Here’s a tip from Ed Kohler at Technology Evangelist: YouTube statistics can be your friend, if you’re doing online political work or just trying to get a video to take off virally. For instance, clicking the Statistics & Data tab underneath a the version of any video on the actual YouTube site (as opposed to a YouTube video embedded in a page on an outside website) lets you see who links to that video page. Once you know where it’s being discussed, you can track and join the conversation there — and attempt to shift it in your direction (please be transparent about who you are! Unless you’re evil).
Ed notes that you can also influence the conversation on YouTube itself using the power of the vote: “Turns out you can vote comments up/down more than once with a time delay so a little persistence allows people to take over the conversation.” Don’t like the top-rated comments on a video you posted? Vote ’em down! Someone likens your piece to Citizen Kane? Vote it up! (Interns, get to work.)
If you’re the creator of a video, you have an additional option — you can track the sites that are going a step beyond linking to your piece and actually embedding it, which again gives you an idea of where it’s succeeding. And since getting a video to take off and actually spread virally is rare and difficult, every piece of information you can gain is a potential help.
BTW, the embedding info is tough to find: on your YouTube Profile page, scroll down to “Performance and Data Tools” and click on “YouTube Insight” (or just mouseover the “My Account” link in the upper left and it’ll be in the popup menu). Then, click on a particular video and select “Discovery” and finally “Embedded Player” (whew). You’ll find all kinds of interesting data in YouTube Insight, so play around!
Thank you for posting this – you are very right about transparency. There aren’t any clear online ethics (that I know), and while this suggestion is quite powerful, it’s all too easy for issue campaigns, particularly astroturf groups to take advantage of online anonymity. It’s also common for campaigns to approach social network “influencers” to host events for them. Again, if its on the up and up, great, but if not, who knows what would happen to offline organizing via social networks.