YouTube has become the world's largest town hall for political discussion, with citizens, politicians, and campaigners all airing their views on the issues that matter most. Here's how to make your political videos rise to the top.
Step 1: Check the YouTube pulse Search your candidate's name, or the issue you're passionate about to see what's on YouTube already. You might find clips of your candidate's message that have been taken out of context, or footage that misrepresents the facts of an issue. Taking YouTube's pulse first will help you craft your own message effectively.
TIP: Search any and all relevant keywords surrounding your candidate or issue, including opposing views.
Step 2: Define your objectives Determine what you're trying to accomplish with each video, and who you want to reach. Would a series of issue-focused political commercials work best? Q&A sessions in which your candidate answers voter-submitted questions? Daily video diaries that address breaking developments on your campaign?
TIP: Focus on one issue per video so you don't dilute your message. You can upload as many videos as you want for free on YouTube.
Step 3: Shoot the video Shoot your video. Make it compelling and concise, and try to distill complex issues into small, digestible bites. Don't obsess over production values; a solid message is more important. Simple graphics and B-roll footage are easy ways to make your video stand out.
TIP: Solicit volunteers to help make your video by searching for YouTube users who may be sympathetic to your campaign.
Step 4: Include a call to action Include a direct call to action. Ask people to sign a petition or donate money, or just forward the video to their friends. All you need to do is ask – engaged viewers will want to know what they can do next to help.
Step 5: Use good keywords Include relevant "tags" – keywords that help people find your video when they search for clips on your candidate or issue. Mimic keywords and descriptions of similar political videos so that yours shows up in the same search results. Go with an attention-grabbing title that will make people want to watch, but be sure it's accurate. Misleading people about the content of your clip can lead to bad feedback.
TIP: For more information about creating and optimizing your video, visit "youtube.com/youtubehelp":http://youtube.com/youtubehelp.
Step 6: Spread the word Reach out to YouTube users who are likely to find your message compelling. Post your video on related message boards, or get it embedded on popular blogs. Social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are also great ways to spread the word.
Step 7: Monitor your performance Monitor your video's performance with YouTube's Insight tool – you'll see who's watching, and how they're finding your video. If you find you're not reaching your target audience, shift your approach and try again. There's always a new audience on YouTube.
FACT: You can stay on top of political video trends with YouTube's political blog, Citizentube, at "citizentube.com":http://citizentube.com.