Tips for feds on using YouTube, making videos

Media experts advise telling a story, uploading frequently

Sometimes the best way for federal agencies to reach the public is to tell a story, and the ideal medium for doing that for a large audience is a video on YouTube, according to federal media experts who spoke at a recent conference for federal Web managers.

“You can grab an audience faster,” said Roger Holzberg, new media and creative director for Cancer.gov, speaking at the General Services Administration’s Government Web and New Media Conference on March 18. “In less than five seconds of video, you have emotion, scope and immersion.”

The National Cancer Institute has nine YouTube channels, the most popular of which has received 38,000 views. A number of the cancer agency’s online videos tell the personal stories of survivors.


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Such videos should quickly establish a narrative, identify the “hero,” help the viewer understand and relate to the hero’s primary conflict, and propel the story to a resolution of the conflict, Holzberg said.

“The videos have to be emotionally engaging or intellectually inspiring,” Holzberg said. “And you have to ask yourself, what is the song I want the audience singing when they leave?”

Roy Daiany, display account manager for the public sector for YouTube on Google, said 83 percent of the online audience watches videos and YouTube is the fourth most popular destination online. He recommends sharing and embedding YouTube videos with Facebook to increase online viewership.

"We have 36 hours of new video uploaded every minute, and 150 years of video are uploaded on Facebook every day,” Daiany said.

Daiany gave several additional tips to federal communications officials who want to maximize their audience appeal on YouTube.

  • Upload new videos frequently for higher viewer retention.
  • Categorize and tag new videos effectively for maximizing visibility in YouTube and Google searches.
  • Use annotation, captions and subtitles effectively.
  • Make your upload and channel activity easily visible.
  • Activate the “subscriber” button so users can become subscribers and regular viewers of your channel.
  • Create playlists to stimulate more activity, discussion and comments on your YouTube channel and to draw in audience feedback.






About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.