There was a time not too long ago when YouTube was the only major game in town when it came to online video sharing.
But then along came TikTok, and the rules of the social media game changed almost overnight.
- What does this mean for content creators and social media influencers who are looking to put their content out there?
- Which platform should they be using to maximize their reach and grow their career?
This article will explore YouTube vs TikTok from every angle possible to help you decide which platform is right for you when it comes to pursuing a social media career.
How YouTube and TikTok are different?
Honestly, almost everyone knows what YouTube and TikTok are considering that these are two of the most popular social media platforms today.
But in case you’ve been living under a rock, YouTube is a video-sharing platform where users can upload, view, and share videos. YouTube was founded in 2005, while TikTok is a relatively new kid on the block, having only been launched in 2016 yet it’s already taken the social media world by storm.
TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share short videos, on any topic. And from its initial high of 3 minutes, TikTok now allows creators to create videos of as long as 10 minutes (Source).
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at how YouTube and TikTok differ from each other:
- YouTube is owned by Google, while TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance (Source).
- YouTube is majorly about longer-form content (although it’s highly likely the case they launched YouTube shorts primarily to compete with players like TikTok), while TikTok is focused on short-form content.
- YouTube is more about consciously choosing your favorite channels and consuming content, while TikTok is more about actively creating content without much intent.
- YouTube videos are typically more polished and edited, while TikTok videos have a more raw and unedited feel to them (again, highly subjective).
- YouTube is used by people of all age groups, while TikTok is primarily used by Gen Zers.
- YouTube has a more diverse range of content, while TikTok is mostly about music and dance videos (I said mostly).
- Lastly, let’s face it. It is easy to increase your followers on TikTok compared to YouTube. However, it is very hard to build a sustainable and loyal brand on Tiktok (people easily forgot amid infinite scrolling). YouTube, on the other hand, is a lot more stable in this sense.
- YouTube has been around for much longer than TikTok and as a result, it has a much larger user base.
Who should use YouTube and who should use TikTok?
Both platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to consider who you are trying to reach before deciding which one to use.
For example, YouTube is great for detailed, informative videos, while TikTok is perfect for quick, creative content.
Take vlogging, for instance. YouTube has been the go-to platform for vloggers for years now and is not going anywhere anytime soon.
On the other hand, TikTok sucks for vlogging, as of now (in my opinion). Conversely, TikTok is awesome for creative content like dance videos, while YouTube may not be ideal for that.
The key here is to know your audience and what kind of content they are most likely to consume.
If you’re trying to reach a younger audience, then TikTok is probably the better option, but if you’re looking to connect with a more mature audience, YouTube is a better choice.
Ultimately, the best platform for you will depend on your specific goals and target audience.
Pros & Cons of YouTube
- Wider audience reach potential.
- More control over content and monetization.
- YouTube is better for SEO purposes.
- YouTube analytics are more robust.
- YouTube is better for brand building.
- YouTube has almost everything that TikTok has to offer.
- YouTube is more competitive.
- YouTube videos require more effort to produce.
- YouTube’s algorithms can be manipulated (Hi shenanigans aka thumbnail creators).
- YouTube demonetizes some videos (with total authority).
Pros & Cons of TikTok
- TikTok offers a more casual viewing experience.
- TikTok videos are shorter, making them easier and quicker to produce.
- TikTok is less competitive than YouTube.
- TikTok has a growing user base.
- TikTok has a smaller audience reach potential than YouTube.
- TikTok offers less control over content and monetization.
- TikTok is less established than YouTube and therefore less trusted by some brands.
- TikTok doesn’t have as many features as YouTube.
- TikTok is banned in some countries.
- TikTok does not have everything that YouTube has to offer.
Comparing YouTube and TikTok on Various Parameters
1. Total opportunity cost
YouTube and TikTok have a lot to offer users in terms of content, but they also have different costs associated with them.
When comparing the two, it is important to consider the total opportunity cost. When it comes to YouTube, the total opportunity cost would be the time, effort, and investment required to create, edit and upload a video. The same goes for TikTok.
While both platforms require some level of effort to create content, TikTok videos tend to be shorter and require less editing than YouTube videos. As a result, TikTok has a lower total opportunity cost than YouTube.
To sum it up, both come at a cost in terms of money that you spend on tools and equipment (like camera gear, youtube SEO tool, premium video editor, etc), time that you spend in creating the content, and effort that goes into making it perfect.
For starters, if you have a decent camera quality phone, YouTube doesn’t require you to spend any money on tools and equipment. You can start filming and uploading right away.
However, I strongly believe that as TikTok videos are too short and need to completely capture the viewer’s attention, it is fair to assume that a shoot of good quality helps.
2. Ease of starting
YouTube requires you to create a channel and fill out some basic information before you can start uploading videos.
TikTok, on the other hand, is much simpler and only requires you to create an account. Once you’ve done that, you can start posting videos right away.
In terms of video quality, YouTube provides a lot more options and flexibility. You can upload videos in HD or 4K, and there are tools available to help you edit and add effects to your videos.
