This September, Google took steps to integrate YouTube into Google+. As we’ve seen happen with Gmail, now if you have a YouTube account, you have to create a Google+ account to connect with it. This is the only way YouTube users will be able to comment on videos.
When a social network makes a change, it’s usually met with some resistance. In this case, the resistance has been astronomical. YouTube users created a petition on change.org to protest the new comment section. This movement has garnered over 220,000 signatures at the time of this writing, and has reached national news outlets like CNN.
The major problem for users is that they now have to comment under their actual name rather than a username; comments can no longer be anonymous (though many have countered by establishing Google+ profiles under fake names). A complaint among those posting videos on YouTube is that comments are no longer organized by date, but by relevance and popularity. So if a negative comment gets hundreds of replies, it will be pushed to the top of the comment section.
We agree that negative comments getting traction and rising to the top of the section isn’t a great thing. Especially considering some of the most venomous, spiteful comments anywhere on the internet happen on YouTube.
However, lack of anonymity in YouTube comments is a major benefit for marketers. If someone comments on a video promoting your business or product, you know exactly who they are. You can add them to your Google+ circle, share and comment on their posts from your company page. Video has long been proven as one of the most effective ways to gain social engagement, and now the YouTube comment section could possibly turn into a lead generator.
When the dust settles and YouTube users get used to the change (as Facebook has proven, every change eventually is accepted, no matter how angry it makes users in the first place) companies and brands can use YouTube to more effectively engage with fans and clients.