How YouTube works

YouTube began in early 2005 and has grown rapidly. Every minute, people around the world upload more than 300 hours worth of video footage to YouTube.

YouTube has the second-largest search engine in the world, behind Google (which owns YouTube). This means people are constantly searching for information using YouTube and discovering videos relating to these topics.

YouTube videos

YouTube provides a simple way for people to store videos online and share them with others. YouTube videos cover any topic anyone cares to upload a video about. These videos are easy to share via other forms of social media, email and websites and can also be embedded in other websites.

Beside every video on YouTube is a list of 'suggested videos' - videos that YouTube's search engine calculates are likely to interest people who watch the video you are watching.

YouTube encourages viewers to express their opinion of videos they watch, to store videos to watch later and to share videos they like. You can make a video publicly available to anyone, or share it privately with selected people.

YouTube Analytics

YouTube Analytics is a self-service analytics and reporting tool. It provides data about each video you upload, so you can easily track how many views it gets, where people are coming from to find it and what type of people are watching it.

YouTube Analytics can give you information about:

  • the 'firsts' for the video, including the first referral from a related video, first referral from a YouTube search (including the search terms used), first time the video is embedded in another website
  • how many views came from each referral source
  • which gender and age groups the video is most popular with
  • which countries the video is most popular in
  • how many comments and ratings it has received.

As an example, the YouTube Analytics for the Queensland Government's video on 'Crab rules in Queensland' on its fisheriesqld channel show that it is most popular with males aged 55-64 in Australia. It also shows that 52.5% of views for embedded videos have come via the website of a commercial crab pot manufacturer that embedded the video in its site.

YouTube channels

You can set up a YouTube channel for your business, bringing all your videos together. This allows you to customise your channel with images representing your firm. Your channel includes an 'About' section where you can provide a short description of your business and a link to your website or contact details.

Your channel is where you group the videos you make and upload, the videos you watch and like, and the playlists of videos you create.

Your channel will have a web address (URL) that you can promote on your website or marketing material. People can subscribe to your channel. This means when they log in to YouTube your videos will be listed on their YouTube homepage.

You can also create 'playlists' within your YouTube channel to organise your videos by subject or type. For example, you could have a playlist featuring videos about each of your product categories, or you might have a playlist for videos contributed by your customers for a video competition you run.

YouTube advertising

YouTube incorporates features that let businesses promote their videos to people who might be interested in them, targeting customers by demographics, topics or interests.

Advertisers pay each time someone views their video. You can choose which locations your ad will appear in, what format it will be, and even how much you are prepared to pay per view (if you want to boost the prominence of your ad over your competitors). YouTube's advertising guide explains how it works.

Other video sharing services

Other examples of video sharing services include:

  • Vimeo: a video website popular with more serious video producers interested in higher quality video production
  • Facebook video: the most popular social media site, Facebook, allows users to upload, create and send videos as well as photos and text
  • Flickr: primarily a photo sharing site, but can share videos up to 90 seconds as well.

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