Since 2005, YouTube has remained the go-to long-form video platform for people of all ages. It’s become so accessible that many use it instead of watching cable TV, and in recent years, has added more integrations to modernize the platform and its offerings. YouTube is the founding place of trends and memes still referenced in pop culture today, and has even served as an avenue to scout out major stars like Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes.
While the platform originally hosted skit-like content like Charlie Bit My Finger and David After Dentist, it has become an outlet for vloggers, singers, artists and filmmakers. Some podcasts now even offer a visual element, where listeners can tune-in through YouTube and see their favorite hosts; proving that historically, people enjoy and maybe even prefer long-form video content. We’re seeing this become a reality with short-term video apps like TikTok, testing out 10-minute long videos in-app and Instagram allowing up to 60-minute long videos.
It’s clear that YouTube is among the founding fathers of social media, but how has it changed over time? When it comes to influencer marketing, YouTube tends to have a slightly different method to the madness compared to other platforms. We sat down to chat about it with two of our Talent Managers, Erin O’Donohue and Jenna Tarabek. Erin and Jenna both represent a large number of YouTube creators and are extremely familiar with the nuances of the platform and how influencer marketing differs over there, as opposed to newer video apps like TikTok.
How is YouTube different from other social media?
Erin: YouTube is a totally different category in and of itself. Longform video provides a much deeper form of connection in a subscriber/creator relationship, whereas social media like Instagram and TikTok are just quick snapshots or moments in time. On YouTube, people are putting out hour-long videos, talking about their day, and asking their viewers questions and opinions on things – it’s like chatting with the girls. It has a bit more significance to it.
Jenna: Although both provide video content, the viewers on TikTok aren’t the same viewers that are on YouTube. YouTube watchers are there for the long-haul, they’re prepared to sit down for 30-40 minutes and catch up with their favorite vloggers, almost the same as they would with a friend. And vice versa, many of our YouTube creators have a deeper desire to connect with their audience on that platform. I see a lot more engagement over there among my creators because of the relationships they’ve fostered in getting to know their audience.
Is YouTube also shifting in the way we use it, such as apps like Instagram?
Erin: The interface of YouTube has for the most part remained the same, but we are seeing newer features roll out like Shorts, which are like reels and TikTok videos. I think we can look at Shorts just as a tool, and it’s one that YouTuber’s can get in on now before it potentially gets much bigger. If you already have the content made from TikTok or Instagram, there’s no harm in recycling it over on Shorts. We haven’t yet seen any major paid campaigns on there the way we do on Instagram and TikTok, but never say never.
Jenna: I think YouTube is actually shifting more than we realize, but without disrupting the main use of the platform. There’s also YouTube TV in addition to Shorts, which is another feature that hasn’t directly impacted the original, main experience of YouTube. It feels like they’re trying to provide more options and resources to both users and creators to keep them in one place [YouTube], but they’re not going head to head or trying to one-up other apps. I love that they’ve stayed true to their original form of simply being a long-form video platform. I don’t think their additions will hurt them in any way as long as they stay true to their founding roots.
What are the nuances with YouTube as it relates to influencer marketing?
Erin: This is a broad statement, but overall, I’d say there are less total partnerships on YouTube because of the time, effort and volume of long-form video. On apps like TikTok, a creator could put out 10 videos in a 24-hour span and half of them could be some sort of collaboration or partnership. Obviously that’s a stretch, but it’s possible. On YouTube, a creator might put out one, hour-long video per week and that video will only contain one brand integration or partnership. As a result, YouTubers tend to be quite selective with their partnerships since they might only have one slot available per week to work with a brand.
Jenna: Because relationships are really strong on YouTube, we strive to build out long-term partnerships over there. I think they hold a higher value than just a one and done kind of deal because it conveys to viewers that the creator really knows, loves and is passionate about the brand and product they’re promoting. I’m not implying that it’s not like that on other platforms, but with the volume of content coming out on TikTok, content there generally has a shorter shelf-life. YouTube videos might be up for a week before another one comes out, so subscribers have plenty of time to see a video before it is pushed down the feed with a new upload. Viewership is also typically much more consistent on YouTube compared to TikTok, so brands have a good indication of how a video will likely perform based on the history of the creator’s past uploads. A TikTok video could flop and then the next one could rack up over a million views hours later, it’s more variable. More goes into a rate than what meets the eye, but sometimes they can be higher on YouTube than other platforms since we can predict how a video will perform. Since uploads (usually!) aren’t as constant compared to TikTok or reels, videos have time to gain traction and hit views that are comparable with their previous videos, which offers brands assurance that what they’re paying for will likely achieve a similar amount of views as well.
Does YouTube have a more hefty payout to creators over other social media platforms?
Erin: There is definitely the opportunity for it to, yes. Adsense on YouTube doesn’t ever expire, meaning creators can continue to be paid out in ad revenue for videos that are years old. Instagram’s Creator Fund, albeit new, only tracks and pays creators out for two weeks worth of views. I’ve started to notice a trend where my creators who are part of the Instagram Creator Fund, will have Reels go viral only once their time limit has passed. This obviously isn’t proven, but it does further solidify to me that YouTube really cares about their creators and reimburses them fairly.
Jenna: It certainly can. There are so many factors when it comes to how creators earn income through social media, but I do think AdSense on YouTube gives back to creators the most. Like Erin said, there are a lot of strange nuances that come with creator funds on TikTok and Instagram, so I think YouTube’s is the most consistent and easily understood of them all.
The ecosystem of YouTube has evolved so much over the last almost 20 years, but they have remained, at their core, a long-form video platform that brings people together. As the creator economy has evolved, YouTube has remained a fair player in the social media game.
While we’ve seen them introduce new features like YouTube TV and Shorts, we don’t foresee there being any major overhauls the way we’ve seen on Instagram or TikTok. That said, we can never really be sure, so we’ll be keeping an eye out for new changes just like you are!
If you are interested in connecting with Erin or Jenna to see their roster of creators or discuss management, you can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.