Following rumors late August this year of a forthcoming YouTube community feature, YouTube finally confirmed in mid-September the release of a new social networking feature called YouTube Community, which it said it has been testing for the past several months with a handful of creators.
YouTube Community was launched in public beta with the Vlogbrothers, The Kloons, AsapScience and a few other select YouTube channels. It lets YouTube creators post text, GIFs, live video and more in their feed. The audience can thumbs up and down, like the videos and comment on each “status update” pretty much like they would on Facebook.
With the new Community feature, YouTubers can also send messages to their audience without having to post a video. This effectively gives the creators the added ability to talk directly to their fans and subscribers, and drive social engagement that the giant video site desires.
“YouTube has always thought of itself as being about video, but for many of us it’s mostly been about community,” said John Green, co-creator with his brother Hank Green of the popular Vlogbrothers channel on Youtube. Green was speaking in a recent video explaining the new YouTube Community feature that is available to creators and their viewers by way of a new “Community” tab on their YouTube Channels. (You can see the video below.)
YouTube Channel subscribers will see a “Community” tab on participating channels when logged on to a desktop device. On mobile, postings from this section will appear in the “Subscriptions” feed.
“The brand new Community tab on your YouTube channel gives you a new, simple way to engage with your viewers and express yourself beyond video,” wrote the Google-owned video site on the official YouTube Creator Blog. “Now you can do things like text, live videos, images, animated GIFs and more, giving you easier, lightweight ways to engage with your fans more often in between uploads, in real time. Viewers will be able to see your posts in the Subscriptions feed on their phones. They can also opt into getting a notification anytime you post.”
It’s nice to see YouTube give users who care more about communities than cat videos some official recognition. It’s also nice to see these interactive features added to YouTube itself, instead of another social network being shoehorned into the site as was the case with the much-despised Google Plus integration that was scrapped last year.
Up until the introduction of the Community tab, the biggest player in digital video with more than one billion users has been sending its creators and users off to other social platforms to continue conversations sparked by videos and to engage in new discussions altogether. However, YouTube wants to change this and stop creators and users from leaving its platform for websites like Facebook, Instagram and others by implementing more interactive features to its own video platform.
Social interaction has always been one of YouTube’s weakest points and Google has had many, many unsuccessful attempts at entering the social media world. By integrating social synergy straight into its already wildly successful video platform, however, Google hopes to fend off emerging video rivals like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that have recently been pushing strongly into the video content world.
More than that, the YouTube Community roll out gives content creators a new way to engage their audiences on the platform in a much quicker manner than was previously possible. And when it comes to creators leveraging the new tool, Hank from vlogbrothers stated in a video that their YouTube channel would be used to inform subscribers about feature updates, events, and to post other amusing materials.
Judging by the enthusiastic reception and strong interaction of fans on the few sites with Community tabs, YouTube seems to have found the right balance at being more engaging and more social. YouTube said it will continue testing the Community feature for the time being and possibly add more features and functionality to the service. It added that a broader rollout should be expected to launch in the “months ahead.”
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