Ramblings of a Nutbar

You’ll probably regret this.

After piles of mistakes, YouTube GOT IT RIGHT!

I am happy.

Verry Happy.

So happy that I’m dancing around and singing and generally making this recent video look mellow by comparison.

Why is this?

Because today I’ve noticed someting that YouTube has done that will make life for partners on YouTube so much easier.

It’s the custom thumbnail.

 

New Feature to upload a thumbnail. Rock on YouTube!

New Feature to upload a thumbnail. Rock on YouTube!

That’s right. It looks like from here on out that YouTube partners (I checked on one of my non-partner sock accounts, and it’s not there) can specify a custom thumbnail for their videos. 

The implications for this are enormous. No more working your butt off trying to get the perfect shot in the center frame (which YouTube recently fried anyway). No more hoping you don’t get three crappy thumbnails to pick from. From now on, partners can control their thumbnail.

You might find yourself saying “Okay. You can pick your thumbnail, big deal. What’s the hulabaloo all about?” It’s a commonly known fact that the thumbnail is a big part of what drives views to a video. It’s the very tiny window into your show, and sometmes it’s the only thing someone will see of yur video. If yu want to market your videos, the thumbnail is very important. And now, thanks to YouTube, partners can more effectively market their productions.

Thanks YouTube. I take back anything negative I’ve said lately. You rock, at least until I find something else to complain about.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tips for getting views & subscribers on YouTube

You’re making YouTube videos. You’re actually pretty good (and that’s not your opinion – unbiased sources have told you this), but for some reason, breaking out of the sub-100 subscriber range just isn’t happening. So how do you climb out of the basement, and into the light? This post should give you some useful tips that I’ve learned myself, and things that I’ve seen from the top YouTube creators out there.

As a disclaimer, I will preface this by saying that I’m not a megastar on YouTube (yet!). I don’t have 100,000 subs and I’m not on the top pages. But I DO have a few thousand subscribers to my channel, and the number is growing literally every day. so with no further ado, here are my tips to gaining YouTube popularity, with important stuff bolded for those too ADD to read it all:

  • Make quality content. This is first and foremost. I’m not saying that you need to go out and buy a $2500 camcorder, or even use anything more special than a webcam. What you DO need to do is produce videos that people (other than you & your family) will want to watch. The secret to learning this is to critically watch YouTube videos. Which ones do you watch? Which ones do you click out of? Watch what the people you watch do, and emulate the positive aspects while making it your own. Important: While this is the first step, as you will soon read, it’s not the only ingredient.
  • Get involved in the community. My friends over at 88improv were the ones who got me to YouTube. They had been there for several months before I was. Today, they have thousands less subscribers than I do. What’s made me more popular? It’s certainly not video quality alone – theirs are way better than mine. The biggest difference I’ve noted is that 88improv is using YouTube more as a storage site; They upload their videos to embed elsewhere, and seldom get involved with comments & community involvement. In contrast, I Was doing shoutouts in my first video, and responding to other folks early on. I made some great friends, and I got involved in the community. If you provide positive feedback to others, they’re more likely to come and see your stuff. And if your stuff is good, they’ll subscribe.
  • Remember that asking for subscribers is okay (sometimes). Not everyone remembers that they can click the little orangish-yellow button to follow your videos. Putting a friendly “Please subscribe” at the start or end of your video is totally cool. If you’re an authentic individual, people will see this. Asking for subscribers CAN be overdone: see the following points on what NOT to do for more.
  • Love thy subs, and be thankful for them. Okay, it might be difficult to thank every subscriber once you hit 10’s of thousands of subscribers, where you might have a few hundred join per day. But since you’re not there yet, go show some gratitude. If someone subscribes to you, click on their name, go to their channel, and in their comment box write something like “Hey (their name), thanks for subscribing. It means a lot”. They like this, and what’s more, anyone who stops by their channel see that you care, and you might catch some incidental subscribers as a result.
  • Collaborate. Make videos with other YouTubers. heck, mak a video with me, I’m always game for a good idea. Collabs typically help both parties in some way (usually the person with fewer subscribers will get the most benefit from the deal, but the extra exposure is always nice for the more popular one). Enter Contests, such as ChristopherMast’s Generic Video Contest. Or better yet, nominate yourself (and hopefully a friend) to be on my new show that features unsung video producers (see below or click here).
  • Enjoy ALL free exposure, even from haters. (Thanks to jischinger for pointing this missed piece.) Any time someone promotes your stuff, it’s a good thing. It’s like they say, “All press is good press”. Sometimes you’ll get promoted in positive places, such as the new show 6k&Under. And sometimes you’ll get views from people called “haters”. These folks range from mild “ur so gay” comments, to more extreme threats and even featuring you on one of their many hater websites.  BUT here’s the rub: everyone knows they’re just haters. Nobody believes them, and in fact, I’ve found many great YouTubers because of them. So don’t hate the haters. They don’t realize it, but they’re doing you a favor.
  • Keep on truckin’. It’s easy to get discouraged. It took me months to break out of the single digit numbers, but it’s a snowball effect. Keep making videos. Keep following the steps above. Eventually, you’ll build a large enough base to get noticed. Patince, grasshopper.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Stuff you should avoid, lest you be riddled with strife and disliking:

  • Don’t Sub4Sub / Beg4Sub. These tactics send a very distinct message to people: I’m not talented enough to get subscribers on my own abilities and terefore I must find other ways to peddle my useless material. Understand this: The people with respected channels will not subscribe to you because you’re offering to sub to them. I am very exclusive about who I subscribe to: I only subscribe to people I want to watch. Sub4Subbing with 10 kids, only to have my subscriptions page filled with hundreds of crappy illegally uploaded Anime videos to the point where I can’t find the people I want to watch is NOT on my agenda, nor the agenda of most regulars on YouTube. And recently I had someone go beyond sub4sub, and just lazily posted a profile comment asking me to subscribe. Again, subbing to a channel full of crappy Animes is not something I, or most established YouTubers will be doing.
  • Don’t be a hater. Some people (mostly dumb kids) think that being a hater (e.g. going to people’s videos and posting stupid comments) will get them noticed, or maybe even get popular YouTubers to respond to them. 99.5% of the time this is futile. When I see a hater, I just delete the comment and block him. Way to ruin your chances of me ever subscribing to your stuff. And besides that, nobody else who comes to my channel will see you now either. Plus, haters are so cliche. Folks, calling me fat, ugly, gay, or stupid doesn’t bug me. I just look at it and laugh at the fact that this is the best you can do.
  • Don’t break the law! PLEASE, I beg of you, obey copyright laws in your videos. As much as you want to use that new Jason Mraz song in your latest video, doing so is a time bomb. Eventually YouTube will find out. Thanks to a recent agreement with the recording industry, YouTube can keep some of these videos on their site now, in exchange for sharing ad dollars with the record labels, but that’s on a case by case basis, and YouTube can pull your video anytime it wants. Stick to royalty free or creative commons stuff. If you don’t know where to find good music, check out incompetech.com for starters.
  • Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations with popular ‘Tubers. This is how I found out Nalts is a pretty cool guy. Just because they’re popular doesn’t mean that they’re not down to earth real people. And if they don’t respond, it’s not that they’re jerks blowing you off – it’s because you were probably one of 500 emails they got that day. Perseverence will usually get you noticed, just remember to be polite and respectful of their time.

In conclusion to my longest blog ever, here’s a great way to get seen: Get onboard with 6k&Under, a new show for unrecognized YouTube Talent.

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How YouTube Plans to Self-Destruct

I’ve long suspected that somewhere deep down inside the central heart of YouTube Corporate HQ, Chad Hurley has a little room, 10′ x 10′, completely empty save a marble pedestal with a Magic 8-Ball Sitting upon it. And I imagine that every morning he walks into this room, shakes up the Magic 8-Ball, and whispers “Today can I drive it all into the ground?”