TikTok’s video quality is comparatively limited, but it’s still good enough for most users.
Overall, both platforms are easy to use, but YouTube requires a bit more setup (especially in terms of sound setup) before you can start posting videos.
3. Time to get results
When it comes to YouTube, creating videos can be time-consuming, and it can take a while to build up a following. However, once you have a few videos under your belt and loyal viewers, YouTube can be an effective and consistent way to reach your target audience.
TikTok, on the other hand, is perfect for short, attention-grabbing videos. And since it’s such a new platform, it’s easier to gain traction quickly.
So if you’re looking for quick results, TikTok is the way to go. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, YouTube can also be an effective tool for reaching your target audience.
However, this is not it. According to recent studies, YouTube is more effective in delivering results than TikTok despite the higher amount of time it takes to get your videos indexed and get results.
YouTube also has a higher click-through rate than TikTok, which means that YouTube viewers are more likely to click on links and take action after watching a video (Source).
4. Potential reach
What does this imply?
Well, to say the least – a YouTube creator with one million subscribers can potentially reach out to more people than a TikTok user with 100 million followers.
The YouTube algorithm is designed to promote content that keeps viewers engaged on the platform for longer periods, which is why YouTube videos are generally longer than TikTok videos.
This also means that YouTube is better for in-depth content, while TikTok is better for short and sweet videos.
However, TikTok does have one key advantage over YouTube when it comes to potential reach – demographics.
TikTok is particularly popular with Gen Z users, who are currently the largest demographic group on social media. This gives TikTok a considerable advantage when it comes to reaching this key demographic group.
YouTube, on the other hand, is more popular with older users. While YouTube does have a large Gen Z user base, it is not as dominant as TikTok when it comes to this demographic group.
5. Monetization options
YouTube has been around for much longer than TikTok, and as a result, it has more established ways for users to make money from their content.
For example, one way is that YouTube creators can join the YouTube Partner Program, which gives them a share of the advertising revenue generated from their videos.
TikTok, on the other hand, is still relatively new to the world of monetization.
While it does enables some options for users to make money from its content (such as branded content and affiliate marketing), these are not as developed or as well-known as YouTube’s monetization options.
If you look at all the potential monetization options YouTube has to offer, it can include:
- Product placement and sponsorships
- YouTube ads
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling merchandise and products/services
- Super Chat and Super Stickers
- And more!
On the other hand, here are some of the potential monetization options TikTok offers:
- Collaboration & branded content
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling products
As you can see, YouTube has a wider range of monetization options compared to TikTok. While TikTok is still fairly new and is gradually adding more options, YouTube already has a well-established system in place.
This makes YouTube a more attractive option for those who are looking to make money from their social media content.
6. Understanding the algorithm and SEO
Both YouTube and TikTok offer a variety of videos that are algorithmically generated based on a user’s interests. However, there are some key differences between the two platforms in terms of understanding the algorithm and optimizing for SEO.
YouTube is a more mature platform with a more developed set of tools for creators to optimize their videos for discovery.
TikTok, on the other hand, is still fairly new and is constantly changing its algorithm. As a result, it can be more difficult to gain traction on the platform without a dedicated following.
In terms of SEO, YouTube relies heavily on keywords to surface relevant videos in search results.
TikTok, on the other hand, uses a combination of hashtags, user-generated content, and other signals to determine which videos to surface in its For You feed. As a result, TikTok can be more effective for reaching new audiences faster than YouTube.
7. Ownership of content
YouTube is owned by Google, and as a result, all videos uploaded to the platform are owned by Google.
TikTok, on the other hand, is owned by ByteDance, and thus all videos uploaded to the platform are owned by ByteDance.
This means that YouTube has more control over the videos uploaded to its platform and can remove them at any time if they violate YouTube’s guidelines.
TikTok, on the other hand, is more lenient with the videos uploaded to its platform and is less likely to remove them unless they violate TikTok’s guidelines.
This makes YouTube a less risky platform for creators looking to build a long-term following, as their videos are less likely to be removed from the platform, with ethical practices of course.
However, it also means that YouTube has more control over the ads that are shown on videos and can demonetize videos that it does not seem suitable for advertisers.
Final Rational Advice
The YouTube vs Tiktok debate has been raging for some time now. There are obvious differences between the two video-sharing platforms, but which one is right for you?
YouTube is the more established platform, with a long history and a bigger user base. It also has more features and options for users, including things like live streaming and YouTube Premium.
Tiktok, on the other hand, is relatively newer and growing rapidly in popularity. It’s known for its short, creative videos and has a more youthful audience.
So, which platform should you use if you’re looking to pursue a social media career?
YouTube is a great option if you’re looking to build a following and establish yourself as an authority in your field. Tiktok is perfect for those who are creative and want to share their talent with the world.
Ultimately, the decision boils down to your personal preferences and goals.
If you’re not sure which one is right for you, try using both platforms and see which one you enjoy more. There’s no wrong answer here as it’s all about what works best for you and more importantly – going where your audience resides.