Take 5: 5 Things You Should Know About YouTube (#YouTubeWeek)
This week we’ve been talking about YouTube – sharing our favorite YouTubers and channels, discussing it’s popularity, etc. But today I wanted to talk about YouTube in general, some interesting tidbits I’ve learned along the way about the culture that is YouTube. And make no mistake, YouTube is a very developed and popular culture with our tweens and teens. And with that culture, as with all cultures, comes the good and the bad. So without further adieu, here are 5 Things You Should Know About YouTube.
1. Diversity is an ongoing discussion in the YouTube community
Like publishing, diversity is an issue in the YouTube community. Many have noticed that the big name YouTubers, and the ones getting a bulk of the promotion, are in fact white (and often male). A recent article pointed out that even during Black History Month, the bulk of the promotion did not fall to people of color but largely to white men. See, for example, this article in Fusion about how YouTube rarely promotes black YouTube stars.
On the other hand, some argue that YouTube is a great vehicle for diversity because it allows others to gain a platform that they might not have trying to go through the mainstream media. For example, YouTube sensation Franchesca Ramsey says in USA Today, “For people of color, it’s a portal to provide authentic stories online you’re not seeing anywhere else.”
2. They have their own awards and conventions
In 2007 the YouTube community began giving out awards for some of its most popular videos and content creators. And in 2013 YouTube held its first ever video music awards. There are many musical talents that are using YouTube as a platform for to share and sell their music. The a capella act Pentatonix and violinist Lindsey Stirling, for example, have both successfully used YouTube to launch music careers.
In addition to awards, there is a large yearly convention for online video content creators called VidCon. It was started by the Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green. Vidcon is a celebration of content and content creators, which brings us to our next point.
3. They have their own scandals
Speaking of VidCon, it’s worth noting that YouTube and the YouTube community is not without its fair share of scandals. There have been numerous accounts of sexual harassment at VidCon, resulting in calls for a sexual harassment policy to be written and publicized. In addition, some of the content on YouTube can be quite controversial in and of itself. Sam Pepper is a famous YouTuber who made a name for himself making “prank” videos. However, it is worth noting that some of the pranks he has done on seemingly unknowing passerbyers would technically be considered sexual assault. Thankfully, many YouTubers themselves pointed this out and there was a lot of discussion in the press about it.
4. They have their own Memes
You are probably familiar with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral. This is an example of the YouTube Meme, a post that goes viral. Many of them take the form of challenges much like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I know that when the Tween has friends spend the night they almost always do the Blindfold Makeup Challenge and the Blindfold Taste Challenge. The Blindfold Makeup Challenge is exactly what it sounds like, you blindfold someone and let them do your makeup – hilarity ensues. And in the Blindfold Taste Challenge you blindfold yourself and let others feed you food and you try to guess what it is.
5. It’s a great place to learn more about the teens you serve in your library
One thing that major social media platforms do and do well is compile information about their users. Libraries could learn a lot from them. But thankfully, YouTube is good at sharing. Every 3 months YouTube (well, really Google who owns YouTube) shares their YouTube Insights. The insights are in some ways just an ad for Google/YouTube, but they also share market research, popular YouTube channels and personalities and more. And every once in a while there is an interesting nugget of information in there. For example, in the Issues 5 Q2 2014 edition they mention that “ad recall improves 7x by mentioning brand name twice in a video”. The take away here is that we need to make sure and remember to say the names of our libraries – at least twice – in some way if we are creating videos to help promote our libraries. Don’t expect viewers to remember that the name of your library on a screen or remembered that they saw a video on the X public library YouTube channel, make sure to actually say the name of your library out loud somewhere in your video, multiple times if it works with the script.
Better yet, talk to the teens hanging out at your library and ask them what they are watching on YouTube. It’s always great to have conversations with your teens. Experience has shown me that they love sharing some of their favorite videos with me.
According to recent stats, YouTube is THE most popular social media platform for tweens and teens. Just Saturday night The Tween had a friend over and they spent 2 hours watching video after video on YouTube. They watched countdown videos (Top 10 music videos of the week, Top 10 Disney villains, etc) and they watched DIY tutorials. And during the week, I’m just as likely to catch The Tween watching a video of Stampy playing Minecraft as I am to find her playing Minecraft herself. In fact, my niece spent all of her Christmas money on computer programs so that she can make, edit, add effects and upload her own Minecraft videos. I am by no means a YouTube expert, but I try and learn what I can to better serve my teens. I’m not going to lie, it helps having a YouTube obsessed Tween in my home who shares all the latest trends with me because man, it’s hard to keep up.
How about you, what do you need to know about YouTube that I missed here? Share your insight in the comments please.
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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