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Online Video Guidelines & Best Practices

CDC YouTube Channel

This document is designed to provide guidance to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employees and contractors on the process of preparing videos for uploading to the CDC’s YouTube channel. For assistance with video production and information to be placed on CDC-TV, an online video delivery service available through, contact the Division of Communication Services (DCS).


Online video sharing sites, such as YouTube, MSN, Google, AOL and Yahoo are popular and powerful media for exchanging information. Using these sites, anyone with Internet access can upload, share, view and comment on video footage. Sometimes the process of sharing videos among individuals and groups is called “viral video sharing.”
YouTube, which launched in 2005, can be a powerful mechanism to support CDC program in disseminating science and health messages. In 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views—approximately 140 views for each person on earth. Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month, with 1/5 of global YouTube views coming from mobile devices.
The CDC YouTube channel, managed by the Office of the Associate Director for Communication (OADC), Division of News and Electronic Media (DNEM), Digital Media Branch (DMB), was launched in April 2007. To date, the CDC YouTube channel houses almost 450 videos, has more than 8,700 subscribers, and has logged more than 8.4 million video views.

Communications Strategy

Use of online video, as with other social media channels and tools, is intended to be part of a larger integrated health communications strategy or campaign developed under the leadership of the Associate Director for Communication Science (ADCS) in the Health Communication Science Office (HCSO) of CDC’s National Centers, Institutes, and Offices (CIOs).

Clearance and Approval

Please note that all CDC videos should be placed on CDC’s official YouTube channel. CIOs should not develop individual YouTube accounts.

As per the CDC Enterprise Social Media policy:

  • All YouTube video content must be cleared through the clearance channels determined by a programs HCSO office.
  • All YouTube videos must be Section 508 compliant, meaning that CDC YouTube videos must be captioned.
  • Once the video has been approved for release, OADC must be contacted to post the video and will work with the program to ensure all technical and content requirements (see PDF Appendix B and C) are met. Please contact for assistance in posting YouTube videos.


All videos will be branded with the appropriate and/or HHS logos. Co-branding and the use of additional logos may also be incorporated in accordance with CDC Brand Identity Standards.

Comment Policy

As the Agency’s YouTube channel manager, OADC DMB maintains an official comment policy for the CDC YouTube channel. OADC DMB moderates all comments received on the CDC YouTube channel and will work with the program to determine how to best respond to the comments. Comments that violate CDC’s policy will be deleted.


The Digital Media Branch (DMB) provides consultation on the planning and development of YouTube videos and other social media tools. It is recommended that you consult with DMB prior to the creation of a video for YouTube posting to ensure that content and technical requirements for YouTube can be met. Please submit a Create-IT request for social media consultation or contact Your CIO’s Social Media Council representative can also provide assistance.
For assistance in video production (e.g. filming, captioning, editing) please contact the OADC Division of Communication Services.

Planning Recommendations

When developing videos for posting on YouTube, programs should consider the following recommendations:

  1. Clearly Define Your Objectives: It is important to have clearly defined objectives before beginning to develop your video. Do you want to highlight content, spark action, or encourage awareness of an issue? Clarify the objectives first and determine if a video on YouTube is the ideal channel to help you meet larger communication goals.
  2. Know Your Target Audience(s): As with any communications activity, it is important to define your intended target audience(s) in order to develop and communicate messages that resonate with your audience and prompt them to take action.
  3. Determine Moderating Capacity: Determine if you have the appropriate staffing resources to review and potentially respond to comments received on CDC YouTube videos. It is important to designate a point of contact to work with OADC DMB on content moderation, especially for controversial or popular topics that may generate many comments and questions.
  4. Establish an Evaluation Plan: Evaluation is an integral component of measuring the success of all social media activities, including YouTube. Basic YouTube metrics include monitoring the number of times each video has been viewed and reviewing viewer comments and questions that have been posted to the video. YouTube Insights is an analytics and reporting product that provides additional metrics about uploaded videos. To request this information, contact OADC DMB at

Best Practices

Programs should consider the following best practices when developing YouTube videos:

  1. Keep Your Video Content Simple, Short, and Engaging:
    • Use of jargon, technical information, or detailed charts and graphs should be avoided.
    • Simple, easy-to-follow “stories” work best, with a single message or call to action.
    • DMB recommends that most CDC videos should be 3 minutes or shorter.
    • For examples of the most popular videos on CDC’s YouTube channel, visit, click on “Videos,” and sort by “Most Popular.”
  2. Identify the Best Web Link:
    • Include a specific URL at the end of the video to guide the user to additional information on the topic. In most cases, this should be a CDC URL.
  3. Establish Promotion Plan: Ongoing promotion of YouTube videos is strongly recommended. Example promotion activities include:
    • Work with OADC DMB to promote the video to channel subscribers. Contact for more information.
    • DMBed the YouTube URL in your CDC homepage and secondary features.
    • DMBed the video, including a thumbnail and link, on high-profile topic-specific pages, campaign materials or blogs.
    • Send content-specific GovDelivery email updates.
    • Send promotional emails to partners and grantees.
    • Cross-promote the videos on other CDC social media channels. See the CDC social media page for the full list of channels.

Preparing Video for Posting to CDC’s YouTube Channel

If you have questions about the process for posting videos to CDC’s YouTube channel, please submit a Create-IT request to schedule a consultation or contact

  1. Review the Technical and Other Requirements: Carefully review Appendix B and C of the PDF to ensure a clear understanding of the steps required to be able to post videos to CDC’s YouTube channel.
  2. Develop and Clear Video Concept, Plan, and Content: All YouTube video content must be cleared through the program’s established communication clearance channels.
  3. Develop and Clear Video Information Content: Refer to Video Information in Appendix B of the PDF, technical requirements, section 3, for complete details. This content should also be cleared through the program’s established communication clearance channels.
  4. Ensure Video is Section 508 Compliant: Coordinate the video captioning process to meet Section 508 compliance. Refer to the CDC Web Video Standard for more information.
  5. Coordinate Posting: Send the cleared captioned video file and required posting information described in the Appendices.
  • Page last reviewed: January 14, 2014
  • Page last updated: January 14, 2014
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