Search Marketing Social Media

YouTube Update Makes Google+ a Mandatory for Comments

November 12, 2013

Contributing Authors: Caroline Tseng, Strategist & Jessica Samson, Community Manager at 360i 

Still skeptical about whether or not Google+ is relevant for your brand? Some recent news from YouTube may have you thinking differently.

In YouTube’s latest update, users will now be required to have a Google+ account in order to comment on videos. More than just improving the quality of YouTube comments, this move hints at Google’s bigger desire to more deeply integrate Google+ within its other properties.

Over the past several months, Google has steadily been putting Google+ at the center of its search and video products— and is likely to continue in this trend for all of its properties. For that reason, marketers should view Google+ as a common thread linking each of these components, rather than an aggregate “community” of +1s.

According to Google, four out of five people who use comments have already synced their YouTube accounts with Google+ – so for most users, the change will not be a drastic one. Still, the update has some detractors (from Reddit users toYouTube’s cofounder) pointing out how the new functionality is a convenient way to require more people to use Google+.

What’s changing?

From Gmail Login to Google+ Login

  • In order to start commenting and using YouTube’s other new features, users will need to connect their YouTube channels to a Google+ identity.
    Note: Commenters will have the option to select which name they would like to have posted with their comment:either their Google+ or YouTube username.

From Most Recent Comments to Comments Relevant To You

  • Instead of seeing the latest comments in the comments feed, users will now see comments from people in their Google+ Circles, creators and popular personalities which will now rank higher in the feed.
    Note: Users will still be able to sort by newest comments, but this will no longer be the default setting.

From Separate to Connected YouTube and Google+ Comments

  • Now, when users comment on a YouTube video from a Google+ page, the comment will automatically appear under the YouTube video through that users Google+ account. Commenting on the YouTube platform, however, provides an opt-in check box for posting to Google+.
Above: A video comment first shared via Google+ now appears in the comments thread of the video’s YouTube URL.

New Posting Comments Features

  • Choose who can see it: Specific people? A certain Google+ circle? Users can now choose how public (or private) they would like their comment to be.
  • Add URLs + Rich Text: If a user poses a question, other commenters or the video creators themselves can now better direct them to an offsite URL. Additionally, users can now add style to their comments with special tags (i.e. _italics_ → italics; -strikethrough- → strikethrough).
  • No more interaction with old comments: Old comments will still appear in the comments feed, but will now become static and users will no longer be able to reply to or rate them.
  • Add people to the discussion: Similar to the tagging functionality found on almost all social networks from Facebook to Vine, users can now use the “+” or “@” to send a notification to someone in their Google+ Circles, letting them know that they’ve been mentioned in the comment.

Key Implications

For Consumers:

  • Initially, we have seen a slight backlash and negative perception of Google+ and YouTube from the platform’s passionate community — but we expect the eventual result to be a greater sense of community amongst users on YouTube and Google+.
  • The overall effect for users will be greater restraint, as profiles will be more strongly linked to their online identities through Google+. Accountability, though, will likely lead to more quality, thoughtful comments.

For Marketers:

  • Anticipate a spike in activity on Google+. By requiring the Google+ connection for a user to comment on YouTube (with its one billion uniques/mo), there will likely be an increase in users and active engagement on Google+ for brands. This means more signed-in Google searchers leading to more personalized search results from “circles.” In addition, there may be an increase in search activity within the Google+ platform.
  • Understand the increase in YouTube video views. A larger audience on Google+ means a larger audience for a brand’s YouTube channel. As YouTube users connect their accounts with Google+ and engage with YouTube content, their activity has the potential to be seen by users in their Google+ circles as well.
  • Increased Engagement in the YouTube Comments Feed. While there have always been ways to share videos outside of YouTube, the ability for viewers to @tag their friends will foster greater in-stream conversation and allow brand content to spread organically within YouTube.
  • Less “trolling” to worry about. We are hopeful that this change will bring about better-curated and less-offensive comments due to consumers practicing a new level of restraint to maintain their online reputation. And with higher-quality commenting, YouTube search results will be better optimized.
  • Higher-quality interactions with YouTube commenters. Brands will now see a more relevant stream of comments from their most influential fans on YouTube. In addition, they will be able to provide better responses to those fans — now being able to easily respond with links, targeting legitimate questions or concerns, etc.


Google is making a strong push to consolidate all Google properties via the Google+ platform. With the integration of Google+ and YouTube, brands now have an opportunity to get their YouTube content seen by an even larger Google+ audience. And as Google continues to make Google+ a core part of their ecosystem, more and more reasons for brands to pay attention to the platform will arise.

Cover photo via JV Limited