The Drum | From Trend to Longevity: How YouTube Paved the Way for Its Own Revival

Katie Mousley of influencer agency, which specializes in creators, examines how YouTube first set a precedent for creators in 2007 and how its revival is now rebooting the creator economy.

Social media and content creation are synonymous with one another, in a relationship that is now built into the algorithms of our favorite social platforms. The advent of social media established connection and creativity as cornerstones, where platforms like Facebook (now Meta) were created with the simple goal: to strengthen online connections.

Facebook managed to create online communities, but creating content as we know it was a far cry from Facebook’s original repertoire. The beginnings of content creation were instead born out of a new platform created in response to the demand for a place to share and access video content online.

YouTube brought with it a stronger economic framework that brought content creation to the fore. In 2007, it was already allowing video creators to monetize the ad revenue from the videos they put online.

The monetization of content on social media that YouTube spearheaded opened the “creator economy” that exists now is estimated to be worth US$104.2 billion worldwide. It gave the generation that grew up watching videos a new answer to the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you’re older?”

Caspar Lee, one of YouTube’s early content creators and co-founder and chief visionary officer of Influencer, praises YouTube for its accessibility, which allowed him to build a following on the platform before the age of 18.

He explained, “YouTube’s ability to give creators the ability to monetize content has really changed the landscape of social media. His ability to respond to change and truly champion creators was tremendous for the industry. Tools like Waves by Influencer are the next iteration of that, allowing developers to measure impact across platforms, monetize content and easily generate opportunities.”

Some platforms, like Instagram, have become social media heavyweights, while other contenders, like Vine, have risen and fallen just as quickly. Each platform offers its own templates for creator content, monetization methods, and algorithms that drive reach, creating an ever-growing climate.

The revival of YouTube

Amidst the noise in the ever-changing space, YouTube continues to assert itself as a key voice. The hunger for short-form video that TikTok wielded brought with it a series of predictions about the future of video content, citing two options; Either the end of longer video content as we know it, or an impending cultural shift where viewers will eventually grow tired of overly short videos, experience “short-form fatigue” and favor YouTube once again.

Recently, YouTube created a third option: YouTube Shorts. Hot on trends and changes in the industry, the new feature is a direct response to the increasing demand for shorter video content, like that found on TikTok and now Instagram Reels.

The addition of YouTube will be lucrative for established YouTubers, many of whom already have platforms in the app, and will likely stimulate more overall content across the YouTube platform.

The Creator First Movement

The social media landscape continues to witness changing algorithms and formats across platforms; TikTok recently introduced a carousel feature, while Instagram has focused on sliding video content through reels.

Track which content performs best; on which formats; Which apps and where content is best placed to generate revenue can seem like a gamble. However, this information is essential for developers to navigate the industry and decipher which platforms and types of content are worth investing their time in and where their audience resides.

Influencers see the pressures creators face and respond with support. Its latest app feature, YouTube Media Kit on Waves, allows developers to have all of their YouTube analytics in one place along with their analytics for other platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

This allows creators to track their performance across platforms and in real-time to see the impact of their content immediately. Armed with this insightful data, developers now have the ability to connect with brands, monetize their impact through partnerships, and solidify creative collaborations.

YouTube has re-established itself as a major player in the industry despite the challenge of changing content demands and new competitors. In doing so, it has been shown that responding to the needs of creators is crucial to the long-term success of the platform. With this insight, the way other platforms are uniquely following suit when rating creators could create more nuance in the space and result in the growth of the social media industry reaching a new level of maturity.

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