At the beginning of December 2011, YouTube launched its much anticipated re-design.
It’s now a much more social experience, majoring on the concept of subscribing to channels and getting updates and notifications pumped to you more acutely. It has a much improved analytics interface too. One wonders if many corporate, media and not-for-profit websites will ditch proprietary video hosting solutions and instead use YouTube to host their content for little financial outlay, depending on how they choose to use YouTube/Google’s advertising services.
YouTube, of course, is owned by Google. Despite its best intentions, Google+ still continues to struggle to make a true market impact in social networking, whether you read the reports, the blogs, or just recognise how much time you actually spend on it since you set up your account?? [ed. not much!]
It can’t fail, can it?
Google’s +1 model (the equivalent to Facebook’s ‘like’) should, on paper, have no problem spreading itself to as wide an audience as ‘like’ achieves for Facebook. After all, Google is still the biggest search engine out there. And now with +1 being integrated on YouTube and Gmail – both as we know having huge user bases – it can’t fail can it? Think of all those cross application networks being formed at the click of a social button!
The content paths from YouTube and Gmail (and Search) head to Google+. e.g. you +1 something on YouTube and it appears on your Google+ profile page etc. But what if no one is looking at these profile pages? You’ve fed the social linking machine (pioneered by Facebook), but there’s no one to see the outcome. When you ‘like’ on Facebook or, crucially, on an external website, it’s likely most of your Facebook friends will see that and there’ll be important subsequent brand exposure and circulation. Facebook doesn’t have a ‘YouTube’ or ‘Gmail’ to drive its ‘likes’ to Facebook. It’s just so well known, and has cleverly opened itself up to developers, providing tools like Comments, Activity Feed, Like Boxes, and other Social Plugins etc. that it doesn’t have to.
The holy grail of social media
Like YouTube, Gmail has had a redesign too in the last fortnight, so it’s clear the thinking from Team Google is to make more effort for those two ‘pushers’ (YouTube and Gmail) to push to Google+ big time! And then the holy grail full circle of social media is possible, with content being pushed OUT from Google+ to YouTube and Gmail and coming back in by +1s.
But if a social network to rival Facebook is what Google craves, it may have already found it in YouTube. The new design is far more ‘social’, as mentioned above. Video is the foremost medium for communication today. Apple, Coca Cola, Nike don’t launch products on the strength of a good podcast or song or graphic, they do it through video. Those last two sentences aren’t meant to be patronising, it’s just worth stating again the important position YouTube has in the future of social media.
Music and gaming – the way forward
So, if Google+ goes the way of Wave or Buzz it has a good fallback in YouTube.
I would suggest, though, that Google majors on two things with the future of YouTube to ensure it can stand its ground as a social network.
1. Think about a better music download integration.
2. Think about how it can get a bigger slice of the gaming industry.
So YouTube may end up taking the + off Google+ and making it its own! aka YouTube+
I doubt anyone from Google will read this blog post – unless they’re on Facebook, as I’ve chosen not to incorporate +1 on my social buttons bar below. Maybe if Google+ does take off properly, then you can +1 this post, leaving these conclusions to be proved wrong. Either way, I hope you ‘like’ the thinking behind this post!
Posted by Andrew Horton
Director, Worldview Media