Goodbye, Video Responses: YouTube Giveth and YouTube Taketh Away

A small army of commentators have already commented on YouTube’s decision to retire Video Responses. But virtually no one seems to have noticed that YouTube has dramatically changed the list of social media sites where you can share YouTube videos. So, marketers should remember that old adage: YouTube giveth and YouTube taketh away.

First, let’s look at what YouTube plans to taketh away: video responses.

The YouTube Creator Blog announced:

Currently video responses have a click-through rate of .0004% — in other words, only 4 out of every 1 million users who sees a video response clicks on it. So, on September 12 we’re going to retire this little-used feature as we work to develop more effective fan engagement tools for creators. The team is focused on enabling you to share video links in comments. Doing this in comments will let creators and viewers add more context to a video, and more context should drive more engagement.

In the meantime, you can continue to encourage fans to upload videos with specific titles, hashtags or descriptions (e.g., Video Response To Taylor Swift’s Video “22”), so you can find these by searching for them. If you want to highlight them, you can use playlists and channel sections instead of displaying these videos below yours. Any video responses you or your fans have made will still be available and discoverable.

Also, to help your audience find more of your channel’s videos we recommend using features like InVideo Programming.

About the only thing missing from this obituary notice was the name of a charity where YouTubers could send donations in lieu of flowers.

Is it worth a few more words to lament the passing of this little-used feature? Not really.

What’s worth commenting on are the features that YouTube has quietly giveth.

Social Buttons Under YouTube Videos

YouTube has dramatically expanded the list of social media buttons that appear when you click “Share” underneath a YouTube video. Until recently, all you would see was the Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ buttons – and a “More” option that would display buttons for Orkut, Tumblr, Blogger, MySpace, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Pinterest if you clicked on it.

Now, when you click on “Share” underneath a YouTube video, you’ll see buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, and Odnoklassniki (a Russian social media site). The “More” option is gone – along with the buttons for Orkut, Blogger, and MySpace.

This is a significant change.

It shifts the balance of power away from Orkut, a social networking site that is owned and operated by Google; Blogger, a blog-publishing service which was bought by Google in 2003; and MySpace, a social networking service with a strong music emphasis owned by Specific Media LLC and pop music singer and actor Justin Timberlake. And it makes Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ slightly less exceptional.

And this change shifts the balance of power towards Reddit, a social news and entertainment website; Tumblr, a microblogging platform and social networking website now owned by Yahoo; Pinterest, a pinboard-style photo- and video-sharing website; StumbleUpon, a discovery engine; LinkedIn, a social networking website for people in professional occupations; LiveJournal, one of the web’s most popular early blogging sites which was sold in 2007 to SUP, a Russian firm headed by controversial oligarch Alexander Mamut; and Odnoklassniki, a social network service for classmates and old friends that is popular in Russia and former Soviet Republics.

Now, this shift may not be as significant as the day the Berlin Wall fell (Nov. 9, 1989). However, with more than 1 billion unique users visiting YouTube each month and with over 6 billion hours of video getting watched each month on YouTube, this change is still something that more commentators ought to be commenting about.

Meanwhile, the sections in YouTube’s Creator Playbook which compiled important tips, best practices, and strategies for using Facebook and Twitter have disappeared. All that remains is a page on how to leverage Google+ to build viewership and engage with your audience in new ways.

So, yes, YouTube giveth and YouTube taketh away. But, marketers need to get out into the streets and look beyond the official announcements on the YouTube Creator Blog if they want to discover new opportunities and competitive advantages.

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