YouTube has announced a number of new features for its Communities platform, a select group of creators who are provided with more ways to engage with their viewers. The Communities platform was launched in September last year, allowing a select group of creators to share multimedia content with their followers, including GIFs, live videos, images and messages. Communities itself has been significantly expanded, and is now available to creators with more than 10,000 followers.
The most important new feature addition is a variation of Snapchat’s Stories format, that YouTube refers to as “Reels.” The feature has been built around the specific requirements of YouTube creators. Creators can put up multiple Reels and not have them expire.
YouTube is allowienng creators to link the videos to YouTube videos and add stickers reminiscent of YouTube. The users will be allowed to add custom music and text as well, according to a report in The Verge. A report in TechCrunch indicates that users will be allowed to engage with the Reels by giving them a thumbs up or a thumbs down, similar to YouTube videos, as well as leave comments on them.
The Reels feature is currently in beta testing, and will be available only to a select few creators at launch. Depending on the feedback from the users, the feature is bound to evolve before a wider roll out. While YouTube says, “We learned that you want the flexibility to create multiple Reels and have them not expire, so we’ll give you those options,” it is not clear if creators will have the choice to post ephemeral stories if they so choose to.
The Stories feature first seen on Snapchat was copied by a number of Facebook-owned apps, including Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook, before YouTube introduced its own spin for YouTube.
Other updates include changes in the way updates are delivered to users. Those users who show a lot of engagement with a particular channel will see Community posts on their Home Feed, even if they have not subscribed to a channel. Engagement here involves tracking the involvement of the user through interactions with other fans and creators. Fans are eligible to get notifications on Community posts, but not for every new post.
Along with the announcement, YouTube has provided some tips to creators, including involving the fans to understand what kind of content they want to see, bring fans backstage to their production environments and using creator collaboration to increase the reach of both or all channels involved. The communities feature has been used in many ways by creators, including sharing behind the scenes photographs, sneak preview GIFs, and polling subscribers to ask what kind of content they want to see on a channel.