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YouTube is the second biggest platform, after Facebook, and has grown steadily during the pandemic as more and more activity has moved online. Having been around since the mid-2000s, it is the original user-generated video channel. There are three main ways of using YouTube for research communication:

  • Upload a video
  • Organise a Premiere event, broadcasting at a specific time with a live chat feature
  • Stream a live event

Visit the section on creating multimedia resources for guidance on how to create your own videos.

YouTube Premieres

This feature lets creators schedule a time and date when they want an uploaded video to go live. It then generates a shareable, public "watch page" that acts as a placeholder until the video begins at the appointed time.

Premieres offers a handy cheat for hosting online "events". If you prerecord your webinar, interviews or panel talk over Zoom, users will still have a similar viewing experience as though it were live. You have the option of including live chat on Premieres, or you can invite viewers to leave comments and questions in the comments section below the video player – which provides a permanent record of engagement for the event.

Learn about how to respond to negative comments and create positive experiences in interactive spaces online.

Driving engagement

Of course, you should promote your YouTube content on your other social media channels. As mentioned in the section on Twitter, consider creating shortened teaser videos and promotional assets such as posters or flyers for your various profiles. 

Carefully construct your video description, including relevant links, hashtags, and keywords – they all help to make your video easier to find in a search.

Use calls-to-action, such as links, in the video description to drive people to your website or other social channels to find out more about your research. You can also add calls-to-action to the video itself in the form of (opens in a new window)information cards. Consider asking viewers to like your video: the more likes it has the more discoverable it will be.

YouTube Live

Live streaming on YouTube can be a more accessible, less formal alternative to hosting a Zoom event. This feature offers users tools to help manage their live stream and interact with viewers in real time.

Creators, as YouTube calls them, can stream via webcam, mobile or by "encoder streaming" (using external software or hardware that integrates with YouTube). Webcam and mobile are the simplest and best options for beginners.

(opens in a new window)Encoder streaming requires more advanced know-how but it enables complex live streams with more features:

  • Sharing your screen during the live stream 
  • Connecting to external audio and video hardware
  • Managing an advanced live stream production, for instance using multiple cameras and microphones

Expert streamers recommend software apps like (opens in a new window)Restream and (opens in a new window)StreamYard, which are paid services that offer a professional experience for the viewer and user. YouTube offers its own recommendations for both paid and open-source solutions. For this, and chapter and verse on how it all works, visit YouTube's own (opens in a new window)online guide and (opens in a new window)digital events playbook.

One of the greatest advantages of using YouTube Live with a good streaming app is that these apps can enable multi-streaming, allowing you to go live simultaneously on up to 30 different social platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Twitch and LinkedIn. YouTube itself enables you to (opens in a new window)promote your event during the live stream, including creating highlight clips while it's still live.

As YouTube has a live chat feature to accompany live streaming, it also has a comprehensive (opens in a new window)set of tools to allow you to moderate and control the chat, in the interest of safety and wellbeing.

Tip: Remember, don’t just broadcast, ask questions and invite responses, either in your channel's comments section or by following the link to your Twitter page.

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