Yesterday, the 8-Ball said “Yes”

So Chad rolled up his sleeves, and called together all of his top programmers, including Melvin, the guy who insisted on programming a 500 Internal Server Error into every 6th time you click on your Inbox, and they went to work.

A few moments ago, I happened to spot that Nalts wrote a blog entry pointing to YouTube’s Blog. In a release dated Yesterday, YouTube made the following announcement:

As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t. Here are a few things we came up with: 

  • Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

  • Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

  • Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

  • More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

The preservation and improvement of the YouTube experience is a responsibility we share. Let’s work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us. 

At first this sounds like a great attempt to clean up YouTube. I would fully support making illicit and profane content harder for minors to get their hands on. I also hate dishonest thumbnails. But when one takes a moment to stop and think about these changes, one can see (even in a state of total sleep deprivation) that the changes are going to hurt more than they help.

First, and what I see as the biggest problem, is the issue of no longer taking the 25/50/75 points in a video for thumbnails. Now, as I demonstrated in my test video, the thumbnails were not falling on the exact 25/50/100 points anyway, but they were close enough that one could aim to make sure a clip was placed that properly represented the video. This is called branding folks! It’s putting a pretty wrapping on your box that shows you the best part of what’s inside.

Yes, people do sometimes abuse the system, but why punish the 95% of people who don’t regularly commit this dastardly deed, just to force the 5% of abusers to figure out a new way to cheat the system (which they will). I lose branding control, and the scum just have to try a little harder to get what they want. Nice. This hurts, especially considering how many content creators wanted MORE choice in picking thumbnails, not less.

Really, the whole article reeks of “Quick! Somebody’s planning to sue us! Let’s do a super quick fix to make it all better!”. It doesn’t look like a lot of time and planning went into this.

My sincere hope is that it’s something that after a few days YouTube will realize their error and correct their mistake, but I do sometimes wonder if there really is a room at YouTube HQ with nothing in it but a marble pedestal and a Magic 8-Ball…

December 3, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Walmart – Devil in a blue box.

Okay, I’ll preface this by saying I’m a capitalist. Big Time. I am all for making money. I think money is a wonderful thing, and having it eliminates many problems (albeit creating a few of it’s own). That being said, I find myself becoming more and more disgusted at Walmart as I get older.  The reason is that too much of anything, even capitalism, can be terrible. Making money is great, but doing so at the cost of American jobs and the lives of innocents is another.

Lives? You mean you didn’t hear about it? Friday, during the “Black Friday” rush, a temporary maintenance worker at a Walmart was killed by the mob of shoppers standing in line for all the stupid crap they didn’t even need. If this doesn’t upset you, I don’t know what will.

Reading other posts out there in the blogosphere, I know that if I let this sit without explaining further, I would get piles of “It’s not Walmart’s fault!” comments (that is, if I were popular enough to gather comments), but most anyone who has ever worked in a retail environment, as I have, knows the truth.

Corporately-operated busnesses are eternally attempting to cut costs and maximize profit. In and of itself, this practice is a great thing – I wish more corporations would do this with their multi-million earning C level execs for example. But the downside to cutting costs is that you usually have to sacrifice something. Apparently Walmart sacrificed security.

In this case, the police had warned Walmart well enough in advance that the crowds would be tremendous, as if common sense doesn’t dictate that in a recession with the highest unemployment rates in years that maybe more people than usual will show up to save money. Walmart was asked by the police to have adequate security staff on hand to open the store.

What did Wally World do? Did they have two or three security guards standing at the door to push back the crowd while the doors were being unlocked? That sounds like a sensible idea to me. But sadly for Jdimytai Damour, this didn’t sound like a good idea to Walmart.

