As technology allows us to connect with each other in more engaging ways, there is a fundamental shift in how people post and consume content on the web. Multimedia communications, and videos in particular, are increasingly becoming the communications channel that website visitors opt for when staying up-to-date.
According to a presentation by Google executive Sean Carlson at a recent Public Relations Society of America Digital Impact Conference (PR Tactics, June 2011), the numbers are staggering when it comes to video use on YouTube alone.
• Every minute, 34+ hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.
• 2 billion videos are watched every day.
• YouTube is the third-largest website in the United States.
• YouTube ranks as the second-biggest search engine.
• 70% of YouTube’s traffic is international.
Why the shift? The first reason is that there is a convergence of media happening with every click of the mouse. In the old days, newspapers, radio, and television were distinct entities that offered unique news offerings. To meet the competitive demands of providing up-to-the-minute information to audiences, content publishers must feed the Internet beast daily to stay relevant and to get attention, and that means offering audio and video to complement print. With the rise of the web as the medium of choice, there continues to be a steady decline in newspaper readership since 1987—with some newspapers losing up to 20% of their readership annually, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Secondly, smartphones, user-friendly video equipment, and readily available software give us access to easy-to-operate technology that has allowed all of us to be a TV producer or a radio host.
If you visit the IFT website or read an IFT publication, you’ll notice an important shift in how we are telling the story of food science and technology to both our members and external audiences through new technology. Thanks to the ‘net’ culture, oneway communication is out, and two-way communication is in. It’s not enough to just read and post. Links to media continue to be common within the IFT Community and serve to drive conversations around a multitude of food topics. Publishers want to read, post, and engage their audience. Video and audio content are more shareable and viral with social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook—another example of the convergence of media.
To take advantage of the new communications revolution and make it possible for members to engage, IFT has worked with its members so they can tell their own story and engage with others who have a shared interest in and passion for the profession. Did you ever wonder how food science impacts astronauts? Or maybe how food is made for kids at Disney theme parks? You can find out through our new Day in the Life video series focusing on food scientists at NASA and Disney Consumer Products. These are the first productions that profile interesting food scientists that readers and viewers can follow through videos. A new web page available at www.ift.org/dayinthelife allows you to check out the Day in the Life program. Food Technology’s Face-to-Face column offers another way to tell the story of IFT members.
If you’re interested in learning more about the latest initiatives at IFT, you can watch a Year in Review video that highlights some of the many achievements and programs IFT has completed in the past six months. This production appeared with many other videos during our Annual Meeting & Food Expo in New Orleans, and it features IFT members who have volunteered their time on a number of initiatives. This issue of Food Technology will point you to additional online video where IFT members tell you in their own words what it’s like to volunteer for the IFT Cares program, an anti-hunger initiative launched at the 2008 Annual Meeting & Food Expo and continuing again next year in Las Vegas.
Consumers increasingly need to understand the practical application of food science in the home, in stores, and on-thego. To help provide consumers with practical news-they-can-use, we launched IFT Food Facts (www.iftfoodfacts.org), where consumers can read fact sheets, hear audio, and view video tips from IFT Food Science Communicators, who share their expertise on a variety of topics—from food safety in the kitchen to reading a food product label and much more.
As this convergence of media expands, our world becomes a smaller place where we can not only share ideas, but share experiences through multimedia from the other side of the globe, and it’s as simple as shoot, upload, post, and play.
Jerry Bowman is IFT Vice President, Communications & Media Relations ( [email protected] ).