A few big changes have really shaken up the YouTube world this past week. The changes encouraged more transparency, but in this case it's been like lifting up a heavy rock only to see all the ugly things squirming underneath. YouTuber Creators are pissed off, and the whole fiasco has raised important questions: How much time does YouTube have left on top, and what does this mean for video creators?
Has YouTube Killed the Video Star?
All right, what's really going on with YouTube? It's all about demonetization, which is the process of reducing or eliminating the money earned by specific YouTube videos. Demonetization has been happening behind the scenes for several years now, typically through algorithmic adjustments to how available a video is to advertisers. That made it nearly impossible to tell if it was happening, so YouTube stars generally didn't worry about it.
Google's intentions with demonetization sound logical – they wanted to discourage certain types of poor and dangerous content. But the obscurity wasn't popular, so YouTube recently changed the way it works: Now it lets all YouTube video posters know if past or present videos have been demonetized, and allows posters to request reviews of demonetized videos.
In other words, this is a massive headache for people who make revenue on YouTube. Not only are they finding that videos they posted years ago have been demonetized, sometimes for very questionable reasons, but they have to go through a review process post by post to restore them. Keep in mind, there are plenty of people who make millions on YouTube: For them, this is akin to a whole new trade agreement replacing everything they've known (except it's secretly been happening the whole time).
The Impending YouTube Exodus
As you can imagine, many YouTube workers are angry and confused – the latest guidelines appear both harsh and vague. Others are dispirited with the direction YouTube has been taking anyway, with falling ad revenue and more immaturity. More than a few are looking for another platform that can be monetized more effectively.
For some this is easy: The gaming industry, for example, already has options like Twitch, which can be easily monetized without YouTube. For others, the prospect is very difficult, because it's hard to guarantee the same revenue from years of YouTube investment after moving to another video channel.
But the key point is that many YouTubers are looking. And if they do jump ship, they could bring a lot of followers with them (in a personality-based business, customers follow the personality). Fewer people visiting YouTube means even less ad revenue, which means fewer YouTube posters, and on it goes. It's not hard to see down a path where YouTube is no longer the go-to video channel.
Future Video: Where Would We Go?
Several other companies have noticed the growing problems with YouTube, and have been quick to step up with tempting offers of their own. The "dead man's shoes" rule very much applies here, and death is only a formality. The two big contenders at the moment are:
- Facebook Live: Facebook Live has drawn a lot of interest lately – we've got a handy guide on how to use it – and is already doing its best to imitate YouTube. Just take a look at the plans to launch at the new Outcast episode solely on Facebook Live around the world. A TV series backed by Fox and based on an ultra-popular story is serious business! Additionally, Facebook has been directly offering up to $24,000 per video to try and attract independent artists who may be looking escape from YouTube. Serious cash attracts serious people.
- Twitter: Twitter's Amplify program is designed to help monetize the short videos shown on the network. In fact, Twitter has already headhunted several YouTube experts who may be able to bring along some popular YouTube creators to work more with Amplify than with YouTube.
What Does This Mean for You?
Your YouTube channel is fine, at least for now. But what this trend teaches us is the importance of diversification. You shouldn't depend solely on YouTube as your video content platform. Depending entirely on any one platform is dangerous. A wiser response is to create quality videos in a friendly format that can be shared on any video platform – including YouTube, Facebook Live, Vimeo and or wherever your audience is most engaged on. Keep on an eye on the numbers, and place videos where your audience is, no matter what platform that is.