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Coattail Riding Instructions For YouTube

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?

About Mike Rundle


  1. Scrivs says:

    For some reason I have a feeling this post was inspired by a show you watched recently, but I just can’t place my finger on it. One of those common sense type of entries that people will read, but never understand I’m afraid.

    Don’t do it because you can. Do it because you will be great.

  2. While I agree with your overall gist of this article (Don’t copy other people’s style and don’t do vidcasts because their cool), I don’t agree with the point of don’t do vidcasts if you’re boring.

    You are striking down at the very core of what the internet is about, nobody has any advantages here and it doesn’t matter if you are a huge corporation or just one person. People that are boring at the beginning might begin to find their voice or niche as they go along and it could turn out to be something interesting. You are pretty much saying if you are boring now then give up now.

    If you apply that same train of thought to blogging a lot people who are huge in the blogosphere probably wouldn’t be where they are now.

    Yes, most people are just plain out boring and if it is boring then don’t expect me to see your vidcast again. But don’t rule out everybody, everybody progresses.

  3. Mark says:

    Chris, I agree w/Scrivs — this is one of those “you had to be there” posts…

    There’s a difference between being boring and being a newbie. It’s forgivable to be a newbie w/kinks in lighting and backgrounds, sound design and general awkwardness. All that can be overcome and made better.

    To be boring however, in this medium, I think is analogous to “me tooism.” The idea that just because the medium and tools are available, we should go for it. To be boring, within the context of Mike’s post, is to have no voice, no passion, no purpose — to talk just to hear yourself speak.

    You’re right about the level playing field though. None of us, even the uber-popular have been doing this for very long. We’re all newbies in that regard, and as newbies, it’s easy for anyone with a belly full of fire and passion to come and knock down and out the one at the top of the pole.

    But without the passion, without the desire, without the charisma, and most importantly without the love — you’re status quo and monetenous (boring). No one who’s achieved anything (even in the online world) has been happy maintaining the status quo.

  4. Amen, brother! That’s our philosophy in point form ;)

  5. Lucy says:

    YouTube is not bigger than MySpace. The first one was founded in February 2005 and now it has 50 employees. The second one has 300 employees and it is the most popular site in the United States, accounting for 4.5% of all website visits. MySpace reports over 100 million members and it also attract 500,000 new members every week.

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