Hey, remember not too long ago when YouTubers were up in arms about the revamping of the comments section on YouTube? They said the requirement that they be signed into Google+ would kill anonymity on the platform, hinder expression, and spell the end of YouTube as we know it. As the test of time tells, the integration is actually pretty useful, YouTube hasn’t imploded, and it is time to get on the bandwagon.
Why Google Matters
Google+ features allow for better batch monitoring of comments and an easier to follow, higher caliber of commenting overall. This new system can be a space where it isn’t simply YouTube personalities engaging fans in the comment sections, but brands as well can jump in and thank people for their input, or even direct them somewhere else.
Not all YouTubers have fandoms that engage with each other in the comments, and not all YouTubers engage with their own fans in the comments, which have their own set of cultural explanations. But, for those that do, it becomes clearer as to who is more engaged with the immediate community of viewers on YouTube.
Google+ engagement and sharing already helps in ranking on the front page of Google for organic searches. Authorship on Google+ is paramount to SEO rankings. This is becoming increasingly true for video content as well. If this set of roll-outs is a sign of what is to come, then getting on the Google+ features for YouTube bandwagon is worth doing now, lest the learning curve, and SEO climb, get too steep.
With the new Google+ integration on YouTube, brands can have some sort of access to inboxes. An e-mail address has always been more valuable than a view, and now through YouTube and Google+, it is easier to get initial entry into the inbox.
So, what happened with the Google+ integration on YouTube, and what is possible with Google+?
Profiles vs. Pages
Google+ has options for individuals and organizations/businesses/brands with regards to linking Google+ to other parts of Google, including YouTube.
Profiles are for individuals and are subject to the Google+ Names Policy. This is what a lot of the initial uproar was about. In a profile, a first and last name is required. Special characters, professional titles, and celebrity names are banned. Nicknames are optional. These profiles can only be managed through the owner’s account and can only have one YouTube channel linked to a profile on an account.
Google+ Pages, on the other hand, are for entities with a “public identity and presence on Google.” They are not subject to name constraints, can be managed by up to 50 people, and those managers can manage up to 50 different pages and linked YouTube channels from a single account.
Pages are formatted ideally for brands with brand managers working on multiple channels.
Threads and Comment Order
The threads in comments are a great new engagement feature that came with the G+ integration. Not only is it now easier to spot when fans are engaging in text, but conversations are longer broken up.
This new thread feature is great for brands and users because it shows how deep fans will get in conversation with one another. It is also easier to spot the frequency with which fans engage each other in the comments threads. Some channels, with particularly active fandoms, will get multiple threads going in the comments section, with ample back and forth. Others might not get any at all.
Comments that are most relevant to the viewer, when logged in, float to the top, including those that get responses from the video creators, or come from people the viewer knows or from other popular YouTubers. This makes it easier for the logged in user to see what he or she might find interesting. This means that the “top comments” part of the comments section looks different depending on who is viewing it.
Writing, Editing, Formatting, and Moderating Comments
Comments can include URLs, and now they will show up as clickable links. Same is true for tagging someone in a comment if they have a Google+ profile or page.
In addition to this, comments can include bold, italics and strikethroughs in the text and can be edited or deleted after posting. Part of the new formatting also includes translations, so it is less of a problem engaging with international audiences. YouTube got rid of the character maximum for commenting, potentially making it easier for whole thoughts and conversations to play out in the comments sections of videos.
Part of the rework of the comments section on YouTube was meant to discourage the posting of spam and instances of trolling, and, to an extent, it has been successful. As a result, the comments section has become increasingly more brand safe, as some had predicted. YouTube has also included comment moderation as part of a YouTube channel’s dashboard. With this, channels can remove comments, ban or un-ban users from commenting on a channel, require approval before a comment gets publicly posted for either a video or even a whole channel, filter for spam, and blacklist certain words or phrases from comments sections.
The moderation allows for batch processing of certain comments features on a channel level, or a video level, thus making it easier to institute and enforce brand safety.
The most recent Google+ uproar in January was about a new default setting enabling anyone following you on Google+ to be able to make contact with you via your Google inbox.
This is particularly interesting with regards to the Google+ comments integration because this now enables YouTube channels, or commenters to get a direct connection into a Google inbox social tab, just by clicking on your profile in the comments section and adding you to his/her/their circles. Granted, they cannot actually get your e-mail address, unless you write them back.
It is also important to note that this feature can be restricted, granting this access to everyone on Google+, extended circles, circles, or preventing access to everyone.
Tenacious YouTubers who don’t mind being a bit spammy, will, and are, using this new feature to try and grow their channel subscriber base, and brands could do the same if done right.
Posting Videos to Google
This portion of the integration might just be the most telling of what is to come. When sharing a YouTube video to Google+ those that put you in a circle can see the video. Commenting in Google+ becomes a comment on YouTube as well, but +1ing a video doesn’t constitute a thumbs up, or help in YouTube SEO. +1ing does however, contribute to Google SEO. In being able to share videos with some circles and not others, this means that brands can develop different kinds of content for different audiences.
What Does This All Mean For Brands?
Brands need to start having a presence on Google+ and engaging their audiences on the platform, because it is good for both SEO and for community building. As Google pushes closer towards valuing genuine speech instead of keywords, Google+ might be one of the most important platforms that brands are forgetting about, not because of its immediate applications, but because of what the Google+ integration on YouTube is telling of for the future.