Uploading – more than just YouTube
Almost every mobile device has a YouTube uploader as default, and this is often the quickest and easiest way to get video online. You will of course need a YouTube account to do this.
YouTube‘s (or Google‘s) rules on how much can be uploaded are obscure and are constantly revised. At the time of writing the upload file size limit is 2GB, and the time limit for beginners is 15 minutes (you get more more time once you have more subscribers). 2GB is about 15 minutes of Full HD, so they seem to match up.
In the Preparing to Record chapter we discussed the problems of uploading HD footage in the field, and suggested using a compressor such as the featured VidTrim Pro to bring the file down to SD size for posting. When you are at home with ethernet or stable wifi, HD or Full HD upload is very practical. The only other aspect to consider is who your viewers are. Have they typically got fast enough internet to view streaming HD? Are they data-limited with their broadband connections?
A way around bandwidth and data limit problems is to explain to your viewers how to download the video as a podcast from YouTube. If they do this, they do not need to stream the data each time it is watched. One of the best tools is the Firefox Plug-in Easy YouTube Video Downloader. See the Offline Distribution – mobile screening chapter for information on how to use it.
But YouTube does not have a monopoly of free video hosting. Oneload.com allows you to upload to a number of different hosts at the same time: DailyMotion, metacafe and blip.tv, as well as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Vimeo is a video host popular with high-end documentary makers, but you need a pro Vimeo account to upload to it via Oneload.com. archive.org is an excellent alternative, a charitable free hoster committed to archiving the net for the foreseeable future.
How to get viewers
Here are a few things you should do to promote your work before you set out filming.
Write a blogpost
Have a blog in which you publish your own news. Promote your story with an article before the news event. Embed your video channel in it. It is good to be part of a bigger collective of media producers or journalists, and to contribute to a site with large traffic.
Use social media
The biggest social media companies are currently Facebook and Twitter, so it is important to have busy accounts on these. This takes time to build up.
Do not publish directly to Facebook, but link out of it, preferably to your own webspace. Keep some independence from the social media big beasts. The guideline is: Use them, don’t be abused by them.
Use automated tools to publish on these accounts where you can.
Do not wait
If you are making anything at all newsworthy, speed is the key. We now live in a 24 hours news cycle, so upload your media as soon as you can. Make sure if you can that it is published the same day.
Be part of a team
When you are out on location, it is a big advantage to have someone at home to help you promote your media online. On a big news day, the colleague at home could produce a live timeline with a tool such as storify.com, embedding your tweets and videos during the day.
The importance of metadata
You need to publish video so that it garners the most “google juice” (the highest appearance possible on search engines). This will help people interested in your story to find it.
Here are some tips:
TITLE – It’s very important to have an eye-catching title. “How to live without money” will get a lot more views on YouTube than “Land squatters create eco-village”.
DESCRIPTION – Put the 5 Ws in here – Who, What , Where, hoW and Why. Assume your viewers do not know anything about the subject of your video. Put in relevant links, and make sure they are valid links, with http:// at the beginning.
Metadata tags are one of the most valuable currencies of the web. One of the things they do is enable your work to appear more often and higher up in search engines.
When you upload a video, make sure you add tags for the following:
place / subject / top twitter hashtags for the subject / producer’s name / production company or collective (if relevant) / any other descriptive tags
Here is an inspiring remix video from the Egyptian revolution in 2011: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThvBJMzmSZI
Tags for it could be:
egypt, tahrir (places), revolution, uprising, protest, arab, spring, arabspring (subjects), #Jan25, #egypt (twitter hashtags), tamershaaban, tamer, shaaban (the producer)
For both the description and the tags, use keywords from relevant popular events to help people to find your video by accident.
Keep in mind that the more you wait to upload your video, the less audience you’ll get (the 24/7 news cycle…).