Since the launch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Mormon Messages channel on YouTube in August 2008, its influence has grown to reach millions. Situated among the endless variety of videos available on YouTube, the dozens of videos currently available on Mormon Messages have been viewed a total of 7.5 million times.
During the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, the Church posted a Mormon Messages video showing random people on the streets of New York City sharing a variety of responses to one simple question: “What are you thankful for?” The video become so popular so quickly that it was featured twice on the front page of YouTube. After two weeks, nearly 300,000 had viewed the video.
Last month, the Social Media Club of Salt Lake City, a local chapter of a larger organization, named the Mormon Messages channel the “Best Use of YouTube” during its 2009 awards ceremony. The judges said it was “a great use of a very accessible media medium for an organization with a growing global audience” and remarked that “regardless of your position or affiliation, being a good person, as exemplified by content on this YouTube channel, is universal.”
But the real impact the videos are having is even more apparent in the thousands of positive comments that come from their viewers. The videos reach a wide audience with inspirational messages that can be viewed in a variety of settings. Viewers in over 190 countries have watched the messages.
One individual who left a comment on a Mormon Messages video about finding hope after September 11th said he was “sitting waiting for my next class… and this video is almost bringing me to tears.” Another viewer commented on a video featuring President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “I'm not a Mormon…but I adore the message in this video and believe it's universal…we all should understand we were created to create, to give, to live, to grow. This is the road to true happiness!”
“The comments we’ve received in response to the channel have been overwhelmingly positive,” said Dallas Petersen, the project manager for Mormon Messages. “Viewers are continually asking for more of these videos.”
A new video for the Mormon Messages channel is produced about every two weeks. They’re featured on the home page of lds.org, the Church’s official Web site, and on the official Mormon Messages Facebook page. Some of the traffic to the videos comes as a result of Church members posting them on their personal Facebook pages or on Twitter. The short length and uplifting messages of the videos make them ideal for sharing on the Internet.
To date, 38 videos have been produced and many have been translated into Spanish. Topics include Jesus Christ, hope, fatherhood, creativity and perseverance. While some videos are meant to coincide with a specific event or season, others are more timeless.
Some videos, such as one featuring Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s address about Jesus Christ that was posted during the Easter 2009 weekend, are particularly timely and relevant. Elder Holland’s message was viewed hundreds of thousands of times in a matter of days and became the top viral video on the Internet during the Easter weekend.
"Our hope would be that the Church members would first be inspired by these messages," said David Nielson, managing director of the Audiovisual Department of the Church. "Secondly, that they would desire to share these messages with friends and family, both member and nonmember, through the various media channels that are now available."