YouTube is the most popular video-sharing website in the world. With over 2 billion monthly active users, it has become an important part of many people’s online experience.
The platform is regarded mainly as a video-sharing site where users can watch and upload videos. However, its other features like comments, polls, and community posts foster user interaction. This begs the question: Should YouTube be considered a social media platform?
That’s the question we’re answering today.
Social media is a broad term that encompasses many different types of platforms. Thus, the question: “What counts as a social media platform?” may be more tricky to answer than one might think.
Social media refers to websites or apps that allow users to create and share content, connect with other users, and participate in online communities. Some popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
To determine whether YouTube is a social media platform, we need to examine its characteristics and compare them to those of social media. Key elements of social media platforms include:
- User-Generated content: Social media platforms rely heavily on user-generated content, where users create and share content with others.
- Interaction: Social media platforms provide a means for users to interact with each other, either through comments, likes, shares, or direct messaging.
- Personalization: Social media platforms allow users to personalize their profiles and control their online presence.
- Networking: Social media platforms enable users to connect and network with others who share their interests.
- Virality: Social media platforms allow content to spread rapidly and become viral through sharing and engagement.
YouTube can be considered a social media platform. It has the key characteristics of a social media platform—user-generated content, interaction, personalization, networking, and the potential for viral content.
Below are some of the features that make YouTube a social media platform…
1. Subscriptions, Comments, and Likes
YouTube channel subscriptions offer a medium of interaction between creators and viewers. This is, in a sense, similar to how following works on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribing to a YouTube channel can be likened to following a creator’s updates on other platforms.
Likes and comments also serve as interaction points between creators and their fans. Some users use the comment section to message people on YouTube.
YouTube’s Community posts feature, which allows creators to share images, polls, and GIFs to their Community tab, is another example of how the platform facilitates user engagement. Subscribers can comment and engage with Community posts, which gives it a similar feel to traditional social media platforms.
3. User-Generated Content
YouTube is often lumped in with free movie streaming sites. However, YouTube is different from traditional video-streaming services because its content is user-generated.
Registered users can upload videos to the platform. Meanwhile, anyone, registered or not, can view them for free. This ability to share information (in this case, videos) with a vast audience is another reason YouTube qualifies as a social media platform.
4. YouTube Shorts
YouTube rolled out its Shorts feature in May 2021 to take on TikTok and Instagram Reels. Shorts let users create short-form videos under 60 seconds and add music, effects, and stickers.
The Shorts move and its later launch of YouTube handles in October 2022 show its intent to be considered a social media platform.
YouTube is most similar to other video-sharing platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, except it focuses on long-form video. Thanks to its Community posts and commenting features, YouTube shares even more similarities with traditional social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Thus, YouTube can be considered a video-sharing social media platform.