Rafael Sangiovanni|Apr 23, 2012

Back in 2006, TIME Magazine semi-controversially declared that the Person of the Year was “You.” The magazine even featured a reflective pane that let you literally see yourself on the cover of TIME. It was (and still is) emblematic of this day and age, a celebration of Web 2.0 where millions of people contribute content to the Internet every day via all kinds of channels.

But it’s no accident that the TIME editors chose a computer screen with a YouTube player on it for the cover.

As of today, people and brands alike have been using YouTube for seven years. In this span of time, the platform has not only changed how we interact with media (e.g., our president his own YouTube channel; live streams bring the content to us, whether it’s the State of the Union address or Lollapalooza; and then, of course, there are the cats), but also how brands handle their marketing. Whether it’s for posting original content to sell a product (like Orabrush and Old Spice) or handling a serious crisis (remember Dominos?), YouTube caused a seismic shift in the way brands manage (and elevate) their online presence.

Who knew a trip to the zoo could be so revolutionary?

By now, YouTube’s origin story is as famous as it is archetypal. In 2005, YouTube’s co-founder Jawed Karim decided to visit the zoo and record a 19-second video where he waxed poetic on elephants. (See below.) This humble little video-that-could went on to inspire millions to upload their own videos, and the whole shebang snowballed when YouTube was sold to Google for $1.65 billion in 2006.

To give a big picture view, here are some statistics from Google that show just what a cultural phenomenon YouTube has become.

  • 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute, or one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second.
  • Over 4 billion videos are viewed a day
  • Over 3 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
  • More video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than the three major U.S. networks created in 60 years
  • In 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or almost 140 views for every person on Earth

Time will only tell how YouTube will evolve in the future, but it’s fun to speculate. Where do you think it will go from here?

You can also find me on Google+.


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