The UK Parliament YouTube channel recently reached the milestone of 100,000 subscribers. This means we're now the proud owners of a Silver Creator Award (see above) but what does that mean for our channel? In recent months I’ve been working on a YouTube strategy that I hope will build on this success in 2019.
How popular is our channel?
The top channels on YouTube have around 30 million+ subscribers but although the UK Parliament channel is never going to compete with the likes of Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Ed Sheeran, we do measure up pretty well in terms of UK politics.
We have more subscribers than all the Westminster political parties combined (the Conservative Party channel currently has 24,000 and the Labour Party channel has 26,000).
We also have more subscribers than all the government departments combined (the Foreign Office has the most popular government department channel with 12,000). Significantly, we’ve also gained nearly a third of our subscribers over the past year.
Our YouTube channel therefore represents a popular, active, and influential platform for Parliament to engage users with what’s happening in UK politics.
What are people watching?
Our channel was launched in 2007 and our videos have accumulated 20 million views since then but 6 million of these views came in 2018, reflecting the significant growth we’ve seen over the past year.
Our weekly PMQs videos are a huge driver of subscriptions and views. Even though we post the video a couple of hours after PMQs has ended, we still regularly attract between 50,000 and 100,000 views.
Having the right ‘discoverable’ content at the right time is also crucial. For example, on the day of the 2016 US election, our educational video, US Elections: How do they work?, (a great title for search) was watched 120,000 times.
Similarly, on the weekend when Harry and Meghan got married, our video of State Opening had an additional 30,000 views from users browsing royal content on YouTube.
In 2018, 2 million of our video views came from suggestions appearing alongside or after other YouTube videos.
In the week of the meaningful vote on Brexit and the no confidence motion in the government, we’ve also been experimenting with live streaming the House of Commons and House of Lords debates. Our live stream of the last day of the Brexit debate had a peak of 34,000 concurrent users and the live stream of the following day’s PMQs and no confidence debate had a peak of 26,000 concurrent users. Each video ultimately achieved over 250,000 views.
There's certainly an audience for these live streams from the Chamber and we’re hoping to work with colleagues in the Commons and Lords to do more live streaming over the coming year.
YouTube strategy for 2019
Alongside promoting the success of our channel internally, the strategy looks to make improvements to our channel in four areas:
In addition to our popular PMQs content, we're looking to expand our coverage of parliamentary business. This will include more Commons and Lords Chamber business but also coverage of e-petition debates and select committee inquiries.
We're working to improve channel branding through banner updates, a channel trailer for non-subscribers, and curated playlists. We're also working on ways to improve video discoverability through customised video thumbnails, info cards, and end screens.
We're hoping to increase audio visual capability within the social media team in PDS and looking to develop a more collaborative approach to video production across Parliament. We're also looking at opportunities to work with YouTube to give training to colleagues across Parliament.
We're looking at ways to deepen engagement with our subscribers and viewers through comments, polls, and interactive live broadcasts.
Sometimes corporate YouTube channels can become a dumping ground for video (and quite boring) but I’m hoping with a bit of care and attention, our channel can become a leading channel for Parliament with videos people really want to watch.
My top 5 videos from the UK Parliament YouTube channel
I’ve worked on our YouTube channel since it started in 2007 and there's certainly an eclectic mix of content there. Here are a few gems:
- What is Democracy? – with Danny Wallace
- Tony Benn discusses his parliamentary portrait with his son Hilary Benn and artist Andrew Tift
- Pest controller Gary Railton and his Harris Hawk
- Rain storm passing over London with rainbow (viewed from the Victoria Tower)
- Cleaning Big Ben (from the outside)
To find out more about UK Parliament's YouTube strategy or to get involved, email Matt Instone.