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Creative Creators Creator Economy

From trending to longevity: how YouTube paved the way for its own revival

By Katie Mousley, Senior product marketing manager



The Drum Network article

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March 22, 2023 | 7 min read

Katie Mousley of creator-specialist agency Influencer looks at how YouTube first set the precedent for creators back in 2007 and how its revival is now rebooting the creator economy.

Man sat in dark at computer

YouTube’s revival is a reminder of its position as a pioneer in the industry / Nubelson Fernandes

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

Facebook succeeded in creating communities online, but content creation as we know it was far 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 put content creation at its forefront. In 2007, it was already enabling creators to make money from the ad revenue of the videos that they posted online.

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

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

He stated, “YouTube’s ability to empower creators to monetize content really changed the social media landscape. Its ability to respond to changes and truly champion creators has been huge for the industry. Tools like Waves by Influencer are the next iteration of this, enabling creators to measure impact across platforms, monetize content and generate opportunity with ease”.

Some platforms, like Instagram, have grown to compete as heavy-weights in the social media space while other competitors, like Vine, saw a swift rise – and equally swift fold. Each platform provides its own templates for creator content, methods for monetization and algorithms that control reach, creating a continuously growing climate.

YouTube’s revival

Amidst the noise in the ever-changing space, YouTube continues to re-asserting itself as a key voice. The hunger for short-form videos that TikTok wielded brought with it an array of predictions of the future of video content, citing two options; either the death of longer video content as we know it or an upcoming cultural shift, whereby viewers will eventually grow tired of excessively short videos, experiencing ‘short-form fatigue’, favoring YouTube once more.

Recently, YouTube created a third option: YouTube Shorts. Hot on trends and changes in the industry, its new feature directly responds to the rise in demand for shorter video content, like that which trends on TikTok and now Instagram Reels.

YouTube’s addition will be lucrative to established creators, many of which already have platforms on the app, and will likely incentivize more overall content on the YouTube platform.

The creator-first movement

The social media landscape continues to witness changing algorithms and formats across platforms; TikTok recently launched a carousel feature while Instagram has been focussing on pushing video content through Reels.

Tracking which content performs best; on which formats; on which apps, and where content is best placed to generate revenue, can seem like a game of luck. Yet, this information is critical for creators to navigate the industry and decipher which platforms and types of content are worth investing their time in, and where their audiences are.

Influencers are witnessing the pressures facing creators and responding with support. Its latest app feature, the YouTube media kit on Waves, enables creators to have all of their YouTube analytics in one place, alongside their analytics for other platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, too.

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, creators now have the opportunity to connect with brands, monetize their impact through partnerships and cement creative collaboration.

YouTube has re-established itself as a major player in the industry, despite the challenge of changing demands for content and new competitors. In doing so, it has shown that responding to creator needs is pivotal to long-term platform success. With this takeaway, the way that other platforms may follow suit in valuing creators in unique ways could create more nuance in the space and see the growth of the social media industry reach a new stage of maturity.

Creative Creators Creator Economy

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