I don’t think many of us really understand how big YouTube is. For me, it’s a place where I look for videos of garbage trucks, or animals with my kids. Maybe I’ll go there for the highlights of a tv show, or to watch the trailer of a movie. If I have a need for Gangnam Style, I’ll go to YouTube, but it’s not a part of my everyday web experience.
YouTube is such a part of modern popculture that it has its own star system. There are people who are internet famous and command audiences in the hundreds of thousands, through to tens of millions. People you and I perhaps have never heard of, but still have internet and fame and better still – an income simply from making YouTube videos.
I had a glimpse of what it means to have an audience of millions in December when I had a video of teddy bears being tossed at a Calgary Hitmen game going viral. Nearly 3.2 million people have seen that clip. I expected the clip would be popular, similar Teddy Bear Toss videos had been viewed 100s of 1000s of times, but I didn’t expect my shot to have millions of views and bring me thousands of dollars.
Yes, that’s the thing that makes YouTube so wonderful. Videos are very easy to monetize, and if you can have a hit you can, literally, strike it rich. My Teddy Bear Toss video made me a few thousand dollars (more than 5, less than 10 – Google prohibits people from discussing specific revenue).
The strange things that people can become famous for on YouTube will make your head spin. There is a girl who made a video showing what she got for Christmas that was viewed more than 1.5 million times since December. Seriously.
Bethany Mota is a teen from California with 1.5 million YouTube subscribers who have watched her 300 videos more than 180 million times. (Based on my math from what I made off my Teddy Bear video, she could have made in excess of $400 000 from her YouTube channel). She makes clips about beauty tips, and what she got for Christmas.
This week a documentary on what it means to be a YouTube star will be released. Please Subscribe profiles YouTubers and has them confessing about being addicted to the hits, being surprised at how they became famous, and how the life of YouTuber is an outlet for a loner.
The film will be available as a digital download starting in March.
So, think you have what it takes to go viral? You’d be surprised at what people will watch.
APP OF THE WEEK: Vine [free]
The best way to describe this app is “Instagram for video.” The first stand alone app produced from Twitter, Vine (iOS only right now) lets you shoot 6 second video clips and then share them on your social networks. You point your phone and touch the screen to record. You can do many short segments and they are automatically sewn together in one clip that loops. The app has only been out for a week, but already it has won many fans in the creative community that are doing wonderful things with it.