5 Ways the New YouTube Layout is Great for Brands
YouTube finally launched its new site interface to the public in December in an overhaul that should allow creators to better connect with their fans and build a stronger community with users. This update has had mixed feedback from users (which tends to be the case with any big change to a social media interface). However, the new design offers a much simpler user interface and it offers some really great features that will help brands gain attention and better engage with the YouTube community.
The main goal of this update seems to be to encourage longer engagement with the site. If YouTube is going to compete with television and sites like Hulu and Netflix, it needs to increase visit time and encourage users to watch multiple videos. As you're browsing and watching on the new YouTube, you'll notice that moving between videos is simplified with auto-play playlists and better recommendations within the player itself. This behooves YouTube users to build their channels, subscriptions, and playlists to create a steady stream of their media.
The Social-Driven Home Page
One of the most noticeable changes is the completely overhauled home page. With a design that mimics Facebook and Google+, the new layout puts emphasis on subscriptions and playlists. The main center column contains the most recent updates from subscriptions. The left panel, which stays with you everywhere on the site, makes it easy to sort and find your videos and subscriptions. The right panel suggests additional users to whom you may subscribe.
The revamped home page is definitely geared towards a more social experience. This is great news for brands because it will be easier for fans to follow them, and brands will have much better visibility to subscribed users.
Better Subscription Setup
Not only are subscriptions emphasized with the new YouTube, they are also easier than ever to manage. One common complaint about the new setup is that it does away with the old browse features, which sorted the most popular and viral videos on the site. This is an interesting move for YouTube. It's definitely a shift towards a more social sort of engagement leaning heavily on user subscriptions over the most popular videos.
A useful navigation tool has emerged in the side panel to the left of the screen, which is available from anywhere on the site. This makes it easy to keep track of your favorite videos, and it also keeps users' subscriptions readily available at all times.
This means that brands' channels will be more visible to fans. It also means it's more important to create a regularly updated channel of material to keep users engaged, rather than focusing on a single viral video. Subscribers will see which of their subscriptions have updated since their last visit.
This will change how many people approach YouTube, and frequently updated channels will have a lot more visibility. James Wedmore at Social Media Examiner recommends that for businesses to take advantage of the subscription-driven layout, their channels should be active and consistent, and they should encourage their audience to take action and contribute.
It's all about playlists in the new YouTube, and they are easier than ever to view, edit, and share. Brands can create easy-to-access playlists using their own content or fan's material, which could be great for lifestyle branding. Brands could easily share or compile videos that fit their brand image. This helps the YouTube content creators by giving them more exposure, and it also gives brands another way to engage and interact with their fans.
Better playlist features engage the user for longer. The new features also allow brands and content creators to organize their videos into a steady stream. This ensures that people keep watching the playlist, rather than having to hunt for the next video in a series. Playlists have been around YouTube for a while, but never with this much emphasis or ease of use.
More Accurate Video Suggestions
The new model for suggested videos puts more weight on subscribed or previously watched videos than on related results with the most views. This will help users get better, more personalized results. Although, this might cause them to miss certain relevant videos. Suggested videos show up at the end of a YouTube video or on a panel on the right side of the page.
With better-targeted suggestions, brands might not expect to see quite as many views. The views; however, will be of higher quality and from users who are more likely to have an interest in the brand.
More Engagement = Better Advertising Opportunities?
The changes to YouTube prepared the site for better user engagement and longer visits. This might drive content away from promoted or viral videos. Though by making it easier for people to keep watching, viewers will be exposed to more advertisements. As users build their subscriptions, YouTube should be able to build better advertising profiles and deliver more relevant content to each user.
These ads may still be frustrating to many users and most of them will likely be clicked through when given the option. However, watching longer playlists on autoplay will likely cause viewers to watch without skipping ads on a video-by-video basis.
Some of the greatest content on YouTube is driven by the active community users, many of whom pay their bills and keep creating because of ad revenue. So if these changes can drive longer visits and more engagement, brands will be able to create better-targeted advertising. This in turn will hopefully drive users to continue creating great content.
It will be interesting to see how brands change their approach to content creation with the new YouTube. A lot of the shift seems to follow the trends of some of the bigger brands.
For example, take Old Spice's brilliant YouTube and social network "Old Spice Man" campaign from the past two years. A handful of made-to-go-viral TV ads got a lot of people sharing and talking about the first few videos. But there is a lot more content in their YouTube channel, and most of it is genuinely funny and engaging (not to mention it interacts with fans and social network users). The promoted ads might have attracted people to Old Spice's channel in the first place, but all the extra content makes it easy for them to stay.
This new design should make Old Spice's approach even more successful. People who have watched the first few videos will likely be recommended additional Old Spice videos when they are back on YouTube. Once a viewer becomes a subscriber, other videos from Old Spice will be even more visible.
Hopefully this new design will encourage brands to build higher quality channels with more depth and reasons to return. This update will certainly change the way users interact with YouTube, but if brands can learn to utilize the new system it could help them build even more long-term loyal fans and followers.
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