Commentary

Will YouTube's Moderating Tool Replace Comments?

Moderator-KinaGrannis

Moderating tools might mot replace the ability to comment on blogs or Web pages now, but they will quickly move in to become the dominate tool on social networks that allow people to join in the conversation and vote up ideas. Habits, attitudes and behaviors will play a role.

You see, when musician Kina Grannis wanted to write a song with the people who follow on her YouTube channel page, she agreed to try the YouTube Moderator tool Google's video sharing site launched Thursday. Grannis wrote the melody, uploaded it to YouTube with instructions, and asked people to submit lyrics through the tool.

Grannis will complete the song in phases. Part 1 began March 25. Already 1,111 people have submitted 608 suggestions and cast 10,620 votes, according to the YouTube page. YouTube's Moderator tool allows you to see the submitted lyrics. There have been renditions of this idea in the past. Rather than write the lyrics to a song, a major newspaper asked for contributed chapters to a book, and exercise often referred to as an exquisite corpse. The chapters submitted by multiple authors created a book that the newspaper later published online when completed. But it didn't allow people to take part in the development process as a community.

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YouTube Moderator is the same tool Google used during the interview with U.S. President Barack Obama allowing people to submit questions and vote up the favored.

As in offline communities, those online have become equally important, since social media expand consumers' abilities to share, comment on, and critique the brands they encounter. They not only allow you lend a hand in the overall contribution, but give those who get involved a sense of accomplishment.

There are features missing in YouTube's Moderator tool. Perhaps when YouTube integrates the Salmon protocol into YouTube, people will have an option to participate in the discussion from social sites across the Web, or maybe live streaming video of the moderator that records the discussion and automatically uploads it to YouTube. Don't get too excited. Nothing announced, just a crazy thoughts and whimsical dreams. (Possible or not, Google Engineers John Panzer and DeWitt Clinton?)

But in a report titled "Peer Influence Analysis" from Forrester Research, Analysts Augie Ray and Josh Bernoff explain that although 145 million Americans participate in social applications, they create challenges for marketers seeking scale. You can't treat them as you do paid media since they're people, not content, nor can you engage with them one-by-one because there are just too many.

And while the report takes peer influence in a completely different direction, the principal concept applies here. The challenge is for any brand, company or person to take advantage, efficiently, of the massive pool of available influence. The ability to moderate discussions online, similar to the way you might have a focus group in an office building behind closed doors, provides valuable feedback. But in this case you're opening the discussion to as many people as possible willing to participate.

The influence comes from voting up the ideas people share and the pride from channel follow. And when Google integrates Google Analytics into YouTube Moderator the sky's the limit (another pipedream).

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