YouTube Features to Boost Your Channel Engagement

Unless you’re a full-time YouTuber, it can be easy to miss some of the platform’s biggest features. Whether you use YouTube to produce videos for your business, an artist showcasing your work, or have a game streaming channel, YouTube has been working on ways for you to engage with your audience like never before.

Below, we’re going to highlight some of the biggest YouTube feature releases that you should be using.


YouTube Stories

Poor Snapchat can’t get a break. In late 2018, YouTube rolled out “Stories” to qualified creator accounts, and it’s not unlike Snapchat’s main feature or Instagram’s insanely popular lookalike.

If you’re unaware of what a “story” is, number one, wow. Number two, it’s a short video or collection of videos that you can share with your followers and it will expire and no longer be available after a specific amount of time.

Of course, it has a couple of differences to competitors, like the fact that YouTube Stories last a full week instead of the 24 hour timeline found on other platforms. The week-long story is perfect if you release a weekly video, allowing you to give a sneak peak of what’s to come or just a quick update to your audience on the progress of your upcoming release..

Like the “Story” feature found on other platforms, you can add effects, stickers, and text to it. You can also mention another creator account with a sticker or highlight viewer comments in a new story. You can even download a story so you can upload it again at a later date. While there’s nothing spectacular or new here, it’s another important addition to the “in the moment” movement in social networks.


Note: YouTube Stories is still in beta and available to eligible channels with over 10,000 subscribers.

Super Chat

While Super Chat is hardly new, it’s another way for you to earn money from your fans. In a nutshell, it allows viewers of your live stream to pay to have their comment pinned to the chat stream. This earns the creator money and helps the viewer stand out from the crowd.

If you’re a creator searching to make additional money, don’t think that Super Chat is too silly of an option. Check out these numbers that YouTube released:

Over 90,000 channels have received Super Chats

It’s the number one revenue stream for nearly 20,000 channels

Some creators out there have earned more than $400 a minute

Even if you’re nowhere near that number when you start (and you likely won’t be), those aren’t numbers to scoff at.

The YouTube Creator Academy breaks down Super Chat and how you can use it to engage with your audience and nifty tips and tricks.

Note: YouTube is also piloting Super Stickers to a small number of channels, so be on the lookout for that number to expand over time. The eligibility requirements for Super Chat are fairly straight forward, and you’ll need a minimum of 1,000 subscribers. You can find the full eligibility requirements for Super Chat here.


YouTube Premieres

In June of 2018, YouTube announced a new way to build hype up for your pre-recorded videos: Premieres. The implementation is so simple that it’s sort of brilliant, but also familiar at the same time.

Premieres brings a TV-like scheduling quality to YouTube. When you’re ready to upload a video and choose to schedule it instead of immediately publish it, you can choose to make it a Premiere. From there, a Watch Page (sort of like a landing page) is created for the video that you can share with your followers and social networks prior to the event in order to build anticipation. The Watch Page also houses a chat, so when it’s time for the video to go live, you can communicate with the audience while their watching your video for the first time.

While Premieres essentially gives a pre-recorded video a livestream of its own, your ability to engage with your audience can go even beyond that. If you’re a game streamer playing an intense level, your attention is split between the game and the audience. Premieres alleviates that, allowing you to fully put your attention towards your audience and answer questions and reply to comments from the chat just as you would with the live stream. Premieres also allows Super Chat, bringing the feature to non-live videos.

The current YouTube Premiere record holder is Korean pop group, Blackpink, with their single “Kill This Love” bringing in 56.7 million views within 24 hours. It’s also the fastest music video to reach 100 million views (less than three days) in YouTube History.


Channel Memberships

For qualified creators, Channel Memberships is a great way to make money and interact with your biggest fans that support you and your channel. The feature is not unlike the crowdfunding membership platform, Patreon, in that you can offer membership levels at different prices, each receiving their own respective perks.

Your channel can offer up to five different membership levels and perks. In addition to these perks, your channel members will get exclusive channel badges and emojis that you can create yourself. Badges will be shown next to a member’s name in chats and comments.

Note: We’re not going to lie that eligibility for Channel Memberships can be hard. The minimum number of subscribers for a YouTube channel to become eligible for Memberships is 30,000. That is, unless you’re a gaming channel, which only needs 1,000. This is mostly due to the fact that the older YouTube Gaming (more on that later) app required this number and YouTube wants “to keep requirements consistent for gaming creators.” A full list of the eligibility requirements can be found here.


YouTube Gaming and Stadia

Google and YouTube have their sights set on gaming in a big way. First, YouTube released a dedicated site for gaming, but it was later reintroduced into the main site, with clear differences for regular videos on the platform. Gaming streaming on YouTube makes up a very large bulk of content being uploaded to the platform, so it only seems fair that it gets some sort of special treatment. That’s hardly where the platform’s ambitions wane, though.

The yet-to-be-released cloud game streaming platform, Google Stadia, is both poised to disrupt the industry in a big way and is deeply integrated into YouTube itself, making it Stadia’s “killer app,” as VentureBeat puts it.

Features like Stadia’s Crowd Play will allow a streamer playing a multiplayer game to invite viewers watching the stream on YouTube to join in with a tap of a button. These guests will then be placed in a queue to play alongside them. This type of interaction has essentially either been unavailable or more difficult to achieve in the past, making Stadia and YouTube’s solution literally game-changing.


Merchandise

Even if you offer up your own merchandise on your website, your YouTube fans probably don’t want to leave your video or stream to get to it. While the platform already has a long list of approved merch and crowdfunding sites, YouTube itself partnered with Teespring for channels to create and showcase your merchandise on your videos!

With this new partnership, YouTube’s bringing a merchandise “shelf” that will display photos and prices of what you have to offer.

Note: Eligibility requirements are to have a minimum of 10,000 subscribers, no strikes, and be a part of the YouTube Partner Program. That said, even if your channel checks all the boxes, the availability of the shelf is only gradually being rolled out to creators in the program, so keep an eye on a wider release in the future.

Latest YouTube Update June 2019

While we’ve mostly discussed creator-focused features in this article, all YouTube creators are also YouTube users. User-facing features are just as important to creators, as they can change or adjust the way they use YouTube, but it also can give them a sense of how their followers use the platform and how a content creator’s videos are found.

In the latest YouTube update from the platform’s official blog, the article discusses some new mobile features to be on the lookout for.

Find your favorite topics faster

First is a new feature that makes it easier to access videos about your favorite topics on YouTube. From the home page, you can simply scroll up slightly to reveal a small horizontal list of topic suggestions to view videos for. The YouTube blog states that the “options that you see are based on your existing personalized suggestions and are meant to help you find what you're looking for faster.” These suggestions will also appear while you’re watching a video. The new feature is available for signed-in English Android users, but will be expanding to iOS and additional languages in the near future.

More control over channel suggestions

Have you ever gone down a YouTube rabbit hole? Actually, you know when you go down a YouTube rabbit hole about an obscure subject that you have little to no intention of investing additional time into later... Only to find YouTube now thinks it's your favorite new subject? You begin to see all sorts of suggestions on videos about the topic everywhere on the platform? Of course, when it’s a subject you do like, this is very much a welcome feature.

Now, YouTube is giving you a little more control on the content that’s suggested to you on your home page. Simply tap on the three dots and then “Don’t recommend channel” to no longer see videos from the suggested channel. This feature is available globally on the YouTube app for Android and iOS devices.


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