YouTube is trying to turn itself into a more of a social network with a new “Community” tab designed to encourage creators to post material related to their videos on YouTube itself — instead of on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or elsewhere.
The Google-owned video giant on Tuesday launched a beta test of Community, which lets creators share text, animated GIFs, images, documents, live videos and other content with their users and let them comment on (and up- or down-vote) the posts. Users can also opt to receive a notification whenever a YouTube channel posts something new in the Community section.
The Vlogbrothers, hosted by brothers John and Hank Green, is among the creators tapped for the beta program. John Green said in a video that the new YouTube Community tab was an “awesome” addition, going well beyond the comments section that has been part of the platform for years to engage viewers.
“We’ve always had to build homes off YouTube for the non-video community stuff,” he said. “YouTube has always thought about itself as being about video, but for for many of us, it’s mostly been about community.”
Starting Jan. 1, Green said he will launch a health and fitness show taking advantage of the Community feature: “100 Days,” in which he and his best friend, Chris, will engage in the “healthiest midlife crisis ever.” The show will encompass exercise routines, recipes, live shows and text posts, hosted on YouTube.
John Green, who in addition to his work on the Vlogbrothers channel, is the author of “The Fault in Our Stars” and other novels. He added that he wasn’t paid by YouTube to promote the “Community” feature but that he and Hank worked closely with YouTube to develop the feature.
According to YouTube, other creators testing the Community tab are AsapSCIENCE, The Game Theorists, Karmin, The Key of Awesome, The Kloons, Lilly Singh, Peter Hollens, Rosianna Halse Rojas, Sam Tsui, Threadbanger and Vsauce3.
“This is a first step and, with creator and fan feedback, we look forward to rolling out new features and functions as well as including more creators in the months ahead,” Kiley McEvoy, YouTube senior product manager, wrote in a blog post.
The Community feature represents “the deepest product collaboration we’ve ever done” with creators, according to McEvoy.
At times, YouTube has had rocky relations with the hundreds of thousands of creators that use the platform. Most recently, the service raised the hackles of many YouTubers after it began notifying them of content that was “demonetized” because it was deemed inappropriate for advertising. YouTube said the policy was not new, and noted that it has adopted a formal procedure to appeal decisions about ad-unfriendly content.