No, instead of using common sense and having as many security officers flanking the entrance as possible, they had a great cost-cutting idea. Security guards cost a lot more than most everyone else working at the store level. Why, for the cost of three of four security guards, you could hire a whole fleet of maintenance guys. And why would you need a whole fleet of maintenance guys, when one will do nicely? So they assigned the role of unlocking a door with thousands of tired, cranky, mob shoppers on the other side to one lowly maintenance guy. A temp worker at that. I imagine his personnel file probably had “Expendable” stamped on it in big blue letters with an “always” and yellow smiley underneath it. I’m sure fellow Star Trek enthusiasts are wondering if they actually gave him a red shirt before sending him to his doom, or if they just expected him to know he wouldn’t be returning from this away mission.

I’ve worked in a lot of retail and hospitality environments. An established business, especially one such as Walmart should have known better. Working in the hotel industry, we always hired on lots of extra security during special events. When I was working at my last job, security always opened the doors, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Walmart’s quest to save money, maximize profit, and cut corners is the direct cause of this man’s death. Had he been a security guard, I would have been less incensed, but he wasn’t, and he should NOT have been the one opening that door.

And of course there’s the other stuff, like the way that Walmart has left Sam Walton’s “buy American” approach, and embraced selling cheap foreign garbage, or their unethical business practices in employee treatment (I had a friend back in my hometown who got fired for requesting a few days off – to go to a funeral!), etc, but you get the point.

The saddest thing is that I’ll probably wind up continuing to shop at Walmart, because frankly, there’s nobody else in the area that has the same selection at prices we can afford while I’m busy being unemployed. So really, I’m just whining.

And because I don’t think the shoppers are completely guiltless either, here’s a great video by Peter Coffin:

December 1, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

It was a cold November back in 1492, when the pilgrims sailed the Ocean Blue. The pilgrims were a downtrodden people, as the king of Sweden was persecuting members of their religion, the Quakers. After an agonizing 4 years, 3 months, and 2 days at sea, their lead ship (the Pinto) finally washed upon the shores of a strange land. Disembarking from their ship, the pilgrims decided to explore the strange land.

The leader of the pilgrims, George Washington, was trekking through a jungle with his two lead explorers, Lewis and Clark, when they met a strange people. These people, calling themselves “indians” had lived on the land for many years, learning it’s secrets to producing produce.

Naturally, Washington was interested in a deal with these people. After two weeks of talks, the pilgrims and the indians had a conference. The pilgrims were low on food since shortly before coming over they lost their second ship, the El Nino in a terrible storm. Feeling kind, the indians agreed to bring the food. This turned out to be in the pilgrims’ benefit, as the indians prepared a large meal with care, and the pilgrims were known for bringing two pitchers of tea and a tray of generic donuts to conferences.

At the end of the conference, the pilgrims learned all the ways of the land. For this, they were very grateful, and they asked what they could offer the indians in return. The indians already knew how to build boats, and most of the skills the pilgrims had in Sweden were of no use to them. (Who really needs to know how to make swiss cheese anyway?). With nothing to give the indians, they comprimised, and instead formed 13 colonies and forced the indians into barren plots of land. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What do you think? Not bad for a guy who always slept through history class, eh? 😀

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

November 25, 2008 Posted by | Humor, My Random Thoughts | , , , | Leave a comment

One thing from “Live” that I enjoyed.

This is hilarious, and at the same time a perfect description of YouTube. Go figure.

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

bnessel1973 is back on YouTube

Here’s a short reprieve from my ususal bloggery (do I even HAVE a “usual”???) to share something with you guys that excites ME. (After all, it’s all about me). bnessel1973 has announced that he’s returned to YouTube from a short hiatus he took for personal reasons, and in so doing, has brought with him the characters he’s known for.

Instead of blowing cash on some of the “talent” I saw at YouTube live, they should have had Brian come out and do something. Maybe even plug the Angel Cheeks Foundation.

