Does Your Training Belong On YouTube?

Your employees may turn to YouTube for the latest cat videos or TED Talks, but is the site the right place to house your training?

IBM, for one, believes there is a time and place for YouTube in its training strategy. It has 12 YouTube channels that explain the IBM philosophy, technologies such as Watson, and implementations such as the path to cloud computing. These channels are designed with prospective customers in mind, but they also help new hires and longer-term employees learn about the direction of emerging technologies, as well as new products and features. For the nitty-gritty, however, employees turn to IBM’s firewall-protected content management system.

Limeade, an employee experience software company, takes a similar approach. By placing its Webinars and conference highlights on YouTube, remote workers gain easy access to content, and anyone interested in the company gains a touchpoint to learn more.

YouTube’s appeal is that it is ubiquitous and free. Nearly 2 billion users log in from 91 countries each month, and some 70 percent watch from mobile devices.

Both IBM and Limeade use YouTube to share non-proprietary information that helps reinforce their teams’ insights into their products, culture, and goals, but there are additional applications, too. YouTube can host virtual tours of an organization’s campus, demonstrate products, detail new features, and augment in-house content via links to supplementary materials.

YouTube Boosts Transparency

Hosting some learning content on YouTube can be part of a strategy to showcase an organization’s standards by highlighting its training, career growth potential, and interesting work experiences.

According to Sam Butler, founder and principal of PR firm 35thAvenuePartners, “Society increasingly is holding companies to a higher standard. When they are transparent about their business practices—including training—they’re making a promise they hope will be repaid both by an engaged workforce and external audiences.”

By making part of their training public, “they’re saying they’re committed to employee development and they prove it by showing the world,” Butler continues. “That said, they need to be thoughtful about the strategy” and the expectations it sets.

In developing a strategy that makes training materials public, he says, organizations must ask:

  • Is the content differentiated and authentic? Show the development experience, not just the organization.
  • Does it move the needle? Show how this training benefits the employee, the organization, and the community.
  • Does it work? Post employee testimonials demonstrating why they value the training.

This approach, Butler says, “goes a long way toward building a reputation that helps attract and retain the people a company wants on its side.”

The risk, however, is that a poorly conceived strategy may signal the training isn’t worth protecting from the competition or that the organization is willing to cut corners by using free consumer tools. “The medium is the message,” underscores Steve Rozillis, president of Words at video platform provider Panopto.

So despite YouTube’s ease of use and accessibility, it’s not the most appropriate option for all training videos. For some, internal video content management (VCM) systems have an even stronger use case.

Privacy Concerns

As Rozillis reminds, “YouTube is built to be a public environment, so for the most part, your training should not be on YouTube. There are three exceptions:

1. If you have 50 or fewer employees and, therefore, can use the private settings.

2. If you are 100 percent certain none of the details in the content would raise red flags if made public.

3. If the content is designed for customer training.

When using a third-party host, particularly one as public as YouTube, controlling access to videos is one of the main concerns. “Although most training videos are hardly state secrets, they’re also not for dissemination to just anybody,” Rozillis says.

YouTube has two options. One is to click the “private” setting when uploading a video. “But there’s a catch,” Rozillis says. Private videos don’t appear on searches or the organization’s YouTube channel, so viewers must be invited to view the video using the e-mail address listed on their own YouTube accounts. “The limit is 50 people, so it’s not scalable,” Rozillis explains.

The alternative, more popular, option is to click the “unlisted” setting, Rozillis says. “This works like the private setting in that it’s not publicly visible. The link can be shared, however, so the video can go public quickly. While employees may mistakenly share the link, sites such as find and list YouTube’s unlisted videos. VCM systems, however, allow controlled access for select groups or individuals, or allow the video to be shared or to become public.

