New social connectivity in the works for YouTube

By Alicja Gados

YouTube is currently working on a feature called Backstage that will improve social networking capabilities of the site.  Backstage will allow users to share more with their subscribers, including links, photos, polls as well as videos and text posts.  The platform is looking for a way to keep their fans loyal to YouTube instead of leaving them for other competing social products. It’s a way for them to be more competitive.

As we all know, competition for social media followers is fierce. YouTube is looking to differentiate itself from Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat, among others.

When will Backstage launch?

The capability is set to launch sometime by the end of 2016 or early in 2017.  It will launch on mobile and desktop.  It will first start with select YouTube accounts and with limited features, after which it will be available across all channels. 

How will it work?

Backstage will reside in the home and video tabs within individual YouTube channels. 

The features presented will be very similar to ones available on platforms such as Twitter, which lets you conduct polls, and will also offer sharing capabilities much like Facebook.  Facebook is obviously hard to compete with, and with the introduction of Facebook Live, competition became even more stiff. Facebook already has a massive social following and this is being leveraged with the introduction of these video tools. This is YouTubes response.

Posts will be highly visible to fans due to the way they will be displayed (in reverse chronological order).  The idea with Backstage is to ignite more comments and buzz around videos, creating ‘rich replies’.  This strategy will allow them to communicate better with fans, and hopefully keep them on the site longer.  This strategy has the potential to reshape YouTube’s “sit back and relax” viewing style to a more interactive experience.  The data generated by this type of social vetting will be rich, and turns YouTube into a modern social network. It is aimed at keeping their more than one billion users loyal.

The difference they have between Twitter and Facebook is they have layered video on top of other social features, but YouTube wants to, and probably needs to do both very well. It wants to be the best at video and other social content, like comments, videos, gifs and more. 

The decision to introduce these features is YouTube’s response to increased competition from both Facebook and Twitter, who have recently upped their ante with video capabilities and networking tools for video. 

What will it do?

The video platform will incorporate social features on certain channels next to the home and video tabs.  Every time content is shared in the feed, channel subscribers will receive notifications.  The backstage timeline will appear in reverse chronological order, and will not be shown based on preferences or likes, but simply come up as it’s posted.  Eventually, channel subscribers will be able to provide their own comments on posts, including video, gif and photo posts. 

The trend of providing users more opportunity to share and interact with content is a key feature common to all social media platforms. It’s simply what they need to make themselves more competitive by encouraging social activity.  The more you give your users to do, the more engaged they will likely be. Take Snapchat stories, for example, and how Instagram released a similar feature.

Users will also be able to share posts from Backstage on other social networks.

About YouTube

YouTube is the biggest user driven video content provider in the world, and the name, YouTube, is almost synonymous with online video.  It’s the number one, major platform for sharing multimedia communication in the world.  The success stems from, not surprisingly, the ability to share video among users. The user-to-user social experience makes it different from traditional content broadcasting.

YouTube was first activated in 2005 and developed over the course of the next few months.  The first video was posted in April of that year.  The platform was created by three former employees of PayPal, and didn’t take long for it to take off, by November of 2006, it was purchased by Google for $1.65 billion US. 

Most YouTube users and content providers are individuals, but large companies also offer some of their material via the platform. Large media companies like the BBC and CBS offer their broadcasting as part of the YouTube partnership program.  The popularity of YouTube continues to grow., a web traffic analysis company ranks it as the website as the second most popular in the world. 

How does YouTube make money?

Like most social media providers, YouTube makes money via targeted ads directed to site content and audience.  Since 2013, certain channels are now available via paid subscription, which are offered for only 99 cents per month. Most channels however, are free to view. 

The social impact of YouTube is wide ranging.  It is used widely not only by private individuals but also large production companies to grow their brand and their audiences.  With the influx of quality content, the competition becomes strong, and this means uploaded work must be of high quality, and must also elicit strong social response from viewers. 

Importance of YouTube

Sometimes YouTube gets overlooked as an important social network to use as part of your social marketing strategy.  But being the most popular of all video sharing sites (Vimeo is second), it should definitely be in using it to promote your business.  Did you know that over seventy hours of video are uploaded to the platform every minute?  Very little of that is actually marketing footage.

Constant updates and changes make keeping up hard, but one thing remains: quality content is king. You should be making high quality content because time spent on a video is rated higher than clicks on a channel. So, it’s better to have less videos but higher quality ones than lots of low quality videos.

The longer your subscribers spend on your site, the more opportunity you have to show advertising.  A positive visual association with your company or brand can attract more viewers, interest and inform potential customers about your company and what you have to offer.  It can be as simple as showing your company culture through a walk through of the customer service process for example. There are many ways to do this.

 Stay tuned later this year for these YouTube updates.


Sources and Further Reading


Digital Trends


Ad Week


Maximize Social Business