First, I ask them to clarify what they mean by improvement and if they have a particular metric in mind or I can chose the metric. Let’s assume they say that ‘time spent on watching YouTube videos’ is an indication of engagement in the platform and my goal is to drive engagement by increasing the time spent on watching YouTube videos per user.
I can think of a few YouTube user groups with unique needs and requirements. Here is a list of some of them:
– Entertainment seekers: They are looking to kill some time by watching entertaining videos
– Skill seeker: They are looking to learn how to do something (e.g. How to make a drill in the wall)
– Information seeker: They would like to learn about a new topic to educate themselves (e.g. biology of dolphins)
– Event follower: They want to watch a live video of a current event or listen to news / analysis about an event
– Children: parents using YouTube Kid movies to entertain their children
There are many more user groups that are out there. I’ve only listed a few here. I’m going to first pick a particular user group to focus on. While I think YouTube is doing well in many user groups, Google should be particularly feeling threatened by Facebook’s success in getting the attention of the Entertainment Seekers. These users are spending a lot of time on Facebook to browse through videos liked / shared / commented by their network of Facebook friends and spending less time on YouTube so I’m going to focus on this particular user group.
The Entertainment seekers have a few unique needs:
– They are interested in videos that entertain them
– Long videos won’t be interesting to them because they require a lot of commitment
– They usually decide quickly if the video is interesting to watch or they move on and continue their search
– They don’t know what they want to watch and need the provider to suggest the right content
– They want to know about the videos that people they trust have found them funny
There are many other unique attributes to this user group. I think the last one mentioned is the most important need among this group and one reason that Facebook has been doing so well in videos is that users can easily find videos that their friends find interesting to watch. If I like the taste of comedy of my friend, I will be more likely to be watching that video. Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t currently have a way of enabling users to easily discover videos that are found interesting by their trusted network.
Here, I’m going to list a few ideas that can potentially help improve YouTube video discovery experience for this group:
– Enable users to add friends to their network of friends so that if one watches a video interesting, it appears on a person’s video home page
– Email a list of videos popular among friends to the user
– Enable friends to privately share / recommend watching videos with each other so that next time the recipient of the recommendation comes to YouTube, they can see a video suggested by a friend
Now, I will evaluate each of the ideas by using two criteria of impact on customer experience and cost of implementation.
Feature 1 – high impact on customer experience, high implementation cost
I think this is a great idea and can add significant value however, the implementation of this project takes a lot of time and resources because the system is only good once many users start adding people to their network. This is a difficult to complete task given many users are passive and are not willing to take actions such as adding friends.
Feature 2 – medium impact on customer experience, low implementation cost
This idea can be easily implemented however, the impact is medium because it’s not easy to determine who are the people who would potentially find the video interesting.
Feature 3 – high impact on customer experience, low implementation cost
This feature can have a large impact on customer experience because users are being the judge of which videos are interesting to watch for their friends. They can do this better than algorithms today. In addition, this feature is fairly easy to implement. The development team will just have to add a “share with friend” option that will be used to share a video with a particular person in the YouTube environment so that next time they are in the YouTube channel, they watch the video. This feature can also be expanded over time to encapsulate a feature such as feature 1.
Out of the features listed above, I would recommend developing the feature 3 as a way to improve YouTube. This feature will also be a direct competitor to Facebook and can potentially encourage some people who currently open their Facebook app to find interesting content to switch back to YouTube for finding interesting content.
To start the project small and build an MVP, I will add a new tab on YouTube and call it “friends’ sent videos”. When I click on this link, it will show videos my friends have shared with me. In addition, when someone shares a video with a user, a notification email can inform the user that a video is waiting for them to be watched. By initially focusing on private sharing of videos with individuals, Google can hit the ground up and running right away even though people do not have network of YouTube friends to share content with. To ensure the feature is used more frequently by the users, it’s important to make it simple and intuitive to share content with people. There are different ways to do this. One approach is to have YouTube present a list of friends I might want share the video with at the end of my video. I will just have to click on their names and video is shared with them. It will also be useful to the sender if they can add a personal message to video they are sharing.
This feature can expand over time to additional features such as group sharing, paving the way for Google to play a more serious role in a segment Facebook is currently dominating.