YouTube Guidance

ACF hosts its video content on YouTube. YouTube, owned by Google, is a free online video streaming service that allows anyone to view and share videos uploaded by registered users.

All online video content produced by ACF program offices will be distributed through our official ACF YouTube channel Visit disclaimer page . This consolidated presence will provide visitors with a credible source for ACF video content and provides increased reach and exposure for all videos.  Please contact the your digital communications point of contact if you need to create a new playlist.

The digital communications team manages the ACF YouTube Channel Visit disclaimer page , which highlights mission-driven videos that show how the programs we administer help children, families, and communities. The channel will only feature videos created and/or funded by ACF programs.  Posted videos must serve your program office’s mission and core communications goals.

Program and regional offices who want to add their videos to the ACF channel will work closely with the digital communications team to maintain their playlist(s) and ensure that content meets appropriate standards. The digital communications team will review, approve and upload each video.

In order for your videos to be effective, we suggest:

  • Keep it brief - ideally videos should be no more than 5 minutes. If it is longer, we suggest calling out particular times in the video where major events happen (timestamps) - YouTube allows you to link directly to any point in the video.
  • Describe it well - choose a title and description for your video that is engaging and contains keywords about the content. This helps with search.

Submitting Videos for the ACF YouTube Channel

Making a Request

To share a video on the ACF YouTube channel, you must submit the YouTube request form via email to DigitalComms@acf.hhs.gov. All requests must be complete before we can move forward.

The request must include:

  1. Your Name and Program Office
  2. Link to existing playlist that your video should be included on (if applicable)
  3. Video metadata
    • Title*:  100 characters max
    • Description*:  5000 characters max
    • Tags*:  120 characters max
    • Category:  Education, Non-profit & Activism (choose one)
  4. Publishing and Privacy Settings*:  Public, Unlisted or Private (choose one)
  5. Thumbnail:  Include customized thumbnail image via email
  6. Caption file (.srt) or properly formatted transcripts (.txt)
  7. Location of video file

Requirements and Specifications

File Types

Use a compatible YouTube format with the proper codecs:

  • WebM files - Vp8 video codec and Vorbis Audio codecs
  • MP4
  • .MPEG4, 3GPP and MOV files - Typically supporting h264, mpeg4 video codecs, and AAC audio codec
  • .AVI - Many cameras output this format - typically the video codec is MJPEG and audio is PCM
  • .MPEGPS - Typically supporting MPEG2 video codec and MP2 audio
  • .FLV - Adobe-FLV1 video codec, MP3 audio
  • .WMV
  • DNxHR
  • ProRes
  • CineForm
  • HEVC (h265)

File sizes

  • Videos should be uploaded at the highest resolution and quality available.
  • Suggested aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Suggested frame per second: 30 fps (min)

Titles and Description

  • YouTube has a 100-character limit for titles including spaces, anything longer than 70 will be truncated in most search results.
  • The description has a character limit of 5,000.
  • Include the following statement in the video descriptions: “We accept comments in the spirit of our comment policy: http://www.hhs.gov/web/socialmedia/policies/comment-policy.html"

Accessibility

The YouTube platform is not Section 508 compliant.  All videos posted on the ACF YouTube channel must be captioned and audio-described Visit disclaimer page to meet Section 508 requirements for accessibility.

See Captions and Transcripts for more information.

Exceptions to the 508 requirement may be made in cases of engagement with citizen users. For example, when running a video campaign in which an agency is asking for users to upload content directly into a YouTube agency group, it would be unreasonable to expect or insist that all users caption their content.

Where videos "live"

OMB requires that all information presented on a third-party website should also be available on a .gov website, so all ACF videos must also be embedded on a page within the ACF/program office's website.

See HHS’s policy for more information.

Captions and Transcripts

Subtitles and closed captions open up your content to a larger audience, including deaf or hard of hearing viewers or those who speak languages besides the one spoken in your video. If you already have captions or subtitles, get help editing or removing existing captions.

Captions

For information on the captioning file types that are compatible with YouTube, see the YouTube Help Center Visit disclaimer page . HHS also offers captioning services (for a fee) and guidance for video captioning Visit disclaimer page .

Common captioning practices that help readability:

  • Descriptions inside square brackets like [music] or [laughter] can help people with hearing disabilities to understand what is happening in your video.
  • You can also add tags like >> at the beginning of a new line to identify speakers or change of speaker.

Transcripts

Transcripts are a simple way of creating captions. They only contain the text of what is said in the video and you don't need to enter any time codes. Transcripts work best with videos that are less than an hour long with good sound quality and clear speech. The transcript file needs to be in the same language that is spoken in the video.

Prepare transcript files using YouTube guidelines Visit disclaimer page .

  • Save transcript files as a plain text file (.txt). You can do this by converting other formats (like Microsoft Word, HTML, PDF) into a plain text file or you can use native programs on your computer like TextEdit or Notepad.
  • Don't use any special characters like smartquotes or emdashes. 
  • In order to get the best results, use these formatting tips:
    • Use a blank line to force the start of a new caption.
    • Use square brackets to designate background sounds. For example, [music] or [laughter].
    • Add >> to identify speakers or change of speaker.

Here's what a transcript might look like:

>> ALICE: Hi, my name is Alice Miller and this is John Brown

>> JOHN: and we're the owners of Miller Bakery.

>> ALICE: Today we'll be teaching you how to make
our famous chocolate chip cookies!

[intro music]

Okay, so we have all the ingredients laid out here

Sending Your Files

Please upload your video files to the G: drive on the ACF network--Dropbox and Google drive are options we no longer support. When your upload is complete please send an email to the digital team with your file information.

If the file is very large, it can also be delivered via thumb drive.

Videos will be reviewed and posted within two business days of receiving the complete submission. If there are any issues or delays, we will let you know via email.

YouTube Best Practices

Do

  • Have a strategy about what you are trying to communicate before making a video
  • Release videos in coordination with other communications, like a blog, web content, or public events
  • Make short, easy-to-share videos

Don't

  • Violate intellectual property laws
  • Add credits of any sort on the video itself
  • Use video or images containing sensitive or classified information
  • Use images that reflect poor taste or quality