YouTube has announced that better commenting is coming. In a post on YouTube’s Official Blog, Nundu Janakiram, Product Manager, and Yonatan Zunger, Principal Engineer, said:

“Starting this week, you’ll see the new YouTube comments powered by Google+ on your channel discussion tab. This update will come to comments on all videos later this year, as we bring you more ways to connect with familiar faces on YouTube.””

They added a couple of interesting details:

  • You’ll see posts at the top of the list from the video’s creator, popular personalities, engaged discussions about the video, and people in your Google+ Circles.
  • You can choose to start a conversation so that it is seen by everyone on YouTube and Google+, only people in your Circles, or just your “bestie” (a best friend). Like Gmail, replies will be threaded so you can easily follow conversations.
  • You’ll have new tools to review comments before they’re posted, block certain words or save time by auto-approving comments from certain fans. These can help you spend less time moderating, and more time sharing videos and connecting with your fans.

This is a significant development.

Lee Bell, a reporter for The Inquirer, said, “The change means that commenters won’t be able to leave anonymous remarks any longer, as you’ll have to be signed in to Google+ in order to comment.”

Steve Cooper, a contributor at Forbes, said, “What’s particularly interesting about the new system is how it will combat ‘trolls,’ as in those nasty commenters who drag the conversation into the gutter without offering up any insight or value.”

Carla Marshall, the Managing Editor of ReelSEO, said, “Account holders are being given the facility to ban commenters who consistently leave negative remarks as well as filter out comments that contain certain trigger words.”

And Amanda Marcotte, a journalist who writes for Slate Magazine, said, “Clearly, the whole world is out to get the angry dude. If he can’t cause ordinary people to accidentally glance at the comments on a video and then look away in disgust, what does he have left?”

So, now that better commenting is coming to YouTube, what should marketers do?

1. Seize the Opportunity

B2B and B2C marketers for both large and small businesses should seize the opportunity! This will transform YouTube from an anti-social into a social medium. In fact, it will turn YouTube into the second largest social medium in the U.S., behind only Facebook.

According to Compete PRO data for August 2013:

  • 163.4 million American adults visited
  • 162.5 million American adults visited
  • 59.3 million visited
  • 41.2 million visited
  • 34.1 million visited
  • 33.2 million visited
  • 33.1 million visited
  • 29.6 million visited
  • 25.6 million visited
  • 23.5 million visited

So, if your social media marketing campaigns didn’t include YouTube before, then they should now. YouTube gets 4.8 times more unique visitors a month than Twitter and 6.3 times more unique visitors than Instagram, just to pick a couple of names out of the hat.

2. Enable Comments Now

If you have disabled commenting on your YouTube videos, then enable comments now. Here’s how to do that:

  • Click the arrow next to the Upload button at the top of the page.
  • Select Video Manager.
  • Click the Edit button under the video you wish to edit.
  • Click Advanced Settings.
  • Adjust your preferences under “Comments”, then Save changes.

And don’t worry: You can still require approval for comments before they’re posted. If you want to be able to do that, follow steps 1-4 in the instructions above. Then, under “Allow comments”, select Approved. When somebody leaves a comment, you’ll receive an email notification that directs you to a page where you can approve or remove the comment.

3. Enable Your Discussion Tab

If you have disabled commenting on your YouTube channel, then enable your Discussion tab now. If enabled, you can then select if channel comments need to be approved by you to display on your channel.

If the Discussion tab is enabled for your channel, other YouTube users can post comments on your channel. And don’t worry: Since it’s your channel, you have some tools to moderate the discussion.

To see your options, click the arrow in the upper right of a comment on your channel. You can:

  • Remove deletes the comment from YouTube. If the comment has any replies, they will also be removed.
  • Ban from channel blocks the user from posting comments on your channel. You can remove the user from the banned list later.

In addition, you can require approval for all new comments before they’re posted to your channel. When someone comments, a blue banner will let you know. You can then review the comments to approve, delete, or flag them for abuse or spam. You can turn this on in your Channel Navigation settings.

There are also a couple of automated filters:

  • Approved users and banned users. In your comments settings, you’ll find a list of approved users and banned users. Approved users’ comments will automatically be approved and shown. Banned users’ comments will never be shown. You can add or remove individual users or Google+ Circles.
  • Blacklist. In your comments settings, you can specify a comma separated list of words and phrases. Comments closely matching these terms will be held for your approval.
  • Spam filtering. If someone leaves a comment that looks like spam, a yellow banner will let you know. You can then review these comments to either delete them or approve them if they’re not actually spam.

