YouTube’s launch of Super Chat is indicative of the growing power of social media content creators, the importance of influencers to a social platform, and the rising popularity of the livestreaming format. With other social livestreaming programs, such as Facebook Live and musical.ly’s live.ly, all vying for audiences and content creators, Super Chat is YouTube’s statement that it will be taking livestreaming seriously.
This has serious implications for social media influencers and marketers alike, and we go over what content creators and brands can expect from YouTube’s newest livestreaming feature.
YouTube’s newly launched Super Chat is a paid feature aimed to help creators make money on YouTube livestream. Viewers will be able to use real money to have a comment, known as a Super Chat, stand out in a livestream’s live chat to get an audience’s and an influencer’s attention. According to Google’s YouTube Super Chat support:
Super Chat highlight color, time pinned to ticker, and message length are variable and dependent on the purchase amount. Super Chats will replace YouTube’s Fan Funding feature, a previous tool used by viewers to pay creators.
Viewers can post a Super Chat by accessing a broadcaster’s live chat and opting in to send Super Chat. Users can then choose a purchase amount and enter a message. Super Chats will be sent to all viewers in the live chat and will be visible to the content creator. A livestream may end before the time in the ticker of a Super Chat has completed.
YouTube Live and Super Chat will work to foster influencers by enabling them to grow both creatively (by sharing their stories in an increasingly popular livestreaming format) and financially (by being compensated directly from fans’ purchases). Direct payment from viewers incentivizes and guides content creators to make the most valuable content for audiences which in turn earns them more viewers. Influencers using Super Chats since its launch have been extremely successful. For example, YouTube star Typical Gamer earned close to $4,000 through Super Chat donations in the span of a 90-minute gaming broadcast (Tubefilter).
In addition to direct and instant pay, content creators will also have more capacity in a livestream to engage with his or her greatest “super fans.” In turn, content creators and top YouTube stars will stay on YouTube to create original content maintaining the site’s relevance. Finally, supporting influencers through livestreaming features will boost YouTube’s ability to compete as a livestreaming platform. For example, monetization of live chats is fueling existing YouTube content creators that have established audiences to embrace the livestreaming format. Vlogger Clintus.tv, for instance, dabbles with the idea of a daily livestream replacing his daily vlog videos on YouTube (Tubefilter).
Super Chat is not the only paid engagement feature that is being offered in livestreaming. Providing paid engagement features for users to purchase is becoming an increasingly common practice for social platforms providing livestreaming. For instance, social livestreaming platforms live.ly and Live.me both have paid engagement features for viewers in live commenting that directly compensate and support broadcasters (musical.ly; Live.me). YouTube’s adoption of Super Chat was a necessary move to remain competitive with social media platforms seeking original livestreaming content.
Super Chat is particularly impactful to marketers because it can act as a new measure of engagement in an influencer marketing campaign. Influencers with thousands of fake followers and subscribers are rampant (less so on video networks as opposed to Instagram), and a paid engagement feature will do well to determine engagement levels. Super Chat can determine how well an influencer engages his or her audience, and how invested and enthusiastic and influencer’s audience is. This means that marketers using Super Chat as a metric may be better able to gauge which influencers they should be working with and how much they should be paying an influencer during a campaign.
Even more, with more influencers flocking to YouTube for its livestream application and Super Chat compensation, brands may need to consider sponsoring influencers in a livestreaming format. This means that marketers will need to work more closely with influencers to develop content that best fits and is relevant for real-time cameras and audiences.