YouTube has provided a staggering success story worthy of anyone’s consideration; by permitting content creators from all around the world to come together and share their creative musings with one another, YouTube managed to join the ranks of the most popular websites and became one of the most widely-recognized services in the world. This has led countless others to duplicate YouTube’s strategy in an effort to cash in on the growing world of video advertising, but what too few of them seem to understand is that content providers can’t be easily bought.
Here’s why the content creator landscape can’t be influenced by throwing huge sums of money at creators and hoping they rev up your platform.
Before YouTube was profitable, it was a community
Many investors who want to replicate YouTube’s success are trying to woo content creators over to their side. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and others are all desperately trying to generate a legitimate community of content creators that will ceaselessly churn out gut-busting videos that will leave viewers howling with laughter while earning millions for investors and platform owners. What they fail to realize, however, is that YouTube was a grassroots community long before it became the profitable behemoth we recognize it as today.
In the earliest days of YouTube, content creators weren’t dedicated professionals who spent hours of every day musing how to go about creating viral content. As a matter of fact, “content creators” weren’t really a professional class of people at all; it was mostly just everyday users from around the world coming together to share hilarious videos they made, many of which are of abysmally low quality by modern standards. YouTube succeeded early on because it provided people with an incredibly easy (almost effortless) way of uploading videos online.
Modern platforms have a bigger hurdle in front of them; the ability to easily post online videos is now widespread, so they’re preoccupied with attracting big-name stars who can generate not only videos but also ravenous followings of fans eager to spend their money on merchandise and advertised offerings. A review of YouTube’s history also demonstrates that importance of Flash to the platform’s initial success, something that modern contenders won’t be able to apply to their situation, either.
You can’t skip the grassroots process
Essentially, many companies around the world today are looking enviously in YouTube’s direction before deciding to establish video empires of their own. What they fail to realize, however, is that you can’t skip the grassroots process and spend millions of dollars to establish a thriving digital community overnight. Content creators can be paid and enlisted, but the ability to generate grassroots followings of everyday users who are invested in and engaged with the content in front of them will never be for sale – after all, nobody can offer it.
Strategies that encourage you to buy YouTube views or help you get viewers to subscribe will thus remain incredibly popular, as viable alternatives to YouTube are relatively few and far between. Content creators aren’t going to willingly leave YouTube anytime soon, even as the company becomes more focused on projects like YouTube Red that churn out higher quality productions. You may be able to buy a content creator’s attention for a short while, but it will be impossible to convince their fanbase to migrate to an entire new platform overnight, and the ability to connect with fans is the reason that content creators possess value to platforms in the first place.
It’s long been said that “the best things in life are free.” YouTube succeeded early on not because content creators were showered with money, but because users were having a blast sharing funny or insightful videos with each other. From that thriving community of anonymous users budded a small but ever-growing class of professional content creators who made the platform into a behemoth. Until other platforms realize that they need to focus on the human elements of connection and creativity over the marketing imperatives of profit and “demographic outreach,” they’ll never be able to replicate YouTube’s enduring success.