4. Build Your Community

Build a genuine community around your channel and what it stands for.

People are drawn to online video because they can interact with the channel in ways that they can’t with television. So, speak to your audience, and listen to what they say. If you actively engage with your audience through your channel, it will pay off in the long run. Your fans will become your social advocates and spread the word about your brand.

Here are some tips for building a community from the ground up:

  • Develop relationships with top contributors.Think of each viewer as an individual. Respond to frequent commenters, and take a genuine interest in them.

    – Respond to comments in the first few hours after you publish a video. These first commenters are your loyal community members, so keep them engaged.

    – Your own comments on your uploaded videos get pinned to show up at the top of the comments section, prominently featuring your engagement with the fans.

  • Recognize the contributions of individuals in the community. People love to be recognized; responding to first-time contributors is a way to encourage ongoing engagement. Consider recognizing your community through in-video shout-outs, or by offering other rewards like fan merchandise or exclusive content shared through unlisted videos.
  • Create content about your community. Whenever possible, include your community in the video content itself. Shout them out by name, acknowledge that you’re reading their comments, or even let viewers choose the direction of a special feature. Many creators find ways to work-in their fans, letting the whole community know how much they appreciate their viewership.
  • Spur conversation. Create relevant content that generates conversation among your community. Ask for their opinions and feedback. Remember, good debates are a part of a healthy community; only remove / flag hateful comments targeted at an individual or group.

5. Set up a Google+ Page

If you haven’t already created a Google+ page or profile to engage with fans and other YouTube creators, then set one up now. Google+ allows you to organize people into different “circles” to help tailor your engagement to a circle’s specific interests. Engage your fans directly in Google Hangouts, and broadcast live Hangouts on your YouTube channel via Google+ Hangouts on Air.

If your channel represents you as an individual, and you personally manage the channel and plan to manage your Google+ presence on the same account, then a G+ profile is the way to go. However, marketers should link a Google+ page to their channel to access the features below:

  • Better name: Change your channel name through Google+ or even add spaces and punctuation.
  • YouTube Tab: Feature nine of your most recent public videos in a tab on your Google+ profile. The videos play on YouTube, and the tab links to your channel.
  • Google-wide notifications of YouTube video uploads shared from a channel merged with Google+.
  • Channel and video recommendations to your Google+ followers on YouTube.
  • Recommendations to channel subscribers to follow your connected Google+ page.
  • Improved YouTube comments on your channel’s Discussion tab and the Watch page – when this feature arrives later this year.

6. Obsess on YouTube Analytics

YouTube Analytics is your channel’s pulse. It helps uncover key channel insights based on real viewer data and the content they engage with most.

For example, you can use YouTube Analytics to learn which videos your audience interacts with most. This can help you craft more successful content and promotional strategies. You will want to examine the Likes & Dislikes, Comments, and Sharing Reports on standout videos to understand what type of content resonates best with your audience.

Then, here are some sample uses for these key reports:

  • Determine how many Likes and Comments per View various videos generate to inform what types of content you should consider creating in the future.
  • Read your community’s thoughts on highly Commented videos and consider addressing, incorporating, or otherwise referencing them in future videos.
  • Determine which videos your audience is most likely to share and increase the number of Shares via in-video calls-to-action.

7. Roll With the Punches

Comments can provide valuable feedback and additional information about your videos and your audience. Viewers will tell you what they like and don’t like about your videos. But, better commenting features don’t guarantee that you will always get plenty of positive comments. So, you’ll still need to roll with the punches.

This means you need to have a bit of a thick skin – even if your informal corporate motto or slogan is “don’t be evil.” In fact, YouTube’s Community Guidelines, which ask users to “respect the YouTube community,” also go on to say, “We’re not asking for the kind of respect reserved for nuns, the elderly, and brain surgeons.”

So, even if YouTube’s better commenting features miraculously manage to defeat all the spammers, haters and trolls later this year, YouTube will continue to encourage free speech and defend “everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view.”

That’s why you still need to create content that is unique, compelling, and entertaining or informative. You also need to dedicate time to interact with your audience and develop relationships with top contributors. And you should respond to comments in the first few hours after you publish a video.

No one said it would be easy. They just promised that it would be worth it.

Author: Greg Jarboe


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