Whether you believe YouTube is bigger than MySpace or not (I’m in the “not” wagon) there are still some things to keep in mind if you’re trying to work with the video behemoth. YouTube may or may not be flipbait because of the copyright issues, but there’s no reason why your company can’t work some YouTube videos into its normal offerings to better your overall interactive experience.
Although you might be itching to flip the camera on and jumpstart your 15 minutes of fame, please don’t. Here’s a list of things that you shouldn’t be doing because 1) they’re played out, 2) boring, or 3) not innovative whatsoever.
1. Don’t pretend to be Rocketboom
Rocketboom is like lightning in a bottle, once the cap is off the lightning escapes and won’t come back. Don’t pretend to be zefrank either — his delivery and style is unique and immediately recognizable. Make your own style, work at it, and make it popular. Don’t bite others, be original. If you imitate others then you’re just spinning your wheels and not moving your site forward.
2. Don’t do vidcasts just because everyone else is doing them
Too many 1-man media companies think they can make readers think they are larger by doing random vidcasts, which is not a good idea. If everybody else is doing something and you follow suit, they’re already 10 steps ahead and are planning their next move. It’s not smart to be the last company in “a space” that was only formed a few months ago because you’re not innovating, you’re just following. Be a leader and not a follower. How can you be original if you only do things that others have already done?
3. Don’t be boring.
This almost goes along with #2: if you have nothing to say or cannot be interesting on cue, then don’t record yourself doing nothing. If your words are boring, then reading those words in a monotone voice while looking into a camera is even worse. Be interesting, have something to say, do something cool, make your readers’ time valuable by doing something worthwhile in your video. Don’t read a blog post you already wrote, don’t stare into the camera and utter random nonsense, don’t do anything that wouldn’t hold your own attention if you were forced to watch yourself.
So now that we’ve got the Big 3 mistakes that people make when integrating YouTube into their existing online offerings, let’s go over some things that are cool, useful, innovative, or potentially revenue-producing.
1. Use YouTube as supplemental content, not the highlight.
Interjecting YouTube videos into a blog post works if the content can stand by itself and still be interesting. Find cool videos and put them in your already cool blog post and you just increased the value of what you published.
2. Be original, be fun.
In stark contrast to weblogs, if a user is viewing a short video then you have their complete attention — so make the most of it. Don’t just sit there, do something interesting. Make a fool of yourself, sing, dance, run around, get naked, make my time worthwhile and I’ll come back looking for more…. especially if you’re naked ;)
3. Extend YouTube.
YouTube has an API so you can interact with content and deliver it in new and useful ways. On top of your blog’s category archives you could pull in recent videos related to that category or tag, or integrate videos into your site’s search feature, or have a random and topical video rotate on your homepage, or whatever. Get creative with it, add value to your own site’s experience by integrating videos and YouTube content.
Just Like With Everything Else
Whenever something big and new arrives, everyone trips over themselves trying to embrace it and exploit it, be it “Web 2.0” APIs, RSS feeds, Google Maps, or YouTube videos. Resist the temptation to sit in the echo chamber — lay back and think before you work because at the end of the day, if your mashup or integration didn’t add as much value as you thought then your work is a failure. Don’t do what everyone else is doing, but take it a few steps further and add more value that others haven’t thought about yet. Nobody wants a “me too” attitude, so make sure to innovate at every step instead of just keeping up with the Joneses.
Got any other good YouTube Do’s or Don’ts?