YouTube woos creators with social network features

People often think of YouTube as social media, but it’s never really been a social network. Sure you could subscribe to a creator’s channel, but it was a very one-way, broadcast relationship.

That might be changing – a little – with the launch of YouTube Community:

The brand new Community tab on your YouTube channel gives you a new, simple way to engage with your viewers and express yourself beyond video. Now you can do things like text, live videos, images, animated GIFs and more, giving you easier, lightweight ways to engage with your fans more often in between uploads, in real time. Viewers will be able to see your posts in the Subscriptions feed on their phones. They can also opt into getting a notification anytime you post.

And it looks something like this:

YouTube Community

This feels like a defensive move from YouTube – it encourages creators to develop their audience relationship within the YouTUbe platform, rather than moving their viewers into a different platform for non-video updates. If anything, it’s a laggard response to the overwhelming success of Facebook Video, which is clearly a draw for existing and emerging creators.

Bolting on social network features to existing platforms does not have a great success rate as an idea. It remains to be seen if this will be any better. But I’m not betting on it.