With New Mobile App Update, YouTube Wants To Own Clip-Sharing Culture

Social Media Week

YouTube is testing a new feature in its mobile app that allows users to share and discuss videos with their contacts.

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As a highly emotive format, sharing video content has become second nature to most smartphone users. Whether you’re LOL-ing over a hilarious clip from your favorite show or showing your friend a new music video, consumers are increasingly using messaging apps to share video content with their friends.

YouTube’s latest mobile app update seems to be a play to corral this behavior within its own property—instead of encouraging people to share links outside of the app—and infuse more “social” features into an experience that’s predominantly built around search.

The new feature works through a “Shared” tab within the app, which essentially functions as a YouTube-branded mobile messenger. As you send or view videos, you can react via text, emojis or additional videos. The video will continue playing as the conversation unfolds, creating a real-time social viewing experience.

Are you quite popular? YouTube has you covered with the ability to support up to 30 people on a single video thread. Getting your friends to participate might present somewhat of a challenge, however, as you’ll need to invite them through an SMS link. For the time being, there’s no way to block invites from strangers, but YouTube did mention it plans on making improvements with time.

One hurdle YouTube faces will be to break the current behavior of people sharing this type of content within their preferred messaging platform of choice, be that iMessage, WhatsApp or something else. If people adopt the new feature, YouTube’s messaging functionality could unlock more distribution channels for creators and new real estate for advertisers, similar to what Facebook is already testing in its own Messenger platform.


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Katie Perry

Contributor, Social Media Week

Katie Perry is a marketing & content strategist and contributor to SMW News, a leading news platform covering startups, tech, brands and the future of work. You can follow Katie on Twitter at @katieeperry.

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