Awesome Fed Channels on YouTube

Back in March 2009, GSA signed an agreement with YouTube which would allow government agencies to post content to this site in compliance with federal terms and conditions. By 2012, every major federal agency had a YouTube channel, and some were even featuring content specifically created for the platform. Compared to the other platforms I’ve reviewed thus far, YouTube is the second-largest social networking site behind Facebook, and its uses for creating visually interesting, useful information are pretty endless.

In an effort to continue looking at how federal agencies are using social media platforms, this meant I’d have a ton to review. I was specifically interested in whether agencies are using YouTube to repost content produced for another means, how useful the information is for the intended audience, how often new videos are added, and how relevant the content is to the agency’s mission.

After looking at more than 100 YouTube (and two Vimeo) channels, I walked away impressed. Almost all of the federal agencies on the site are using it to share useful information, either for internal or external customers. It would be easy for me to come up with one great tip from each YouTube site I looked at, but for the sake of space, I’m categorizing some of them below based on what I think the agency does best. So, in no particular order, here are my favorite YouTube tips for feds using this social media site.

  1. Help citizens learn how to interact with/seek services from your agency, or teach them things they need to know that fall within your primary mission: Nearly every YouTube channel I looked at had at least one video aimed at offering assistance in visual form to citizens, be it tips for receiving services from the agency or general advice that speaks to the agency’s mission. For example:
    1. VHA: The VHA has an amazing array of videos for veterans and their friends and families to learn more about coping with PTSD (including real-life stories from veterans who are coping with the disease), transitioning into civilian life, and staying healthy.
    2. IRS: Want to know how to file your taxes yourself? Protect yourself from identity theft (or what steps to take after you’ve been victimized)? Need to apply for a ITIN? This YouTube channel is full of helpful videos for taxpayers.
    3. Fannie Mae and HUD: If you’re looking for a home, applying for a mortgage, or need help understanding home finance, these are the sites for you.
    4. TSA: I’ll admit that the first time I traveled with my daughter, I had no idea what I could bring with me outside of the 3oz provision, and I didn’t find TSA’s website particularly user friendly. The TSA YouTube channel, on the other hand, offers a number of videos explaining the 3-1-1 rule, and giving tips on how to travel with unusual items like firearms, traveling while pregnant, and traveling with kids.
    5. FEMA: Sure there are videos on preparing your family for a disaster, or what to do if you need assistance following one, but my favorite part of the FEMA channel are the videos intended to teach children about emergencies and how to respond.
    6. Healthcare.gov: The channel offers an excellent video series on finding coverage, figuring out what coverage is right for you, and how to lower your premiums (in addition to the ACA success stories).
    7. Department of Education: My favorite feature on this page is the Matt & Mike series about two individuals who are navigating life after college.
    8. EPA: How can you reduce food waste? Save money on your electric bill? Make clean power work for you? Get all of your answers here.
    9. SBA: Are you opening a small business? Trying to develop a business plan? Or maybe you want to sell to the federal government? Check out SBA’s Whiteboard video series to learn how.
    10. SSA: Learn how to file for disability, how to check your benefits online, and even learn more about the most popular baby names.
    11. Consumer Product Safety Commission: This channel features plenty of videos on how to safely use a variety of products (such as anchoring a dresser in a child’s bedroom) but it also has videos on recalled products.
    12. USDA: USDA features a variety of videos on food safety in both English and Spanish, and tips on how to properly use kitchen appliances to make food safe for your family.
  2. Let the world know what you do every day, and how it’s relevant: This is another category in which almost every single page I looked at has at least one video specifically aimed at what the agency does.
    1. NSF: There are a number of behind-the-scenes type videos on NSF activities, but one of the neat features on this page is aimed at how to make science relevant to students.
    2. White House: What I like about this channel is the “West Wing Week” feature, that shares a bit about what the president and his staff are doing each week. I think this would be an awesome feature for any agency.
  3. Tell the world about your awesome employees, and let them know what various jobs entail: A few channels offer a look at the various careers offered by the department or agency.
    1. NIH: NIH has a series of brief videos documenting jobs including medical officer, biologist, budget analyst and contract specialist.
    2. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency: In addition to videos featuring some of the jobs at the agency, the channel also features stories about interns and their experiences.
    3. USA.gov: The channel has a ton of videos featuring tips on everything imaginable, but it also has a series on careers across the federal government.
    4. CIA: A few days ago, the channel put out a series featuring various positions with the agency and what each is responsible for.
  4. Answer burning questions about your agency and its mission, or respond to queries about topics within your primary mission: A handful of the federal channels are featuring live chats and hangouts to answer questions.
    1. GAO: The AskGAOLive Chat is featured on the YouTube channel and topics range from retirement income to prescription drug shortages.
    2. SBA: I know, I talked about the SBA above, but they also feature their Google+ Hangouts and webinars on their YouTube channel.

This is just a sampling of the amazing pages that I reviewed. What are your favorite YouTube channels? Or, what is your agency doing to make yours great?

In case you missed them, here are my previous posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Phill Thompson

Great post, Heather! I’d love to see a detailed post about one really great Youtube page – something that analyzes in-depth why it works.