YouTube has the best shot at beating TikTok

After a few years of booming growth, TikTok has started to see that growth slow which is normal but, as we’ve seen in big tech, not ideal.

Infinite growth is and likely will always be the model big tech firms chase no matter how unsustainable that goal is. As such, we see the likes of TikTok introducing new features which emulate those seen on other platforms. Features such as TikTok now borrowing from the app BeReal and a push to engage with friends on the app makes it feel distinctly Facebook-esque.

What TikTok did well, much like Vine before it, was popularise and normalise short form video content.

The combination of popular music with easily accessible editing features really pushed the idea of content creation forward in leaps and bounds. In a world where YouTube was vying for longer, slicker, more professional content, TikTok was asking everyone to join in and do a dance, share a recipe or apply Dungeon and Dragons mechanics to everyday life.

Fast forward to the end of 2022 and the fate of TikTok in the US hangs in the balance.

Lawmakers in the US are concerned that bad actors in China are able to manipulate TikTok to push certain messages and content. These concerns aren’t unfounded as experts have shown that the app is very different in China and the US.

When this conversation first popped up in 2020 TikTok was the only platform of its kind but since then Reels and YouTube Shorts have entered the market and seem to be doing rather well. However, we believe that one of these is better suited as a replacement for TikTok should lawmakers ban it – YouTube.

While it may appear as if we side with YouTube because it has always been a video sharing platform for decades at this point, that’s not our primary reason. No, we say that YouTube can overtake TikTok because YouTube understands its ecosystem deeply and as a result, it pays its creators well.

The YouTube Partner Program is a bastion in the world of content creation. Launched in 2007, this program sees YouTube sharing advertising revenue with creators. This system has seen the rise of individuals quitting their day jobs to focus on creating content for YouTube full time. The idea of hitting a record button on a camera and editing a timeline of footage as a job has become normal and there are many folks who earn a great living from it.

But there was always a barrier to entry with YouTube. This barrier isn’t YouTube but rather the user base. Videos that contain high quality editing alongside professional camera footage and high-fidelity audio tend to garner more views.

We know, not every YouTube started out with the best equipment. That having been said, we see folks who have at least a DSLR, video editing skills and a good microphone to start tend to find more success on YouTube.

What TikTok did was make this process simpler while also putting everybody on an even playing field in terms of tools. Instead of editing on a massive PC or Mac, you now had to edit everything on your smartphone using the tools TikTok provided. It gave the platform a raw untamed energy which borders on chaos.

It clearly works though and YouTube could be the best space to emulate this.

This comes down to the fact that YouTube has added Shorts to its Partner Program whereby creators will earn a portion of advertising revenue. More than that, creators will be able to use music from popular artists. This does mean less overall revenue for Shorts creators but one could leverage shorts as a hook and then lead viewers to longer form content on YouTube where they can potentially earn more.

The Community section of YouTube does need some work as does YouTube’s comment system on mobile and desktop platforms. The bones of the platform however are sturdy and YouTube has shown it can weather any controversial storm thrown at it.

Of course, TikTok won’t die off if it’s banned in the US but as we saw with Huawei, once access to the US market is blocked off, doing business with the rest of the world becomes a lot tougher.

If we were forced to choose between moving to Reels or moving to Shorts though, we’d opt for Shorts.

Ultimately we don’t want to see TikTok disappear because it can be a great platform. Of course that’s putting aside the security concerns experts raise which are hard to ignore.


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