Youtube had previously added a “Community” tab for some popular channels, they are now broadening the feature to 12 YouTube channels and to possibly all channels in the coming months. Channels include the Green brothers, The Game Theorists, Karmin, The Key of Awesome, The Kloons, Lilly Singh, Peter Hollens, Rosianna Halse Rojas, Sam Tsui, ThreadBanger, AsapSCIENCE, and VSauce3.
“Today, we’re introducing a beta version of a new product to help strengthen the bond between you and your viewers, called YouTube Community,” says Kiley McEvoy, YouTube Senior Product Manager, in a blog post. “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. 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.”
“Several months ago YouTube came to us to talk about a product they were working on,” announced Hank Green of the vlogbrothers very popular YouTube Channel. They have nearly 2.9 million subscribers to their channel and have accumulated over 643 million video views. Green once noted that YouTube only charges a $2 CPM and that they (the creators) only get 55% of that, which would mean they are making a living off of their channel. “I was a little dubious, but I’m genuinely excited about this change which debuts today.”
Green gave an example of how they were thinking of doing a health comedy series but they previously would have needed to use outside social media. “We wanted to make the show with lots of infographics and pictures and recipes and live shows so it would feel deeply connected, but to do that would mean maintaining a billion new social media profiles, a thought I just could not stomach. This has been an ongoing problem because we’ve always had to build homes off YouTube for the non-video community, stuff like if you want to submit a photo or painting to the art assignment you have to do so via tumblr or Twitter or Facebook.”
“YouTube always thought of itself as being about video, but for many of us it’s mostly been about community,” Green added. “I’d argue that the best YouTube channels aren’t just shows you Leanback and watch, their communities you’re part of. For a long time that was seen as YouTube’s great weakness, like in the early days YouTube actually released a product called Leanback that allows you to watch videos without engaging with them, because advertisers especially back then thought engaged viewers were bad news. For one thing, engaged viewers are less likely to watch ads.”
Despite YouTube’s push to be more of a passive TV like platform, Green says that “in spite of it all youtube has continued to be a community platform” and with Community tab launch it shows they have finally embraced it.
It’s interesting that with the virtual demise of Google Plus, their open attempt to compete as a social platform with Facebook and others, Google all along had one of the most popular social platforms on the planet, YouTube. According to Alexa, YouTube is the second most visited site in the world.
YouTube is bigger than any cable network in the US and its growth has been accelerating “up at least 50% year over year for three straight years.” In fact, the number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40% year over year since March 2014. Over 80% of YouTube views are from outside of the US with 88 country versions covering 76 different languages, which includes almost everybody. The time people spend watching YouTube videos is also up, with mobile viewing average sessions now over 40 minutes which is up 50% year over year.
Clearly, Google is using YouTube to counter its number one online ad revenue competitor, Facebook. After all, Facebook itself has made YouTube its number one competitor by focusing its energies on video. In June, a Facebook executive openly said that Facebook would be all video in 5 years.
“It will probably be all video,” says Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook, when asked where Facebook will be in 5 years. “I just think if we look, we already are seeing a year on year decline in text. We’re seeing a massive increase as I’ve said on both pictures and video. So yeah, if I was having a bet, I would say video, video, video.”
The Community Tab lets channels post text, images, live videos, surveys and let’s people comment and communicate just like a social media platform should. You can sign up to get notifications and many more features are said to be coming soon.
“I’m really excited about it, because one it means Hank and I can finally make our YouTube channels the community hubs we’ve always wanted them to be,” said Green. “We did work closely with YouTube on the development of the Community tab and I do think it’s awesome!”