Social Media 203: YouTube Video Annotations

Annotations are a great new beta feature available on YouTube. They enable you to add text to your videos, and to have that text linked to a specific action on YouTube. I first saw this in some of the BarelyPolitical videos, and thought perhaps this was a premium feature.

It turns out it’s available to all of us.

For an example, I decided to use a video we did yesterday about the first large study of breast cancer detection using molecular breast imaging as an alternative — or at least as a supplement — to mammography. It turns out that molecular breast imaging found about three times as many cancers as mammography in this group of women. You can read more about the study here on the Mayo Clinic News Blog, and we also have links to some photos and resulting news coverage.

Here’s the screencast of me adding the annotations last night, which also shows how you can add annotations to your videos:


And if you want to see the finished product (and perhaps even subscribe to the Mayo Clinic YouTube channel), here it is:


The only real drawback from the publisher’s perspective is that the annotations can’t be linked to a non-YouTube URL. It would have been nice to be able to link directly to the blog post where the video is embedded, so viewers can get more information. But I’m fine with that, since I could add the link in the video description field.

From my perspective, the major advantage of YouTube annotations is that they offer a standardized way to add descriptive text, such as Dr. Hruska’s title, without requiring either expensive studio-grade video editing software or a lot of time and effort. The annotations are plain, but they also are crisp and functional. It takes only a minute or two to add these annotations. And if this is the standard on YouTube, anyone who uses it can have confidence that it will be seen as consistent with how Web video is done.

What do you think?

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