I’m a BIG fan of real, decent folks on YouTube, and that’s why I would encourage you to pop by Brian’s channel and thank him for coming back.

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

YouTube Live – An Abysmal Failure

But I jest.

 

I got home this evening excited to tune into the first ever live stream off YouTube. And while I was very impressed with the interface, beyond that, the event was just “blah” to me. Some stuff (like the MythBusters – the main reason I was watching) had been waaay too short. Other parts seemed to drag on forever and ever. A lot of the popular Tubers I really would have liked to see (Nalts, thewinekone, etc.) Didn’t get more than an occasional cameo on the backstage cam.

From a technical end, I think the event was absolutely amazing. If they can offer that sort of streaming to the rest of us, it will far surpass the popularity of blogTV or Stickam (though i doubt we regular folk will get that anythime soon!). While I heard some complaints on twitter about losing the feed, I never lost it on my end.

My other gripe is that the event seemed to cater to two crowds: 14 year olds, and people who last logged into YouTube in 2006. It seemed to flip back and forth between the first featured viral videos on the site and acts like Fred. It wasn’t “bad” per say, I just felt like anyone 25 and over was sort of out of place.

Bottom line. It was a neat event, but the performance itself was a little lacking.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Google feature: Wiki Searching

If you follow the news on search engine technologies (yeah, I know – every waking moment of your life), then you’re probably aware that in the last few months, several search engines have spotted a feature that Google was missing: User customizable searches. In July, Yahoo released their Build Your Own Search Service, and a few months prior to that a site called Wikia Search popped onto the scene, allowing everyone to easily add and rank search engine results made using Wikia.

Customize your searching on Google!Now Google is a smart company, and they realized two things: 1 – that this is a feature that could be a huge lure to these other search engines. And 2 – With their stocks tanking, they needed a new innovation.

Enter SearchWiki, today’s newest Google feature. With SearchWiki, Google has effectively opened the door for you to customize your search results. If you’re tired of seeing a certain site pop up every time you search, just delete it!

There is one important thing to keep in mind. According to the official Google Blog:

The changes you make only affect your own searches. But SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the “See all notes for this SearchWiki” link.

In other words, the comments you add to links will be visible to the whole world, but the ranking you set them to is only visible to you. So while I appreciate the thought, going to Google and adding my YouTube Channel as the number one result for “funny” and “awesome” won’t get me seen by more people, but adding comments might. So get to work!

As a side note it looks like at this moment the feature is only for Firefox and Chrome, and isn’t enabled on IE6. I’m sure it will come soon, once Google is done tweaking it on their pet browsers.

November 21, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Tech News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A feel-goodsey sorta post

Okay, not much to talk about today (actually, I have a couple big topics I want to talk about, but I’m also wanting to make a YouTube video abut them, so I’ve got to wait), so today I thought I would talk about a feel-goodsey video that’s been viral for some time: Where the Hell is Matt? (2008)

Those of you long-time Tubers will know that this is the second (technically the third-the second was an unsponsored “prequel”) video in this series, and the first one he published was one of the most viewed videos on YouTube when it came out in 2006. Personally, I wasn’t fond of the first two, but this third one warms the cockles of my heart. Here, just watch it:

So why do I think this video is so special? Easy. I’m a hopeless romantic. I like to imagine that somehow, some way, there’s the ability for everyone to get along, for all of us to put aside our prejudices and stereotypes, and just enjoy one another’s company. When I watch this video and see all the other dancers come out, this videos gives me a glimpse of that vision.

Here’s Matt Harding, who aside from having a sponsor is just an average guy, managing to get real people from all over the world to drop what they’re doing, and to join him in dancing badly on camera. Many of these people are the sort that you would never expect to do this, and yet, there they are, coming together. It makes you wonder what could happen if from time to time we let go and encouraged those around us to take a break and dance badly. Maybe the world would be a better place. Who knows?

November 20, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Viralvideology, YouTube | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments