November 15, 2011

Most of us visit YouTube when we’re in the mood to watch music videos or silly segments featuring cute babies, cute animals, cute baby animals or cute, stupid people.

But this website increasingly offers much more  — which is why we’re going to spend the next few minutes exploring YouTube.  :)

First, some basic info. YouTube is only six years old, so there’s plenty of room for growth. This operation is owned by Google (who else?!). With 800 million unique viewers, YouTube is positioned to attract serious advertising dollars, according to a recent New York Times story.

To get an idea of what the future might hold, consider the deal it just announced with Disney. The two media giants will spend upwards of $15 million on creating original videos for kids. The project helps both companies to shore up specific weaknesses while capitalizing on each other’s strengths. Disney is a programming king that needs new viewers. YouTube has a strong audience but needs programming focus.

While the big companies figure things out, the rest of us need to too. Beyond the music and fun sillies, YouTube does actually offer a tremendous amount of content:

Given these possibilities, I encourage my students to be entrepreneurial. Yes, they need to consider opening YouTube accounts! It’s like having a profile on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. From here, you can create your own personal YouTube channel; make it another online outlet for building your audience and realizing your dreams.

Even if you don’t want to ever make a video, you can start curating your favorite videos in one place. This collection is a reflection of your point-of-view, your brand. Suddenly, the really stoopid videos have a purpose; they show off your wacky, laser-sharp sense of humor. Or maybe your music videos, viewed as a group, reveal you as a nuanced tastemaker.

And guess what — you can actually make money with YouTube. Who knows what might happen next…once you’re hooked, you might even want to make your own YouTube videos.

To get started, open your own YouTube account. Click here to watch an older how-to video. Even though YouTube has since evolved its design, this segment provides a quick, concise overview of how easy it is to navigate the site and upload videos.

Does this all seem totally overwhelming? If so, then take a deep breathe and exhale. Then, check out the only link from this post that you’ll really need. This link shows you how to use the “YouTube Trends” site.

Oh, and of course I’d love you to visit Betty Ming Liu on YouTube and see what I’m up to. My favorites from around the web include videos related to journalism, food, painting and…cute cats.

But let’s say you want to know how an artist paints a picture of a glass object. To find out, Google “how to paint a glass object.” The search engines might lead you to a video that I made featuring my art teacher Karen O’Neil. Or maybe you want “tips for competing in a food-eating contest.” Google that question and you might find another video that I made (Warning: It’s riveting but kinda gross).

As a newbie at this, I would love some company. Maybe we can explore this world together.  :)