You've probably watched a YouTube video at some point in your life. In fact, chances are good you've watched a video just yesterday, maybe the latest Star Wars trailer, a news clip, or even a full TV show. But YouTube is about more than entertainment and cat videos; did you know it can also be used as a science communication tool?
YouTube generally reaches a different audience than a blog or Twitter might. The demographics of a potential YouTube audience are likely skewed to a younger, broader, and more general audience. Instead of explaining your research to your peers, it is about sharing your love for your field. You can use it for really short videos to draw people into a subject, such as this History Hit video, or for slightly longer videos to explain scientific concepts from the news, as they do on the Youreka Science channel. Or you can turn science into entertainment, like Veritasium or Periodic Videos. However, a video can also promote your own research, such as this wonderful video about feathered dinosaurs that was also picked up by the popular Mashable website, which has a huge audience.
In addition to outreach, videos can also be educational tools, for example when they are posted to YouTube Edu, but you could also think of the Khan Academy, TED, or Coursera. Or they can be used as a visual explanation of your research aimed at your peers; video abstracts are becoming more common. For example, these abstracts in the New Journal of Physics, the Journal of Number Theory, and the videos on We Share Science.
Depending on your time commitment and desired audience, what you can do could be limited but also extremely rewarding. And one of the plusses of video content is that you can repost it on other channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, where it'll will reach even more people, as research has shown that posts containing images or videos are more likely to be shared.
You can read more about YouTube and its uses in academia on its In Depth page.