When considering YouTube, know that its service agreement stipulates that uploading content grants YouTube worldwide, transferrable rights “to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the content…”

Additional Tools Add Value

“At some point, organizations realize they need to monitor employees’ performance and test their knowledge, especially for compliance training. That’s when they should move their video content to an in-house VCM system, often linked to a learning management system (LMS),” says Aris Apostolopoulos, content writer for VCM developer Epignosis.

VCM systems can monitor analytics, knowing whether employees watched the entire video or stopped short, for example. An enterprise video management system connected to an LMS typically has powerful reporting and interactive features, and can protect privacy via data encryption. Some platforms also support video recording, screencasting, and live Webcasting capabilities, Rozillis notes.

Enterprise VCM systems, as the repository for all learning and development (L&D) video content, also enhance discoverability. Content can be curated by topic and an enormous list of keywords.

To put the discoverability challenges in perspective, at the standard speaking rate of 125 words per minute, a 45-minute presentation would have 5,625 words. Approximately 1,100 of those are valuable as keywords. Yet a University of Minnesota study found that YouTube videos are tagged with an average of only nine keywords.

“That means less than 1 percent of the video content is discoverable,” Rozillis says. “Given the quantity of data most L&D organizations are producing, this is wildly insufficient.” In VCM systems, in contrast, the complete text is searchable. Consequently, “you get far better results,” he notes. Additionally, in-house VCM systems tend to integrate easily into LMS systems, so learners have only one database to search.

There’s also a benefit to managing video content in-house. VCM systems allow L&D to control the order in which videos are viewed. Some platforms also support video recording, screencasting, and live Webcasting capabilities, Rozillis says.

Perhaps most notably, in-house VCMs eliminate the potential of interference by content hosts. Specifically, “third-party hosts may remove content they find objectionable or think violates copyrights. They also sometimes override the ‘no ads/ pop-ups’ setting without notifying the client, so as a client, you must keep checking,” Rozillis cautions.

Accessible and Effective

No matter where it is housed, video provides tips in a “faster, more direct, human way” than written content, Apostolopoulos says. “It captures a learner’s attention and creates a stronger company/ employee connection through storytelling so learners can experience a situation rather than merely a theoretical approach.”

Whatever video content management strategy you devise, it must be accessible and effective. There is a time and place for public YouTube videos, as well as for more private VCM systems. Neither is right for everything. Therefore, choose judiciously.

The bottom line for training, Apostolopoulos says: “If it includes video, it most will likely achieve better results.”

3 Essentials in the Video Creation Process

By Matt Pierce, Learning & Video Ambassador, TechSmith Corp. (

When you want to share your training content with the world, YouTube can serve as an excellent (and free) platform.

With more than 1.9 billion monthly users, YouTube helps audiences understand and learn difficult topics. In fact, a 2018 Pew research surveyfound that 51 percent of YouTube users reported using the video service to learn how to do new things. 

To make the most of your time and to ensure your training video is ready for upload, be sure to include these three essentials in your video creation process: 

1. Plan your video. When it comes to making great content, getting started can be one of the hardest steps to take. To help, look to some of your team’s top-performing blog posts for inspiration and turn them into a “how-to” video—complete with a vision, script, and target audience in mind.Don’t forget to give thought to your video title. Be descriptive in what your video shows and keep it straightforward and enticing to ensure it’s viewed by the right audience.

2. Keep it focused. With an ocean of Internet to explore on any given subject, it can be challenging to hold your audience’s interest. That’s why it’s important to keep your audience engaged by making sure your video stays on point and is the right length for your subject matter.Videos exploring simple concepts are recommended to be three minutes long or less, while more complex topics may require more time for your audience to digest.

3. Sync action and voice. When you create a training video, viewers will have an easier time following along if you keep your footage as simple as possible. By synchronizing the video and voice in your video, you’ll simplify the cognitive load for your audience and reduce viewer strain.When editing your video, try to ensure any narration explaining the process coincides with your active video demonstration to keep the video organized and concise for your viewers.



Training magazine is the industry standard for professional development and news for training, human resources and business management professionals in all industries.