YouTube today announced that it is launching Community, a new social networking feature aimed at helping creators connect with viewers.
Currently in its beta stage, Community arrives in the form of a new tab that sits apart from the videos page on a YouTube channel. The social networking tool basically allows creators to share more content with fans, including photos, images, animated GIFs, and live video. Users can set up notifications to alert them every time their favorite creator shares a post. On mobile, Community can be accessed within the subscriptions feed.
Reports regarding the launch of a YouTube social network first emerged in August, and the platform today confirmed it has been testing the feature with select creators over the past few months.
“Community is a special release for us because it represents the deepest product collaboration we’ve ever done with creators like you,” states Kiley McEvoy, senior product manager, YouTube, in a blog post. “We started by inviting creators in early to develop, in partnership with us, the tools they wanted to better engage with their fans.”
For viewers and subscribers, the interaction options are limited to comments and likes — although YouTube assures users it will roll out “new features and functions … in the months ahead.” Community itself will be limited to creators selected by YouTube — whether or not the platform will open it up to everyone probably depends on its success in regard to engagement.
Boosting interaction is inevitably the main goal. As Google Plus dies a slow death, it makes sense for the tech giant to integrate social features into its video-oriented behemoth. After all, YouTube is responsible for creating a new breed of internet celebrities, who in turn have embraced other forms of social media with great success, taking their followings to unprecedented heights.
Until recently, YouTube likely felt at ease with its position as the internet’s leading video platform. However, the growing threat of live video on Twitter and Facebook is slowly changing the game. Whereas in the past, internet stars simply used those sites in order to further interact with fans, now they also provide massive video viewership figures of their own.
It also doesn’t help that Facebook is actively courting YouTube stars with lucrative video partnerships. Consequently, Google had no choice but to react. Alongside its recently launched live video feature, Community marks its bid to retain its creators by offering them the spontaneous social interaction options they crave.
Here’s how popular YouTube channel “vlogbrothers” describes what it will be posting in its Community section: “We’re really excited to make this a hub for many of the goings on in nerdfighteria, from updates about our new channels … to live Question Tuesdays … You can also find news here about events … nerdfighter gatherings, and pictures/links of stuff we’ve been reading and watching.”
Unlike the ephemeral video-sharing offered by Snapchat and Instagram, YouTube Community relies on a chronological timeline of permanent posts. Like the aforementioned apps, the focus is on boosting daily activity by allowing creators to share impromptu posts.
YouTube remains the home for polished, pre-recorded web videos, such as tutorials, comedy skits, reactions, and the associated fare the platform helped popularize — but now it simply offers more immediate ways to share content. As the internet has shown, sometimes you just want to share a quick text post or GIF with the world to express that Friday feeling.