"We're testing out a new feature where if you're reading a comment on a video, you can learn more about the commenter. It'll include recent comments left by this commenter on the channel, within the last 12 months. It will not show comments that that viewer has left on other channels, but it will help you kind of get a sense of what this person is writing, and we hope that it will strengthen connections with others in the YouTube community, and will help creators recognize some of their best commenters."
Dubbed “Profile Cards,” this update is already appearing for some testers when they click on a profile name in the comments section of a video. For non-testers (i.e. the current setup), clicking on a user name in the comments section will take you to that user’s channel home page.
When that user’s name is clicked, the new Profile Cards will display a full listing of a user’s comment history within a specific channel over the past year.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the new listing would display the user’s 12-month comment history on that particular channel (and not their entire comment history across YouTube, unlike Reddit).
Because this feature focuses on channel comments, it doesn’t provide a lot of information about the person behind the comment. Don’t expect to find an inclusive, built-out personal profile within this feature. You’re going to get a small window into the user’s intentions, but not necessarily their motivations in engaging with your content.
Building community or identifying trolls?
The stated intention of the platform’s change is to strengthen connections, build community, and help creators recognize those who are recognizing them.
But, as a welcome side-effect, this new feature could help creators identify some of their worst commenters too. You know, those commenters who show up specifically to troll and derail discussions.
This transparency allows creators and moderators to make informed decisions about whether future comments from a malicious user should be hidden, or if the user is should be granted a coveted spot on a channel's “approved users” list to have their comments published automatically.
What does this mean for marketers and brands?
This latest update gives you incredible insight into how your subscribers are interacting with your brand, but it also gives you serious power to control the conversation.
It’s tough to hear criticism around your brand, especially if you’re new to creating video content. It’s important to view every piece of feedback as an opportunity to growth, but hurtful, personal, hateful commentary does not add to the conversation.
But, be careful how you use this feature as a creator. You don’t want to overuse the ability to hide a user’s comments simply because they disagree with you. You must learn the difference between safety and censorship.
Be a smart community manager. Keep malicious commenters hidden, but embrace the discussion with those who bring new perspectives to the table.
On the flip-side, be diligent with rewarding those who sing your praises! Recognizing your supporters is only going to encourage them to support you more. But, use this power to recognize supporters sparingly, you want “approved user” to remain a coveted position.
If creators can achieve the right balance with these new features, conversations will become much more engaging, and YouTube is, quite literally, going to get a whole lot nicer!