From her official bio: Michelle K. Gardner, John Scott Daily Florida Institute of Government (IOG) at the University of Central Florida (UCF), Utilizing YouTube for Community Engagement. Michelle K. Gardner lives on the World Wide Web. Michelle has a background in management, but her passions are for all things online. Through the IOG, Michelle is able to conduct direct research on how local governments engage their citizens, particularly through technology. Not content with her MS degree in management, Michelle is currently enrolled in the Texts and Technology PhD program at UCF. Primarily focusing on how we are using digital media tools and the World Wide Web. As a wife, mother, full time employee and PhD student, Michelle is grateful the World Wide Web is available 24/7!

And she’s a self described “true geek.” Love it! Her day-to-day work involves teaching people in government and non-profits how to engage citizens with social media tools. You Tube has been widely known for its entertainment purposes, not to mention “viral” videos, but there are ways to harness it for engaging your communities, measure results, and other business purposes.

is the leader in online video and the premier destination to watch and share original videos world wide through a Web experience.

YouTube is a part of our cultural change
– no matter what your industry, social media resources are a new way that our culture is sharing and receiving information. This format can have a huge impact on your brand and company perceptions.

Benefits of YouTube:
• 24/7 availability
• Dynamic content (not “text on a page”) that is engaging
• Multi-viewer video (many people can watch it at the same time without hold-ups)
• Doesn’t eat up your server space, no paying for storage

YouTube is a great source for research!
YouTube features about 40 percent user-generated content, including “vlogs” or video blogs, that you can watch to tap into ideas and opinions people are sharing. YouTube can also be highly useful in motivating a group of citizens by arming them with knowledge, and interesting, easy-to-share material.

A fun video example for your viewing pleasure
“Forever” wedding dance down the aisle

This video spread like wild fire, prompting magazine articles, TV spoofs (on “The Office”) and guest appearances. the song the “dance down the aisle” to is Chris Brown’s 2008 hit “Forever.” With the viral spread of this homemade video posted to YouTube, Brown’s song made a come back on the charts in July 2009.

As an intentional business example: This is UCF is a 1:42 video that serves as a commercial through YouTube and simple video technology. They have their own “channel” and people can see all your available content. To create your account, or channel, you only need your name password and basic settings, and voila! Easy right?

Creating content and getting started

All you need is a camera, tri-pod, video editing software, staff for video content…but you could even use videos shot from your mobile phone or device! You don’t have to spend a lot of money to incorporate these tools; it just takes a little learning or an extra hand. Getting extra staff to help out can be as easy as getting interns from local colleges or even engaged citizens or volunteers. Some of them may even have the video tools you need to get started.

Practical tips
• HD video is great, but it ideally suited for less than 10 minute-long videos.
• Creative Commons, copywright licensing for social media content that ensures people get credit for the content they are sharing.
• As a side note in general about all things social media: Clarity of thought is important. You should know why are getting involved and have policies in place.
• Keep your logo on your video the whole time near the bottom of the screen (called a “bug” in the broadcasting world).
• Promote by sharing the link everywhere: company Web site, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
• Use Google Analytics to track your results.

And a final video piece from You Tube: Phil’s Phirst Philm

You can follow Michelle on Twitter at @oneperson2.