When YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded the platform’s first video in April 2005, neither he nor anyone else could’ve guessed that it would soon be a platform worth more than $100 billion. Titled “Me at the zoo,” Karim’s video was a humble start to what’s now the world’s second most popular social media platform, trailing only Facebook’s monthly active user count.
YouTube may not be quite as popular as Facebook, but most marketers consider it a better investment. According to influencer marketing agency Mediakix, YouTube trails only Instagram as the social media channel marketers are most invested in. More than two-thirds of marketers plan to spend the most on Instagram this year, with just 11 percent saying the same about YouTube and a single-digit percentage echoing those thoughts about Facebook.
Are they making the right investments?
YouTube Is Your Best Bet
YouTube isn’t a smart investment just because it’s getting less than its share of attention from marketers. YouTube should be at the center of your social media strategy because:
- Mobile is king.
If you’re like most consumers, your buyer’s journey usually begins on your smartphone. A study by product content management platform Salsify found that shoppers are more than twice as likely to turn to their smartphones for product research than a salesperson.
Although consumers watch far more than product videos on their phone, 70 percent of YouTube views come from mobile devices. Those aren’t short blips of activity, either. The average mobile viewing session on YouTube now lasts more than 40 minutes. Again, not every view precedes a purchase, but the overlap between product research and video viewership implies many shoppers are making the jump from their smartphones.
- The scale of consumption is staggering.
Even if only a small percentage of YouTube viewers go on to purchase a product they see in a video, the social video platform’s scale translates to a lot of conversions. Believe it or not, consumers watch more than 1 billion hours of YouTube content each day — more than Netflix and Facebook video combined.
What are all those viewers watching? Even if it’s funny cat videos, they’re seeing YouTube’s TrueView ads. Those who watch a YouTube ad to completion or for at least 30 seconds are 23 times more likely to subscribe to a brand channel, watch additional brand videos, or share the brand’s content. In fact, any amount of exposure to a YouTube ad renders a viewer 10 times more likely to take one or more of the aforementioned actions. Add it all up, and that’s a lot of opportunities for brand engagement.
- How-to videos are hot.
Ask any content marketer: Actionability is the key to effective content. If a blog post, podcast, or video doesn’t tell the consumer what to do next, it’s not going to deliver the intended value. Fortunately, searches for how-to videos on YouTube are growing by 70 percent per year.
Admittedly, turning how-to content into sales takes some creativity on marketers’ part. To sell more tents and boots, for instance, an outdoor equipment company could make a video on the basics of backpacking. For its part, an automotive supply company might put together a clip about how consumers can change their own oil.
- Young people prefer it to traditional television.
For young people, YouTube isn’t just a platform for tutorials. When digital media firm Defy Media surveyed consumers aged 13 to 24, it discovered that they spend more than half a day each week watching videos on YouTube and other social networks. For point of reference, that’s 150 percent of the time they spend watching traditional television.
Even if your buyers tend to be older, YouTube may be a better investment. Not only is it far more expensive to place television ads, but the trend toward YouTube seems to be here to stay. Just 36 percent of Gen Z and Millennials say they can’t live without traditional TV, while 67 percent said the same about YouTube.
- International audiences are watching.
Social media platform popularity varies massively by country. Viber, Seina Weibo, and YY are popular in Asian countries, for example, but they receive almost no traffic from U.S. consumers. YouTube, by contrast, is popular in the U.S. and abroad. In fact, a larger proportion of internet users in Mexico, Argentina, Vietnam, and about a dozen other countries have used YouTube in the last month than their U.S.-based peers.
YouTube isn’t shy about catering to those audiences. The social video site has launched local versions in at least 91 countries, enabling users to navigate it in 80 languages. In other words, YouTube offers a native experience to more than 95 percent of the world’s online population.
YouTube is far more than a hub for vlogs and music videos. In barely a decade, it’s become the television of the 21st century. No other social platform — including Instagram, despite marketers’ investment, and Facebook, regardless of its user advantage — dominates its type of media to such a degree. If that’s not reason enough to make YouTube the center of your social strategy, what is?