Why YouTube is the No.1 Social Media Platform, Not Facebook

JOE 2 JOE team

You've got 10 seconds to name as many social platforms as you can. Go!

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Tumblr...

Wait, you've forgotten something. YouTube.

"But YouTube isn't social media," you say. No? This definition says otherwise:  

Social media (noun): Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

YouTube enables users to create and share content. And YouTube enables users to participate in social networking. YouTube is social media. Period. Not only is YouTube social media; it's the most-used social media in the world. (YouTube is the world's most visited website, after Google.)

This has serious ramifications for brands that never incorporated YouTube into their marketing strategy. The truth is, YouTube is one of the most powerful weapons in any marketer's arsenal. Still, only 9 percent of small businesses use it for marketing.

The Evolution of YouTube as a Social Media Platform

Most people still refer to YouTube as a video streaming platform, and it certainly started out that way. But YouTube is much more than music videos and old TV clips. In recent years, it's transformed into a fully-fledged social network that's just as important (and popular) as Facebook or Twitter. The only difference? Followers are called "subscribers," and influencers are "content creators."

Some users have millions of loyal followers. People have conversations in video comments sections. Status updates, Stories, friend requests, tags — these features prove YouTube is just as much a social hub as Instagram.

YouTube, at its core, has always been very social. Recently, however, it's become a meeting place for people with niche interests, who congregate in comments sections and exchange friend requests. TikTok and Vine, which combined large chunks of YouTube with other social elements, might skew younger, but YouTube is the social platform favored by almost every age group, making it attractive to marketers.

YouTube has a symbiotic relationship with Reddit, where niche communities also spring up, sometimes unexpectedly. On YouTube, though, communities sprawl around content creators, not topics. Here, the "YouTubers" are very much the "thought leaders and "influencers" one finds on Twitter and Instagram, respectively.

What Does This All Mean for Marketing?

YouTube vs other Social Media platform ROI odds

YouTube is very rarely considered a social network by marketing directors, so its enormous reach and high levels of engagement often go untapped. This is a shame because the potential of YouTube for marketers is simply staggering:

  • A massive 81 percent of 15-25-year-olds in the United States watch YouTube.
  • YouTube has 2 billion logged-in monthly viewers.
  • Each visitor spends, on average, 11 minutes and 24 seconds on YouTube every single day.
  • Each visit to YouTube, on average, involves 6.5 page views.

Marketers need to overcome the misconception that YouTube is a video streaming platform. This just isn't true anymore. YouTube has the power to move prospects through marketing funnels as quickly as any other type of social media.

It also provides a greater return on investment. Research shows that YouTube delivers a higher ROI than television 80 percent of the time, while 87 percent of marketers say YouTube generates more effective results than Facebook.

YouTube vs. Other Social Media

While YouTube is certainly effective, it has some drawbacks. For marketers who want to get a message out quickly, YouTube isn't as fast-moving as Twitter or Facebook. Content creators can upload Community Posts — essentially status updates, with a link to a video — but YouTube doesn't prioritize these in the same way on users' feeds.

However, YouTube trumps over social networks when it comes to sheer reach. Unlike Facebook, where news feeds are categorized based on the users' networks — posts from friends and families take precedence over brands — YouTube content creators can reach almost any audience pretty quickly. Trending videos aren't curated to users based on their preferences; these videos are available to everyone on the platform at the same time, so it's much easier to generate millions of hits in a relatively short period.

YouTube, arguably, has the best analytics platform than any other social network. Creators can see who's watching their content from where and when in real-time with YouTube Analytics. Plus, marketers can use YouTube not just for exposure but as a secondary revenue stream. Video monetization allows creators to make money from content — and, depending on video views, dollar pay-outs can spiral into the millions.

YouTube can also reach audiences who don't use other social media platforms, including older consumers. Research suggests YouTube reaches 67 percent of 36-45-year-olds, 66 percent of 46-55s, and 58 percent of people 56 and older.

Incorporate YouTube Marketing

For novices that have never used YouTube for marketing before, the premise is pretty much the same as other social networks: The best content will generate the most interest. Sure, already-established content creators with millions of followers have more reach, but a rookie can explode on this platform with the right content. Here are some tips:

  • Get to know the platform. Delve deeper than the Trending page and find out what videos generate the most interest in your niche. How do content creators engage with audiences? How frequently do they post content?
  • Learn how to optimize videos. Like Twitter and Facebook, you can add tags to content for exposure but, the first rule of YouTube? Create a creative click-worthy header that users can't resist.
  • Understand YouTube analytics. YouTube's analytics platform is different from Facebook's and provides more insights than Instagram's. It might take a while to familiarize yourself with all the metrics, so start now.
  • Work with content creators. If you're new to YouTube or struggle to reach targets, work with content creators to get your message to the world. Nowadays, sponsored content is pretty much the norm on the platform, and it's a great way to promote your products and services to a loyal demographic.
  • Advertise on YouTube. You can advertise on YouTube in a conventional way — there are banner ads, bumper ads, display ads, and plenty of other ad spaces.
  • Be Patient. It can take time to build up a following on YouTube, but the pay-off is extremely lucrative. Even a small group of loyal followers can be enough to dramatically boost interest in your product or service.


It's time to change your mindset and stop thinking of YouTube as an entertainment platform. It's much more than that — and it could revolutionize your entire marketing strategy. In an ever-shifting landscape, marketing directors should use YouTube alongside other social media for an omnichannel approach to marketing that increases brand awareness, boost sales, and engages with prospects.

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