White House wins global political YouTube shootout

We all know that most world governments and political leaders have woken up to the fact that they need to be active on social media. But while their efforts on Facebook and Twitter grab most of the headlines, it turns out that most of them also have a presence on YouTube.

In fact, a new study by strategic communications and public relations firm Burson-Marsteller shows that as many as 77% of governments around the globe have a YouTube presence. According to the study, there around 340 channels when you include heads of state and government and foreign ministries.

The most popular of those accounts belongs to the White House, followed by current US president Barack Obama. It should be noted however that the latter existed primarily as a campaign tool and hasn’t had a new upload in around three years.

Despite that, the videos on the channel have a greater number of collective views than those on the White House channel, which has more subscribers.


Interestingly, the White House channel isn’t the most active either, with the presidencies of Columbia and the Phillipines ahead of it.

Most-active (10)

More a repository than social network

Rather than using it as a social network, YouTube is primarily used as a video repository by governments.

People are hungry for content from their national leaders and governments too. According to Burson-Marsteller, the channels of world leaders have generated around 1.2-billion collective views.

Governments use YouTube to broadcast speeches live, publish the weekly activities of the office holder and even funny skits; politicians have created their own channels to post election clips or to engage with their subscribers with live Q&A and Google hangout sessions.

“The extensive use of YouTube by world leaders emphasises the growing power video content is playing in the communications field and the increasing shift in efforts to get messages across to audiences around the world,” said Donald A. Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO, Burson-Marsteller. “Video is now a central component of any successful communications campaign.”

According to the strategic communications company, some of the most popular videos on YouTube are those that provide more entertainment than information value. The most viewed YouTube video of a world leader is a 2007 clip of then-Senator Obama and American comedienne and television host Ellen DeGeneres dancing to Beyoncé.

In 2008, Jordan’s Queen Rania posted a humorous Top 10 list detailing why she launched her own YouTube channel. Counting down the reasons, she explains “because anything Queen Elizabeth can do, I can do better” and “because I was tired of people thinking Jordan was just a basketball player.”

Other fun posts include world leaders such as the President and Prime Minister of Malta participating in 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The White House even posted an April Fool’s Day prank in 2013 featuring Robby Novak, better known as Kid President, holding a mock press briefing titled “A Special Message from the President.”

“This study illustrates that governments are ready to communicate across all the key social media platforms,” said Jeremy Galbraith, Burson-Marsteller’s CEO, Europe, Middle East & Africa and Global Chief Strategy Officer. “Communicating effectively and being able to cut through the noise has become more difficult. Video offers an opportunity to illustrate a message visually and creatively, and has therefore become critical to all communications today – and the world of politics is no different.”

Image: Zach Rudisin via Wikipedia



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