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Summary:

Everyone uses YouTube, but how exactly do people discover new videos? We asked both web video professionals like Amy Pham and Zadi Diaz as well as your average 12 year old girl to find out.

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Everyone uses YouTube – but how, exactly, are people engaging with the site? I’ve been wanting to ask a random assortment of users — from creators to mothers to execs to kids — how they consume YouTube since I read the following quote in a New York Times piece about a recent site redesign:

It also said that last year’s redesign would make subscriptions more meaningful, but has since found out that average users still don’t know what subscribing actually does.

I wanted to see how that actually stacked up in the real world. So I asked both established online video experts like Zadi Diaz, YouTube stars like Amy Pham and average users: How exactly do you do YouTube?

Annette Brown, 47, business owner and mother

How often do you go to YouTube.com?

I watch YouTube videos when I’m on Facebook, but other than that I probably go directly to YouTube once a week or so.

When you go to YouTube.com, is it to search for a new video, or is it to browse through your video options?

To search for a new video. During the election if I found a video on Facebook and went to YouTube to watch it, I would usually see similar videos and keep watching but usually I go to a specific video, rate it if I liked it or not and then leave YouTube.

Do you subscribe to any YouTube channels?

No. I thought YouTube was a channel by itself.

What is the one YouTube channel you watch more than any other?

N/A

What’s the most common way you find new online video (on YouTube or elsewhere)?

I find them through Facebook or email.

Matt McLernon, 29, YouTube communications manager

How often do you go to YouTube.com?

About every 5 minutes, by choice. When I’m not on YouTube.com, you can probably find me on the Android app or using the send to TV feature to send videos from my phone to my Google TV.

When you go to YouTube.com, is it to search for a new video, or is it to browse through your video options?

It’s both. At work, I do a ton of searching for videos and channels to look for the awesome people making videos for fun or for a living. At home, I’ll flip through my channel guide and watch anything from folks like Vice, The Gregory Brothers, DevinSupertramp and others on YouTube.

Do you subscribe to any YouTube channels?

About 50. When I first started paying attention to my subscriptions, I found I had a ton that I never watched (hundreds), so I removed a bunch and channels became much more useful. I have a mix based on what I like and how frequent they post – some folks post a lot like NASA or The Laugh Factory, some post about weekly like BadLipReading, and some run in seasons like Video Game High School.

What is the one YouTube channel you watch more than any other?

I flipped through my Watch History and I think it’s Red Bull. They do some of the craziest, most inspiring stuff all within a few minutes, and they’re always trying to push the limit with their next video. I know I’m in for a surprise every time from them, from their Kluge video to their Enduro Chronicles series.

What’s the most common way you find new online video (on YouTube or elsewhere)?

These days it’s through the Social Feed on my guide. It’s a feed just of what my friends are sharing on social networks (G+, Facebook, Twitter). It’s like replacing all those “gotta watch this video” emails you get from friends and parents, with a feed you can easily flip through.

Christina Boland, 24, Director of Operations at Grind Spaces and casual user

How often do you go to YouTube.com?

Probably daily.

When you go to YouTube.com, is it to search for a new video, or is it to browse through your video options?

To search for a video or theme that I’m thinking of already.

Do you subscribe to any YouTube channels?

No.

What is the one YouTube channel you watch more than any other?

Not sure of any channels — I watch a lot of animal videos and a lot of music videos.

What’s the most common way you find new online video (on YouTube or elsewhere)?

Through word of mouth or Facebook.

Zadi Diaz, Head of Content Development, Disney Interactive Entertainment

How often do you go to YouTube.com?

Seems like I’ve had YouTube on an open browser tab since 2005. I check videos several times a day because it’s an important part of my job and because I’m obsessed with this form of entertainment. It’s what I’ve been doing for the past nine years.

When you go to YouTube.com, is it to search for a new video, or is it to browse through your video options?

Both. I do a lot of search through video. YouTube has in many ways taken the place of Google text search when it comes to finding and collecting specific topics of discussion. When I’m on YouTube, I do end up browsing through my subscriptions, especially if the thumbnail and title look engaging.

Do you subscribe to any YouTube channels?

I’m currently subscribed to 157 channels.

What is the one YouTube channel you watch more than any other?

Besides the Disney network of YouTube channels (my favorite is DisneyShows), there are three channels that I keep coming back to: iamOTHER, SoulPancake, and THNKR. I love their smart, positive vibe.

What’s the most common way you find new online video (on YouTube or elsewhere)?

I find videos through sites like Reddit, Buzzfeed, Tubefilter, NewMediaRockStars, and even Kickstarter. I’ll also find new videos through my social feeds on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and Twitter. I have a wide network of online friends and colleagues who produce, direct, write, or perform in web shows, so I’ll find new videos through them. And sometimes, I’ll even get a video that I haven’t seen from my mother-in-law via email!

Kristina, 12, student (and my second cousin)

How often do you go to YouTube.com?

At least every day.

When you go to YouTube.com, is it to search for a new video, or is it to browse through your video options?

I normally search for a video.

Do you subscribe to any YouTube channels?

Yes, I do subscribe to many people.

