave: First off, tell us a bit about your background and how you decided to launch LearnAsOne

Steve: My first job out of uni was running the UK office of a charity called Ethiopiaid. We raised and donated over £2-million a year to 15 partner projects in areas such as health, HIV/Aids and education. I was lucky enough to visit the country for 3 weeks and seeing the impact that people’s generosity had on other people’s lives was moving and inspiring. What seemed like so little to me, meant so much to them – a roof over their head, a simple vaccination, a sanitation block, a new set of school books – their reactions were amazing!

I then moved to Burnett Works, a fundraising and communications agency, working on campaigns for clients such as Cancer Research UK and Plan, the child sponsorship agency.

I was really happy there, but in the back of my mind I always knew I wanted to start a charity to help educate kids in the developing world. The literacy rate in Ethiopia (where we hope to build the first LearnAsOne school) is just 42.4%. How are you supposed to fight the effects of poverty if you can’t read and write? I believe education is the greatest gift you can give to anyone – it gives people a chance to develop not only themselves, but also the country in which they live.

I always assumed I’d set up the charity in 20 years time, once I’d set up my own business and had the luxury of time and money behind me. Then social media exploded…

Dave: So what opportunities do you think social media opens up for charities?

Steve: I think the opportunities are massive. The Internet effectively removes the distribution costs of contacting people, but social media takes it to the next level. If an idea takes off it can grow at an unbelievable rate.

And it doesn’t even need to be initiated by the charity. They just need to sign up to the social media tools that already exist so that their supporters have the opportunity to use them. For example, when Richard Hammond, the popular Top Gear presenter, had a high speed accident filming for the programme a fan set up a get well page on the online sponsorship site JustGiving in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance who air lifted him to hospital. A link was posted on the PistonHeads website, it rapidly spread all over the net and within a week over £160,000 had been donated – absolutely amazing! You’ll be glad to know Richard went on to make a full recovery

Blogging from the field also has massive potential. For example MSF doctors blog about their field missions in countries such as Bangladesh and Sudan. It’s so real and shows donors exactly what their money is helping to achieve. I believe it’s the most popular content on their website. Fundraising widgets are proving extremely popular and have already had an impact thanks to applications like Chipin, and are being pushed hard in the sector by bloggers like Beth Kanter.

Facebook is another obvious one, but I don’t think anyone has cracked it yet. I’m really looking forward to seeing the first big charity application.

The best thing is that all these tools already exist and are free to use, so I’d recommend that all charities give them a try.

Dave: How do you plan to use social media to promote the charity?

Steve: The big idea behind LearnAsOne is to build a web application that provides a way for people to fund their own school. And then promote it using social media.

The web app will:

  1. Locate communities in need of a school
  2. Give them a webpage/blog where they can upload fundraising needs (e.g. classrooms, books, teachers’ salaries) and a way for people to donate
  3. Provide feedback (including video) direct from the school so donors can see exactly what their money is helping to achieve
  4. Enable supporters to leave comments and questions for the kids and teachers to answer.

The great thing about this idea is that once the app is built it will cost the almost the same amount to fund-raise for one school through the site as it will 100. And that is because of social media.

I’m also hoping that social media will also allow us to build the app for free, or at a very low cost. We are currently using Facebook, plus contacting bloggers and posting on social bookmarking sites to in an attempt to locate graphic designers and web developers to help build this app. Our current site was actually part developed by Jason Lemm who I found using MySpace – although he’s far more active on Facebook these days.

In terms of fundraising and generating awareness I think the potential of social media is huge. Never before has there been the opportunity to reach such a huge audience for such a tiny cost. We have a Facebook profile and I’m interested to see how that organically grows. There are also plans to build an application so that users can add the school they are sponsoring to their page. And we are very keen on developing a ‘Fund your own school’ widget that can be used across the rest of the net.

Blogs are really important too. Both being picked up on blogs like this one to raise awareness and though the individual school blogs which will show donors exactly what their money is achieving. I hope that some of the comments and questions they leave will be answered in future blog posts by the schools and a conversation can start to develop.

YouTube is likely to have a massive role to play in demonstrating our work and also spreading awareness of our fundraising events. And I’m sure sites like Digg and Stumble Upon will at some point drive a significant amount traffic to the site.

But I think the most exciting thing will be if and when supporters start initiating things in the social media field off their own back. It’s what I hope will happen and when it does, we’ll know that the idea really is working.

Dave: How else are you getting word out?

Steve: We held our first fundraising event last weekend. It was called RunAsOne and was a 10k with a twist. You had to run ‘AsOne’ i.e. run attached to someone. Yep – I’m serious, attached to someone. It was great fun and really successful. The support the runners received around the course was amazing. We are hoping to organize follow up events next year and are actively encouraging people to put on their own version of the event too. We’ll gladly offer support and advice if asked for, but just like social media – what is the need for us to retain full control over these event? It just means we need more staff and spend more of the donors money on fundraising rather than education.

Another event in the pipeline is BreakfastAsOne. One of the major reasons kids don’t go to school is because they need to work to earn enough money to eat. If the school provides them with a free breakfast they are far more likely to go. The idea is for people to host their own fundraising breakfast so kids get their breakfast and can go to school.

Dave: What challenges have you found in establishing a digital charity?

Steve: The biggest challenge is finding volunteers with graphic design and web development skills to help develop the MySchool part of the website. I unfortunately have the coding skills of a monkey so I’m hoping that by appearing on blogs like this people will get in touch and offer to lend their skills. Even if they only have the time to design one page or do a few hours of CSS work I’d love to hear from them. I can be contacted at

Dave: What’s next for LearnAsOne?

Steve: It’s got to be getting the MySchool web application up and running. It’s such a simple, scalable and cost-effective way to fund education projects in the developing world. As far as I know no other education charities operate in such an interactive and engaging way – so I think it’s got a great chance of appealing to a lot of people and giving thousands of kids the opportunity to go to school.

Dave: How can people get involved?

Steve: There are a huge number of ways:

  1. Volunteer their graphic design or web development skills
  2. Forward this on to any friends who can help build the app or bloggers/journalists who can help to promote the idea
  3. Blog about LearnAsOne
  4. Join the Facebook group and ask their mates to join too
  5. Organize their own RunAsOne
  6. Make a donation
  7. And I guess your readers probably have few social media ideas of their own!

Thanks for your interest Dave. It’s been a pleasure having the opportunity to talk about social media and LearnAsOne.