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Is Youtube a Social Media Platform? Here’s Why It Matters

By Brady Cook |

When you think of “social media,” you probably think of the basics: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, even LinkedIn.

But have you ever thought of Youtube?

On the surface, it doesn’t seem to fit with the others. After all, Youtube was started as a site for video-dating profiles, not viral videos of a talking orange. Youtube’s success was more the result of adaptation rather than intent; any “social” impact was a distant thought.

Not only is Youtube a social media channel, it’s a social media juggernaut. Any marketer worth their salt would be wise to see it as such. Here's why your presence on Youtube matters. 

What is Social Media?

is youtube social media

If we’re going to determine what is or is not “social media,” it’s best to leave it to the experts. 

The University of South Florida’s marketing departments defines social media as “an internet-based form of communication.” That’s not too descriptive, but it does go on to say that social media “allows users to have conversations, share information, and create web content.”

But doesn’t that describe the internet as a whole?

What really defines social media is not the networking of ideas but the networking of people. The internet began as a file-sharing technology. Social media is about sharing our lives.

What Makes Youtube Social?

Have you ever watched a show and thought, “Man, I need to show this to my friends!”? If so, then you’ve just defined the social network of Youtube without even realizing it.

Youtube wasn’t created to become a social network, but users have co-opted its services to create a community. As such, several more personal touches have made their way onto its social platform.

Engagement

The little thumbs up or thumbs down buttons directly below each video give viewers an opportunity to rate that video. More positive videos get pushed to the front page, while less enjoyable or useful videos are shown less.

This may seem minor, but giving viewers an opportunity to engage with a content creator is huge. The channel owner recognizes that higher engagement videos will be shared more often, and caters their approach accordingly.

is youtube social media

Personal Profiles

In order to post video content on Youtube, you’ll need to create a profile. That’s not the case for viewing content, however. Anyone, at any time, can log on to Youtube and start watching as many videos as their heart desires.

If you do sign up for a profile though, you can engage with the content. You can like, share, comment, and subscribe to a channel, all with the goal of customizing Youtube to your liking.

This creates a truly unique experience for each user. Your feed is personalized, and videos that Youtube thinks you’ll like are sent straight to your inbox. You can also create playlists for uninterrupted consumption.

Consumer Interaction

Anyone who has ever set foot in the comments section of a Youtube video knows just how volatile it can be. The comments are rife with people praising the video, pointing out its flaws, or asking for specific future content.

It can also be the home of some of the most epic internet fights of all time. This guy even took the arguments in the comment section and turned it into a video. How meta. 

Consumers are passionate about their favorite content and will fight complete strangers tooth and nail to defend it. You don't get much more “social” than that.

Influencers

is youtube social media



Do you know who runs NBC? Depending on what you’re looking for, it could be any one of these people.

While you may not know who Steve Burke is, chances are you (or your kids) know who Blippi is. As the host of a popular kid’s channel, Blippi makes more than $9 million a year  just from his Youtube channel. His burgeoning toy and live tour empire likely multiplies that number several more times. 

People identify with Blippi; they don’t identify with the head of NBC Universal. That connection is key to developing a strong brand that people can emotionally connect with. Nobody does that better than influencers — a term that didn’t even exist thirty years ago.

Influencers recognize that the fans drive the content creation, and getting a video to go viral is the key to success. For that reason, a lot of influencers will call their own Youtube subscribers out in the video (for good or bad reasons). They’ll do live Q&A, product reviews, and even post user-generated content for others to enjoy.

People may decry influencers as being narcissists, but the one thing they understand is the social nature of entertainment. Most importantly, they deploy it more effectively than some billion-dollar brands.

Where Does Youtube Rank as Social Media?

Facebook may be the most active social media site on the internet, but Youtube is closing the gap. With nearly 2.3 billion active users (compared to Facebook’s 2.9 billion), Youtube has a good chance of overtaking Facebook as the most popular social media platform.

Why? Because Youtube is growing at a much higher rate than Facebook. Additionally, Youtube is the number one social media site for 18-29-year-olds, which means it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

How to Use Youtube as Social Media

So how do you harness Youtube for the social media powerhouse that it is? It all comes back to basic marketing skills, with an emphasis on a few key areas.

Define Your Audience

Since there are nearly 40 million channels on Youtube, there’s a high probability that someone else is already in your niche. 

Want to create a channel for dinosaurs? There’s already one for that, and the same goes for plumbing, fashion, and fishing lures. And if you want to be the next travel vlogger, well…good luck.

That’s not to say you should abandon Youtube — quite the contrary. What it does mean is that you need to be laser-focused on your niche. Identify your specific audience and create content just for them.

Define Your Voice

Even if you did want to start a travel-based channel, there’s still a chance it could be uber successful. The only thing you need to nail down is how you’re going to approach the content.

A lot of people copy what’s already popular on Youtube. While it’s a good idea to emulate what’s working on other channels, cloning other creators is always a bad idea.

People will watch your content to hear your voice. It may take a while before you find it, but once you find that mix of what you like and what your fans like, run with it. 

is youtube social media

Connect With Other Channels

Successful Youtube creators don’t live on an island (metaphorically speaking). They network, cross-promote, and even appear on each other’s videos. Sometimes these videos are complimentary, sometimes they’re actually competitive, but it always makes for great entertainment.

By connecting with other channels, you can leverage other audiences for your own benefit. This works especially well if you’re doing a specific product push, or in the growth stage of your new channel.

Using YouTube's Social Media to Grow Your Brand

Not only is Youtube a legitimate social media platform, it might be one of the most powerful channels you optimize. If approached the right way, you can harness it’s power to grow your brand, all while having fun and connecting with people at the same time.




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By Brady Cook

Brady is a self-proclaimed efficiency freak with a passion for SEO. Name a side hustle, and he's probably done it: kindle books, Amazon FBA, affiliate sites, even dog walking.

When he's not writing content for digital marketing blogs, he's either hanging out with his family, reading, or on some off-road trail in Texas somewhere in his Bronco.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

Yes! I Love to Learn

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