Television Does YouTube: Tavis Smiley Edition

Recently, I noted on Twitter that Tavis Smiley’s YouTube videos didn’t quite “crack the code” when it came to producing effective (read: engaging) social media.

Tavis Smiley on Twitter

I’ve noticed that, next to corporate lawyers and sleepy government agencies, television shows have the hardest time adapting to social media. I’m not sure why, but I have some ideas.

1. It worked on television, it’ll look great on YouTube! Effects and snazzy promos are nice, but they don’t look so hot on my crowded computer screen. With multiple windows open, an online video takes up less than a quarter of my screen’s real estate. (And for goodness sake, don’t use YouTube for TV commercials!)

2. Television personalities, like Oprah, behave on YouTube like they do on television. Scripted, polished, full makeup, etc. But social media is the great equalizer, and this medium is at its most effective in accidental, unscripted moments, like this simple Katie Couric clip.

3. Television is both push and pull. Online video is all pull. Every second has to offer the viewer value. YouTube videos produced by television shows often lack value. When you’re talking about celebrity video blogging, as is the case with Tavis Smiley, the primary value will be getting to know that person better. Tavis strives to do this by answering viewer questions, but the format triggers TV-like responses. See for yourself:

Folks at PBS might want to try filming Smiley in unscripted, impromptu situations. Like when he’s discussing that day’s show with his staff. Or talking to a guest backstage. My theory is that television personalities are hard-wired to act a certain way in front of a camera, and unfortunately, that persona does not translate well online. It’s great to see Tavis Smiley, the television personality, on YouTube. But I’d rather see Tavis Smiley, the man, on YouTube.

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3 Responses

  1. […] The Full Plate wrote an interesting post today on Television Does YouTube: Tavis Smiley EditionHere’s a quick excerpt2. Television personalities, like Oprah, behave on YouTube like they do on television. Scripted, polished, full makeup, etc…. […]

  2. Last year I heard James Kotecki, political video blogger, speak at a library conference on social computing… he spoke about similar criticisms/how-tos for presidential candidates using YouTube. You know, stop trying so hard to look casual yet frighteningly polished, it’s not a commerical, it’s just you talking to people, etc…. You’ve probably heard of him, but this reminded me of it. I love that my worlds are coliding with my peeps on both sides of this convo!

  3. Hi sweetie, nice website! I really like this post.. I was curious about this for a long time now. This cleared a lot up for me! Do you have a rss feed that I can add?

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