The fourth annual unofficial YouTube conference known as VidCon is underway right now in Anaheim, and like prior years, YouTube chose their closing keynote Thursday to announce a few significant changes and features, including their new app for Android and iOS.
The first change, announced by Shiva Rajaraman (the director of product management) and Rushabh Doshi (manager of engineering), is an analytics feature called Top Fans that does pretty much what it sounds like: it tracks a YouTuber’s most influential or engaged fans, and lets the YouTuber know what they are doing. Launched yesterday in a very early beta, this feature is built in the main Video Manager section as a separate dashboard and tracks not just what other videos these “top fans” are sharing but lists the other creators these fans are subscribed to. Like most new features, in order to use Top Fans one has to link their Google+ account with YouTube, and once the accounts are synced, Top Fans will group these influential supporters in a separate Google+ circle. A YouTuber can then choose to send messages or share content with these special fans. Users in the United States with over 5,000 subscribers can sign up for the service.
The new feature was greeted with applause, and some YouTubers like Tyler Oakley couldn’t wait to try the feature out: Oakley tweeted a screencap of Top Fans almost immediately, along with an idea:
“I might start announcing who my “TOP FANS” are each video! Gotta give love BACK to those who give.”
Forget the first result in a Google search, Top Fans gives YouTubers a legitimate reason to use Google+ now. In an informal survey of more than a dozen YouTubers, they all admitted they use the service because they have to, but “don’t find it useful” or even know “what to use it for.”
Besides Top Fans, 100 new instrumental tracks have been added to the Audio Library to aid creators in finding the perfect score for their videos, and a new studio space in New York City will open soon for all the East Coast creators. Also announced was the expansion of existing programs: live streaming will be available to anyone with or more than 100 subscribers, and YouTube’s paid subscriber channels program will now include YouTubers with as little as 10,000 subscribers.
Doshi and Rajerman closed out the keynote with a sneak peek at the new iOS and Android app, and it boasts the ability to keep watching videos while browsing that YouTube channel or looking at that YouTuber’s playlist (the video plays in the corner). “We’re taking your feedback seriously…We love you guys, we’ll be around, please come talk to us,” said Doshi.
Prior to the closing keynote, Mike Rugnetta of PBS Idea Channel mentioned he would “love to see YouTube making tech specifically for the community” as right now, “the community has developed on YouTube in spite of YouTube,” almost purely in the comments section.
If there’s a time to pitch such a feature, it is now at VidCon while the engineers are milling about. YouTube, which has a shaky rep among some creators for being unreachable or unwilling to incorporate feedback, appears eager and willing to listen to the community.