The “YouTuber” Is Dead
I have been a YouTube vlogger for nearly 11 years. My first year of making videos was during a time that YouTube was not owned by Google and there was no money to be made. Just a decade later, individuals are making 8 figures a year doing the same thing.
I spent a lot of time working on my YouTube videos, uploading over 2,000 videos and gaining 100,000 subscribers over my time as a YouTuber. I appreciate this accomplishment, and I have an incredibly smart, loyal audience that I love — but this is not a huge success story that will be in Forbes tomorrow.
2009 and 2010 were the biggest growth years for my YouTube career. During this same time, I created a Twitter account called OMGFacts that went viral because I created something that had not existed yet, which was treating Twitter as a content stream of its own, rather than a supplement to what I was doing in my life or on YouTube.
I did own a Twitter account that would do these things for myself and still do, but this was a time where Ashton Kutcher had 900,000 followers on Twitter and that was it. Everyone was linking out to content from other places. My thought was that I could create something that would give users content directly on Twitter rather than using Twitter as a promotional tool for another piece of content. I started OMGFacts by posting facts directly in the feed, which stood out from most of the other content on Twitter at the time.
The moral of this story is that if I were to have just stuck to promoting myself to YouTube from other platforms, I would never have seen the success I did. I sold OMGFacts a couple years later and today I run a company called Decked Media that owns brands similar to OMGFacts in different niches, creating content for multiple platforms and now signing on outside brands and individuals to help them do what we do for ourselves.
Everyone on YouTube should be looking at other platforms.
No better time when ad buys are being pulled from YouTube after brands found their ads running against upsetting and offensive content. If you treat each platform with respect instead of solely linking out somewhere else, you will discover different audiences that will enjoy different forms of your content that all link back to the core root of your brand voice. Calling yourself a YouTuber in today’s social media world is placing yourself in a box. Every platform now provides different opportunities with all kinds of monetization models. My story is an example of creating an entirely different brand on an entirely different platform, but this works in the same way if you have a niche or brand for yourself, you can create different kinds of content under the same roof of your brand identity.
Let’s take a look at someone we’ve been working with at Decked Media. Mikey Bolts is known on YouTube for his impressions and skits with over 2.5 million subscribers. One of the first videos we uploaded to his Facebook page was called “Impressions of Dogs” where he took photos of dogs and pretended to voice their thoughts. It’s a hilarious, simple piece of work that a majority of people can relate to. This video had three hundred thousand views over 7 months on YouTube when we decided to upload it to Facebook. Today, this video has over 27 million views on Facebook.
This is a prime example of someone who has a lot of experience growing an audience on YouTube and discovered that he could use the same content he has already made for YouTube, make a few changes to fit the narrative of the Facebook timeline, and gain an entirely new audience through his hard work multiple times, making the total ROI value of each content piece increase.
Mikey’s Facebook page likes doubled in three months.
Mikey is not just known as the YouTuber, but as Mikey Bolts, who is on YouTube…but is also on Facebook, and other platforms because he is Mikey freaking Bolts. He is a YouTuber, but he is so much more than a YouTuber, and that’s why I believe the times of “YouTuber” are over. Someone like Mikey should be expected to be on all platforms as a personality brand utilizing social media. This can also stretch to more traditional mediums as well like television and public appearances. Mikey now has hundreds of thousands of new viewers who have never seen him on YouTube.
Say instead of creating OMGFacts, I turned my Adorian Deck YouTube brand into facts. My entire Twitter stream would be sentences about interesting information, my YouTube channel would be long-form informational videos with me in them, my Facebook page would be 30 second to 1-minute informational videos with visuals and text rather than my own face, my Instagram would be photos about similar information. I would be missing out on a ton of exposure if I just try to link my YouTube channel from Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, though there is room for this as well.
Your brand identity does not have to be stuck to one platform.
