College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

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This post is the first in a series of guest blog posts that will appear in the Dean’s Blog over the next year. The author is Travis Ballstadt, digital media coordinator for the Iowa State University College of Engineering

They say you should never assume, but I’m going to make an assumption. I’m going to assume that each and every one of you has viewed at least one YouTube video. Maybe it was a funny cat video, or one of the excellent Iowa State Athletics “hit tapes” they do each week. Maybe it was a video of your child’s spelling bee or basketball game.

Many people have asked me why we host the College of Engineering’s videos with all the user-generated content on YouTube, as opposed to hosting them locally on our site. Well, there are 15,000 reasons and growing.

YouTube is a difficult website to classify. It can be studied as an entertainment site, a search engine, or a social media site.

It’s an entertainment site. It’s the new America’s Funniest Home Videos, MTV, and History Channel combined.

It’s also informational and educational. When I needed to put a new thermostat in my dryer last year, I went straight to YouTube for instructions and found a step-by-step video of someone changing the thermostat in the exact same model dryer I have.

It’s a search engine. In fact, it’s the No. 2 search engine in the world, behind only Google. See dryer anecdote above.

Finally, it’s a social media site – it has 128 million monthly users that log in, post videos, rate videos, and talk about videos … and they’re not talking about the production value. They’re talking about the content of the videos.

Starting the conversation is the important part. And YouTube is a great way to start a conversation. YouTube is not only a social media site in itself, it’s a feeder site to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and all other social media networks, bloggers, and news sites.

It’s easy to post a video you enjoy to your Facebook page, your Twitter account, or your blog and see what your friends and peers think. Maybe they’ll share it with their friends if they like it, too – it’s how things go ‘viral’. One simple video of the college could spark a million conversations.

But only if people see it.

And that’s how I explain our decision to host our videos on YouTube. Our videos are viewed about 15,000 times on YouTube each month. Six percent of those views are watched in a video player on another webpage (i.e. the official College of Engineering webpages). Twenty-two percent are on mobile devices, such as iPads, Android tablets, and mobile phones.

But 71.7% are seen right on YouTube. Over 60% are views referred directly from the YouTube home page or another video. That’s over 9,000 views every month just for having our content on YouTube, and it goes up every month!

So ‘Like’ the college on Facebook, and the next time you see one of our videos pop up in your timeline, don’t just scroll by. Watch it, and share it on your page. Every time it gets passed along, our clout with YouTube (and their parent company – Google) goes up and more people see our message. It’s two clicks to raise the online profile of the College of Engineering.

Will you help?

About the author

 Armed with a journalism degree from Iowa State, Travis Ballstadt compiled a strong video background, with an extremely diverse body of work. After graduation, he spent nine years in the news industry from WOI-TV to the FOX NEWS Channel’s San Francisco Bureau (with a couple stops in between), then became a freelancer in San Francisco working on just about every cable television show and sporting event you can think of. Along the way, his interest in marketing and advertising grew, as did his fascination with new media technologies. 

As Digital Media Coordinator for the Iowa State University College of Engineering, Travis is forging ahead into the new media landscape, taking advantage of the newest communication channel to raise the visibility of the college among prospective students and alums, as well as maintaining an open line to the students currently on campus.



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