Youtube – The First 15 Seconds

old fashioned timerWhat’s important in your Youtube videos? The first 15 seconds. According to Youtube’s Creator Playbook, you have 10-15 seconds to hook your viewer into watching the rest of your video. It’s extremely easy to click away from a video – just click and you’re gone. Especially if you’re watching in Youtube, since they have that Related Videos sidebar with other interesting-looking videos … click!

So those first few seconds need to be the best part of your video to keep people watching!

What do many of us do with those first 15 seconds?

  • a slow fade-in
  • cheesy music
  • attempt a flashy branded intro, titles, etc
  • or if it’s a screencast, we start right in with our computer screen – exciting stuff, huh?

Instead, here’s what Youtube says we should do:

  • Get to the point immediately – put your most compelling content first!
  • Quick teaser or summary of what’s going to be in the video, done by the person in the video. You can also welcome/greet the audience or ask a question/spark the viewer’s curiosity. Think inverted pyramid writing style, but for video.
  • branding, packaging, intros, … not as important, especially up-front. Let the content come first.
  • Intros should be minimal and short – 5 seconds is an optimal length

The goal? Make sure your viewers know what they’re watching. If they don’t know in 10-15 seconds … click – they’re gone.

Pic of hourglass from Bigstock

Video, Youtube, and My Library

I’m still thinking about Youtube and videos, which I started with my post Poking Around in Youtube Insights. So my next couple of posts will talk as bit about YouTube and how to tweak your videos to make them more watchable.

For starters, here’s how many subscribers and video views my library’s Youtube account has received so far (since March 6, 2007):

  • 191 subscribers
  • 191,000+ video views total
What types of video do we generally create?
  • occasional video series (focusing on technology or special collections)
  • one-off videos for upcoming programs
  • videos for the annual report
  • interviews with authors and artists
  • an occasional book review

Looks like we are creating videos for marketing stuff, videos highlighting a collection or service, interviews with speakers … and an occasional book review. Makes sense – sounds like a library to me!

Current direction

Our current strategy for creating video is a pretty simple one. It’s “please make video, dump it to Youtube, and share on our website.” Can’t get simpler than that! And that has worked ok so far – some staff have really embraced that and make a lot of videos. Others use it when it makes sense. What’s this gotten us? We have a lot of videos up on Youtube that shows off our library, services, and staff. Not a a bad thing at all.

Our videos are generally watched, too:

  • most popular video 23,300+ views
  • third most pop video – patron created content!
  • our 15 most popular videos are parody, interviews, interesting stuff about our collections, and kids and teens-related content

Our current video-making tools:

  • video cameras – Three Flip cameras (too bad they stopped making these), a Canon GL2, a Sanyo Xacti, and a couple other video cameras.
  • Software – iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Windows Movie Maker.
  • Staff also use their own cameras/software…

Here’s what we plan to do in 2011:

  • We have two new video series in the works (one that I’ll be directly involved with)
  • I have started adding tags, contact info and urls to every post/video in youtube. I’m also making sure comments are answered.
  • Working on a fledgling video room for staff. Currently, we have a room, we have a Mac and a PC, and we have a green wall.
  • Starting in January, I’m buying some dedicated video mics, lights, and backdrops.
  • And, we have a goal to be more multimedia-focused…

That’s what we’re doing, anyway. What are your library’s plans for video in 2011?

man with video camera from Bigstock

Poking Around in YouTube Insights

youtube logoA couple of days ago, I was poking around in my library’s YouTube account – generally tidying up the place, adding some info to video descriptions, etc (more on that in a future post perhaps). While doing that, I started looking at our YouTube Insights (that’s what YouTube calls statistics or analytics), and discovered some neat stuff.

And I thought I’d share. The stats are from Jan 1 , 2011- Oct 23, 2011). I created four “Big Insights” that I noticed, and each insight has a Takeaway. See if you can add some takeaways or insights to my list!

Big insight #1: Most people watching our videos are coming directly from YouTube.

  • 32,929 from youtube – almost 70%
  • embedded player – 8657 – 18%
  • mobile devices – 5223 – 10.9%
  • youtube channel page – 985 – 2%

Takeaway: Youtube is its own community. If we want to grow engagement (ie., get more comments, video views, likes, etc), we need to start interacting there. Only 18% of our total video views come from the “embedded player” – which means people watching our videos from the library’s website.

Big Insight #2: Tags are really important!

Links followed to this video – 28% (13,471). This means that someone was watching a video in Youtube, glanced over at the Related Videos sidebar, and clicked on one of our videos.

Takeaway: fill up the Tags box for each Youtube video (found on the Video Information page), and use very descriptive Keywords. Doing this will help your videos be found.

Big Insight #3: Post videos about what you do.

Most viewed videos for that time range:

  • 60 second book review – meditations for women
  • interview with a photographer
  • local history info
  • our really old mysteries of the book depository
  • The mayor playing his guitar for our Air Guitar event
  • rhyme and bounce, a toddler/baby video

Takeaway: See any similarities with these videos? Me neither. The one similarity is this: all those videos focus, in one way or antoher, on our stuff. So the takeaway here (besides making good, short, watchable videos) is to consistently share what your library does via video. If you can set up a regular schedule, that’s even better.

Big Insight #4: Community exists on Youtube!

Our video viewer demographics:

  • 51% male, 49% female
  • largest age range segments – 35-44, 45-54, 55-64
  • Sharing, ratings, comments, favorites – all very low, even though we have 190 subscribers and 188,140 lifetime video views (since March 6, 2007).

