A One-Stop Shop for Political Content on YouTube
YouTube is home to countless historical events captured on video and uploaded by individual users and organizations. At the beginning of October, it launched the YouTube Politics channel, dedicated to sharing political videos with an emphasis on the 2012 presidential campaign. With its innate social media power and wide-reaching audience, YouTube has the power to influence the way citizens access and digest political information.
By Remy Wainfeld, Intern
During the 2008 presidential election, a group of researchers investigated YouTube as a source of political information, and found that while entertainment provides the primary motivation for watching videos on YouTube, people also actively sought political content with the purpose of keeping up-to-date.1
YouTube Politics (http://www.youtube.com/politics
), which has entered the political arena just in time for the 2012 presidential election, aggregates and organizes relevant campaign materials on YouTube into one easy-to-use, all-encompassing and politically neutral platform. The channel includes official campaign videos from the candidates’ own YouTube channels, videos of speeches and public appearances uploaded by news sources and other organizations, in addition to traditional user-generated content. The channel tracks the “Top 5 Hot Political Videos,” as well as the “Top 5 Most Viewed” videos featuring the 2012 presidential candidates.
Moreover, the Politics channel compares the 2012 candidates in terms of video views and subscriptions, and presents that information in an interactive graph. Users can choose which candidates to compare, and even select the time period of comparison. Further down on the page, in the Meet the Candidates section, users can watch each candidate’s most recent, most viewed and most shared campaign videos, as well as view statistics about the candidate’s official YouTube channel, such as number of video views and shares, searches and subscribers, and the fluctuation within the past day or week. Implications and Action Items:
The YouTube Politics channel presents candidates with a unique opportunity to leverage the social power of the video-sharing website as a platform for communication. Candidates ought to consider the following implications:
1 Electronic News, “Differing Uses of YouTube During the 2008 U.S. Presidential Primary Election.” March 2011. http://enx.sagepub.com/content/5/1/1.full.pdf+html.
- Leverage the platform as a way to reach a wider audience. With over 100 million Americans accessing YouTube each month,2 YouTube Politics provides candidates with a unique opportunity to share information with a wider and potentially more diverse audience. YouTube Politics provides an educational resource within the digital space. Candidates can now reach citizens who may not access information through traditional political news sources.
- Maintain an interactive social-media presence. YouTube reports that nearly 17 million people have linked their YouTube account to at least one social network, and over 12 million of those people auto-share content.3 Candidates should engage the electorate on various social media platforms and share video material to build popularity and support. This popularity and support will translate to the YouTube Politics popularity tracking mechanisms.
- Give people what they want. The 2008 study concluded that most people accessed political content from traditional news programs. Candidates should post interviews, appearances, and other news clips in which they are featured to their YouTube pages. These videos will appear on the Politics channel and help build candidates’ popularity.
- Utilize YouTube Politics to gauge the popularity of issues. Candidates should follow the most-viewed and most-shared videos, as well as the comments on the discussion board, to track which issues most captivate the electorate’s attention. Candidates can then address these concerns and clarify their positions in future campaign materials.
2 comScore, “YouTube Surpasses 100 Million U.S. Viewers for the First Time.” http://bit.ly/11Xxcu.
3 YouTube, “Statistics.” http://www.youtube.com/t/press_statistics