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Why Does All Social Media Feel The Same? An Example From YouTube

In the past week, Google’s YouTube platform has announced to creators that the way they will identify channels is going to be updated. YouTube is pivoting from having ‘Channels,’ where there could be a team of people working to create content, to adding @ handles to help identify and brand individual ‘Creators.’ In theory, this move will help amplify the social aspects of the YouTube platform, such as commenting and tagging others.

This is just the latest move in the recent waves of social media assimilating to behave and perform closer to Bytedance’s monolithic king of addictive phone content, TikTok. If you are a social media user, even if not intending to watch videos, you have undoubtedly found yourself scrolling through TikTok-like content. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have all introduced their own flavors of the short form, scrollable video content lovingly ripped off from the Chinese tech giant. The digestibility of TikTok videos is what truly enables it to be the monster it is today and Silicon Valley is not one to be left behind.

This brings us back to our latest development.

TikTok users identify themselves with an @ handle; a feature itself popularized by Twitter. This is not a new pattern. Whenever a popular new feature appears, all platforms in competition jump to adapt the new idea in order to not lose market share to the new shiny feature of another company. Remember that in this market, users are the prize. With users comes revenue, both from advertising to them and from collecting and selling their browsing data and insights to other parties.

Keeping users occupied is exactly what YouTube is hoping to do with their new handles feature. Adoption of an @ handle is a trendy feature that while not groundbreaking, can push their platform to keep pace with the competition. YouTube handles, generated based on current channel names, are being rolled out to all channels over the next few weeks. All Channels will have the option to create a custom one for themselves in YouTube Studio once their Channel is eligible. YouTube hopes that this handle system will more enable their users to have more contact. Be it having mentions @ in comments, being able to tag another creator or Channel in your video, or giving credit for using viral soundbites, the end goal is the same: engagement. Engaging content drives up user time spent on the site, which in turn generates revenue for the company.

This post is courtesy of MMC Digital Media Coordinator Avery Lane

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