YouTube: Who Gets It?

YouTube: Who Gets It?

BY Editors | Tuesday, February 13 2007

One thing to watch this presidential campaign cycle will be the usage of YouTube by presidential candidates. YouTube allows a presidential candidate yet another avenue to engage potential supporters and voters, and it does so for an incredibly low price tag. All one needs is a digital video camcorder, a computer and an internet connection. The YouTube community doesn't demand the high production values that a TV audience requires. Another important aspect of YouTube is the viral aspect of it, particularly among an increasingly active and growing demographic, young voters.

In the 2006 election we saw some usage of YouTube by politicians and political organizations, mostly to redistribute ads that originally aired on TV or were intended for TV. Ads were posted from both Democratic and Republican groups but I feel that there are two ads which without a doubt had a much larger impact on the electorate because they were uploaded to YouTube.

The first ad I'm referring to was done for Claire McCaskill's Senate campaign. The ad featured Michael J Fox and was focused on the benefits of stem cell research. This ad has to date received over 2.3 million views on YouTube, and has generated over 5,800 comments. It has been shared on countless web sites and myspace pages throughout the country. This video is perhaps the best example of how to produce a political ad and make it national news.

The second ad that comes to mind from the 2006 election cycle is an ad from VoteVets that tackled the issue of purchasing body armor for troops in Iraq. It was first unleashed against Sen George Allen of Virginia and latter specific versions were crafted for other Republican Senators and Congressmen. While the ad was not as popular in terms of views it did spread like virally. It was seen and discussed by many outside of Virginia and other targeted markets.

But these ads are just a taste of what is possible with YouTube. Getting additional mileage out of good political ads is certainly a solid benefit. What is even more powerful is allowing candidates to have a conversation with potential voters.

The old way of doing politics involves racking up frequent flier miles traveling all over the country to give speeches, and spending millions of dollars buying TV and Radio time to get the message out. What if you could have an even greater effect by simply writing a speech, setting up a digital video camera, hitting record and having a conversation?

That is what Barack Obama did for YouTube users when he announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee. He sat down in an ordinary setting for a little over 3 minutes and made his case for 2008. The content of this speech is no different than what might be found in any stump speech with potential supporters. However, instead of being able to address only a few thousand people at most before moving on to the next event, to date this video has been watched over 111,000 times and has generated over 1,300 comments. Not only does his campaign get feedback from users but they get a huge reach for almost no cost.

So the question I have is which 2008 presidential candidates get it? We may well be on our way to the first billion dollar election cycle but who knows how to use their resources the most effectively? So who has an established presence on YouTube right now?

Democrats

Name
YouTubeChannel
Msg Control
Subscribers /Views
# Videos
Ads
Announce-ment
Issues/News/Speeches

Biden
yes
No
50 / 1,255
3
No
No
Yes

Clinton
yes
No
16 / 244
3
Yes
Yes
Yes

Dodd
yes
No
29 / 879
7
No
Yes
Yes

Edwards
yes
yes
763 / 14,677
17
No
Yes
Yes

Kucinich
No
No
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a

Obama
yes
yes
1,248 / 22,531
11
Yes
Yes
Yes

Richardson
yes
yes
74 / 2,508
2
No
Yes
No

Vilsack
yes
No
102 / 5,736
12
Yes
Yes
Yes

Republicans

Name
YouTubeChannel
Msg Control
Subscribers /Views
# Videos
Ads
Announce-ment
Issues/News/Speeches

Brownback
No
No
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a

Giuliani
No
No
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a

Huckabee
No
No
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a

McCain
No
No
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a

Paul
No
yes*
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a

Romney
yes
No
46 / 750
6
No
No
Yes

Tancredo
No
No
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a

* The caveat on Ron Paul for message control is that the video states one of his positions but he did not submit it himself and it was not near the top of the list because other videos matched a search on his name.

So there we have it. There are a few other things to note here as well. First, many of these candidates have material that has been submitted to YouTube either by fans or critics (In the case of the GOP candidates mostly by critics). The candidates with a "yes" in their "YouTube Channel" category maintain their own channel.

Second, the "msg control" category indicates whether the candidate has control of their message on YouTube. A search on the candidate's name was conducted and the results were sorted by most views. If the top video was submitted by the candidate they got a "yes" for this category. If the top video was not submitted by a candidate but it reflected well upon them they also got a "yes" here.

Third, the announcement category indicates whether a candidate announced their candidacy or exploratory committee on YouTube.

Finally, while Mitt Romney is the sole GOP candidate (so far) with a YouTube page it appears to be focused mostly on his work as governor and past positions at this time.

The Bottom Line: My picks for who is using this medium most effectively so far? John Edwards and Barack Obama. There is a lot of room for improvement across the board though.

Raven Brooks is co-founder of BuyBlue.org and blogs frequently on technology topics for DailyKos.

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