After reading a very interesting article by Andy Dickinson titled “Tools or Behaviour” he provoked an important point that I think many people miss. He cited Kevin Anderson from the Guardian, who argues that YouTube is not popular because of the video, but there’s something else intriguing about it. Do I agree?
This really comes down to understanding the customer. I’m sure the YouTube guys realized that video was big, but whats even bigger is “Community.” Yes, sure its been a broken record as many many bloggers constantly talk about community…but the reason why they talk about it is not because its buzzy, but because its worthy of a conversation.
Take a look at this snapshot of YouTube’s Community section…they are on to something:
Video has been around for a long time, take News stations (like ABC News), they’ve had News videos for years. Take MTV, they’ve had music videos since before I was born. So, Any is right, its not about the Video per se, and perhaps its not too much about the advertising. What its really about is the users (community) have complete control over what they see, share, save, and post on their own sites (myspace, xanga, blogs, etc). Adding a YouTube video to MySpace is practically dummy-proof…and with even more time, saving a YouTube video into an mpeg file is just as easy.
So where has this concept of sharing evolved? Well, from the earliest signs of sharing, back in the Napster file-sharing days, it became apparent that users want control over what they do online and IF they find something they like they want to send it to their friends, colleagues, family, etc. It’s not about the video, or the blog, or even the podcast…its about empowering the user.
I’d argue that today’s success with community tools and social networking sites is about EMPOWERMENT! The 2000′s era, should be the era of EMPOWERMENT…the years when users were in control, when users formed communities, and when users took over the internet!