Is Youtube a social network? Is it a media player? Is it a search engine? When it comes to categorizing the growing platform, there seems to be a lot of debate. Despite the confusion, we believe the answer to be pretty clear.
Youtube is indeed, a social media. While some argue it to be a video player, we can see the social core of youtube is social when comparing it to others like QuickTime or Vimeo.
Furthermore, 95% of the content is user generated and it shares basic functionalities with other social platforms such as user profiles, interactions (likes, comments, etc.), sharing and private messages, among others.
Users can also subscribe to channels that interest them and get recommendations based on their behavior and social connections, just like social networks recommend ‘friends’ and their content.
What is Social Media?
Now that we have defined Youtube as a social media, let’s explore what that means.
Social media refers to interactive web 2.0 websites and applications that allow people to share content in real-time and provide a place to make connections.
User-generated content, such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions, is the lifeblood of social media.
The variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services available introduces challenges to the definition; however, there are some common features that social media platforms share:
- The platform provides the users free web space to upload content.
- The users receive a unique web address where they can post and share all their content.
- Users create profiles with their personal details, The site then mines the personal data to connect individuals.
- Users share content in real-time. This content can be text, images, audio, video or even likes and dislikes.
- Posts are time-stamped, making it easy to follow posts.
- Users can share the content of their friends and the public accounts they interact with.
- Users can send private messages
- Users can create or join groups or lists.
While in the past, platforms offered different services or specialization; nowadays they tried to add whatever is working for others, into their own.
What Is Social Networking?
As the name suggests, social networking is using social media sites to stay connected with friends, family, colleagues, customers, or clients whether with a social or a business purpose.
Social networking is now a has become a significant part of online marketing strategies with marketers seeking to engage customers and build a following.
After being in the second position in 2017, Facebook took back its place as the most popular social network, with a reach of 90% of U.S. mobile users, as of October 2018, the most recent data available, as of early 2019.
How Social Networking Works
Social networking brings a brand closer to its audience and makes the company more accessible while helping promote a brand’s voice and content.
Marketers use social networking to build awareness and eventually get the audience to buy from them. The more familiar a customer is with a brand, the more likely it is to acquire its products. Sharing blog posts, images, videos or comments on social media allows followers to react, visit the company’s website and become loyal customers.
YouTube influences purchase intent and decisions among more than half of all consumers.
53% of consumers in the U.S., for instance, say YouTube has influenced their purchase behavior. Compare that to traditional Social Media and you see some similarities, where 55 percent of respondents engaged with brands on Facebook, followed by 21 percent who have done so on Twitter, and 10 percent on Pinterest.
Reasons that make Youtube An Awesome Social Media Benchmark
A successful social media platform can be identified as one with a thriving ecosystem where brands, content creators, and users all benefit from it.
In this context, YouTube is the most successful social media platform out there.
Here are some of the biggest reasons why YouTube is a great model to follow and a key piece of every social media campaign.
1. Creators are valued
Creators are the ones keeping the audience coming. For a platform, having an audience is what allows them to sell ads and make money.
Platforms like Instagram and Facebook don’t directly pay influencers at all. Even creators with millions of followers need to find other ways to monetize their audiences.
A lack of incentive for creators to keep posting on a platform will result in less and lower-quality content. Bad content, fewer users. Fewer users, fewer brands.
Compensation makes creators happy and increases their loyalty to a platform. It also buys them back time to construct the best content they possibly can. Lastly, it facilitates a healthy amount of competition by providing newer creators something to strive for.
Again, the compensation does not necessarily have to be monetary. It can be networking, linking top creators up with industry professionals, and more. A hypothetical example of this would be if Medium connected book publishers with top writers on the site.
2. A place for new talent
YouTube is home to aspiring filmmakers, speakers, and comedians who haven’t ‘yet made it’ in the real world. Instagram is the same for photographers who can’t afford equipment other than their phones. Medium is home to aspiring writers dreaming with a book deal.
Again it all comes down to getting the user’s attention. Creatives keep users, users keep brands.
This doesn’t mean social media channels should intentionally design a platform around underrepresented creatives, but it would certainly help. The user experience should come first, then the creative element will be a logical consequence.
YouTube currently offers awards for their creators for reaching certain milestones: a Silver Play Button (100,000 Subscribers), a Gold Play Button (1 million Subscribers), and a Diamond Play Button (10 million Subscribers).
‘YouTubers’ who reach a certain audience are also invited to conferences, training, and even partnerships.
Social Media AND Search Engine?
We have explained why we consider Youtube to be a Social Media, but it’s important to mention another key factor of the platform: it is also a Search Engine.
According to Webopedia, “search engines are programs that search documents for specified keywords and returns a list of the documents where the keywords were found.” You can see how Youtube fits the description perfectly.
With 3 billion searches per month, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world after Google. Its search volume is larger than those of Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and Ask.com combined.
Why Marketers need to use Youtube as part of their Social Media Strategy
Studies predict video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2020. Considering that YouTube is one of the most important video platforms is the key to a successful digital strategy. Here are some reasons why:
1. Reach and traffic
- YouTube has over 1 billion users, who spend millions of hours per day viewing videos
- Since March 2014, there’s been a 40% year-on-year increase in the number of YouTube viewers per day
- YouTube is localized in over 70 countries and is available in 76 languages
- It has greater reach than cable in the US
2. Results are immediate and measurable
Youtube analytics tool allows you to measure and optimize your video advertising efforts.
3. Social factor
The social nature of Youtube means that the platform can suggest your videos to users based on their behavior and similar interests.
4. It’s a search engine
Besides Youtube’s social core, it also acts as a search engine; the second one in popularity after google. This makes it an essential part of any promotional strategy.
5. One word: Google
Since Google owns YouTube, video content hosted on YouTube ranks well on Google.
One of the best ways to capture search traffic from YouTube is to create videos around topics people are searching for or talking about. People tend to give a video more time than to written an article. Plus it’s more engaging and fun for your audience.
What to expect from Youtube next?
Youtube’s recent moves tell us the platform is trying to develop more of a real-time interaction from its users. Studies showed that the majority of users would check Youtube once a day, while they checked other social media platforms several times in that period.
Changes like Push notifications now enable YouTube to alert its users on mobile when their favorite creators have posted new content or are live streaming. We have also seen Youtube testing instant chat and messaging features in Canadian markets, which would enable them to offer peer-to-peer community building.
Youtube is becoming a much more real-time platform with these added features, which will better position it to fend off Facebook and other competitors.
Social Media Platform’s constant evolution can make it difficult to define and categorize.
While Youtube acts as a video player and search engine, it also shares the basic nature and functionalities of other social platforms, making it a very successful social media.
Given that video will continue to account for most of the online traffic, marketers and entrepreneurs should prioritize Youtube as a key part of their social media strategy.