Some of YouTube’s recent acts have made creators question whether they are trying to cut down on monetization opportunities. However, they have also introduced a few features that give legitimate creators improved opportunities to make money on the video platform. One of these, launched in January 2017, is YouTube Super Chat.
Creators can use YouTube Super Chat to monetize when they go live. When somebody goes to a live stream, they see a dollar bill symbol in the chat screen. If they click on this symbol, a slider will appear on their screen. They can use this to decide on a dollar amount that they are prepared to send to the YouTuber.
The dollar amount isn’t just a random donation figure. The more dollars somebody pays, the longer the person’s comment remains pinned, up to five hours, and the more characters they can use in their message. A paid message appears in the chat screen in a different color to other messages, making them clearly visible to the streamers. They can cycle through paid messages by clicking on colored pins near the top of the chat window.
The Super Chat messages are visible to anybody watching the livestream. You also see the amount of payment.
Super Chat is YouTube’s equivalent to Twitch’s Cheers. It works similarly but focuses on chat messages, rather than special emoticons.
In addition to YouTube Super Chat, YouTube offers an API that allows developers to access real-time purchase data from the system.
Also see: Youtube Super Stickers for Creators
YouTube Super Chat: Everything you Should Know
How to Use Super Chat to Build Your Audience
Most users of Super Chat will be Super Fans – channel followers prepared to pay creators to gain their attention. The problem with popular YouTube creators (and indeed high-profile influencers across all social networks) is that fans can feel distant and remote. These people simply have too many followers to be able to interact with them meaningfully.
Fans who use Super Chat gain an advantage, however. Their chats are visually separated from everyday chat messages. There is a chance that the broadcaster will notice these messages and reply in their livestream. YouTube Super Chat gives participants a foot up – they have a better opportunity to interact with their heroes than everybody else.
Even smaller broadcasters can benefit from encouraging the use of Super Chats, however. The more they promote upcoming livestreams, the more people are likely to attend. And if you can increase your visitor numbers to your live streams, the higher the likelihood that some of them will feel encouraged to donate to you via a Super Chat. It makes sense to promote your live stream in as many ways as possible – let all your other social followers know about the upcoming broadcast. Don’t forget your existing YouTube followers either. Promote your live stream as an event in the other videos you create and upload.
Of course, you need to ensure that the people watching your livestream see you treat those who have paid for Super Chats well. Make sure you mention them. Answer their questions. Make sure that they feel that they are getting their money’s worth and that other viewers can see that.
You could even offer an incentive to people who donate to you. You could provide additional content exclusive to people who pay a certain amount for a Super Chat.
How Much Does YouTube Take from Super Chat?
YouTube is owned by Google and makes its payments via Google Ads. If you haven’t already done so, you need to set up an account and attach your YouTube account to your Google Ads account. “Super Fans” making Super Chat payments can pay any amount from $1 to $500.
You will notice, however, that you don’t get to keep all the revenue earned by Super Chat. YouTube/Google keeps about 30% of the money earned by YouTube Super Chat. The YouTube Super Chat Terms of Agreement states that “Except as otherwise agreed to in this Addendum and subject to Sections 5.1(c), 5.4 and 5.5 below, Google will pay to Provider an amount equal to 70% multiplied by the greater of: (A) Commerce Revenues, or (B) the Suggested Retail Price for the relevant Commerce Content (if applicable). Google will retain the remainder.” This amount includes the credit card processing fee YouTube must pay to the credit card companies.
Case Studies of YouTube Live with Super Chat
YouTube Live is sometimes used to host fundraisers. Super Chat provides an additional way to earn income. StreamGeeks held a YouTube Live fundraiser for a local crime victims center. They had earlier had Kathleen Gast from the CVC (Crime Victims Center) of Chester County on their show, and they raised over $2,000 on their live show. On this occasion, they wanted to tie in a YouTube live Stream with Super Chat. Ultimately, the Super Chat event earned the fundraiser $776.
