To reach the more technology-savvy audience of entrepreneurs, the Small Business Administration has partnered with the video sharing website YouTube to create a channel dedicated to posting informational videos. Launched last month, this channel debuted with a 60-second introduction to the administration, its programs and services.
"We know that entrepreneurs and small businesses already communicate through YouTube," said Jonathan Swain, an assistant administrator and public liaison for SBA, "which means SBA needs to be there too." Created in 1953, SBA functions as an independent agency to the federal government and provides aid and counsel to small businesses across America.
Along with other government agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), SBA was able to create this channel because of a contract the General Services Administration negotiated with YouTube in February of this year. "I think it's a sign of transparency and access that the government is publishing content," said Steve Grove, the head of news and politics at YouTube. "It demystifies government and makes us feel a bit more like participants rather than passive viewers."
As of Monday, SBA's channel boasted 141 subscribers, 17 informational videos and 4,396 page views. According to Swain, a web team of two people maintain the site bi-weekly and are also responsible for uploading new content.
"The people that SBA has are not completely internet media savvy," said Carlos Cruz, a photographer and media producer for San Jose, California-based Ni Ki Cruz Photography and Media and a subscriber to SBA's YouTube channel. "SBA does have the ability to really turn this into something, but right now they create video and it's more like an upload and forget process." According to Cruz, he subscribes to the channel both for the content and to hopefully attract the attention of SBA's target audience to his channel.
Swain is the first to admit that more needs to be done with the channel, including updates and an increased interaction, "or folks aren't going to come back," he said. Although SBA is still in the process of figuring out how best to use the channel, Grove says it's completely normal to take some time to build its YouTube audience. "There is an ecosystem the government is walking into when they walk into YouTube," said Grove. "Building a YouTube audience is a work in progress."