Is it OK to post that YouTube accident video?

Category: Opinion

Do a Google search on ‘most popular YouTube accident video,’ and you’ll see some examples that have been viewed over 17 million times. Impressive. Surely this reveals that we’re naturally drawn to content that’s both real and shocking. These videos are not hypotheticals; they show people just like you and me who are facing some scary situations. And after watching a few of these accidents, you can bet that I for one will be a little more cautious, especially when I decide for some reason to play chicken with a bullet train.

But before you build your workplace digital signage safety program around YouTube videos, it’s important to consider the following:

1. Your time & resources
While it may be fun to browse for accident examples, it behooves you to watch your picks all the way through. You have to know exactly what you’re approving for employee consumption. After this task, ask yourself, “How much time did I just spend surfing YouTube?” What’s fun once in a while may actually turn into a chore in a just a few short weeks. When you consider that effective visual communication needs to be kept fresh at all times, you’ll understand why YouTube may be best left as a supplemental (rather than primary) content offering.

2. Oops, you just forced employees to view an ad
YouTube is constantly changing the way it delivers advertising. While most tech-savvy digital signage admins can figure out how to play a video without the accompanying frames of display ads, there are other ways employees can suddenly encounter an in-video advertisement. Sometimes these are small display ads that simply obscure a portion of the video. Other times the full video can switch over to an ad for an extended period of time. The scary part is that you may think you know a video is ad-free. Unfortunately, those ads may appear at any time.

3. Locking up your play rotation
The average YouTube video is over 4 minutes long. Four minutes is a relatively long time to lock up your digital signage on one piece of content. Effective digital signage should be able to engage employees with a few different types of messaging within a short timeframe. That lengthy YouTube video may cause viewer apathy very quickly. While there are tricks to starting YouTube videos at a set point within your digital signage, this is yet again a task that would need to be added to your to-do list.

At minimum, make sure your digital signage software can display multiple pieces of content simultaneously in separate frames. This gives viewers some options and makes sure more of your messaging is displayed in a given period.

4. Too graphic
Are you prepared to make the judgment call about what’s appropriate when it comes to graphic content that’s depicted in YouTube videos? Remember, you’re sharing to a large audience. Picture every possible employee (and visitor) who may see the video. You may need a second or third opinion before you include it in your digital signage rotation.

5. Positioning
Good digital signage software will allow you to bookend YouTube videos with your own content—something like a PowerPoint slide or your own in-house video that helps position the overall message. The problem with simply posting YouTube videos is that they often lack takeaway safety messages and the proper advice that’s more specific to your industry or workplace.

As you can see, there are some real reasons to examine your approach to posting YouTube videos to your workplace digital signage. That’s why it’s important to have a digital signage partner who can help you with both the technology and the content side of your visual safety communication messaging. Don’t get me wrong, in moderation YouTube can still be a great addition to your content mix. But now you have some tools to make sure that mix complements your workplace digital signage program in the most beneficial way possible.

Sean Donnelly
December 21, 2015

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