YouTube, head of the online video sharing website, is one of the most popular hub for the public to consume video every day. Scholar, Jean Burgess and Joshua Green claimed, “YouTube is a part of the mainstream media landscape” (3). YouTube is not only a website for casual users for relaxation, but also an academic study object in the sight of scholars nowadays. As my personal observation with the public agreement, YouTube had impacted our daily life and became a successful international corporation. In the following case study, I am going to elaborate and analysis scholarly sources and find out what are the factors created the success of YouTube.
YouTube is a “all-around” platform that contain the ability for unlimited creativities. “Unlimited creativities” seems to be an abstract term. In this scenario, YouTube provide the opportunity for users to share unlimited number of videos on their website server. Mentioned in the mission statement of YouTube Inc.: “YouTube’s mission is to provide fast and easy video access and the ability to share videos frequently”. Content creators may upload and share their creations, regardless the topic about their thought on the meaning of life or just a funny cat video. While audience may enjoy their favorite type of video by searching keyword in their searching engine, providing a “fast and easy video access” for viewers. All these slowly developed into a supply and demand phenomenon.
In the perspective of creator, the numbers of views and likes in their video encourage them to create. In the documentary “Generation Like”, Frank Koughan and Douglas Rushkoff mentioned that views, likes and the numbers of subscribers are the identity values for teenagers. Teen creators formed the feeling of being cared by the public. The audience become their driver to create and present them self in a quality manner. YouTube provided a two-side conversation between viewers and creators.
Two key component mentioned above, which is the viewers and creators. Presenting the third key component to form this successful platform, advertisers. In YouTube, creators can turn their passion into money by tapping it and share it on this platform. YouTube is not only the corporation that provided and held this platform, but also the middleman that encouraging content creators to share quality video to audience by providing financial fund to support creators from the advertisers. In the “YouTube Academy”, Andy Stack stated that creators can make money from the advertisers by successfully attracting viewers to watch the advertisement in their video. The primary way to attract audience in general is to provide quality materials, and this theory also apply on YouTube. Advertisers achieved their purpose on YouTube by have a successful advertisement on their investment. Creators achieved their primary purpose on YouTube by making money on their passion and general fame in the same time. Viewers achieved their purpose on YouTube by watching quality video for their personal need, either learning how to cook, watching news, enjoying comedy and more. This made the success of YouTube.
Advertisers are willing to invest on YouTube advertisement because YouTube contain high traffic. This is a major reason that lead YouTube into a successful culture. It is easy for the public to see advertisers product’s advertisement when compared to place a poster on the entrance of a subway tunnel. “Mobility and concentrations of populations in urban areas are aspects of modernity that have contributed to the rise of consumerism” (Sturken, Cartwright). YouTube become the next generation urban areas that contained high amount of concentrations of population that encouraging consumerism. Advertisers prefer this new platform, and agreeing that YouTube will be a great place to put money in. And This is the major factor that keep YouTube a sustainable individual platform.
All above slowly turned into a virtuous circle. Matthew Crick stated, “When considering the Internet’s important technological innovations, YouTube is transformed in our minds and daily lives from a simple user-generated video and audio repository to a powerful cultural change agent, like the Internet itself”. The power of YouTube is huge enough to be considered as a culture. Culture is defined as the “complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” by E.B. Tylor. When something is comprehensively developed, it may become a culture for the public. This all come down to that YouTube encourage quality. The community that contain high quality creations made quality audience consumption.
Not only YouTube is a virtuous circle platform, but also the concept of a social network, a platform that replacing television. As I mentioned above, YouTube is a platform, but what define it? Television once was our only platform of video consumption, but YouTube is threatening TV nowadays. Cultural study from scholars defined YouTube. Crick proved that “YouTube is clearly the most culturally influential social networking site, due in large part to its technological connection with Google. YouTube is an enormous, easily searchable database, available to the whole of humanity with a simple mouse click.” This YouTube social network created a new perspective for people to watch video. Compared with television as a one-sided conversation, YouTube is a multiple-sided conversation, and this conversation formed a network. While something can provide network for user, our daily action may change to fit into the network, in terms of the target individual is interested to join the “network”.
While we can discuss the methodology, YouTube used, we may examine some example for further understanding. YouTube is famous because it is a great place to learn. “Even though it appears that YouTube is limited to videos about kittens, pandas, and exploding bottles of soda, YouTube creates and distributes knowledge across a wide spectrum, from how to play piano or iron a shirt to learning about hegemony from Noam Chomsky via The Chomsky Videos channel on YouTube” (TheEthanwashere, 2012). It is easy for everyday user to learn meaningful and informational knowledge on YouTube. This make YouTube a successful culture, essentially, also serve the purpose of education. All this related to the concept of the comprehensive, virtuous cycle YouTube platform.
In conclusion, all key components, Google/YouTube, viewers, creator and advertisers, contributed to the success of YouTube platform. While the company is providing their best effort, the user, both creator and audience, also contributed to the website. And these successes driven by the real-life money support by the advertisers. This created a successful culture.
- Crick, Matthew. (2016). Power, Surveillance, and Culture in Youtube™’S Digital Sphere. Information Science Reference, 2016. Advances in Social Networking and Online Communities (ASNOC) Book Series. EBSCOhost.
- Burgess, Jean. Green, Joshua. (2013). YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. 2013.
- Tylor, E.B. (1974) . Primitive culture: researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, art, and custom. New York: Gordon Press.
- Koughan, Frank. Rushkoff, Douglas. (2014). “Generation Like.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
- Sturken, Marita. Cartwright, Lisa. (2009). “Ch. 7.” Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. N. pag. Print.