On Presenters and Commenters in YouTube Climate Change Videos


  • Vered Aharonson University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  • Jared Joselowitz Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Imperial College, London, UK




Netnography, Persuasiveness, YouTube videos, Climate change, Text analytics


Social media videos can promote viewers responsibility to solve social problems such as climate change. Not all aspiring videos, however, are successful in persuading their viewers on the perils involved in climate change and on the need for pro-environmental behaviour. Our study examined attributes that could explain a video’s persuasiveness and focused on the video presenter traits. Videos on climate change were sourced from YouTube conjointly with the comments they elicited. The presenters in these videos addressed the negative effects and dangers of climate change and the role of human activity in resolving them. Two attributes were manually coded for each video: the type of presenter in the videos– scientist, politician or celebrity, and their presentation style: blaming, stating the problem, or suggesting a solution. A measure of persuasiveness was computed from the YouTubers comments using sentiment analysis. This computation provided a polarity label – positive, negative, or neutral, for all comments, for each video. Subsets of 50 comments per video were manually coded to validate the computational analysis. The findings indicated that a predominant number of positive-polarity comments was elicited by video presenters who were scientists. Videos that proposed potential solutions to climate change elicited a majority of positive polarity. Politicians and celebrity presenters, as well as blame-oriented videos elicited a larger number of negative-polarity comments. These initial findings imply a potential of sentiment analysis of comments to elucidate which attributes can increase a video’s persuasiveness on its viewers. This insight can improve future video production and enhance their influence.