Take a quick peek at this photo and ask yourself – what do these two have in common?
Well, they are both vloggers on YouTube! Gordon Brown has recently been asking people to contribute to the Ask the PM challenge – billed as a people based version of Prime Ministers Questions, while Queen Rania of Jordan has been tackling the issue of Arab stereotypes.
How do they stack up against each other?
Both have about 5-6000 regular subscribers, but each video from Queen Rania has at least 30,000 views (apart from the one released today) while the average video on the Downing Street channel seems to attract about 5000 views – why the big difference?
One factor may be the way they try to engage the community – the Ask the PM challenge had a set of terms and conditions that was too long for the YouTube description box – user submissions were vetted, selected ones could then be voted on and several weeks later Gordon Brown recorded some responses – while some of the questions were certainly different from ones asked by the mainstream media – were the answers?
Queen Rania allowed video responses and text comments directly after her video – with over 80 video responses and over 5000 text comments – some of these said some pretty unpleasant things – equating Arabs with terrorists and presenting a very stereotypical view of the role of women in the Arab world – but Queen Rania tackled them head on and encouraged others to make videos to do the same.
To me at least, it seems as though Queen Rania is engaging with the YouTube community on their terms and is reaping the rewards in terms of generating a real dialogue about an important issue. The Downing Street channel seems to be trying to use a new media platform like YouTube, to broadcast in a very old fashioned top down manner, with a veneer of social interaction.