If you want to see footage of pretty much anything, you can find it by visiting YouTube.
Wanna see some Norwegian punk-metal? YouTube has it.
How about Sacha Barron Cohen almost killing an elderly actress? Yep, it’s there too.
Or perhaps a cat dressed as a shark on a vacuum chasing a duckling – so did 5 million other people.
YouTube is the largest video aggregate in the entire world. The home to some truly wonderful content. But that’s pretty much where the ‘quality content’ element of the channel ends as anyone who has spent even a few minutes reading the comments on YouTube will attest to.
YouTube comments have long been a place where trolls run free. A vast frontier of racial slurs, hateful comments and demoralising insults. The wild west of online commenting, where 12 year internet warriors across the globe can tell each other in intricate detail exactly what they did to another YouTube users mother. Anonymity has allowed anyone to say absolutely anything to a very large audience.
But those days have come to an end (or at least pretty close to it) with Google’s announcement recently that YouTube comments will be integrating with Google Plus accounts. If you want to comment, you need a Google Plus account. And, in creating a Google Plus account you are required to use your real name; with the punishment for fake names being removal from the Google network.
Upon this announcement, the Internet collectively lost their shit!
The Google product forums lit up with abuse, insults and threats (I never knew Google had a mother, let alone one that would do some of the things mentioned in that forum). The topic has been consistently trending on Reddit for the past 5 days. Even YouTube comments have succumbed to an onslaught of mentions on how much Google Plus ‘sucks balls”.
One more step to a Google dominated – and personalised – Internet.
I think these YouTube/Google Plus changes, although unpopular right now, can be paraphrased into the following:
As an individual – F#&% you Google.
As a marketer – THANK you Google
So here’s a few things I’ve noticed over the past few days on how marketers can use this change.
Cross channel aggregation
I shared a video on my Google Plus feed the other day of Tracy Jordan talking about Star Wars. A pretty funny video. In my Google feed I added a comment on one of the quotes he said in the video and hit publish (to my public feed).
A little while later, the little Google Plus notification lit up. Someone I had never heard of +1’d it (the G+ equivalent of a Facebook like for the uninitiated). Then another one came.
It’s odd because these people didn’t have me in their circles and I wasn’t following them. Who were these mysterious liker’s of my post?
It turns out that sharing via G+ now transfers the comment associate to the shared video to the YouTube video’s feed. Meaning whatever you write in G+ for a video, now also appears on YouTube.
My comment had reached an audience on a new platform.
The marketing part of my head immediately went “Cool! How the hell can I use this?”
If I were to coin a phrase for this, I’d call it Video Jacking – Using a competitor’s content for your own benefit.
In order to best paint a picture of how to use this feature, I’m gonna use some big name examples.
Trollin’, trollin’ trollin’
Xbox One (the new Xbox console) puts up a video about one of the features in their new system. Xbox users – as they are known to do – don’t like this particular feature and take to the Interwebs to vent their anger.
Along comes Sony PlayStation (who have the competitor PS4 releasing shortly) and they see all these dissatisfied video game consumers.
A couple of options:
They could share the video which highlights the very issue that Xbox customers are upset about with a comment along the lines of ‘want a console that doesn’t do X, Y and Z – try PS4 (I’m sure there is a lot wittier comments they could use but…). The comment attracts the PS4 fan boys who all +1 the comment on G+. That comment then becomes the top rated comment on the YouTube feed for a launch video about their system – which puts the PS4 brand and commentary as the very first comment that users will see when they visit an Xbox launch page.
Even at a competitive level – perhaps there is a game that appears on PS4 and Xbox one; whichever company gets the most shares, +1’s YouTube thumbs ups is going to get the number one comment.
EG: “Did you know PS4 has two additional levels than the Xbox one version.”
Bonus Tip: If you surround your comment on Google Plus with * (asterisk) at the start and end of your comment, it will make the comment text bold. This applies for both Google Plus feed ad YouTube comments. Making your YouTube comments bold will make them stand out from the crowd.
Another Bonus Tip: You can also include a link in your comment and it appears as an active URL in the YouTube comments. It’s a noFollow link from an algorithmic perspective, but… well, I’ll let you use your imagination with what you can do with this.
Collect all the data!
This example highlights exactly why Internet users are shitty at Google forcing people to use their real data, and also why the late, great Bill Hicks once said that if you’re in marketing you should kill yourself.
(I’m gonna flip tables here to remain fair to Xbox One)
Now it’s Sony Playstation’s turn to release a video that gets a similar amount of vitriol as mentioned in the example above. Jaded PS3 users in their thousands flood the video with comments about how much they suck, how they’ve ruined the platform, how the game looks horrible etc…
With personalised comments that reflect a users real name – and link to a Google Plus account featuring various personal info – good ol’ Xbox can swoop in and find details on every one of those users who are pissed at PS4. I wonder how many people they could lure over to Xbox by offering 12 months free Xbox gold, or free downloadable content or something similar?
They are no longer just annoyed Internet commenters, now they are annoyed individuals. There is a name and information associated with the comment.
Worth noting: At the time of writing this article, only some YouTube comments linked directly to a GooglePlus page, with a lot still linking directly to the users YouTube profile page instead (including my own).
In addition to the above ability to find individuals, linking directly to your G+ account will now allow anyone to follow you.
It’s a market research wet dream!
Even if the comments are not negative, now you are able to circle (follow) customers, fans and interested parties of your competitors (as an individual).
“But that isn’t any different from what you can do on Twitter currently” I hear you say. True, except for one big feature that Twitter doesn’t have yet Google does: Personalisation.
The Google algorithm has an element of personalisation built into it, meaning that various elements of your online interactions will influence what you see in Google search.
Elements such as location, sites visited, time on site and… profiles on G+ you interact with. If you have a relationship with someone in the Google ecosystem, his or her recommendations and activity are likely to affect the content you see via Google properties. It’s all part of the social, conversational web – or as Google dubbed it ‘Search Plus Your World‘. If it’s suited to your friends, well then it’s likely suited for you.
Getting on the radar of your competitors audience and customers will result in your message more likely to reach them. Your search results appearing for their searches. Your brand messaging appearing in their feed. How awesome is that!
It’s not just a numbers game; it’s an engagement game. The brand that is most engaged with their audience is going to get the most wins. Platforms and features like this are a gold mine for engagement opportunities.
Google Plus might seems like the redheaded step child of social media, but I guarantee it’s not going anywhere and within a few years it will be very widely used – whether users want to or not.
So, if you’re one of the 99.9% of businesses out there who just see Google Plus and YouTube as just a wannabe Facebook and ‘one more social network’ that you don’t have time for, then perhaps this might change your mind a little.
The first ones out the gate to adopt (adapt) are the ones who are going to win, or at least place highly in the race.