Google Plans To Expand YouTube As Content Platform With New Social Network Features

Undaunted by serial failures, Google remains determined to crack the social media market, and it has a new plan that involves piggybacking social network features on one of its most successful existing platforms, YouTube. The new features, including a social timeline known within the company as “Backstage,” will bring expanded social sharing and interaction to YouTube in hopes of boosting engagement – and hopefully fend off growing competition from Facebook and Twitter. The Backstage features should begin rolling out to select users later this year.

According to VentureBeat, which first reported the news, one of the main goals of the Backstage social timeline is encouraging video creators to interact with viewers through a range of features tied into the timeline, including text posts, photos, polls, links, and videos. Many of these ideas are obviously cribbed from other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, from which YouTube previously borrowed the concept of live-streaming video to stay current. 

The new social timeline will appear throughout YouTube’s interfaces -- including its home and video tabs as well as via channels to channel subscribers -- with notifications for subscribers arriving in traditional reverse chronological order. Channel subscribers can respond through the same interface, in multiple formats including video as well as text and gifs. Backstage users may also be able to share content to other social platforms -- for example, by posting it to Twitter and Facebook.

Google also plans to label Backstage videos to distinguish them from regular YouTube content, allowing creators to share Backstage videos with just their subscribers. 

As noted above, Google’s previous sallies into the social media arena have not been covered with glory. In March 2015 the latest such stand-alone effort, Google+, was chopped up into its main component parts, photos and streams. Google has also been slowly weeding out Google+ integrations from across its properties, following a backlash when it tried to replace YouTube comments with Google+. Last November it introduced a revamp highlighting two Google+ features, Communities and Collections, that allow users to connect with each other around shared interests.

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