Vlogs Are Keeping YouTube The 'Coolest' Youth Video Channel

Which social network is currently considered to be the “coolest”?

Keep track of the tech news and you might get a different answer each day. Every new network or app that comes along enjoys its brief moment in the spotlight, basking in the temporary glow of being the exciting new name on-the-block. Remember how Ello seemed pretty trendy when it first came along? Or how recently-closed-down Whisper was the app du jour for a time? The problem with today’s kids is that they’re rather fickle when it comes to their favourite networks -- what’s in one moment can be decidedly out the next.

To take stock of the current situation, GWI’s latest wave of research asked 16,000 Internet users in the UK and USA to pick which social network they thought was the “coolest.” The results might surprise you.

Despite being over 10 years old and the subject of constantly negative headlines, it’s Facebook that comes out at the top among Internet users ages 16-64. In light of the challenge it’s facing in terms of growing its membership base in mature markets and keeping its existing users interested, this is certainly good news for Zuckerberg and Co.

That said, the platform’s giant reach is having a clear impact here. With so many older Internet users active on Facebook only, it’s no wonder they think it’s the coolest. Arguably, it’s more important to look at those Internet users for whom being considered 'cool' is most important. Take a step forward, teens.

Among this key and much-coveted audience (defined here as 16-19s), Facebook takes a tumble down the cool charts. In fact, teens are 60% less likely to say that Facebook is the coolest network. In contrast, Tumblr and Snapchat shoot up the rankings. But the real story here is YouTube.

For teens in the UK/USA, YouTube is the coolest social platform of all. Having hit its tenth anniversary last month, the video-sharing site is certainly no spring chicken. Nevertheless, it’s clearly hitting a chord with the teen audience; in the UK and US, teens are 66% more likely than the average person to be active users of YouTube, with half of these teen MAUs checking in multiple times per day. What’s more, a mighty 91% of teens are visiting YouTube in some form each month -- that’s the same number who visit Google, and it’s a figure that puts YouTube 15 percentage points ahead of Facebook.

So why the victory for YouTube here? How come it has the cool factor among teens?

One of the most important reasons is vlogs. YouTube has become the default channel for vloggers and teens in the UK/US are twice as likely as average person to be watching them.

Vlogs are almost tailor-made for a teen audience -- they tend to be short, produced by young talent and are ideal for watching on a smartphone. No surprise, then, that half of online teens say they watched one last month.

There is a catch here, though. While vloggers might be making YouTube cool and bringing in a key demographic for marketers, the effectiveness of vlogs as a brand advertisement channel has yet to be proven. GWI’s research shows that it’s still only 15% of teens in the US/UK who say they discover brands through vlogs. That does put this demographic ahead of the average, but vlogging still lingers near the bottom of the list of brand/product discovery sources.

Vlogs might be giving YouTube the cool factor, then, but for brands to successfully cash in on this, the situation is not quite as straightforward as you might think.

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