YouTube At A Crossroads: Social Media Network Or A Streaming Service?

YouTube At A Crossroads: Social Media Network or Streaming Service?

YouTube At A Crossroads: Social Media Network Or A Streaming Service?

As our teams dove into Q4 research at the beginning of the year, we notice that our data partner, GWI (formerly known as GlobalWebIndex), recently moved YouTube out of the ‘social media network’ category and into the ‘streaming service’ category.

We asked one of our representatives what prompted the move, and the GWI research team replied with the following: We reviewed the social media questions last year and felt that the landscape had changed since they were first introduced in 2013 and that YouTube would now fit more comfortably into the TV, film and video services.

This decision had our team heavily weighing which category was more appropriate for the company.

Could they be both? More importantly, could they be successful in both?

Is YouTube aware they’re being categorized as a streaming service and is that their intention?

YouTube quickly became the most popular online video platform and revolutionized video hosting on the Web. The success of YouTube subsequently led to several similar online video streaming platforms, from companies such as Netflix and Hulu.

YouTube As A Social Media Network

Even with GWI moving YouTube to the streaming services category, a lot of its core functionality and features (including new ones they’ve recently rolled out) are very social media-centric. Let’s take a look-see at these features, shall we?

Community Tab

This YouTube feature allows you to socially engage with your audience away from the videos and content that you upload. However, the Community Tab is only available to creators who have 1000 or more subscribers. You can engage with your audience in the form of status updates, subscriber polls, and Q&As.

YouTube Stories

Stories is a collection of short videos that last for seven days, well, until you save them. As a competitor to IG/FB and Snapchat stories, this fantastic feature is only available to creators with 10,000 or more subscribers. 

Stories are available only on the YouTube mobile app, where they appear on the stories page on the creator’s channel.

YouTube Shorts

Shorts allow you to create 15-second-long videos and add fantastic music tracks. While launching BETA in the U.S, the company’s product lead in Shorts pointed out: We really want to create a playground of creativity here where we give creators the raw materials to produce great videos.

The company forecasts a dedicated Shorts tab; in the meantime, the feature will live on a carousel on the home tab of the mobile YouTube app.

As a competitor to TikTok and IG Reels, Shorts is a new avenue for the next generation of creators to emerge.

Engagement Features

All social media networks have one thing in common; user – subscribers, in the case of YouTube – engagement.

YouTube allows subscribers to like, dislike, share, and save videos of their liking. Additionally, and most importantly, audiences can comment on videos, a feature that streaming services don’t have.

Subscriber Notifications

Notifications are a great way to help audiences and subscribers track and stay engaged with you. However, too many notifications can be annoying right? This can prompt subscribers to turn off the notifications altogether. Therefore, the company has limited notifications to three for new video uploads and one community post for three days.

Your subscribers won’t get all your notifications by hitting the ‘subscribe’ button; instead, they should manually hit the bell icon next to the subscribe button.

Creator-Centric Platform

Since its inception, YouTube has and continues to play a vital role in the influencer marketing world. The company has created various avenues for creators to earn from their content. Some of them are;

  • YouTube Partner Programs (YPP) – grants creators access to YouTube’s resources, such as the YouTube support team. The program enables creators to earn through features such as;
    • Ad revenue
    • Channel memberships
    • Super chat and super sticker
    • Merch (merchandise) shelf
    • YouTube premium revenue

If you think your channel is ready to earn you some bucks, head over and take the YPP creator course.

  • YouTube Premiers – joins you and your audiences to allow you all to watch and enjoy a newly uploaded video together at a scheduled time. You can create and share a public watch page ahead of the video premiere.
  • Live Streaming –enables you to engage with your audience in real-time through chats, polls, Q&A, and video feed. It transforms a video feed into an interactive and fun activity.
  • Media Buying Platform – makes it easy for any creator to run ads on the network.

YouTube As A Streaming Service

On the other hand, several unique features support the argument that YouTube is a streaming service;

YouTube Original Series

These are shows, series, movies, and events produced by YouTube. Some of these series are exclusive to YouTube Premium or YouTube TV subscribers, while others are free. However, free viewing comes with running ads, and only select episodes may be available for streaming at particular times.

YouTube Premium

At only $11.99 per month, you get to enjoy;

  • Ad-free content, including YouTube Original Series
  • Download videos for offline viewing when you are preparing those delicious cookies
  • YouTube Music Premium offers uninterrupted music from all your favorite artists. The cherry on top, your location data enables the feature to play location-related music. For instance, if you are working out, you can listen to workout music only. Sounds cool, right?
  • Video background plays when you open another app on your mobile device.

YouTube TV

This feature allows you to stream live TV from more than 85 top entertainment channels, shows, news, and live sports. You can stream through a host of supported devices such as smart TVs, media players, game consoles, computers, and mobile devices.

At $64.99 monthly, you can record without storage limits, no extra hardware such as cable boxes, and you get six accounts.

There you go, so is YouTube a social media network or a streaming service?

Looking at YouTube as a whole company, the move by GWI to the ‘TV, film and video services’ category may make sense. However, we can’t overlook the YouTube app’s numerous features and functionalities that support YouTube as a social media network.

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