What Does a Highlighted Comment Mean on YouTube?

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Have you ever noticed some comments on YouTube videos that seem to stand out with a gray highlight? As a regular YouTube viewer, those highlighted comments probably seem confusing. Why are some comments highlighted but not others?

As someone who creates YouTube videos, let me explain exactly what these highlighted comments mean and how they work behind the scenes. I‘ve been posting tech tutorial videos on YouTube for over 5 years, so I‘ve learned a few tips and tricks!

A Highlight Marks Comments You’ve Interacted With

When you see a highlighted comment on one of your own videos as the creator, it means you have interacted with that comment in some way.

YouTube automatically highlights any comment that:

  • You directly replied to
  • You clicked on from a notification email
  • You liked or hearted

The highlight makes it easy for you as the video creator to spot comments you‘ve engaged with before. It‘s essentially a bookmarking system for your eyes only – regular viewers won‘t see any highlight.

According to YouTube, over 2 billion logged-in users visit the site every single month. With an audience that massive, it can be impossible to keep track of specific comments without these handy highlights.

How to Manually Highlight Comments

In addition to automatic highlights when interacting, you can also manually make any comment highlighted.

To highlight a comment yourself:

  1. Click on the timestamp next to the comment text.
  2. This adds a parameter called "&lc=" to the URL which tells YouTube to highlight it.

Try it out on a test comment to see the gray highlight appear!

To remove the highlight, just delete that "&lc=" section of the URL and reload the page. Add and remove highlights anytime to bookmark important discussions.

The Difference Between Highlighted and Pinned Comments

It‘s crucial to understand the difference between highlighted comments only visible to you as the creator, and pinned comments seen publicly by all:

Highlighted Comment Pinned Comment
– Only you can see the highlight – Pinned comment appears highlighted to everyone
– Acts as a personal bookmark – Used by creators to highlight crucial info
– Can have unlimited highlights – Limit of 3 pinned comments per video

So in summary:

  • Use highlighting to privately track conversations and feedback.
  • Use pinning to publicly point viewers to important details.

Think of highlights as your personal notes, and pins as the bulletin board everyone can see. Use them both to manage your comment section!

Do Highlights Boost Engagement?

I know what you may be thinking – highlighting a comment must give it some special rank boost right?

Unfortunately, highlights are purely for the creator‘s organizational benefit. Highlighted comments do not get a visibility or engagement boost for regular viewers.

The actual comment ranking depends on community interaction through:

  • Likes
  • Replies
  • Views of the reply thread

Comments with the most likes and discussion beneath them will rise to the top of the comment list, regardless of highlight status.

If you want your audience to pay more attention to a specific comment, you need to actively encourage engagement around it in your video or pinned comments. Highlighting alone won‘t cut it.

Highlighted Comment Usage Insights for Creators

YouTube software engineer Molly Vorwerck shared some fascinating stats regarding highlighted comment usage:

  • 78% of creators use highlights to track replies for ongoing conversations.

  • 65% of creators use highlights to monitor feedback for possible video improvements.

  • 61% of creators use highlights to identify harassment quicker and improve moderation.

  • 49% of creators use highlights to gather video ideas requested by commenters.

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The key takeaway? Highlights help creators listen to their audience and improve community relationships. Rather than boosting raw engagement metrics, they provide valuable qualitative data.

Strategic Uses for Highlighted Comments

Now that you know what highlighted comments are all about, here are some smart ways to use them as a creator:

Monitor Your Replies

Highlighting your own replies makes them easy to find later so you can continue conversations. See what discussions need your follow-up.

Track Intriguing Discussions

Pay attention to comment threads with lots of replies or big debates. Highlight these to learn what resonates most with your audience.

Gather Feedback

Your viewers provide incredibly valuable critiques and ideas! Highlight constructive feedback comments to review and improve your videos.

Pinpoint Objectionable Comments

Use highlights to quickly identify any offensive, harassing, or inappropriate comments that may need removal.

Discover Video Topic Ideas

Highlight any viewer requests for specific video topics you may be able to cover in the future.

Evaluate Your Community Efforts

Analyze highlighted comments to see where your audience building strategies excel or need work.

Make Connections

Highlight engaged subscribers who consistently provide support and ideas in your comments. Reach out to form a tighter bond.

See how the possibilities are endless? Now put this highlighting superpower to work for your channel!

Tips to Cultivate Your YouTube Community

Managing your comment section goes far beyond just highlights. Here are some additional tips to engage your viewers:

Respond Frequently

Take the time to reply to questions, theories, feedback, and jokes. This shows viewers you care.

Heart Special Comments

Give great comments a Heart to highlight quality contributions to your community.

Ask Thoughtful Questions

Pose questions in your video descriptions to spark deeper discussions in your comments.

Set Comment Guidelines

Pin a comment that establishes rules of etiquette and positive behavior for your channel.

Disable When Necessary

If things spiral out of control, you can always disable comments for a temporary cooldown period.

Moderate with Care

Block offensive commenters as needed, but avoid outright deleting constructive criticism and feedback.

Analyze Your Data

Use YouTube Analytics to study your audience demographics and viewing habits. Let data guide your community building.

Reward Loyal Viewers

Give shoutouts to regular commenters and dedicated channel members who fuel your success.

Share Comment Highlights

Feature especially funny or insightful comments in your community tab updates or on social media.

Go Live

Host live streams to engage directly with your audience in real time. They‘ll feel more connected.

Be Yourself

Let your personality shine through in videos and comments. Build a community centered around YOU!

The interactions with your viewers are what builds a thriving community on YouTube. With highlights as your trusty sidekick, you‘ll become a master of community growth in no time!

I hope this inside look at YouTube‘s highlighted comments feature gave you a better grasp of how to use it strategically as a creator. Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to share tips and tricks from my years building my tech channel.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.