Utilizing YouTube for family history work

Published: Saturday, Feb. 8 2014 5:00 a.m. MST

RootsTech presenter Lisa Cooke teaches class members how to create and use their own YouTube channel for family history work.

Katelyn Guderian, Deseret News

RootsTech conference guests learned how to share their family history through video in Lisa Cooke’s Thursday morning class “How to Use YouTube for Family History: Setting Up Your Own YouTube Channel.”

Cooke discussed the influence YouTube videos have on our society.

“If YouTube is the second-largest search engine on the web, this is where we need to be with family history to be found,” Cooke said.

Cooke explained how sharing stories between families becomes easier when video is involved. One family may have footage that includes clips of or interviews with many other families.

“Your family history is in somebody else’s closet,” she said.

Cooke encouraged family historians and genealogists to have an active YouTube presence, saying it allows people to share, collaborate and locate answers.

The significance of creating a YouTube channel, particularly within the realm of family history, is to share stories that other people can find. Video footage that goes viral has the potential to spread information faster than traditional family history methods — and it allows YouTube users of all ages to view it.

Cooke told conference participants not to be hesitant when it comes to learning how to work YouTube.

“You can’t break it, even if you aren’t a programmer,” she said. “If you know how to click, you’re good.”

When it comes to uploading video (both new footage and old home videos or family movies), Cooke offered six tips for YouTube users:

  1. Identify your target audience: Who are you trying to reach? What do they specifically want to know?
  2. Create usable content: Create videos that answer questions and bring insight to families.
  3. Be authentic: Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Let your personality guide your posts, and people who like it will keep coming back.
  4. Keep it short: Limit most videos to 3–5 minutes, with the longest posts being around 10. Leave your audience wanting more.
  5. Keep it simple: Make your content direct and easy to understand. Leave your audience with a call to action.
  6. Use proper lighting: If you are filming a new video, make sure to have light on your face to eliminate shadows. Audiences won’t watch something they can’t see. Try not to combine natural light with artificial light while on camera.

Email: kguderian@deseretnews.com

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