Not sure how to prepare a baby nursery? Want a fun way to surprise family members with a pregnancy announcement? Unsure of what is best to carry in a diaper bag with a new baby? Look no further than YouTube, a continually growing resource of pregnancy and parenting tips for the uninitiated.
According to a study released this month by ZEFR, a YouTube marketing and data company headquartered in Venice, California, there are nearly 70,000 videos on parenting that share anything from baby gender reveals to car seat and stroller reviews.
"Baby Shower Decorations and Hauls" is the highest-ranking topic, with 45 million viewers tuning in, although every related topic has nearly 1,000 to 8,000 videos that "hold the answers to many of parenting's biggest questions," the study authors wrote.
"As this social-media enhanced era inches into adulthood itself, it is no surprise that we've graduated from fainting dads-to-be clutching gigantic video cameras to an entire YouTube culture devoted to pregnancy and parenting," they wrote. "And for those new parents seeking advice and support on the best tips, tricks and products to help bring little Junior into the world, YouTube is a vast network of useful information."
This network of knowledge proved useful for Caitie Finley as she searched for information on how best to nurse her now 6-month-old girl, Harper, after she was born.
"One of the things I really appreciate about YouTube is you can watch it in the privacy of your home," Finley said. "For nursing, there are a lot of people with really strong opinions. … When I learned at home, I didn't have to feel the scrutiny of those people who have a strong opinion about how to do it."
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Because she is a visual learner, being able to rewind and rewatch something helped Finley figure out what worked best for her and her baby.
Finley also looked into reviews of strollers and car seats on YouTube before Harper was born, but often just Googles questions she has as a new mother.
"It's nice to be able to get other people's opinions on parenting, especially for new moms. We have no idea what we're doing," Finley said. "There are people who post things about what worked well for them; that is comforting to know that resource is out there."
Although a major purpose of the study was to better inform couples of the vast parenting help on a site like YouTube, ZEFR is also hoping the research can inform brands looking to market to the audience of new parents when it comes to their interests.
Researchers studied and documented the total brand presence of major diaper and baby food companies on YouTube, with views of their videos reaching into the millions.
Gerber, the baby food brand, has the most presence on YouTube with nearly 3,000 videos and over 12 million views. Pampers is the top-ranking diaper brand, with almost 225 million videos and over 200 million views.
ZEFR hopes this information shows that YouTube is not just "a repository for the amateurish and trivial," the study authors wrote. "YouTube offers almost unbridled opportunity to those who are well-equipped to navigate its vastness."
ZEFR's clientele is made up of brands, and as they learn more about their audience and those in contact with their brand, they can improve marketing, according to Rich Raddon, a co-founder of ZEFR. Ninety percent of the material related to different brands is not uploaded by the official brands, but rather by just anybody.
"We call it earned media — it's people that love their brand or have something to say about their brand who are uploading videos. Many times we look at brands and say, 'Look, we can show you all the people looking at and interacting with your brand, and you can create new marketing materials out of it,’” Raddon said.
The authenticity of the real-world people who are often the ones sharing content or giving parenting and pregnancy tips is what draws many audiences in and can help promote products a manufacturing brand wants a parenting audience to know about.
"People feel like "These are real people, dealing with the same problems and dealing with the same questions I do, and they are open to discuss the concerns or the success stories,’” Raddon said.
Overall, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and is a powerful platform to find anything a person is looking for, he said.
"If you're a parent, you should think of YouTube as the ultimate video search engine. If you're looking to understand or strengthen your parenting skills, or how you should be thinking about your parenting style or products you should be interacting with, YouTube is a good resource," Raddon said.
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