Digital Artefact Contextual Essay

Just a few months ago, I hesitantly wrote in my bullet journal that I wanted to start a YouTube channel, something I had been considering on and off for a few years, to be honest. There always seemed to be a million reasons not to do it – it won’t be good, what’s the point, I don’t have time – just to name a few. Along came BCM114, sweeping aside any excuses with a resounding “just do it!”. It didn’t have to be good, it was an assignment in a compulsory subject, and I would use the time spent normally for a university subject. Problem solved.

So, I finally set off in making a YouTube channel. Using the design thinking process, I first defined my idea as chill lifestyle vlogs to provide an audience with videos they can casually watch and ‘hang out’ with me. Using myself as the initial point of audience research, I decided to make videos similar to the ones I watch on YouTube, like bestdressed, oh no nina and Jenn Im, and try to target the same audiences those videos reach. This starter pack describes these kinds of viewers, essentially describing those wanting the same kind of content that I enjoy watching as I go about my day. 

I developed this project by ideating, prototyping and testing different videos, first by filming several parts of my everyday life and compiling them into 10-12 minute ‘weekly vlogs’. I also used existing footage from earlier in the year to make a travel vlog, another popular style on YouTube. Additionally, I experimented with a university-focused advice video, and two short cooking videos. With each iteration, I aimed to make a minimum viable product to deliver smaller, functional increments rather than an overwhelming final product.

The main type of videos published on my channel were vlogs, with two weekly vlogs and a Japan travel vlog. The responses were lovely and encouraging, with some comments complimenting my editing style, enjoying the ‘catch-up’ vibes of the video and a retweet of the video link. This was definitely the social utility I was aiming for, just with a small, BCM-cohort-centred audience.

The next step was to increase the scope of my audience. However, I wasn’t able to achieve this in these past months, with 20-30 odd views and 20-30% retention video retention. The weekly vlogs took about a week to film, obviously, and a few days to edit. It was difficult keep up a consistent upload schedule, especially amongst other assignments, which is crucial for social media (see here).

Interestingly, my Japan travel vlog accrued the most views, watch time and traffic source from search terms, most likely since travel videos are a very popular concept. While this isn’t a consistently sustainable video concept since it requires overseas travel, I will be making sure to vlog any other local or overseas travel I do for future content.

Overall, I need to make more of an effort to reach my audience that I know is out there, and direct them to my channel in order to better achieve my proposed social utility.

I also made a video specific to BCM students around specific assignment advice. This had the highest audience response on Twitter, which of course was a result of its use as a platform in BCM subjects.

This was quicker to film and edit, but gained similar views to my weekly vlogs. Its social utility is directly applicable to my fellow uni students, but it seems that putting in the extra effort to create more personable weekly vlogs has potential to reach a wider audience outside the limited scope of UOW BCM students. 

Most recently, I made two short ‘make lunch with me’ videos as a #FIST way to make content, especially since this is something I do everyday anyway. These received fewer views, which isn’t what I expected, as they’re shorter and had seemingly more useful social utility as motivation or ideas on what to eat, but the few comments I received about the food looking great were very much appreciated and reflected what I wanted for these videos.

With the social utility of these shorter videos being more ‘functional’ than personal, again it seems that the higher effort in creating more personal weekly vlogs is worth it in terms of audience feedback, as the video metrics show an overall decrease in views, watch time and impression click-through rate than in the previous 28 days. Additionally, around half my views come from non-subscribers, meaning I will need to encourage viewers to “please subscribe to my channel” and make content to encourage subscribing. To see more detail on the analytics, please check out my latest DA process blog.

As the semester and subject come to a close, I have not only come away with useful frameworks and foundational knowledge in being a media maker, but the courage to make things I’ve always wanted to make. My most valuable lesson has been to continue building this courage and just keep making! 

PS: I did also make an extra Instagram DA toward the end of the semester, but it’s still in its fledgling stages and discussing it here would increase the wordcount a lot, probably. My most interesting takeaway is that it feels odd to get comments from strangers, but it’s fun! I need to figure out the best time to post, reply to all comments, tag official accounts whenever possible and also do more research. Stay tuned. 

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