You might remember several weeks ago when I wrote about how YouTube was testing "reaction" buttons like omg, fail, epic, and lol. You might not remember it, though, because it went away pretty quickly--I didn't see a lot of widespread praise for the feature, and instead it was criticized as silly. Well now YouTube Reactions are back, new and improved. Well, they're 'new' at least... sort of.
The New YouTube Reactions: What's Changed?
The first big change in the new YouTube Reactions system is it's location. The old LOL and WTF buttons were horizontally placed, above the comments section. With the just-released Reactions, they're off to the right, and a little lower, side-by-side with the commenting system.
Here's a screenshot of a video page--you'll see the Reactions section at the very bottom right of the image:
They're also not buttons anymore. It's a drop down. But not one that everyone can make use of. Here's what happens if you try to react without being logged in:
Log into your YouTube account, however, and you'll see this:
I'm just going to call it like I see it: this is the same exact thing as before, with different words. when they were text-speak buttons like OMG, here were my complaints about the reaction system:
Pretty soon, none of any of it's going to matter to me anymore. We already have social sharing options under videos. We let people flag things they think are inappropriate, and we let them add videos to their favorites. Oh, and the comments. But some people don't like commenting, so we'll give them a like/dislike voting option. But that doesn't get enough attention, so we're also throwing in six emotion-based reaction buttons for them to choose.
What YouTube is doing is fragmenting their audience based on how they react. And while I think it does probably lead to more overall viewers doing something after viewing, I'm not sure it can be called engagement. In fact, it could probably accurately be described as… noise. I'm all for encouraging more engagement, but let's try to keep the different engagement systems and measurements down to three or four types, can we?
And you know what? The new YouTube Reactions system gets the same review: What's the point? Are we going to eventually be able to filter videos by these categories? How is a filmmaker or a marketer supposed to use the data from this section?
I've seen videos that could be classified as all of these things at once, incredible, funny, classic, cute, what?, and ouch.
Oh, and let's not act like this is really new. It's the same thing. I can even match the categories from the LOL-buttons directly to all the new categories in the drop down:
funny - lol
incredible - omg
classic - epic
cute - cute
what? - wtf
ouch - fail
Same exact thing. The new YouTube Reactions system is the old YouTube Reactions system... moved over to the right and a tiny bit lower on the page. That's it. Otherwise, I'm still just as puzzled as to why these are seen as a good thing for creators, viewers, or marketers.
Thus far, everyone I've checked with is also seeing these reaction options on all videos, so I'm pretty sure it's live to everyone at this point, though I haven't seen any official word from YouTube yet.
What's your opinion on YouTube Reactions? Are they helpful ways to separate, sort, and classify videos, or just a waste of time?