“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel” –Maya Angelou.
This past Wednesday, I was lucky enough to sit in the third row at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as YouTube put on an event called YouTube Onstage: Live From the Kennedy Center. The event not only touched on YouTube’s ninth birthday, but also celebrated how social media and digital platforms have changed the video medium. The event was incredibly insightful and made me think how PR professionals use video to tell stories. Here are five ways YouTube makes videos thrive:
1. Drive Philanthropy and Advocacy
One of the first presenters was Mark Johnson, the founder of Playing For Change, who revealed how YouTube enabled him to make his dream of changing the world a reality. Mark traveled the world to record videos of musicians singing the same song to build awareness for different causes around the world. The video Stand By Me quickly went viral earning over 60MM views, spreading Playing For Change’s message. YouTube was the stepping stone for Playing For Change to build global awareness for its causes. Due to the Playing For Change’s videos and foundation, they’ve been able to create a lasting, positive change in many communities around the world, see for yourself. Due to YouTube’s global active users and the powerful emotions spurred by videos, it’s the perfect platform to rally people around a cause.
2. Encourage Self-Expression
YouTube encourages passion and self-expression. At Wednesday night’s event, Lindsey Stirling spoke about how she uses YouTube to create music the way she wants to — through violin instrumentals and dancing. Her unique style has led to a YouTube channel with over 4MM subscribers (more than Lady Gaga) and over half a billion views. Stirling discussed how YouTube creates a place for collaboration and not competition, which has led to her current success. YouTube lends itself to be the platform for everyone to express themselves and share their passions with their community.
3. Tell A Story
Every client has a story to tell. We have the ability to use the Internet to tell each story across a multitude of platforms. Our job as digital experts is to break from the traditional and find different ways to tell stories. Shane Koyczan became famous on YouTube for his spoken-word performances and a moving performance with DJ Mike Relm, another YouTube sensation. Koyczan now has over 14.5MM YouTube views and has given countless talks on education at TED. His TED Talk on popularity even led to a classroom tool that provides teachers new ways to discuss anti-bullying.
4. Build a Community
Did you know that Pharrell had trouble getting radio play for the song “Happy” when he was first trying to market it? Yep, at the event, the emcee Sal Masekela said that Pharrell went to YouTube to share his music a different way, and I think we all know what happened next. A global movement and community was built to share and spread happiness. YouTube enables anyone and everyone to express and build a community. When clients say, “no, YouTube won’t work for my brand,” sometimes it is worth stepping back and taking the time to show how YouTube is your own “TV station” just waiting for you to fill it with stories. YouTube provides a vast audience base where communities can be built and mobilized through video.
5. Drive Action
Zach Sobiech’s music video “Clouds” was first released on YouTube to drive awareness about the osteosarcoma cancer which eventually took his life May 2013. His video became an inspiration to many including musicians that covered the song. Because of one video, one story, his goal to help people drove action. Watch the tribute performance from the Kennedy Center. From Sobiech we can learn that YouTube provides a channel that reaches large and diverse audiences that may drive action like fund raising.
As a digital strategist and a music enthusiast, YouTube’s event strengthened my opinion that YouTube is much more than just an upload channel. It is a place where stories come to life.
How can you tell your client’s story on YouTube?