For years, YouTube has attracted two types of people: those who make great content, and those who comment. It’s no secret what the platform has done for individual content creators — especially since Google bought the company in 2006 — but YouTube is also a proven marketing channel for brands as well. Alongside the massive reach this medium offers is the problem of anonymous commenters, often called “trolls,” who seemingly prowl the web searching for opportunities to leave rude messages.
In a move that many believe is intended to curtail such troll activity, traditional YouTube comments will be replaced by Google+ comments in the future. As yet, it is unclear when the full rollout will take place, but we have a pretty good idea of how it will look. Unlike today, those wishing to comment will be required to log in through Google+ first, effectively putting an end to anonymous messages. Today, comments left on Google+ shares of YouTube content appear as comments below the videos themselves. This is perhaps one of the clearest current examples of Google+ integration into YouTube — and it is sure to continue.
To learn more about the opportunities presented by a deeper connection between YouTube and Google+, we chatted with some industry experts. Patrick Coombe is the CEO of Elite Strategies, an Internet marketing and design services firm, while Mark Traphagen serves as the Director of Digital Outreach for web marketing solutions company Virante. They shared some ways that brands can best take advantage of the coming changes.
Identify Your Most Valuable Fans
The most obvious benefit of this integration will undoubtedly be the shuttering of anonymous contents. These are widely seen as one of the riskiest elements of the YouTube landscape, and part of the reason that many brands turn off comments on their videos. By forcing commenters to identify themselves, the quality of comments is likely to increase, which should encourage more brands to open themselves up to communicating with their fans through that channel.
“With Google+ commenting, it’s much easier to moderate, and for Google to penalize. I think it’s going to be a lot cleaner,” Coombe says. “It’ll be much better for users, and much better for brands.”
A bonus advantage of having identified fans is that brands will be able to connect with them on a more personal level. They’ll also be able to more easily track which fans return with frequent engagement, and assess them based on their own Google+ followings. “Now, with the Google+ connection, there will the potential for brands to capture these people, to draw them into their communities on Google+ and continue engagement with them,” Traphagen says.
Boost Your Google Reputation
What smart brand marketers realize is that linking YouTube and Google+ activity is not just a favor to content makers — it’s a way for Google to assess commenter quality and, as such, give them preference wherever possible. Many marketers recommend maintaining Google+ Pages not only because they provide a platform for connecting with fans and users, but also because they help improve the brand’s reputation with the largest search engine in the world. SEO experts know that there are many tactics that contribute to a high search ranking, and according to our experts, strong Google-affiliated activity is one of them.
According to Coombe, this is a win-win for users and brands. “Google is going to reward the users by giving them authorship points and it’s going to reward the brands by giving them a higher quality score,” Coombe says. “More quality comments by influential users will give more points to that brand’s YouTube and Google+ Page.”
In this case, Coombe is using “points” as an abstract symbol of the secret algorithm Google uses to rank sites. As in almost any competition, having more points puts you in a better position to win or, in this context, rank more highly in Google’s estimation. Traphagen says everything from verified profiles, which link your website to your Google+ Brand Page, to authorship, which officially identifies the content creator in search results, contributes to your brand’s ranking within search results. “Now your YouTube channel becomes a part of that cycle. If your YouTube content is properly connected with your Brand Page, Google now sees the content and the engagement that it’s getting as part of the overall engagement level around your brand,” Traphagen says.
On the surface, Google+ comments may seem like a surface-level change to casual YouTube users. But brands would be remiss to not acknowledge the various marketing benefits this integration may provide. From helping clean up comments and identifying superfans, to improving SEO, there’s more to this upcoming change than meets the eye. No wonder Coombe says, “I see a lot of brands joining Google+ right now, not because of what it has to offer, but because of the potential.”
Amina Elahi: Amina is a freelance journalist in Chicago. Her work has previously appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Grid and Popular Science, among others.