Tuesday, May 15, 2012

YouTube Focuses on User Engagement

Posted by Amanda Walsh

How many times have you clicked on a video thinking it was a music video from your favorite artist, only to be disappointed when it’s a karaoke version from an unknown group? YouTube, the number three trafficked website according to Alexa.com, has been making some changes to cut down on this and improve the overall user experience.

When a video on YouTube ends, other “related videos” typically appear to show the user what other clips have been created around that specific subject. These suggestions were based on the “popularity of a clip” which was determined by the number of clicks on a video. However, this can be very deceiving as many users simply click on videos based on the thumbnail images or titles that they see, which often turn out to be videos about completely different subjects. When the user realizes that the video isn’t actually what they wanted, they move on and continue their search. The inaccurate measurement of “popular videos” was a driving force behind YouTube’s motivation to create new algorithms to stop this chain of events. YouTube will now determine popularity of videos by the length of time a user watches the clip. This will ensure that high-quality videos with accurate titles and keywords will be suggested to YouTube users more often.

I read about these changes in an article by Ivan Nelson on CommPRO.biz, which explores the implications of this seemingly simple change. Ivan foresees advertisers will begin using YouTube channels more frequently, creating videos that will offer high-quality and engaging content to the viewer. “Good viral videos will continue to make it to the top from time to time but one group stands to gain the most from these changes: YT channels. Episodic content that survives the test of time and continues to generate new subscribers will rise to the top of rankings,” he wrote.

In fact, one example of a YouTube channel that has seen viral success is Pantless Knights. The channel was created by Seedwell, a California based firm that creates viral video campaigns, commercials and films. One of the partners, Peter Furia, is Gina Furia Rubel’s cousin. Peter and the two other partners at Seedwell were recently interviewed on Mashable.com about what it takes to create viral videos based on themes such as: parodies, high cute-ness factor or making users think, “did that just happen?”

If a video is catchy and engaging, it will eventually rise to the top of searches and be shared, especially with sharing capabilities at users’ fingertips through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. All of these changes on YouTube mean that we, as communications professionals, must continue to focus on creating high-quality videos with accurate keywords and SEO techniques in order to attract the right audience and keep them watching.

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