Another great example of someone who has adjusted well is DeStorm. When I first learned about him nearly 10 years ago, he was on YouTube vlogging and rapping. When Vine came out, he grew an entirely new audience there with 6-second skits, which then turned into Facebook, Instagram and Musical.ly skits a couple years later that all promote back to DeStorm and his brand identity.
It’s important for a new viewer to understand that if they found you on YouTube, that they should follow you everywhere else — but it’s even better to host completely different content strategies for each platform so you can have audience acquisition strategies for more than one place. For example, you don’t need text or subtitles on the screen for YouTube as much as you do Facebook, so your content should show this difference.
If you’re the YouTuber in 2017 who’s posting your YouTube link on each platform and that’s the end of your day, you’re falling behind. Facebook doesn’t want its users to be transferred to YouTube as much as they want the users to stay on Facebook — meaning, Facebook is going to make your post seen by way fewer people. It’s the same thing with YouTube — people think YouTube is purposefully making videos not appear in their sub box and that is a victim mentality that isn’t going to get you anywhere.
You need to put yourself in YouTube’s shoes — they want users to stay on YouTube for as long as possible because if they don’t, YouTube will cease to exist and you will have zero subscribers seeing your videos in their sub boxes. If YouTube sees you’re getting great engagement and retention from your target audience, they’re going to deservingly make you accessible to more people.
Many creators cringe at the idea of making content that platforms like YouTube want you to upload, challenge videos were a big controversial genre for a long time. If you’re one of those creators who would never touch what “everyone else” is doing, there’s room for you too, but it could potentially be somewhere else other than YouTube and if you’re not thinking about this, you could be missing on huge opportunity to reach more people!
Phillip Defranco is another great example of someone who adjusted with the times. Recently, all digital platforms including YouTube, which is Phil’s biggest landing page, are dealing with low ad rates due to brands resisting the idea of having their ads potentially placed on NSFW content, with no clear definition of what this actually means. Phil launched a Patreon landing page, which is a crowd-funding tool to utilize his audience to support an entire news network that he now doesn’t have to rely on funding from a larger company or advertising dollars. More than 15,000 people are paying at least $5 per month to support what he’s doing. The lesson here is if you grow a loyal audience anywhere, even on a platform with no video revenue model, there is always going to be a strategy to monetize eventually.
A lot of influencers don’t have a Facebook strategy because they think you have to pay to reach your audience even if they like your page. This isn’t the case, the reality is that your content isn’t good enough. Your video could be really well produced, but Facebook’s algorithm relies on cues from the number of likes and shares a video gets, which determines how often the video is showed in your followers’ news feeds. If you can’t get a small percentage of your followers to engage quickly, Facebook’s algorithm figures that your content won’t interest your other fans and shows it less. People who understand this are making more engaging content than you are, which puts them higher in the user’s timelines than you. You have to compete for timeline space.
There was a time where at the earliest YouTube events, a lot of us as creators sat in hotel rooms discussing who was ever going to beat YouTube at the online video game. None of us ever realized that every existing social platform with a large user base was going to jump into the online video world. It’s happening because the money is going to online video more than ever, meaning you as an influential and creative are an extremely valuable asset to every platform, and there are strategies for every platform to take advantage of being put in front of people. This doesn’t mean you should be on every platform, but you should take the time to learn the strategies of them all to find which direction is the best direction for you.
I know a lot of people who have been on YouTube for years, are burnt out and believe that opportunity has dried up. If you feel this way, seriously take a look at what’s happening on other platforms, there’s more opportunity than ever to build a life for yourself using social media and spread your voice to the right people.
I’m passionate about storytelling in all forms, and I think a lot of you reading this have many stories to tell. I believe it’s important to communicate your story in the most effective ways possible to the most amount of people possible that it matters to. I’m passionate about making sure talented creators and high-quality brands are using the strengths of every social platform that makes sense to their brand voice. The better creators are communicating their value, the more valuable the entire digital space gets.
This is why Decked Media is now working with individuals and companies to develop stronger strategies for brand growth. Visit deckedmedia.com if you want to learn more about what we do, or feel free to personally reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.