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Back in 2005, YouTube premiered online. It was the latest in a concept known as User-Generated Content (UGC). Of course, the content on YouTube was unique for the web at that time. It was all video.
The rest is history. YouTube took off like a rocket. It was acquired by another Internet company that you might know about: Google. Homemade videos of all sorts were uploaded to the site and some of them became viral. Entertainers like PSY and Justin Bieber arguably owe their fortunes to YouTube.
The Popularity Of UGC
YouTube is perhaps the most perfectly named Internet website. It allows people to upload their own video content, effectively creating their own television show. Seasoned readers will perhaps recall that a television set was sometimes called "the tube" back in the day because it was a tube that generated the image on the screen.
Now, everyone can become a producer. As a result, some people intentionally create content that is totally shareable, relevant, and enjoyable. Other people stumble upon a video that becomes an Internet sensation. The laws of virality are as uncertain as the future of the stock market. That is, it's very difficult to predict what will be a viral video.
The problem with UGC, in the case of YouTube, is the signal-to-noise ratio. It's awfully low, as poorly produced videos are uploaded, every day, along with some awesome content. That leaves the average YouTube user with the unenviable task of sorting through all the uninteresting videos to find the few good ones.
YouTube has very few editorial guidelines (no nudity, no hate speech, plus a few others). As a result, a video that is just plain boring will not get pulled because it's boring. Unfortunately, there is a lot of content on YouTube that's just not worth your time, either because it's about a topic that you find uninteresting or the quality of the video is poor.
The good news is that YouTube's signal-to-noise ratio creates an opportunity for webmasters to locate and share outstanding content. Since people don't want to sift through the boring YouTube videos every day, publishers can locate the best videos and share them on their websites.
Viral sites like Upworthy have mastered this process. Typically, Upworthy will share videos that are viewed favorably by people who consider themselves politically progressive. However, the folks at Upworthy will also locate videos that are just plain interesting and that's how they've built such a massive following on social media.
Further, publishers can invest the resources necessary to produce their own, viral-worthy content on video. People have short attention spans and they love to watch interesting content with frequent scene changes. That also presents itself as an opportunity for publishers, although quite a bit more overhead is required for that option.
It's time to think out of the box. Content no longer needs to be simple text with large headers. Welcome to Content 2.0, where video is the next generation of content marketing.