ACM - Computers in Entertainment

YouTube Aims to Get “Serious”

By Joey Lee

Call it a bug, call it an addiction, but know this for a fact; this isn’t just another “phase” of the media industry. “It” refers to YouTube, and it is amongst the numerous new media platforms it by far has the most potential. 

One of the first-ever viral videos on YouTube started off real simple: A toddler biting his big brother’s finger. On a surface level, it’s merely a home video, titled “Charlie Bit My Finger – Again!” that charmed people enough to forward it onward—be it by word-of-mouth or e-mail— to a friend of theirs. By the time the world realized in June 2008 that the video, which was posted a little over a year ago, had hit a hundred million hits in 402 days, the entertainment industry was 10 steps ahead.

In the current generation where movies and television shows are swiftly streamed or downloaded at your own whim off the Internet, the good ol’ boob tube isn’t gathering the whole family together for after-meal entertainment just like it used to. Why would you adhere to a general schedule of visual entertainment, when you can customize your own with the magical search bar of YouTube? 

Now, the video-sharing platform is dominated by elaborate music videos, seat-gripping movie and video game trailers, and even the occasional charity scam, all cohesively existing in the endless depths of YouTube, albeit ferociously competing to rack up as many views and subscribers on their videos and channel respectively. And when the quality of the content goes up, so do expectations.

In a workshop organized, by the YouTube Space L.A, it was highlighted that the days of tossing random sloppy videos on a channel in hopes of striking a viral gold mine are over. With every video posted that lacks consistency, you’re hurling to your viewers a video that wasn’t what they subscribed for, and runs the very possible risk of losing your hard-earned subscribers.

Ten key points of “Programming 101” were introduced in the workshop, which was attended by a myriad of YouTube content creators. Ten points that may be the final missing jigsaw piece to their YouTube channel success. Analyzing the individual success factors of hugely popular channels such as EpicMealTime and NigaHiga, siphoning key points as such making the videos “conversational” and “shareable,” and sharing it with every other unique content creator, could translate to ballooning the already vast YouTube community.

Riding on the viral properties of social media, overnight celebrities on YouTube can shoot to stardom in a matter of mere hours, as well as wither into something that’s passé in as short a period of time as well. By condensing the properties of the social media market in what YouTube termed as the “10 Fundamentals of Programming,” they’re effectively educating their content creators on averting any rudimentary mistakes, while still harnessing the possible viral potential of their channels.

A booming platform that’s slowly towering over its peers in terms of market value, YouTube undoubtedly has immense potential, and the witty minds behind YouTube and Google are doing a mighty fine job of milking the multi-billion dollar empire that is within their hands right now.

So without further ado, if you’re managing a YouTube channel, just ask yourself this: Is your show idea…

1. Shareable? Will viewers share these videos, and why? The viral potential of your videos are based on viewers sharing them on social platforms, so there has to be something that would spur them on to bother to share them.

2. Conversational? Is there an element of directly addressing the audience? Like Wongfu Productions or EpicMealTime, if you’re speaking toward your audience, it’ll make the show more appealing rather than completely ignoring them. 

3. Interactive? Is there a way to involve the audience; anything from giveaways to even giving them the chance to shape the content of your next show? Engaging your viewers is a way to get them to keep checking back on your channel. 

4. Consistent? Does the show have strong recurring elements? Consistency will ensure that viewers can keep checking back to find content they originally subscribed for, such as how Vice maintains their unique content on topics less touched upon by traditional media.

5. Targeted? Is the audience clearly defined? Distinguish if your videos appeal to the masses or to a strong niche, and you’ll be able to figure out how to angle your video. A great example of a strong niche would be video game tutorials. 

6. Sustainable? If the audience loves it, are you able to create more of it? There’s no point creating a one-hit-wonder and not being able to produce more, so ensure that you have the resources to continue creating your videos if you wish to start a channel.

7. Discoverable? Will the videos show up in trending or common searches? Aside from sharing, YouTube users rely on the search bar to discover new videos, so you have to make sure your videos contain an element that will be searched, such as “UFO sightings” or “super moon”. 

8. Accessible? Can every episode be fully enjoyed by a new viewer? There’s no point posting a series of webisodes, only for certain episodes to not be accessible, because the lack of continuation would put off viewers. 

9. Collaborate-able? Is there room to feature guests? YouTube collaborations are always a good idea to feed off each other’s fan base and gain exposure. 

10. Inspired? Is there genuine passion or inspiration behind this idea? Without genuine passion or inspiration, you’ll burn out eventually or run out of ideas, so make sure you love the main premise of the videos yourself before starting a channel.

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