What is the one YouTube channel you watch more than any other?

Um I probably watch Shane Dawson more than anything.

What’s the most common way you find new online video (on YouTube or elsewhere)?

I find out through what YouTube recommends actually.

Mickey Meyer, 28, EVP of YouTube network Jash

How often do you go to YouTube.com?

Too Much. Daily if not hourly.

When you go to YouTube.com, is it to search for a new video, or is it to browse through your video options?

A little of column A, a little of column B. It’s fun to develop a subscription feed. Most people don’t even know what that means, so it’s cool to just be exploring how it could work, which it seems like no one, YouTube included, knows right now.

When I don’t see anything appealing in my feed, I tend to go to my most top pages, and see if they uploaded something I missed. If not, then I’ll just comb the most popular videos of the day. YouTube’s unfortunately made that harder to do in an effort to prove itself in the realm of original/consistent programming.

Do you subscribe to any YouTube channels?

Too many. Again, it’s really just fun to watch how it’s evolving. I subscribe to some I don’t regularly watch just to keep tabs on them.

What is the one YouTube channel you watch more than any other?

I’ve watched every Epic Rap Battles of History, but I’m a little biased as I used to work on them. I’ve been watching Dead Kevin a lot lately. When Fatal Farm releases new content, I’ll watch any and all of that too.

What’s the most common way you find new online video (on YouTube or elsewhere)?

Friends. I watch what people whose taste I trust, post. Outside of that, Facebook in general is a good barometer of what’s actually worth watching. If three people post the same thing, I’ll check it out. Two, it better have a good thumbnail.

Rebecca Lando, 30, Network Director, Nerdist Channel and Creator, Working Class Foodies

How often do you go to YouTube.com?

At least twice daily.

When you go to YouTube.com, is it to search for a new video, or is it to browse through your video options?

Both.

Do you subscribe to any YouTube channels?

Yes; about 25.

What is the one YouTube channel you watch more than any other?

MinutePhysics.

What’s the most common way you find new online video (on YouTube or elsewhere)?

Word of mouth/friend recommendations and links; search; memes.

Sam Louderback, 13, student (and son of Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback)

How often do you go to YouTube.com?

Every day after I finish my homework, for about 3 hours.

When you go to YouTube.com, is it to search for a new video, or is it to browse through your video options?

Since I have been using YouTube for so long, I have so many YouTubers that I am subscribed to, so I just browse through my subscriptions.

Do you subscribe to any YouTube channels?

Yes. I am currently subscribed to 64 YouTube channels.

What is the one YouTube channel you watch more than any other?

Right now I mostly watch two different YouTubers: Ijevin and vintagebeef.

What’s the most common way you find new online video (on YouTube or elsewhere)?

I find new YouTubers through collaborations and dual commentaries.

YouTuber Amy Pham, Host of The Platform’s “The Fashion Statement”

How often do you go to YouTube.com?

Weekly, I check in every week to see what’s going on in the YouTube world and the type of feedback we get on our content. I try to keep up with what’s working and what the viewers are responding to, in addition to what isn’t.

When you go to YouTube.com, is it to search for a new video, or is it to browse through your video options?

I usually go to Youtube to browse through any new videos that pop up on my radar; sometimes thought I do find myself searching when I’m on the hunt for a specific music video or tutorial!

Do you subscribe to any YouTube channels?

Yes! The Platform of course, Andreaschoice, MakeupbyCamila, Beautycrush, Essiebutton, Pixiwoo, ClothesEncounters, etc. All the lovely beauty and fashion channels whom I’ve come to respect and become huge fans of!

What is the one YouTube channel you watch more than any other?

The Platform! Although I might be biased in that regard (I check the channel constantly to see what’s working with our audience, and to see if there’s anything I can do to help improve my show).

What’s the most common way you find new online video (on YouTube or elsewhere)?

YouTube, YouTube, YouTube. If you’re looking for new online videos, why go elsewhere but the source?

Final Thoughts

The big thing I observed from doing this survey: The responses from these folk, civilians and industry pros alike, show that social is still a huge part of discovery, even the people who understand the intricacies of the YouTube channel and subscription system.

However, the people actively using YouTube’s advanced features and finding new content through strategies like collaboration aren’t just the YouTube savvy — the youth of today are highly engaged with these methods. The question now becomes for YouTube: Is there a way to get everyone using the site behaving like a 12-year-old?

Want to add your own answers to the survey? Feel free to do so in the comments!

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  1. Hammad Tauqeer Monday, March 4, 2013

    Pennystockchief dotcom/ticker.php?ticker=GOOG (Dot means .), it is one of the most structured and well compiled site on GOOG stock and helps in decision making

  2. Six of the nine people surveyed are either YouTube employees, partners or off-spring of partners? Could be a bit more objective, no?

    1. I thought the same thing.

  3. I think one of the problems You Tube is now facing is anger from content owners re the new design layout.

    Why is it not possible for channel controllers to create their own layout?
    Making every channel look exactly the same is not good for channel identity.
    You Tube need to make a wider range of templates.

    I find it strange that one of the answers to your poll suggested she didn’t know the content is uploaded by different channels.

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