Takeaway #1: Our videos are appealing to adults, so we should consider that as we continue making videos.

Takeaway #2: People are there – in Youtube – watching our videos. We need to start answering comments consistently, subscribing to other local organizations channels, and grow our community base in Youtube (if we want interaction, video views, and sharing of our videos).

What’s my ultimate point here? Use your Youtube insights – there’s some great information there. And start interacting with your Youtube community.

Oh, and make videos, too – that helps :-)

image by ukberri

Promoting your Social Media Presence – Signage

Social Media icons
Social Media signage at TopekaLibrary

You’ve seen those “follow us on Facebook” signs at stores and restaurants, right? Or heard a radio dj mention following their radio station’s Twitter account on-air?

Guess what? Libraries can do the same thing!

As a first experiment, my library recently placed two “follow us” signs in our building – one at the main entrance to the library, and one on our administrative office doors (shown in the photo).

Why do this? Easy – it’s a relatively unobtrusive way to tell our customers that we have a social media presence, and that we want them to follow us. It’s also a way to link the physical to the digital – by promoting our digital presence (i.e., our Facebook Page) in our physical presence (i.e., our building).

Where else could we put these signs?

  • Our meeting rooms (maybe a stand-up card on a table)
  • Our cafe (stand-up card there, too)
  • In the stacks, with our books
  • As a background on our public PC monitors (we might do this)

One thing we can improve onKathryn Greenhill mentioned this to me recently – when you make a sign advertising your social media presence, make sure to include a URL or at least your social media name. Otherwise, people might not be able to find you (we were talking about this particular sign)! For example, my library’s full name is Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library … but we’re simply topekalibrary on social media sites. We’ll add that on the next version of the signs.

And a funny – watch the arrangement of your icons! We almost put the Facebook icon first … until someone in our Creative Group mentioned that we were spelling “F You[tube].” Certainly not our intent to tell customers to “F You!”

Like these ideas? Come hear more on November 2 at my ALA Techsource webinar on Facebook Pages! Make sure to register!

Topeka, KS doesn’t like Social Media

screenshot of City of Topeka website
Topeka uses social media, right?

Wouldn’t it be weird if Google, KS blocked Google from their own computers?

Unfortunately, that just happened.

OK – it’s really Topeka, KS (Topeka renamed the city for that Google Fiber project). And they didn’t really block Google – they blocked Youtube (which Google owns).

But still – there’s some irony there, is there not?

Go read this newspaper article, City tightens control of employee Internet use. Then come back here, and let’s discuss.

Here’s what I find odd about the city’s recent decision to block staff access to social media sites:

Oddity #1:
“City spokesman David Bevens said the city prohibits employees from using their work computers to access YouTube, as well as the Facebook and Twitter social media sites, but some employees have nevertheless accessed YouTube on those computers … “

That’s got nothing to do with social media, and everything to do with employee performance. That’s sorta like saying “obesity has become a health issue at our organization, so we blocked employee lunches.” In other words, the city is dealing with the symptom, rather than with the real problem – in this case, employee performance. Blocking Youtube won’t fix that problem, I’m afraid.

Oddity #2:
“Stanley [interim city manager] said he was disappointed to learn the problem was directly related to the perceived need by some employees to access popular social media websites, such as YouTube and Facebook.”

It’s more than a “perceived need” – the city actually has official Youtube, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook accounts. So yeah – “some staff” definitely DO need access to those sites, to do actual work.

And since those social media sites are essentially official city channels, I’d go so far as to say all city employees need access to them. At work. Otherwise, the city is blocking official city communications … from city employees. Nicely done, Google, KS!

Oddity #3:
IT manager Mark Biswell is quoted as saying this: “While these websites have value in terms of information transfer and marketing, they also pose an organizational risk in terms of lost productivity and through the potential introduction of viruses and worms … “

First off, let’s deal with that perceived “lost productivity” thing. Recent studies actually show that employees have increased productivity if they have access to social media. Want more productive employees? Give em access to Facebook and Youtube.

Second, that virus and worms thing. Social media sites like Facebook and Youtube don’t become popular if they’re sending out tons of viruses – instead, they get sued (thanks for that thought, @billludwig!). I sincerely hope that most IT managers know that “viruses and worms” generally don’t come from social media sites like Youtube or Facebook. They come from spoofed sites, rogue links in forwarded emails … and from uneducated staff. A better way to approach computer security would be to 1. unblock Facebook and Youtube, and 2. Train staff on appropriate use of web technology, and how to NOT click on those weird links or ads.

Oddity #4:
One last thing. The IT manager is also quoted as saying this: “Biswell said that to balance risks with the informational value of using such sites, the city was taking a proactive approach by cataloguing and safely providing employees access to YouTube videos that have business value related to training and education … The approach is the same one used by educational institutions, he said.”

That’s because the people at “educational institutions” are, for the most part, kids. Don’t treat your adult employees like kids. ‘Nuff said.

So why write this?
Thankfully, I don’t work at a city library, so I haven’t had to deal with this. But some of you librarians have dealt with this, head on. Library Directors – don’t let this happen to you! At least be informed, so you can intelligently argue your points to city administrators, city IT managers, or a city attorney. I’d love to hear from some libraries who successfully argued their points, and were able to keep or get library access to social media sites.

In other news, on Friday I tweeted a question to the City via their official Twitter channel, asking them how they were going to respond to my question, since they are now blocked from using Twitter.

Still no Twitter reply. I wonder why?