Dear YouTube: An Open Letter

Dear YouTube,

It has been a long while since I’ve used a TV. Ever since Greece transitioned its TV signal, from analogue to fully digital in 2012, there has been no functional television channels at my home. I do not remember how I felt about the change in my teen years; only that I remember one day all of my channels disappeared. Now, several years later, I don’t really mind. I have become comfortable with its inconsistent presence or absence in my life. Since then YouTube became a good alternative for the days when I wanted to get access to technological, educational, informational, or entertaining content. It gives viewers an abundance of options to choose from.

YouTube has been said to be the 2nd largest search engine in the world. We know that YouTube has more than a billion users, which is almost one-third of all people on the Internet.

The Focal Point: Let’s Innovate

Over the years I have been anticipating that a specific feature would surface. Instead of wishfully hoping that you will one day sync your thoughts with mine and come up with it, I decided to write you this open letter. Today I am sharing this idea with you.

Usually, when starting a YouTube channel people advise you to find your niche. Once you do everyone expects you to keep creating content in that specific niche. Awesome as that is, however, for people such as myself who have multiple interests, hobbies, or talents, this is limiting. As a result of that, I have noticed that YouTubers make various different channels. For example, if a YouTuber has established themselves as a beauty channel, but decided that they find interest in let’s plays as well, they currently have a few options:

  1. Announce in their channel that the focus is drifting or that they will be posting different content then start posting the new content.
  2. Make a new channel with a different name. If the original channel was Beauty X, they now need to make another channel called Gaming X and might place it on the related channels sidebar section as a form of branding and promotion.

This can be inconvenient for both the viewers and the YouTuber.

On the viewer’s end:

  • Some might be against the change and choose to unsubscribe for that reason, even if in a few months the YouTuber decides to start posting beauty videos again.
  • Those who have opted in to for notifications of new uploads might receive notifications for content that does not interest them, feel frustrated of the new change, and become overwhelmed with content that they find no interest in.

On the YouTuber’s end:

It can make the shift stressful, making it challenging to please their previous and possibly future audience at the same time on the same channel. That leads to them feeling the need to create a new channel or rename an old channel to fit their constant niche changes.

What Do I Suggest to YouTube?

I suggest that you create a function that allows YouTubers to create categories for their content (similar to the playlist or expanding the functionality of playlists). Then, each viewer should be able to subscribe (and get notifications) to the YouTube channel in general or to specific categories within each channel.

The total subscriber count will be the total sum of the unique subscribers in all categories. By subscribing to a specific category you can set to get a notification to content created by the YouTuber in that specific category.

I decided to draw a diagram to make it easier to digest. Below you can see a representation of what a YouTube channel currently looks like, and few of the actions a viewer can take. As we both know, a user can subscribe to a channel (and unsubscribe), but they can also switch on notifications to be notified of new uploads from the specific channel.

Diagram Youtube 1

It could be integrated into the current system by allowing users to turn on notifications. Viewers can also get notified each time the YouTuber adds something to a playlist that they are subscribed to.

Diagram Youtube 2

It will be ideal to allow viewers to subscribe to specific categories, in the playlists made by YouTubers, and enable notifications optionally. That way, they will only get notified about a new upload if they have turned on notification for that category (or have subscribed and turned on notification for the whole channel).

Diagram Youtube 3

There could be an opted in functionality that broadcasts a notification when a YouTuber creates a new category to all their subscribers, so that subscribers can be aware of that if they aren’t subscribed to the whole channel.

This enables YouTubers to be able to further expand their channels according to their interests, without necessarily having to create a new one.

This helps users to receive notifications on content they will more likely find interested in. It also encourages them to subscribe more often knowing that they won’t be notified of things that do not fit their interests and won’t miss out on things that do interest them.

What’s the Benefit of this Idea to YouTube?

It might make you better supply people with content they will more likely find interested in. In addition to that, it might help in improving some metrics, but to be brief let’s not discuss that for the moment.

YouTube, now that you know what I had in mind, maybe–just–maybe, you might see the benefit of it and someday make it happen.

I’m looking forward to your reply. Let’s keep in touch.

Yours sincerely,

Gloria Dwomoh

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