Best practices for publishing conference videos


Best practices for publishing conference videos based on my experience with the JSConf YouTube channel. (This is an update of my earlier post).

Stats from the JSConf channel.
  • While Vimeo may give you more “street-credibility” than YouTube the latter is way better to build a sustainable audience (over short term social network traffic) due to actively used subscriptions. It also has no limit in upload traffic per day, which is important when you want to upload 2–4 talks in HD per day or even a whole conference.
  • You probably want to do live encoding/production of conference videos as it ends up being much less work, but you DO NOT just want to dump all videos at once, the day after the conference. This just means that your YT subscribers will get 1 notification for 40 videos and they will watch one of them. The same with posting on social networks: People see all those posts and then watch 1–2 talks. Instead spread things out to 1–4 releases per day.
  • Use a YT channel that is owned by a Google+ page, since they can have multiple managers.
  • License: Unfortunately YT is inflexible on the creative commons licenses they support. We’ve seen our videos ripped off by commercial sites that make people pay to see content that is free on YT and we don’t want that. We thus use the default license with this extra blurb at the end of the description: “License: For reuse of this video under a more permissive license please get in touch with us. The speakers retain the copyright for their performances.”
  • Manually pick the best thumbnail in YT or upload a custom photo.
  • Don’t make a YT channel per year or event. Use one channel for all conferences to build a long term audience. This is why all JSConf videos are under youtube.com/jsconfeu The URL sucks but it can’t be changed.
  • Instead create a playlist for each event.
  • Topic based playlists might be useful to make videos findable later in time (i.e. we have a playlist about web audio).
  • Video title format: Talk title first or speaker name first. Mention the conference like “JSConf US 2014” last. Don’t mention the track.
  • Copy the description of the talk into the video description.
  • If you also publish the videos on your site, paste a link to that page into the YT description. This makes proper attribution much more likely when other sites syndicate your content. If you don’t publish on your own site, just paste a link to the homepage.
  • When publishing the videos on social networks, @ or + mention the speakers, so they can retweet/share. This adds their audience to your audience. Unfortunately this means you should not use the build in YT publishing tools as they want to post the same message to all networks.
  • If your event has live captioning (and it should) you can copy-paste the non-timecoded captions into YT and it will automatically match it to the video.
  • Try to find a link to the speaker’s slides and paste it into the YT description.
  • Turn on comment moderation–either for all talks or to minimize moderation work only for speakers from underrepresented groups. Unfortunately YouTube comments can be hurtful, but our experience is that the vast majority of comments in encouraging and positive.
    Also consider turning off thumbs-up/down display where appropriate.

All the next points are hard to get right with live encoding, so only do it if you can afford post production:

  • Record a separate audience sound signal and mix it in later for laughs and clapping.
  • Zoom in on slides if the slides are more important than the speaker.
    If you do not do this, prefer making the slides bigger by default.
  • Produce cover images for each video showing the speaker name and talk title in large font next to a photo of them.

Happy to update the post with more best practices, so comment away!