YouTube Gets Social

Submitted by on the 18th of October 2016

Google recently launched the testing phase of the new YouTube Community tab. The intention of this feature is to make YouTube more like a traditional social network, allowing creators to share videos, text updates, photos and GIFs with their subscribers without having to leave the platform. In turn, this will encourage interaction between YouTubers and their audience, building a stronger sense of community.

Although not available to all YouTube creators just yet, general users can experience the new feature by visiting certain channels. Twelve influential YouTubers, who cover a range of topics in their videos, have been chosen to trial the feature. Vsauce3AspSCIENCEPeter HollensSam TsuiThe Game TheoristsThe Key of AwesomeThreadbangerThe KloonsJohn & Hank GreenKarmin,Rosianna Halse Rojas and Lilly Singh have been given the opportunity to test the new Community tab, which has been well received by their followers.

There are several clear wins of this feature:

  • As YouTuber Jack Roper points out, we are constantly curating the content we share. Posts we publish on one social channel are usually not the same as what we share on another. Our message and our brand may vary between platforms and, until now, YouTube was limited to one form of content, which curtailed the possibilities for showcasing different content. YouTubers now have the opportunity to express themselves with fewer limitations.
  • The feature encourages engagement between creators and their fans, allowing for a more authentic relationship.
  • Interaction is being monitored and feedback is being captured to optimise the offering. This customer-centric approach is key to the success of any product or service.

There are also some shortcomings:

  • At the moment, a lack of awareness about the Community tab is hindering the uptake of the feature. Although still in the beta phase, YouTube could be promoting the feature more aggressively to optimise test sample size, which would provide more data.
  • Users are able to engage in the form of likes, dislikes and comments but posts can’t be shared, which limits their potential reach. Unless you’re subscribed to a particular channel, you won’t see content uploaded to their Community feed.
  • A key differentiator has yet to be highlighted. Although this is a new feature for YouTube, it’s not unique. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have allowed for video content for years.
  • Using different social networks to direct traffic to content hosted elsewhere has become an effective means of marketing to new audiences. Although community has been highlighted, creators could be doing the same across their social account with the same end-goal, while enhancing their social presence.

It’s too soon to predict whether or not the addition of the YouTube Community tab will be a success or a fail (as Google+ was), but the brand’s approach to offering more to their users is admirable. For now, we will wait to see if the initial excitement wears off or if this is a game-changer for social media.

What are your thoughts? Visit one of the YouTuber’s Community tabs to see it for yourself and let us know what you think.