When it comes to crisis response, a great tool at your disposal is a well-run YouTube channel. Not only can video messaging get your message out in a manner that seems sincere, videos are more likely than written statements to stand apart from other messages. YouTube videos are indexed highly on Google, so videos can be easily found— an important factor when message speed counts.

One drawback, however, has long been the comments section of every YouTube video page. Negative or irrelevant posts, sometimes from troublemaking “troll” users, have made it so that many companies disable commenting altogether on their page. But this can create its own perception issues of a company that doesn’t allow public discourse. Luckily, YouTube has recently announced a policy change to deal with this issue.

YouTube is putting more powers into the hands of video producers by giving them greater control over the comments that show up on their video pages, according to an official blog post. The policy change can be summarized in three main points:

  • Promote the comments about which you care most. No longer will comments be displayed with the most recent appearing at the top—from now on, posts from the video creator, popular personalities, people in a user’s Google+ circles (yes, Google+ is being integrated into YouTube and you’ll need a Google+ account to comment on videos, removing the anonymity that empowers trolls) and engaging discussions will be most prominent on the video page.
  • Tailor your conversation to reach certain audiences. As is the case with Google+ or Facebook, when you post a comment on YouTube, you will be able to decide who sees it, whether that will be everyone, people in a certain Google+ circle, or just a specific person.
  • Moderate comments that appear on your video pages. The creator of a video now has the ability to review comments before they are posted, to block comments containing certain words and to auto-approve comments from certain positive brand ambassadors.

What these changes ultimately mean is that YouTube is making it easier to protect your brand reputation as it pertains to online videos. It is offering both access to an extremely visible content channel (with the integration of Google+ and YouTube, two of the best platforms for high post search engine ranking are coming together) AND the keys that control what people say about your brand on the channel. In a crisis, this is the ideal situation for communicating your position. While creating a YouTube channel was formerly a good idea for reputation management, it is now a great one.

What are your thoughts on the new YouTube comment policy changes and their implications for crisis communications?