Why is YouTube the only video site clients ask about?

Since we began producing video podcast content for clients four years ago, I’m often asked about posting the content on YouTube.

I usually try to persuade my clients NOT to post their content there, for two reasons.

First, the YouTube Terms of Use agreement that no one ever really reads too carefully contains what I regard as confiscatory claims of ownership of the content.

Despite what they say in public statements and news releases, the actual legal agreement claims ownership of pretty much everything you post there.

What that means is that – absent a separate, superceding legal agreement with YouTube — a company with valuable intellectual property is in danger of losing ownership of processes or procedures they discuss, trademarks, service marks, logos, taglines, etc., if they post the material to YouTube.

Yes, I know it hasn’t been tested in court, but what company would volunteer to be the test case if they truly understood the exposure they face?

It also means that YouTube owns anything slightly newsworthy that you post, like video of President Obama visiting your neighborhood restaurant. So, if CNN decides to use that footage, they pay YouTube a license fee for the broadcast, but you get nothing.

In addition to these legal and financial concerns, PR people and others who make YouTube central to a social media strategy need to get the “viral video” stars out of their eyes and think more like brand owners.

YouTube is full of a lot of nonsense video, people whacking themselves with rubber chickens, inappropriate videos of kids waking up from anesthesia after oral surgery, celebs behaving badly.

It strikes me as being mainly a collection of the worst excesses in amateur video.

To me, it’s a mostly honky-tonk neighborhood where professionally produced videos designed to promote businesses almost always get lost — because most of YouTube is obsessed with the wild chase to be the next "viral" video showing something silly.

Let’s face it, you cannot deliberately create a viral video, like the spontaneous one of the little girl who threw the foul ball back onto the field.

Despite all of these problems, many people think YouTube is the "go-to" place for distributing any kind of business videos.

As a PR professional, I always try to counsel my clients to consider and use the most appropriate communications channel for their business outreach.

My questions to all my clients are these:

1. Does it really advance the brand of your organization to have a house in the same neighborhood as all that other stuff?

2. Is it because YouTube is the video platform with which you are most familiar, and therefore the one you think you need to be on?

3. What exactly are you trying to achieve by thinking about having the video on YouTube? Is it just because you think it makes it easier to send a link to other people, which we can already help you do, or is there some other reason?

4. What is the real "value" to you of YouTube specifically?

Again, the reason I raise these questions is because I want clients to put the best foot forward for their businesses, and without knowing why YouTube is on their radar, I can’t give the best advice.

My gut instinct is that most businesses are better served having their carefully produced videos available on a different, less comic/less unprofessional platform.

What do you think?

Do you think YouTube is a good (or bad) place to post business video? Why do you feel that way?

Comments please!


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