I just saw a cool feature on YouTube called TestTube. The purpose of TestTube is to allow the community of users to alpha and beta test new features that are being developed for inclusion on the main site. This is all well and good, but YouTube is not fully leveraging their community of users. They could actually learn a thing or two from Dell. Yes, I said Dell.
A while back I posted about Dell's IdeaStorm site, a crowdsourcing initiative that allows users to suggest new products, give their feedback on existing products and services and vote on which should be brought to market. Dell's IdeaStorm site has prompted 3571 ideas to date with 200,000+ community votes and almost 10,000 comments.
Marketers used to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doing focus groups to get this type of user feedback in order to develop new products. Now, all you have to do is be willing to open up the process and make good on your promises. YouTube has the devoted following that could make this extremely successful, why not use those creative voices to create a more powerful experience.
It's fine to let YouTube's very talented engineers brings new features to the community, but imagine the possibilities of letting the users make the suggestions. Let them flush out the details, take ownership of ideas and vote for what they feel is most beneficial.
(Here is a screenshot of the current TestTube site promoting two features in active development.)