According to YouTube statistics, more than 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. One of the challenges when working with clients or organizations is to present such posts as valuable data instead of just cat video fluff.
With such an overwhelming quantity of data, it can be hard to consider the value in it besides quantifiable “big data” statistical insights. Certainly big data insights are valuable, but we shouldn’t overlook the value that resides in the context of each unique post. This massive amount of data also offers a ready array of individual stories ripe for qualitative analysis, and those studies can provide helpful insights. Qualitative research works side-by-side with big data to foster human-scale understanding. It provides rich insights to those working on a problem or product, and helps focus on human-centric solutions.
A recent qualitative study published in the British Journal of Medicine and Research focused on the posted YouTube stories of cancer survivors. From Pew survey data, we already know in one in five internet users has gone online to find others who might have health concerns similar to theirs. We know people turn to health professionals for some types of information and to fellow patients, family, and friends for other types. And from the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey, we know people’s “trust in information from healthcare professionals had increased while their trust in health information from the Internet had waned.” This is important survey data – so how can qualitative data from YouTube add to this knowledge? What new information can a systematic content analysis of the transcripts of YouTube stories provide? “Listen” to data from the study:
“I hate the idea of losing my hair and having people see what I’m going through rather than being able to hide behind a facade of everything being okay”
“I think I tried very hard to be a person that appeared not to be sick… wore a wig everywhere I went….., I just didn’t want to be a sick person”
Losing my hair and my strength were large hurdles for me.…. The cancer could be seen on the outside now”
With qualitative analysis, hair loss due to chemo now takes on richer meaning. After reading this, new patients and caregivers can appreciate that the struggle with hair loss is not vanity – but a shift from living with cancer privately to publicly. With hair loss, the patients felt they were no longer in control of that decision.
Although this study focuses on cancer patients, healthcare is not the only field that can benefit from extracting qualitative insights from YouTube videos. Nearly any field can search and select stories that are of importance to their clients, consumers, or organizations. With 300 hours of video uploaded every minute, the only question is when do you want to get started?