Google has just unveiled a new tool for users, companies and brands to generate conversations and interact with consumers. Think of it as a virtual Speakers' Corner, except instead of offeirng a soap box in London's Hyde Park, you've got a platform to engage with the world.
Members can post a discussion topic on their YouTube channel page and solicit input as well as community participation, to crowdsource or vetnew ideas. The channel owner can moderate in real-time and select which questions they'll respond to. YouTube users can embed the module onto their channel.
An interview with President Obama and the World Economic Forum in Davos both have used the tool to debate economic and social issues. But now, anyone and any brand can exponentially increase their reach, such as what Stanford University is doing in its YouTube channel. Clearly, it's going to help advertisers and brand marketers engage customers in the world's second biggest search engine (after YouTube owner, Google, that is).
On the advertising side, according to Olivia Ma, news manager, news and politics team at YouTube, it’s a "virtual focus group" for advertisers, because they can get immediate feedback around a campaign or product launch.
The YouTube Moderator API will let brands embed the discussion on their websites and blogs. While there's no way (yet) to alert users when there's a reply to their comment, the evolutionary technology is a quantum leap in consumer engagement, community-building and audience development, offering a focused and filtered two-way conversation rather than simply posting comments.
In another example, YouTube recently asked 12 of its channel partners to use Moderator for ideas about the Gulf Coast BP mess, which you can see here.
Google continues to lead the charge, this time with a visionary tool and mission: “Helping the world find the best input from an audience of any size.”
Let us know if you try it for your brand, and how it works out.