Use YouTube Videos to Enhance Your Online Presence

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on July 1, 2014

in Online Presence, Video

YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. It processes 3 billion searches a month. Videos make information visual and engaging.

Here are some statistics from the YouTube Press Room:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day. The number of people subscribing daily is up more than 3x since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than 4x since last year


The obvious takeaway from these stats is that presence on YouTube expands our reach and makes our mission and message available to many more people.

How Can We Use YouTube for Ministry?

1)      We can create our own videos and upload them to YouTube (then share them on our websites and social media networks). Some examples are videos for:

  1. Welcoming newcomers to our parish
  2. Promoting vocations
  3. Catechesis and evangelization
  4. Invitations to events, conferences, programs, etc.
  5. Reflections or meditations

Videos can be created using free services like Animoto or you can create them in PowerPoint as I did the one below. I took the video of the flag with my phone, inserted it into PowerPoint, exported it as a video and then uploaded it to YouTube and I have a simple greeting for the holiday which can be shared on social media.

 2)     We can share the videos created and uploaded to YouTube by others. (I normally “link” to these, rather than embed them, unless I know or have verified that the owner allows them to be posted on another website.)

On social media sites, I often link to videos from Busted Halo, Fr. Robert Barron and CatholicTV. Do you have any favorite video sources? Please share them in the comments.

This week, I leave you with this little video and wish you a very Happy Fourth of July weekend!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie July 1, 2014 at 7:28 am

Didn’t know about Busted Halo (great info). I’m doing some research on John XXIII and the why of Vatican II. Seems he was more AWAKE than most: saw the need for reform/change, tried to get it going, died too soon. The change needed was in the ‘thinking’ of the powers-that-be. It is difficult to give up power!

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND July 1, 2014 at 8:36 am

I received a question regarding copyright issues when embedding videos from YouTube. Here is an article that may be helpful: Is it Okay to Post YouTube Videos on My Website? (Copyright Question)

Frank Koob July 1, 2014 at 8:38 am

Outside Da Box has created so many videos that are contemporary and work well with teens (adults, too!)
ODB also has a great collection on Youtube:

Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF July 1, 2014 at 11:15 am

Thanks Susan! For those who may want to join Digital Catechesis, where they will find a video library of various videos that ministers have used and recommend to others. Come to – In the upper right hand corner is the link for joining this group. All are welcome who complete the required information.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND July 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Good Resources from Frank and Caroline. It helps to have recommendations from those who know and use these resources. Thank you.

Pilar July 1, 2014 at 7:47 pm

For our parish Facebook page, I often share YouTube video from RomeReports and Catholic News service for sharing video of Pope Francis. Also, the USCCB has some wonderful daily reading reflections in video form,

John K. Riordan July 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Research by the Content Marketing Institute confirm the great value of videos for engaging visitors on sites and influencing buyer decisions. Viewers are seeking actionable information, solutions to problems which immediately confront them. So a “how to plan a youth retreat” video will probably get more views than a recording of a retreat talk, although there’s certainly a place for both.

Use videos to tell your organization’s story! I’ve seen several “meet our parish”-style videos that were well-scripted, well-photographed and engaging. The church has always told its story with pictures, especially in the pre-literate age. In our post-literate age, visual story-telling is again imperative for our mission.

I’m something of an expert on Catholic videos. In 2011/2012 I created two sites devoted to Catholic videos which included more than 10,000 videos. Generally speaking the production qualities are poor, sound is awful and content is not engaging. Fr. Barron, “One Billion Stories” and “Work of the People”, an ecumenical project, are excellent exceptions. A Catholic Youtuber named “mariomusicmadness” works very hard on his videos ( Also look into New Catholic Generation ( Although these Catholic teen vloggers are short on technical skills (and theological sophistication), Catherine and her vloggers have carved out a unique Catholic presence on YouTube. The Phillippines are a very powerful force in Catholic videos.

Animoto looks like an excellent product. is an excellent tutorial on creating videos, including reviews of free and low-cost applications. Internet marketers have discovered that “hand-sketching whiteboard animations” are a highly effective way to communicate a message. This baffled me until I figured out that this technique simulates the class-room experience of a teacher writing on a blackboard. EasySketchPro is an inexpensive whiteboard animation software that catechists might find useful.

Take time to read the Terms of Service on YouTube and Vimeo. Although you retain ownership and control of your videos, you’re sub-licensing them to YouTube to distribute on their network as they see fit–including overlaying your videos with ads. If you enable embedding in your user account, others can embed your video anywhere on the internet they choose. If you don’t want this, disable embedding. Vimeo gives users greater control over how your content is distributed, features generally higher-quality productions and your videos are ad-free.

My policy was to embed videos first, then write the author, offering to remove their videos if they didn’t want to be on my site. Usually the people who wrote back were very happy to be on my site. Writing first for permission didn’t work. Those emails were ignored. Only two people flatly declined to be on my site. One was a Catholic high school, and I certainly understand their concerns. In any case, you may want to place a copyright notice in your video, and state your wishes on usage.

We don’t “own” the Gospel, it’s not our “intellectual property”. We should distribute our message as widely and freely as we can and let the Holy Spirit determine the outcome. We should *encourage* viewers to embed our videos!

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND July 4, 2014 at 7:35 pm

John, Thank you for such a thorough comment and for the practical resources that you list. Thanks also for sharing your experiences–all very helpful.

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