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YouTube Beauty Tutorials as Technical Communication

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Purpose: With the increasing popularity of YouTube beauty videos, this study extends previous research on YouTube instructional videos by investigating the common characteristics of the 10 most-reviewed makeup and hair tutorials to determine their similarity to or differences from good instructional videos. Method: Using a deductive coding method, I analyzed the 10 most-viewed beauty tutorials based on Swarts' (2012) best practices for creating instructional videos and Mackiewicz's (2010) assertion categories of expertise. Results: A majority of the videos followed best practices, such as including an introduction, beginning with a "promise" or a clear objective, incorporating verbal instruction, being strategically redundant, and using a combination of text annotations, audio, and/or still images to complement the video. However, a lack of confidence and quality in most of the videos suggest that the creators did not rehearse their scripts, nor did they use the recording and editing tools effectively. None of the creators seems to provide any reassurance to the viewers or promote a sense of their self-efficacy. In terms of asserting their credibility, the majority of the creators did not make any explicit assertions about their relevant role, product-specific experience, or familiarity with related and relevant products. Conclusion: Although best practices, such as having a clear objective and using verbal instructions, should be followed, instructional video designers should also consider additional factors, such as truthfulness and accuracy, accessibility, kairos, addressivity, personal narratives, and humor.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2018

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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