YouTube’s Google+ Integration – Help or Hindrance?
Posted in Social Media & Reputation Management by Susie Hood on 23rd of February, 2012
The YouTube website has undergone a number of updates over the last few months, with some significant changes to the default view of the homepage for logged in YouTube users. Recommendations and activity notifications based on the user’s subscriptions, Google+ circles and previous searches/videos watched now dominate the page – making YouTube more like a news feed (similar to Facebook’s) than ever before – although obviously only containing videos rather than other shared content. Having now had a bit of time to get used to the way it all looks and works, I thought I would post my take on how these updates have impacted on my use of the site and what I like or dislike about the latest YouTube site experience. Any frequent user of social networking sites will understand the perils of ‘following’ too many people or having too many ‘friends’ appearing in your news feed. A large number of updates/tweets/posts/notifications can appear rather overwhelming if it’s the first thing that hits you as soon as you log on. My first thoughts when seeing my new YouTube homepage were along these lines, especially as the centre of the page is a mixture of videos from subscribed channels and Google+ circles’ ‘shared’ videos all lumped in together. I suppose this new layout doesn’t really fit what I need because I don’t want to use YouTube for seeing videos that people in my Google+ circles have shared. I use Google+ for that. Unsurprisingly I find these inclusions far more of a hindrance to my user experience because I don’t in fact use YouTube as a social networking tool at all! What is YouTube for? YouTube is a site I visit several times a week, sometimes through my smartphone (android) app, but fairly frequently on my computer too. I use it to find/watch funny videos people have told me about, I use it to find music videos from my youth to get all nostalgic about and I subscribe to a few channels for bands, animations etc. I even (very rarely) upload videos. I don’t communicate with other users much, apart from the occasional response to a comment on one of my uploaded videos. This recent integration with Google+ has made me look again at the way I use the site and think about whether this changes things for me. Unlike with Facebook, where I actually know all of my ‘friends’ (although I acknowledge that other people may use it differently), one of my Google+ circles on the other hand, contains people from the search industry, people I have never met and probably will never meet. They are in a circle that I only ever look at the Google+ circle feed for when I want to see what’s going on with internet marketing, so it isn’t really a relevant recommendation for the default feed of ‘subscriptions’ on the YouTube homepage to feature videos shared by these people. I can see why some users might find these recommendations a beneficial feature though if they use YouTube for true social networking. So will the new layout, Google+ integration and features make any difference to how I use YouTube? I don’t believe it will. I use YouTube mainly for video searching and watching, which means I will generally ignore everything on my personalised homepage anyway and go straight to the search field. If I want to see what videos people on Google+ are posting, I’ll visit Google+. However, I do think that it will bring a whole new layer of interaction for those who see YouTube as a true networking, communication and sharing tool. For businesses or brands wanting to promote a new video as part of their social media marketing campaign or a band releasing a new song/video, the fact that their videos will appear in the YouTube feeds as well as Google+ feeds of their contacts and subscribers can only be of benefit for them. It gives video content an ever wider potential audience across both platforms. I would be more likely to engage with the YouTube homepage feeds if I were able to effectively filter what I wanted to appear there - not only adding channels etc but being able to hide channels or videos from certain Google+ users too. I haven't yet found a way to make this happen so I hope that future updates from Google will enable this additional flexibility.