Social Media for Public Works 101 — Video-sharing
Studies have shown that more than two-thirds of our population are visual learners, which probably helps explain why television and movies are so popular. This preference for consuming information in a visual format is also obvious from our online behavior. For example, each month people watch more than 4 billion hours of video on YouTube — a popular video-sharing site on the Internet.
And based on statistics from YouTube, people are not only viewing content, but also creating it. Each minute, people upload 72 hours of video to the site. Sure, a lot of it is full of babies, cats, and music. But there’s also a lot of information relevant to public works. This volume of content, along with the site’s popularity and low cost for sharing video, offers many benefits to public works departments.
One of the most beneficial uses of YouTube is for educating employees. Let’s pick one of the primary safety issues faced by underground crews. A search on YouTube for “trench safety” brings up 79 results. Some videos are from vendors showing how to assemble and use their products. Others are training videos focusing on compliance with OSHA standards, while some are clips reporting cave-ins. The one shown here is a trench safety video created by Caterpillar. If you are looking for videos about personal protective equipment, there’s about 5,800 to choose from. There’s also plenty of content demonstrating how to install hydrants and valves, patch asphalt, place concrete, or accomplish many other tasks a public works crew might work on.
There’s also educational content focusing on skills such as leadership, motivation, and other aspects of management. With so much free training material, any department can easily incorporate a few minutes of education into each day at a very low cost. Some might play a short video during staff or safety meetings. Others might send out a daily email with a suggested training video that's only a few minutes long. Short educational videos are a great way for crews to spend time while waiting to go out on a job, or if they're done early and don’t have enough time to start a new task.
YouTube can also be used as a platform for educating your citizens. Many local agencies, like Bryan, Texas, post videos explaining how their city works, its functions, projects, ordinances, and many other aspects of government including public works. Other cities regularly post videos of council meetings, updates on what's happening in their city, or promotional material for economic development purposes.
Public works departments can research purchases or procurement of services on YouTube. Many vendors such as Case Construction Equipment have their own YouTube channels and offer videos describing their equipment and products. Consulting firms like CH2M Hill have also created channels with videos showcasing their projects, their employees, and company philosophy and knowledge.
YouTube also makes it easy to share videos with others. Underneath each video is a “Share” button. If you click this, several sharing options are shown. One is a link that can be copied and pasted on a website. Others include buttons to share the video on other social media sites such as Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. You can also embed the video into a blog or website, or you can email it to someone.
Using YouTube just for viewing videos doesn't require you to create an account. Just visit http://www.youtube.com, search for your topic, and click the play button on any of the videos you find. But eventually you might want to create an account so you can keep track of your favorite content by subscribing to channels. Having an account also allows you to comment on videos, add them to a playlist, and like or dislike them.
Creating an account on YouTube is easy if you already have a Google account, because YouTube is owned by Google. All you have to do is sign into your Google account, click the YouTube text in the top banner on Google, and you're in. You can also go to YouTube and click the “Sign In” text in the upper right corner. This will bring up a screen where you can sign in with your Google account information.
If you plan to create and upload videos for your department, agency, or company, you’ll probably want to create a separate account just for that purpose. Uploading videos to an account is easy; you just sign into your account, click “Upload” on the site, and drag your file onto the page. YouTube offers a lot of options for setting up your channel page and videos. You can get more in-depth information on uploading and sharing videos on the YouTube Essentials page.