Sometimes, you want to share your work online, but you don’t necessarily want the entire world to see it. Maybe you’re worried about giving up your right of first publication, or you talked about something you didn’t want to announce widely yet or about someone you don’t want to hear it. Just as there are many valid reasons you’d want to share something on the internet, there are many valid reasons why you would want to control who sees what you share.
Some platforms offer a Members Only setting, so that only registered members of the site can see each other’s posts. Some platforms offer a setting that makes it relatively easy to control who sees what you share. (Keep in mind that in all of these cases, they don’t control what that person does after that. All three of these can be shared by someone with the appropriate information. Also, this is not a valid way to share copyrighted material that isn’t yours to share. Practice common sense.)
So, who is offering this setting, and how do you use it?
- On YouTube: When you upload a video, select Unlisted from the drop down. You can also change a video’s privacy level on the video’s Edit page. The video will show up in your Video Manager and your channel page when you’re logged in, but it won’t show up for your subscribers or on your channel’s public page. To share the video, send the link to the person/people you want to share that video with.
- On SoundCloud: When you upload a track, select Private as the privacy level. Once the file is uploaded, it will offer you a link to share. If you want to share the track after that, go the track’s page and click Share. The secret link will appear.
- On deviantArt: Upload your content to Sta.sh. On the Sta.sh page, the link to share will be right below the deviation. On the deviation’s stash page, the link is in the upper right corner. (If you’re unfamiliar with Sta.sh and Sta.sh Writer, they are great spaces for working on drafts and for keeping track of deviations you’re planning to release.)
Now that we know where we can do and how to do it, let’s talk about why someone would want to use this nifty feature. I noted above two common reasons creators are leery of posting their work online: Some industries are still trying to wrap their mind around digital content, and will ignore work already posted online because it’s not exclusive. (It’s good to keep up on your industry if for no other reason than to find out where the industry currently stands on posting to the internet.) Some creators haven’t developed their thick skin yet, and are scared of people hating their work (or even worse, people liking their work. Fear of success is a real thing that benefits no one. Get over it and get out there. Feel free to remind me I said this. *wink*)
Being able to control who sees your content has some other great uses. It can often be an easy way to share content with people you trust and want to get feedback from. (Email attachments are still stuck in 2010.) It can be an easy way to share content with friends, family, or groups. Having this private-yet-shareable content also gives you something to offer subscribers and supporters as a perk or reward. Some YouTube channels have used these Unlisted videos to help boost their subscriptions. (Again, there is that concern subscribers will share the link with friends and family, but there are also stories of channels that gained new subscribers who saw that perk content and subscribed to see what else the channel had to offer.
In terms of clever content use specifically on YouTube, channels have used these Unlisted videos to share bonus content like blooper reels, behind the scenes videos, and side videos that might be of interest to the channel’s subscribers. Some very enterprising channels have used the Unlisted video to create branched stories. The first video is Public, and the remaining videos are accessible only through links provided throughout the story. The storytelling possibilities are endless.
What does this mean for the users of one of these sites? Well, it means you can play around and develop your own uses for this setting. You could build your portfolio from this hidden content, targeting or updating your portfolio by simply updating the links to the hidden content. If you create instructional content, you can use hidden content to scaffold your lessons. Make the first lesson in the sequence public, and then post the remaining videos as Unlisted and provide the link to the next lesson at the end of the current video.
I know this has been a little long, but the hidden content capabilities really open the doors to creating interesting experiences online. I’m only just starting to explore it, and I’d love to hear how you end up using it.