I just flew back from VidCon in California… (And boy are my arms tired. No? Ok, moving on.)
For those who haven’t heard of VidCon, it’s sort of the premiere YouTube-and-other-online-video conference. It’s run by Hank and John Green (the VlogBrothers), who pretty much invented modern vlogging.
There are several different tracks. The Community track is the one meant for 12-year-old girls to meet all their favorite YouTube stars. (If you ever want to hear high-pitched screaming—possibly including crying and/or wailing—just get Danisnotonfire to walk into a room full of preteens.) The Creator track is the next tier up, meant for video creators. That’s the one I signed up for. One tier up from the Creator track is the Industry track, meant for big brands and networks. (I wish I’d signed up for that one because it looked like they had some great content. Hindsight.)
I went to a whole bunch of workshops and panels and wanted to share some highlights and tips with you all.
Online Video News
There was a whole panel about news shows on YouTube, featuring panelists from The Young Turks and SourceFed. If you’re not familiar, The Young Turks is a live news show featuring way left-leaning opinionated commentary. SourceFed is a comedy news channel. The discussion centered on what works well on YouTube as opposed to in a traditional journalism setting.
The Young Turks channel in particular relies heavily on the opinions of the anchors. They made the comparison to Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show). He’s the most trusted news media figure out there, according to surveys, and the theory is that it’s because he’s relatable and you know his opinion.
Further discussion centered on making the news format digestible, and working to keep things snappy and fairly short.
SourceFed’s main goal is to walk the line between appropriate and inappropriate humor in news stories that aren’t always funny.
And here’s a tip for scripted shows that I thought was interesting: Sometimes reading off a teleprompter gives you “teleprompter face,” and you’re not as animated. The shortcut is to make sure that your eyebrows are still moving if you’re reading off a teleprompter. It keeps your face animated and engaged.
For news videos, lots of channels are doing round-up style videos, meaning they’ll include 3 or 4 different news stories in one video. When headlining these round-ups, though, they’re still using the catchiest news headline to get the click.
Another interesting item I heard about while I was there was the “elevation” of the daily vlog into more of a filmmaking style. I’m not sure how that would apply to Duke channels, but it’s cool anyway. In particular, check out Emily Diana Ruth’s “Letters to July” to see some examples.
There was some mention of Facebook directly uploaded video as opposed to linking to YouTube videos on Facebook. You can see our ONC test results on that here. SourceFed mentioned that they’re exploring 1-minute, 1-take videos specifically for Facebook that are “extra” content beyond their YouTube content. Some were also experimenting with preview cuts for Facebook with direction to watch the full video on YouTube. (This redirection to YouTube is more important for those people who are monetizing YouTube views, and not so much to us in the business of getting as many eyeballs as possible without worrying about monetization.)
There was an entire panel on the different platforms available for online video. Represented were YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and Tumblr. The consensus was that YouTube is great for experimenting with new formats and getting feedback on your videos, and Vimeo is great for premium content, especially with their Vimeo On Demand setup, which allows you to charge people to get your video. The Vine and Tumblr reps didn’t have too much to add to the conversation. The Tumblr guy reiterated that GIFs work great on Tumblr, and if you want people to share your stuff on Tumblr, it probably wouldn’t hurt to make some shareable GIFs of whatever video you’re promoting. And, um, the Vine guy just sort of said, “Yeah man, Vine is cool,” over and over. So do with that what you will.
Music and the Content ID System
I will preface this by saying that everyone who talked about YouTube’s Content ID system at the conference began with, “I am not a lawyer, but…” so I’ll make that same claim. I am not a lawyer, but I learned some things about YouTube’s Content ID system in a panel on music. The panel was specifically about covers, parodies and remixes, but could also apply if you have a music bed in your videos.
Fairly recently, YouTube brokered some deals with the biggest labels in the music industry. Here’s how it works: YouTube’s Content ID system will pick up that you are using someone else’s song in your video and will give you a notice that says it’s someone else’s song. That’s not a bad thing because when you click to acknowledge that, yes, you are using someone else’s song, YouTube automatically begins to skim a percentage off of the ad revenue from that video and funnel it to the record label. The record label wins because they get money, and you win because YouTube lets you leave your video up and no one sues you. Yay.
The caveat here for us as Duke channels is that we’re most likely not monetizing in the first place, so this doesn’t really help us. I would still strongly recommend that everyone use music beds that you have licensed. (You can find lists of sites where you can get licensed tracks in the StyleGuide.) Still, if you’re conferring with students, this information could be helpful.
I went to some other panels, too, about storytelling and camera equipment and filmmaking and YouTube in general and got to meet with a a bunch of Internet-famous people, so if you want to hear more dirt or just chat about YouTube (or Disneyland), drop me a note or give me a call.