Things to Know Before Getting Started

What Is YouTube?

YouTube is a video sharing website where people around the world may share their videos with one another. YouTube has many different types of videos, such as music videos, tutorials, information, etc…  Anyone can create a YouTube channel to post their videos in a collection for others to access.  Users must register with the site in order to upload video.

Target Audience

YouTube is most popular among younger adults, blacks and Hispanics. Like many social networking sites, YouTube is widely used by younger users – 82% of 18- to 29-year-olds used YouTube in 2014, compared with 34% of those 65 and older. Racial and ethnic differences also exist – blacks (76%) and Hispanics (74%) are more likely than whites (57%) to use the video-sharing site.  YouTube has over 1 million users.  Half of YouTube views are on mobile devices.  YouTube reaches more adults ages 18 – 34 than any single cable TV network.  It was rated by millennials as the top place to watch content, ahead of digital and TV properties like Facebook and ESPN.

How It Works

You will need to create your own video using a video camera and editing software.  For a listing of free/open source, proprietary and commercial video editing software go to  All YouTube users can upload videos up to 15 minutes each in duration.  However, many of our clients may have limited data on their smartphones so it is best practice to keep your videos short.  One to three minutes is optimal.  YouTube accepts videos uploaded in most container formats, including .AVI, .MKV, .MOV, .MP4, DivX, .FLV, and .ogg and .ogv. These include video formats such as MPEG-4, MPEG, VOB, and .WMV. It also supports 3GP, allowing videos to be uploaded from mobile phones.    When creating videos, you should keep in mind copyright laws and only utilize free music and image sources or create your own.  Always check the sites for restrictions or guidelines specific to a site.

Best Practices

Script Development

Consider using a storyboard such as the one found in this toolkit.  

Some important considerations are:

  • The location should be simple.  Do not shoot a food video in a gourmet kitchen but rather use a kitchen similar to one in your participant’s home or a local extension office kitchen.
  • Use simple props, materials, and equipment.  Our participants are not likely to relate to a high-priced gadget. Utilize equipment they may have in their home.
  • Keep each block in the storyboard to one concept or action.  One to two sentences per block is about average.
  • After writing the script, read it out loud to see how it flows.  Writing for print and writing for verbal use is different.
  • Have another person review and edit for content and syntax.
  • Time yourself reading the script to see if it falls within your time allotment. In general add 10 – 15 seconds to that time to end up with your total time.  This will allow for an opening segment and closing credits.
  • Keep the focus of the video simple.  If your script is more than 3 minutes, you may need to create two or more videos.
  • Think about what will be showing in the background.  It should be generic or should relate to your video topic.
  • Utilize video releases with everyone who is visible in the script. Have your university legal department review and approve.
  • Use the best video equipment you have and invest in additional lighting if possible.
  • Use lapel microphones whenever possible for best sound quality.
  • Videos featuring children are very popular and receive more views.
  • Try to capture still photos of the video shoot and post them on your FaceBook page to promote an upcoming video.

Closed Captioning

YouTube and many universities require all videos posted for the general public to be close captioned. Under American Disabilities Act (ADA), you are required to have closed captioning: .  No-cost closed captioning is available through YouTube. Under the Video Manager option, follow the instructions to close caption the video. You will need a txt file of the video transcript or you can type the words spoken directly in the Video Manager.  YouTube will automatically generate a close caption of the words read in the video uploaded.  Be sure to check the automatic function and edit any words, punctuation, or grammar before making the video public.

Video Production Team

The “team” may consist of one or more individuals doing one or more of these jobs.  Many universities have communication departments that can assist with these tasks.  At some universities, you will have to pay for these services.  Specialists and graduate students are great sources for content writers.  Tap into your communications department to see if students are willing to take this on as a class project each semester for credit.  Food science/nutrition students may be willing to be on-screen talent if you are not comfortable in this role.

Here are examples of a video production team:

  • Content writer
  • Content editor
  • On-screen talent – consider diversity of on-screen talent
  • Props and set design
  • Videographer
  • Post production editor

Channel Branding

The YouTube channel profile should be complete with profile picture, channel art, and about description.

Frequency of Posts

How often you create and post videos will be determined by your video production team. If this is an additional job task to their main job assignment, perhaps one video every month or two is doable.  If your team can focus more time on creating and producing videos then 1- 4 videos a month is ideal.


  • Build trust with your audience: Content uploaded to YouTube should represent the mission and values discussed in the about description.  The content should be relevant to what the viewer is expecting based on your program description.
  • Stay organized using playlist: Be considerate of the time a viewer uses to look for a video relevant to their search on your channel.   Playlists make the content organized and help with engaging viewers.
  • Be active on YouTube: Create a welcome video that lets the viewer know what to expect from the channel.   Will you be uploading 1-2 videos weekly or monthly?  If so let the audience know what to expect so they come to your channel for the content not to be driven to another channel.
  • Be considerate of time: Viewers prefer videos around 1 to 3 minutes in length.  If you have content which will be more than 3 minutes consider making a series to break the time.  Viewers are more likely to stay engaged and retain the information from a shorter video.

Allowable Content

Any content created by Extension staff should be allowable content.  YouTube has a set of community guidelines aimed to reduce abuse of the site’s features. Generally prohibited material includes sexually explicit content, videos of animal abuse, shock videos, content uploaded without the copyright holder’s consent, hate speech, spam, and predatory behavior.

Resources for starting videos on YouTube