As part of Youtube’s Social Series I will be dissecting and explaining the recent changes to Youtube in design, capability and partnerships that have evolved the way users interact with each other and across external platforms; how it has widened the opportunity to extend your reach further (without advertising overkill); and streamlined the process to build even more successful community-led channels.
In Youtube’s Social Series:
The first week: Youtube’s integration with Google+
Youtube’s recent past
Youtube has always been social. In fact it has become the largest user-driven video content provider in the world and a major platform for disseminating multimedia information. Youtube was built with the user in mind. The very nature of Youtube’s beginnings allowed users to generate (UGC – user-generated content) as well as consume and comment on fellow Youtuber’s (Youtube users) videos. It became the largest video content provider for this very reason. Being able to control your own experience with few boundaries. The few boundaries are important as it gave users a framework to build upon and to understand how it could work for them – be it business; personal ambition to create your own home-made short; or sharing memories with family and friends, and so much more.
But earlier this year Youtube took it up a gear from being a predominantly video streaming site into a fully-fledged social engagement platform through the integration of Google+ as part of Google’s Search, plus Your World. Youtube already allowed discussion streams (in the style of a linear forum) beneath the videos; channel subscriptions; recommended video listing based on previous viewing in a personalised feed; your own personal channel that was fairly linear and cluttered in design and navigation; and the ability to connect your personal social profiles to your channel.
From the perspective of search engine optimisation (SEO) – the integration of Google+ with Youtube has doubled the impact on search engine optimisation. Content curated and then embedded via Youtube has a far greater chance of appearing in SERP’s (search engine result pages) than creating a solo video channel for your site. But this is common sense, right? The real impact of Google+’s integration with Youtube is that it increases the reach across Google+ communities, through plus1′s, and of course Hangouts.
The way it works is – the more interest a video gains, the higher within Youtube’s own cataloguing search page it rises. Put this together with sharing and Plus1′s in Google+ . This reinforces the message to Google telling them that these videos are of interest and Google increases it higher in the search rankings. It’s a cyclic process. Its like having really influential ‘heavies’ behind your content. If the audience likes it you will be promoted.
But this doesn’t limit viewership for the videos that are less popular. Youtube’s results are different for everyone because they are based on previous searches and previous ”watched’ history. This information helping leverage other potential videos of interest based on these results, offering similar video content, based on your search history but also what you Google+ connections have recommended or created.
Youtube have also built in CTA points (call-to-action) that help direct and seed across videos and channels to encourage increased ‘areas of interest’, like the right-hand side related videos. I will go into detail about these next week.
Live-streaming and Recording Google Hangouts direct through to Youtube
In a nutshell Google Hangout’s create a whole new way of making videos – creating fast and engaging content for channels in real-time, that curate themselves, whilst being able to access recommended topic specific and time relevant information while being a virtual active audience member. It opens up so many possibilities for everyone involved.
It is important to note that if you want to record your Hangout video you can only do so if you choose to stream it live in real-time. (There is an approx 8-9 second delay). This is what makes Google Hangouts unique and perfect for some people. Your Hangout video will be directly streamed live through your Youtube channel and saved in your channel after you are off-air. You can still have private Hangouts but you won’t be able to record them without a third party application. So once again, Youtube has built the user into the mix to help disseminate and encourage other people to be part of the Google’s Search, plus Your World.
Two Types of Audiences
There are two ways you can be an audience member depending on your preference. You can either be an active viewer and participant, of which you have to be connected with the host via Google+ (the person who starts the Hangout) to join the call, or invited from the start. Or you can be a passive viewer, which means you can watch the live stream of the video in a Live Hangout on Air or directly in Youtube. As soon as you start the hangout you are also given the embed code to embed the live video on a separate branded page. People in the call and viewers can add live comments during the video, which will be beneath the video after it is off-air. However, beware. There is no way to screen these while you are live, you can only either a) ignore them and apologise to the other speakers afterwards b) report the person or c) flag comments up for spam. B and C both have greater consequence to the individuals concerned so you will need a degree of ‘personal’ screening (ignore them), like most Youtube comments.
You do need to have either a Youtube account or Google+ account to be part of the experience. This is a great way to get involved and set up a Google+ profile, which is incredibly simple. If you have a gmail account, you have a Google+ account. If you have a Youtube account, you can transfer the information over in a few simple clicks.
Having this interactivity adds greater value to the host of the videos as well as the participants/viewers of the content, not to mention it’s a fantastic way to create time-efficient content and be able to curate it immediately.
The one thing that is peculiar in its design though, is although the Youtube channels is optimised for all social interaction and sharing capabilities and you can jump to Google+ from your Youtube account, you can’t jump simply from Google+ to Youtube. I think they’re missing a trick here to make the entire experience a simple intuitive flow of interaction.
Next week as part of the Youtube’s Social Series I will be writing about how Youtube’s new design navigation and key customer touch-points encourage greater social engagement and seeding across channels and individual ‘areas of interest’ for even greater reach and building successful communities.
If I have missed any important insights please do let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
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Kathryn is a Digital Marketing and Communications Specialist with 14+ years in the industry working with SME's and individuals, to corporate and public sector organisations. She is also a mum and one of the pioneers of holistic marketing - digital, consumer convergence. and practical management.