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Behind the scenes of YouTube with Kevin Allocca

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“I watch YouTube videos all day,” joked YouTube’s trends manager Kevin Allocca.

While that’s a stretch of his duties, it’s not that far from reality. Perhaps better known for his old “Mad Men Recap” show with Media Bistro, Allocca’s workday includes the monitoring of various algorithm feeds as well as determining what site users are searching for, and the management of the YouTube Trends blog.  

“My usage of YouTube is very different than the average person,” Allocca, a former associate editor at the Huffington Post, told the Daily Dot.

One of the things he likes to do the most, is compare what videos are most popular around the world through the use of the YouTube Trends public dashboard.  

“We try to make a lot of those tools available to to everyone else,” Allocca said.

That still leaves plenty of time for the New York City resident to ruminate on the phenomenon known as viral videos, one “we’ve never had before in media.” The term “viral video,” Alloca said, is overused and misunderstood:

“People take [viral] videos to mean getting views quickly, but plenty of videos get views quickly and don’t go viral.”

People assume only “teenage boys and nerds are watching” these videos, but Allocca said that’s not the case. A tutorial on corn shucking, for example, reached millions of views, mostly from an older demographic.

“We get stuck on the number, but there are more interesting things about the data.”

Real viral videos are cultural nuggets we share, or remix, and are enjoyed by a worldwide audience.

“On the Web, there's an added element of where it's not about the video, but its a piece of culture you have a conversation with,” surmised Allocca, who’s been at YouTube since September 2010.  You share the video, “because you want to share the experience of watching and laughing.”

If millions of hits are a social currency, what about YouTube celebrities, some of which easily get a cool million every time they post a video?

Mainstream media has struggled to understand and cover YouTube’s homegrown stars. Allocca thinks it’s because the media has yet to realize “just how popular these people are.”

Freddie Wong has a bigger audience than some cable TV shows for every video he posts,” Allocca said. “Shane Dawson has a million subscribers just for the channel where he posts cell phone videos.” (Shane Dawnson’s “iPhone channel” has collected 216 million views on 300 videos.)

“They are the masters of building their own communities, and [their fans] are totally invested in them,” said Allocca.

However, as Allocca was quick to admit, with the recent arrival of YouTube’s new premium content channels, “the ecosystem is changing.”

“More and more mainstream people are joining the site, and now you have alongside the vlogbrothers people like Shaq,” Allocca said.

“We’re in an interesting time in YouTube’s trajectory.”

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Photo via YouTube