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article imageYouTube gets social with new Community tab

By James Walker     Sep 15, 2016 in Technology
YouTube has announced a preview of a feature that will see its platform become more like a social network. Currently available to a handful of select channels, the new Community tab allows users to post text, images, live videos and GIFs in their feed.
YouTube describes the tab as a "new, simple way to engage with your viewers." At present, channels can keep their subscribers informed on new videos and announcements by posting in the Discussion section, a kind of public chat room. Community takes this up a notch, bringing Facebook-style social networking into YouTube's mobile apps and website.
Posts in the Community tab can include rich media designed to offer more engaging interactions with fans and subscribers. You can upload text, live videos, images, animated GIFs and more. The array of options on offer allows you to keep your viewers stocked up on content between video releases. Depending on the channel, it could be a powerful way of keeping subscriber interest high.
"Your bond with your viewers is deep," Google said to content creators. "You've grown up together, laughed together, and done incredible things together, from shifting attitudes about gay rights to volunteering millions of dollars toward important charitable causes. Today, we’re introducing a beta version of a new product to help strengthen the bond between you and your viewers, called YouTube Community."
Community isn't yet ready for a full release. Starting today, it's available as a public beta. YouTube has invited a handful of popular channels to participate in its launch. Names including John & Hank Green, AsapSCIENCE, The Game Theorists and VSauce3 have been granted early access to the feature.
You can see the tab in action by heading to one of these channels' profiles and clicking on "Community." It appears in the main channel navigation menu, alongside the Videos and Playlists sections. For now, YouTube isn't specially emphasising Community, although that could change in the future.
YouTube isn't known for being a social site. It tends to concentrate purely on video sharing, accepting all kinds of genres and clips ranging from a few seconds to several hours in length. However, it is having to build in more engaging features to fend off Facebook. The established social network is becoming increasingly interested in video, making it a serious rival to Google-owned YouTube.
Earlier this year, a Facebook executive said she expected the site to become "all video" within the next half a decade. The company has already moved to give videos higher rankings in the news feed and has adopted emerging technologies such as 360-degree videos proactively. With Facebook increasingly encroaching on YouTube's domain, the established platform has begun to take defensive action. The Community tab seems to be the first manifestation of its work.
Community may also be designed as an alternative to YouTube's much-despised Google Plus integration. After a backlash at its launch and years of complaints from users, Google is now stripping much of Google Plus back out of YouTube. Community looks set to be the replacement for some of its features, offering a more streamlined approach to connect with fans that doesn't involve leaving the main YouTube site.
Google said it will use the feedback from today's initial release to shape the future of YouTube Community. It will roll out new features and bring Community to more channels over the coming months. The full launch will arrive later down the line, once Google is sure that Community will be accepted by channel owners and welcomed by viewers.
More about YouTube, youtube community, Google, Video, Social media
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