As far as teenagers are concerned, over the past few years it seems that the marketing and advertising industry’s spotlight was aimed towards Facebook, the blue giant: Major budgets and company resources were invested in designing and coding branded Facebook pages, applications became the center of major campaigns and number of Facebook fans on the brands’ page is now an essential KPI for any marketing activity.
In a survey that was conducted by Harris Interactive earlier this month among American teenagers ages 13-24, one of the most surprising findings revealed that the most powerful or in their words, the brand with most equity in social media is actually YouTube, and not Facebook.
Instead of thinking “how could this be” or trying to explain the ecosystem in which brands invest resources in one path while teenagers are choosing another, I’ll try to analyze some of the reasons that, in my opinion, led YouTube to be the strong, favorable brand it is.
Making stardom accessible
For teens, Facebook is all about the social circles: they set up an account and from there they start making and, in some sort, collecting new friends from all sorts of social circles. In other hand, national, international and often local celebs remain out of reach for teenagers on Facebook and they never seem to interact with them outside the celebrity’s’ fan page.
On YouTube, however, the “flat” and simple hierarchy of information and profile pages make every user more or less equal: no barriers, no blocked profile pages and no need to send friend requests: every user can comment and write to every user, and when it comes to local and national celebs, that kind of unmediated interaction is greatly appreciated by teens.
Some teenagers have their talent to share with the world and while Facebook is a good sharing platform, the talented teen doesn’t have social circles that are large enough to actually spread his talent (ever wondered why there isn’t any Facebook-grown celeb while twitter and YouTube has plenty? This is why).
YouTube is making stardom accessible and in some way is creating the illusion that anyone can make it big on YouTube. Over the past few years many teen trends developed according to this notion, among them are Haul Videos (very popular among teen girls) and tons of singing, dancing and artistic all over videos.
It’s all about the content after all
They gave them almost infinite number of social features, tagging photos, interactive applications and branded worlds and yet the teenagers chose a content reaction and sharing platform: Humor, music videos, DYI and even educational videos, all of them found home in YouTube, making it one of the most popular content destination site for teens.
Moreover, YouTube are encouraging not only the creation of original content, but upgrading and remixing content. Quick search in YouTube for “AMV” (Anime Music Video) will reveal a huge world of teen and tween creativity built upon original anime clips and movies.
I believe that what makes YouTube so powerful among teenagers is something Facebook will most likely never have: strong feeling of community based on content that draws power from teens need to find their “group of equals” and gain recognition from them. True, Facebook have groups and pages for that but the so called “glue” that hold the community together is far more powerful on YouTube that uses content to create a vibrant, dynamic ecosystem.