Google seems to be furthering its plot to take over the world by tapping into the one social network it HAS managed to develop well, and that’s YouTube. Yep — it looks like they’re testing out how to leverage the community of the one, YouTube, to prop up (or possibly force us to join and use) the other, Google Plus.
So let’s play that game you often find in tabloid magazines where you have to decide “what’s different” between two seemingly identical photos. Here are screenshots from two different computers — while logged into the same account — of the same YouTube video being watched:
Notice the difference? Okay, so aside from picture cropping differences, here’s the right answer: Google and YouTube (GooTube, if you will) are testing out replacing the old “Like” button (AKA the “thumbs up” icon) with a Google+ “+1 Share” button:
What’s up with that? Well, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last five years, then you know that Google owns YouTube — the popular video content sharing site AND social network. You’ve also probably been hiding under a rock if you didn’t realize that YouTube is actually a social community, and that many of the socialization factors within the network actually help to optimize your YouTube videos to rank better. As a matter of fact, YouTube was originally conceived as a social networking site, which is why you have the option to say whether you’re male or female and what your marital status is when you sign up (although that information no longer shows up on your channel).
So while perusing YouTube last night, I noticed that Google’s “G+ Share” button (now with a new look, I might add) had replaced the “Like” button beneath a video to which I wanted to show some social love. Why was this so annoying to me, you might ask? Well, because the particular YouTube account I was logged into was that of a client — whose YouTube/Gmail login address does not have an accompanying Google+ page. Don’t get me wrong, the client has a Google Plus page, but their YouTube and Google+ profiles are NOT linked together via the same Gmail address. As a matter of fact, when Google Plus for businesses first rolled out, you had to have your profile attached to a personal Google+ account, and that meant usually using a different Gmail than ones already set up to use with YouTube accounts.
[Don’t worry, my head is spinning, too, even trying to recall all the conundrums that have occurred since Google started trying to launch platforms (which it doesn’t get).]
Anyway, the video I was watching last night was a video review of one of my client’s products, something their YouTube channel would have liked to have given a public “thumbs up” to (in addition to favoriting it and adding it to one of its playlists) for notification to the many YouTube subscribers who are privy to their activity feed. But I wasn’t given the opportunity to do that. And to give it the proper “G+ Share” click I was now being offered, I would have had to have logged out and logged back in with another account. (Something I find myself doing a lot these days working at an agency where I have to be in and out of different YouTube channels, Google Adwords accounts, Gmail accounts, Google Analytics accounts, and now flippin’ Google+ accounts all day long. “Calgon, take me away!”)
Here’s the new deal: Whether you are looking to create a new account for YouTube, Gmail, or any other Google product, Google is now requiring new users of these services/accounts to create a Google+ enabled profile. It’s mandatory.
I remember when this process first started rolling out in January 2011, when Google started forcing people to link their YouTube accounts — new and existing — to Google Accounts. And yeah, the YouTube community was pissed.
We should have realized what was coming when, in YouTube’s recent channel and site re-design, they eliminated the ability to add “Friends” as part of the site’s social networking features. It now makes sense that they would rather such “socialization” between YouTube content producers and viewers occur over on Google Plus, to try and encourage more engagement over there.
I do notice that the option to +1 a video still appears among the features one finds by clicking on the “Share” button beneath a video (alongside options for sharing on Facebook and Twitter):
…and I also get it that this is not site-wide. (Nor is it based on accounts, as I’ve logged into the same account from different computers and found that one showed the G+ share button, while the other the old thumbs up “Like.”) So that means that, yes, this is likely only a test. And despite the fact that every recent “test” YouTube has done eventually gets implemented site-wide anyway (regardless of the negative feedback from the YouTube community), I’d still like to offer my feedback (plea) to those working in the GooTube labs:
PLEASE don’t do this! …My personal Gmail is not the same as my work Gmail (run through Google Apps anyway), nor is my personal Gmail tied to the personal YouTube account I use most often (yeah, namely the one I set up in 2006, before any of these shenanigans began). YouTube, you are deterring me from wanting to log in to your site AT ALL to engage and interact — whether with people or with content — because you’ve, quite frankly, made it all a royal pain in the a**. I plan on using the G+ sharing option in the “Share” features from time to time, when content I find on YouTube is something I’d like to share with my Google Plus circles. Yet, that doesn’t mean I want to show them EVERY video I simply want to show approval for over at YouTube. Keep them separate.
Google, you do search well; you’ve always done search well. While I understand that you want search to now be social (and that social is often now search), my search results while logged into one of my Google accounts yield results that are nothing more than an echo chamber (props to my colleague, Robby Slaughter, for the suggestion of the term “echo chamber” to describe social search). Believe it or not, I’m actually turning to you to SEARCH in order NOT to see what I’m already seeing on all my social networks. I know what my social contacts are talking about — I see it on Twitter, Facebook, et al. Perhaps I’m actually there to SEARCH what I don’t already have access to seeing…Perhaps I don’t always want to be influenced by the people I’m connected to elsewhere online. Wouldn’t giving me access to the entire World Wide Web be the right thing to do for it to truly be “search”?
My advice to Google: Stick to search….And stay away from trying to create social networks.
Back to this YouTube-Google Plus “liking” business though, I’m curious: Will we eventually be able to dislike (the old “thumbs down” icon) a YouTube video via the option of a “G- Share” (that’s G-Minus) button?
BTW: Has anyone else noticed the new G+ share button beneath YouTube videos? It happens on my same computer whether I’m logged in or logged out, and no matter which account I’m in at the time. Even if you’re not seeing it, what are your thoughts about this further step in the Google Plus-YouTube integration? How does this make you feel about Google? I’d love to know what you think…(because I think they’re BUGGIN’!).
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