Look at the episodes before and after this document. Did we manage to make the appropriate changes? Which parts of this assessment were correct, and which do you think were off-base?
Weekly production may be overrated.
By now, we have a good, if small, core of subscribers on YouTube and followers on Facebook. A large number of our YouTube views come from the subscriber pages. This probably means people are finding us automatically, without being reminded a new episode is up because of what day it is. Continue reading →
There are some unspoken rules of the Internet which ought to be spoken about more often. Our episodes about netiquette and chain mail try to explain why certain behaviors online which may seem harmless actually make using the Internet a lot more unpleasant for others.
You may think chain letters are harmless fun — who could they possibly hurt? You may think they’re irritating, and try to convince people you know not to send them. But did you know some of them are illegal? The US Postal service’s statement on chain letters notes that chain letters which ask participants to send money, promising to return that many times, are a form of gambling, and as such are illegal.
For your own edification, or your students’ if you wish, here is The Jargon File’s entry on “Hacker Writing Style.” The Jargon File is a record of the culture of programmers and other early adopters of computers, written by those who have lived it. Eric Raymond maintains this version of the file. This style document introduces ideas like “flaming,” specific netiquette (such all caps writing being equivalent to screaming), and hackerish humor.
Right now, keywords are the meat and potatoes of finding videos online. Search engines right now only keep track of written words online — they cannot see patterns (like moving people, words, light and shadow, etc) in videos, like people can, and they’re mostly not searching for patterns in sounds or pictures, either. Because search engines are “stupider” than most people right now in that way, the only information that a search engine will find from a video is text you add when you upload it — the title, description, and keywords. If a video doesn’t have keywords, it’s less likely that people will find it using a search engine.
We use a LOT of keywords. The key elements of the script — ads or products we talk about, shows we refer to, events that happen, names of video styles like “parody” or “science fiction,” etc — get written in to the keywords. So do some keywords for shows we think our show is like — Mystery Science Theater 3000, the Muppet Show — because we hope people looking for those shows might find our show and like it as well. In general, though, search engines seem to rank titles more highly than keywords.
Some of our videos get more search engine traffic because of keywords than others. Take a look at the view statistics from a number of our videos. Which videos seem to be getting the most search engine traffic? Why do you think they are ranked so highly? (Hint: take a look at how many hits a search turns up on different engines.)
Do you think it is OK for a video to put up keywords about things which are not actually in the video? What keywords do you think The Media Show should include that it is not currently using? When you’ve thought of a few, do a search for those words on YouTube and other search engines. Try them in combination with a few words we are already using. Then respond: how effective do you think your search words would be in helping people find our videos?
Some Media Show episodes, like the Online Predators, Jingles All The Way, and Secondary Sexual Characteristics episodes, are pretty edgy. Edgy videos might get sent around among people who like that kind of thing, but the really successful viral videos are the ones which can be accepted by a general audience — the ones you would send to your Aunt Mabel as well as to the friend you were partying with last night.
In the second season of The Media Show, we planned a series of super-short, funny videos which we hoped people would pass around. We chose Internet topics which we thought people could relate to and maybe hadn’t seen any other videos about. This resulted in the Passive Aggressive Smileys, Auto-Loading Sounds, Netiquette, Warcraft E-Card, and (revised) Snopes Before You Send videos.
Compare the view counts for these short “public service announcement” videos with the view counts for other videos. Do you think they were more successful than the others in “going viral”? What aspects of each video do you think contributed to or detracted from viewers’ willingness to send them along?