What was particularly unusual about this fundraiser is that they used IFTTT (If This, Then That) to ensure that chat donations did more than just appear on the screen. Indeed, the messages launched Confetti Cannons, Bubble Cannons, and other smart devices.
StreamGeeks used IFTTT to set up Super Chat donations to do various activities:
- $1 - $1.99 donation triggered a colored balloon blown up
- $2 - $4.99 donation triggered an emoji balloon blown up
- $5 - $9.99 donation triggered a Star Wars balloon blown up
- $10 - $19.99 donation triggered a bubble machine use
- $10 - $49.99 donation triggered a confetti cannon blast
- $50 - $99.99 donation triggered a confetti cannon blast and a bubble machine use
- $100 donation triggered a multi-camera confetti cannon slow-mo
YouTuber, Typical Gamer, also held a very successful livestream using Super Chat. He held a 90-minute Grand Theft Auto V stream, earning more than $4,000 from the single broadcast. He made a point of reading out the names of the people who donated to him at the end of the live stream.
How Super Chat is Relevant for Influencer Marketing
YouTube Super Chat helps encourage influencers to expand their output on YouTube. It also encourages them to make livestream broadcasts. This is probably particularly important in the gaming niche, where most streamers prefer to stream live on Twitch, and then make highlights videos for their YouTube channel. The potential additional income offered by Super Chat gives more of an incentive for the streamer to remain on this platform for their live streams.
Broadcasters often use livestream to tell their story, which is particularly popular with fans who regularly watch their pre-filmed videos. If the viewers find the content valuable, they are more likely to make payments to encourage more.
They also allow YouTube influencers to reward their Super Fans. They can appear more approachable and less remote.
There is another benefit that influencers can gain from running livestream performances with Super Chat. They provide clear engagement metrics which influencers can show to potential sponsors. These metrics give an excellent guide to sponsors of just how enthusiastic and engaged a streamer’s audience is. These sponsors may, in turn, pay influencers to make future livestreams.
Potential Pitfalls of YouTube Super Chat
Super Chat is officially aimed at people aged 18 and over – you need a credit card to pay. Of course, many kids gain access to their parents’ credit cards, which could cause problems if they spend up large. It is potentially even easier for them to have their own debit cards, where although again the official age is 18, many younger teenagers have the cards, often attached to student accounts.
Unfortunately, there is also the possibility of trolling, with inappropriate comments and emoji. Of course, creators still have access to YouTube’s moderation tools, and creators can blacklist certain chat words and ban harassing viewers, but YouTube has been slow to flag inappropriate comments on videos in the past. Will they be any quicker with these chat streams? In some cases, the comments may match the views of the streamer, so are unlikely to be removed by him or her, but that doesn’t make them any less obnoxious.
According to The Fordham Ram, the feature has unfortunately produced a louder voice for some of those on the darker sides of YouTube. After the violence in Pittsburgh that led to the deaths of 11 worshippers in a synagogue, Super Chat comments displayed incredibly disturbing anti-Semitic comments. They were placed on the live stream of a far-right YouTube creator whose channel was later permanently removed by YouTube.
Vlad Salov goes even further in his condemnation on The Verge: “If YouTube comments stink, and they do, then YouTube live stream chats are positively radioactive in their toxicity.” Salov compares YouTube Super Chat to the payment systems on live porn chats: “When you pay to have another person perform your twisted little fantasies, the end result is usually a loss of dignity on all sides.”
In some ways, Super Chat distorts the original purpose of YouTube livestream chats. These were introduced to foster the relationship between creators and their community. The aim was to make the livestream a two-way process, rather than just a broadcast. Super Chats increase the status of some viewers (those willing and able to pay) over others.
There is also the inevitable problem in that the most money will be earned by broadcasters with the largest audiences. Yet, it is the smaller broadcasters who probably need the money most and would most appreciate the extra income.