Living Online


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The Youtube journey



In the seven years that YouTube has been around we have pretty much lived our whole lives online. Baby’s first steps, online. Guy tripping over some steps, online. Learning how to tie a bow tie step by step, you guessed it: all online.

In fact, every hour of the day there is an equivalent of about 60 hours of video content being uploaded daily onto YouTube’s global servers. With the click of a mouse you can now transport yourself to endless hours of video. Now, try to imagine the possibilities of having so much video at the tips of your fingers, ranging from funnies to news broadcasts of previous days, weeks or even years, to music and gadget reviews.

But how much do we really know about the activity around YouTube in South Africa? YouTube has been doing great in other parts of the world. Even with the occasional “this video cannot be played in your country” error message, we South Africans have also indulged in a daily habit of not only watching but also uploading content to YouTube.

So YouTube SA is not doing bad. From 2010 to 2011, content uploads increased by 120%. And in the same year we viewed YouTube content to a point that it increased the total number of views to well over 190%. Of course this was good news for YouTube partners; the money they made from those videos has increased by 570%, on average, across the board (this grew the total partner revenue growth to around 315%).

Another way to look at YouTube activity would be through what is probably the biggest driver of traffic to YouTube – social media. On average, we watch about 500 years worth of YouTube videos on Facebook daily; that’s more than 100,000 years of YouTube videos watched from Facebook in one year. About 700 videos are shared every minute on Twitter; this in turn amounts to over 350 million videos shared every year from Twitter.

Not only do we watch these videos but we also interact with them and inadvertently interact with the makers of this content. By liking or disliking the content, you help content-makers figure out how to improve their submissions. Up to now the ratio for likes to dislike in general has been something like 10 ‘likes’ for every ‘dislike’. People are more likely to tell others about what they liked watching on YouTube – and in life generally.

Let’s see how this translates in terms of YouTube’s real life “influence” across Africa…

  • You know Beyoncé, right? You know the music video, ‘Who runs the world’, right? Now did you know that the two dancers that dance in front of her in the first dance sequence are from Mozambique, and were both discovered on YouTube? As a matter of fact if you type “Tofo Tofo” in the search bar, you will see their dance routine as they performed it at a wedding in Mozambique. Beyoncé somehow got wind of this dance routine and the rest, as they say, is history.
  • According to, Kenyan policeman Julius Yego won a surprise gold medal in the javelin at the 10th AllAfrica Games in September 2011, having perfected his technique by watching YouTube. “There is nobody who can coach us in Kenya,” lamented the self-taught thrower who nearly missed selection for the national squad. “I go on to YouTube to see what people are doing.”
  • In Senegal a YouTube video showing the unwelcome arrival of former President Abdoulaye Wade went viral; in the video the crowd showed their clear discontent at his presence by booing him as he was on his way to vote. The first time this video was shared on Facebook (26 February this year) it received over 7,000 views. To date it has been seen over 100,000 times on the internet.
  • Type “SixPackFactory” in your YouTube browser to delve into the world of home fitness and weight loss videos from South Africa with a huge international audience. Peter (the guy from the videos) now makes over R600,000 (USD$80,000) a year, uploading one video a week. In the last 12 months, his views have gone from around 15,000 per day to around 60,000 per day, without any paid advertising. With over 77,000 subscribers and close to 48 million video views for his channel, he’s a real example of the pay-off of  having an idea and committing to it.


So whether it’s launching your dance career, trying to learn a new discipline or just staying fit, don’t underestimate the power of the Internet and social media. It could make you rich and famous, for the right or wrong reasons.

Writer: Neo