Wednesday, December 23, 2009

online video: where the king's headed

Whenever someone asks me which social media trend is strongest, I don't hesitate: It's online video. Those numbers don't lie about this content king. As this first decade of the century closes, YouTube's been declared the decade's top social media innovation, because "it touched the most lives" (to the tune of 20 hours of video being uploaded every minute, seen by 1 billion views per day). What got it there? Innovations like easy-to-embed technology, which aided sharing--and led to "going viral." The rise of social networks on which to share videos and easy ways to record video, from the Flip MinoHD Camcorder to smartphone recording capabilities, also boosted video's march to the top.

Your communications plans may be right on top of this trend...or a bit behind. Either way, now's a great time to be thinking about where online video's heading, so you won't get caught behind the curve:

  • Look for more live video, and video scaled to the small (mobile) and big (TV) screens. Mashable notes that YouTube's made strides in all three options, and more mobile phones are able to handle video well, with television options in the works. This year, Flip cameras got a mobile app to increase sharing options. For 2010, you'll have more options for live video of your events, and more ways to encourage and enable your audiences to share and discuss your video. Check out new features in this realm, like YouTube's option to chat in real-time with users while they watch videos, not quite live video, but a live running commentary that will lend immediacy to your existing videos. But watch YouTube move beyond its live U2 concert broadcast this year to offer more live options. And check out the Meebo bar, which will let your site's readers drag-and-drop your video to YouTube for sharing or commentary.
  • Video search will continue to bloom: Search capabilities help your audiences find your video--and help you track your broadcast and online coverage. Online video once was the stepchild of search, rarely showing up and requiring you to add text with the video in order to catch the search engine's eye. Today, YouTube is already one of the most popular search engines. You can search Hulu using its closed-caption feature, allowing you to pinpoint your search, and add captions to your own YouTube videos to make them easily found. You or your audience can search YouTube comments as a way of finding videos, in test form. And Google Video search now allows your audience to refine a search to cartoons or slideshows, great news if you're using slideshows as another multimedia tool (remember, visuals don't just mean video, but slideshows can easily be adapted for posting on sites like YouTube). In 2009, Google also increased the likelihood that network-posted online video would wind up in search results, a move that benefits your media-relations tracking as well as the chance that searchers will see your videos.
  • We'll all need to keep learning about online video. The good news? YouTube wants to help you do that. A new tool being tested by YouTube lets you see what certain audiences are watching on the service: You pick the parameters (gender, age, location, topics) and you'll see their likes and dislikes, locations, sample videos that are popular with the group and a word cloud of search terms they're using. It's one of my favorite new tools. And you can play with more new features, like adding commentary to your videos.
I'm already adding to my 2010 to-do list a review of my online videos and ways I can enhance them with these new tools, so I'm ready for the next wave. How about you?

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