12 Tips For Effective YouTube Videos (New Media Monday)

Camera Girl

You will notice a political twist to today’s New Media Monday. I did some media consulting for a local political candidate and I prepared a guide for him on Viral Video. He ignored my advice but I hope you will find it helpful.

Why YouTube is Important

Why did we have no good presidential candidates this year? George Allen was an attractive articulate Reagan conservative who people liked. He probably would have been the best republican presidential candidate if it had not been for YouTube and one word:  Macaca . Right now, Youtube is where conservatives go to die. I hope that will change

Conservatives aren’t the only ones who die on YouTube. Obama’s 1984 add was the begining of the end for the Clinton Dinetsty. That “anonymous” add started Hillary’s long decline from 70% democratic approval down to oblivion.

The temptation for Christians is to flee to GodTube because the content is cleaner. But the people are not at GodTube they are at YouTube. If you want to reach people you need to post your videos to YouTube.

12 Tips For Effective YouTube Videos

  1. Keep it Short – The best videos are short no longer than 5 minutes best if under two. The longer the video the more it must change scenes. I have seen effective videos go as long as 8 minutes but they do this by splicing together 15-30 second clips.
  2. Low Friction Transfers – Videos must be easy to share. These means embedding and email functions should be built into the video itself. YouTube does this for you. Uploading an .mov or .wmv to your website is not good enough.
  3. Be Funny – Funny videos get more views and are remembered well.
  4. Offer a service – How-to videos go all over the internet. Help people and they will spread the word about your video.
  5. Find a strategic partner – Only political junkies knew who Mike Huckabee was before Church Norris endorsed him. Now that there is a YouTube Video with Chuck and Huck it gets tens of thousands of views a day and Mike is growing in the polls.
  6. Be relevant – Videos on current events get lots of hits. On the internet current means less than 24 hours and preferably less than 12. Posting a video response to a presidential debate on YouTube for example will likely get lots of hits but only if it is posted an hour or less after the debate.
  7. Pick a Interesting Thumbnail & Title – Make sure the thumbnail is interesting and high quality. There are millions of other videos on YouTube. If you want someone to watch your you must convince them that your video is more interesting than all the other videos on YouTube. Your title and thumbnail will either save you or kill you.
  8. Promote Like Crazy – Don’t expect your video to just take off. If you want the video to go viral you need to infect a lot of people all at once. Otherwise the other 100k videos will drowned you out. Get your blogger friends to post your video, get it on Facebook & MySpace. Here is a site with
  9. Use a Tripod – If possible use a tripod will give much better quality than handheld. This is particularly true with compressed videos like the ones on YouTube.
  10. Good Audio Quality – If there is one thing that kills online videos it is poor audio. If you want a successful video, tear the microphone out of your camera and get creative. Ways of employing good audio include:
    1. Use clips off of the TV – This is considered fair use for short clips.
    2. Consider Using Only Music – Videos that use music, pictures and text can be effective. The key is to have good music, powerful pictures and well worded text.
    3. External Mic – If you want live footage use a handheld mic, shotgun or a lapel mic.
    4. Good Compression Quality – The best way to keep the quality up is to upload directly from Apple iLife 08. If you don’t use a mac for your video editing consider it. The higher the resolution the better.  Use an effective codec (like H.264) if you can’t upload directly from iLife.
  11. Use Studio Lights – Video is not as important as audio but is still vital.  The key to good video is good lighting. Investing in some lights and an external mic will do more for you videos than buying that fancy new camera you’ve been eying. It’s probably cheaper too.
  12. Advance an Issue not a Candidate – People don’t care about candidates. Unless your candidate used to be a professional wrestler he is boring.  Politicians all have the same haircut and wear the same red tie white shirt blue blazer.But, if you can offer best explanation for why the Trans Texas Corridor is bad for Texas, people passionate about the Trans Texas Corridor will forward your video all over the internet. One of Fred Thompson’s most popular videos was about federalism not Fred Thompson.

    If you champion the causes of the people, the people will champion you.Another benefit of advancing issues over candidates is that even if you loose the issues you stand for have still be advanced which can lead to victories down the road. Ros Perot lost but we did have a more balanced the budget in 1993 because of his advancement of that issue.

Helpfull Recources

What Do You Think?

Have you posted a video to YouTube? Share it with us in the comments.

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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