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A Special 8th Birthday Indeed!

30 April 2013


Last week we celebrated a big birthday here at Umi Digital. In fact, knowingly or not, you probably celebrated this birthday in one form or another as well! Any guesses who we might be talking about? …It was YouTube!

Eight years ago on the 23rd of April, the first video ‘Me at the Zoo’ streamed online for the entire world to see…well, all those in the world living in America, at least…YouTube came to the UK two years later in 2007. Nonetheless, this twenty-second clip of one of the co-founders at the San Diego Zoo changed the world. He ended his début performance saying, “and that’s all there is pretty much to say…” But was that all there was to say?

In only eight years of existence, YouTube has quickly been transformed from a source of entertainment into a way of life. Think about it, we really, really interact with YouTube. At our office alone this week we had a stomach-turning video of a cyst being removed circulate – not one of our finer shares. But nonetheless according to recent statistics, 72+ hours of videos are being uploaded each minute… that is over a decade of content every single day!

Now, as much as I enjoy my morning being spent with a cup of coffee and a puss-filled cyst explode in HD right before my eyes, I wanted to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to YouTube by looking at what it has done to our society from a marketing perspective. In our personal lives, there is no doubt it provides us with an immense amount of laughter, pleasure, and even knowledge, however, what has this site really done for different companies and brands? For the purposes of this article, I am not going to talk about TrueView ads, which are the clips you get served prior to watching a video online, and have done wonders for marketing world; but more so focus on the relationship that YouTube videos have brought between companies and their audience. Because let’s be honest, birthday celebrations are all about fostering those special relationships!

Being that it is now the number two search engine site on the web, bigger than Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL combined, what has happened that has made this place of entertainment become one of trust?

To me, this can easily be examined by looking at YouTube not as a search engine, but as a friend. Echoing the statistic from Erik Qualman that “78% of people trust peer recommendations vs. only about 14% who trust ads,” from a business standpoint, when a company utilises YouTube as a marketing platform they are able to break down the stigma that an advertisement would have. Whether intentional or not, viewers develop a connection with the films they watch online. They sympathize, they laugh, and they even engage with the clip (hence comments and sharing links).

From a general marketing perspective, developing a connection with your audience is a huge and vital task. Prior to YouTube, companies would need to illustrate their personality through text on their website, followed by one-to-you emails and phone calls, AND THEN finally, hopefully a face-to-face meet and greet. But now, thanks to YouTube, different brands and companies can engage with their audience and show off who they really are face-to-face, even if that is digitally! Having this connection allows the audience to feel like they are actually talking with you; allowing them the ability to not see you as a brand or company, but as someone they can relate with and connect to.

Here at Umi Digital we have begun to do our own podcast (our first episode is here), because we know that at the end of the day as much as our work can stand out on its own, we know our clients really love us because we have that solid, long-lasting relationship with them because of our depth of knowledge and personalities. These short podcast videos give others the ability to see that first-hand regardless of what time zone people are in. That’s the beauty of YouTube.

Being that YouTube is still relatively young and technology is still continuing to grow, the opportunities this platform offers marketers, as well as the ordinary Joe, is limitless. With over 800 million unique visitors visiting the site each month (to put that into perspective, that is more than the entire population of Europe), the possibilities for success lay around every corner. You can chose to do a podcast like we do, or even create an advert, and for those who are really daring, you can share one of your secret home videos. And who knows the potential it can bring in!

Here at Umi Digital, it is almost impossible for us to go a day without saying, ‘Have you seen that video, you need to pull it up!’ Yes, sometimes they make us whimper like the cyst popping. Others make us laugh like the ‘ouch Charlie that hurt!’ but whatever they might be, they have captured a special spot in our office.

And at the end of the day, all we can say is our hats are off to you, YouTube! “And that’s all there pretty much is to say…”


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