Making sense of YouTube at the UK Foreign Office

It’s odd having a problem of too much enthusiasm, especially when it comes to social media in government. It often falls victim to a risk averse culture (as well as internet security settings) and too little happens rather than too much.
But we’ve developed a problem with YouTube.
We have a procedure where we ‘sign off’ applications for social media around the 170 posts (embassies) in the FCO network. In the past, we’ve been happy to sign off the Facebook , Twitter , Flickr, Twingly and YouTube channels quite happily – preferring enthusiasm over structure if they have clear objectives in their own heads (it’s that presumed competence again). We sign them off, give them some tips on how to build and what to do, and stand back and watch. The responsibility for choosing and populating a social media space suitable for an embassy’s local audience sits squarely with that embassy. It’s their local audience, their hyperlocality.
YouTube, as the breakthrough social media space (you sign up, you post, you link, you share: it looks a lot like social media to me), was the familiar, popular choice. People across the FCO network learned how to use simple cameras, post their own videos, and Bob’s your ambassador.
And up they all went, and posts built their own YouTube channels, and it all got a bit much. We became swamped with different entry points from different embassies with different designs, each posting videos with varying degrees of regularity. So it all got too fragmented, each video was not ‘related’ to the ones it ought to be, each wasn’t being marketed as well as it could be, it made little sense from a user’s point of view, viewing rates were low… We had to change it a little.
So while all our other web presences are devolved, we’ve centralised our YouTube presence on to one channel and each post will now upload into the one place. We’ll use YouTube less as a social media space, and more as a low/no-cost video player. Posts can have a dedicated playlist so that their audience have a direct url to videos only of interest to them. And this will help posts integrate their videos into their websites better.
The move means that the channel will be an aggregator of all the FCO’s video output, which in turn means that while you’ll see videos that make sense wherever you are , you’ll also see videos which only make sense in one part of the world .
If you’re interested to see how this venture develops, subscribe to our channel using the yellow button.

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