In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s hard to miss the world’s growing obsession with video content. It is estimated that people now watch around 16 hours of videos online per week, and that the medium brings in superior engagement and conversions when compared to static media.

The past five years have seen the rise of multiple video-editing and sharing apps, from the well known TikTok to smaller and upcoming apps like Triller, Dubsmash, Byte and Likee. Large social platforms are adapting accordingly, introducing similar features such as Instagram Reels and Snapchat Spotlight.

However, amongst all these new apps and features, there’s one video platform that continues to reign supreme: YouTube.

It is the longest standing social platform for video sharing, founded back in 2005. And it’s only growing bigger too – it currently stands as the second most visited website in the world, second only to Google, which is a search engine.

Why? What makes YouTube so successful?


Understanding YouTube’s Success:

The value of vlogs

Video blogging, aka “vlogging”, is said to have started in 2000. The first ever vlog was done by Adam Kontras, who was logging his trip to LA for friends and family to follow on his journey. While there were a few other early adopters, the practice only really took off when a video storing and sharing platform emerged in 2005:


With it, vloggers acquired a platform to upload their content to, which not only hosted but made their content searchable and accessible.

Today, vlogs are one of the most engaging formats on YouTube. Vlogs are available for almost every topic fathomable. You name it, more than likely, there’s already a vlog about it.  What makes vlogs so common now is the improved technology and the love for sharing and connecting. Anyone can do it with the cameras on their smartphones, no longer limited to fancy DSLR’s with a luggage case full of alternative lenses.

Vloggers share their live experiences with the Internet, and each vlog becomes a lesson that anyone can enjoy. Conversations are naturally started, bonds are formed, communities come together and with it, new possibilities and opportunities. 

In the past, the notion of vlogging was that of a person talking to and about themselves. The concept has now evolved to being a form of communication, going beyond only personal stories. They can range from educational and professional advice, to just being outright entertaining. Extreme food challenges like how Matt Stonie does is just plainly fascinating to watch.

Here’s how a bunch of Korean vloggers successfully leveraged the calmness of vlogging. Instead of the competitiveness of heavy content, they offer the tranquility of aesthetics. What seems to be a mundane routine of making waffles, reading or tending to a garden, is presented in a soothing manner. By choosing to film anonymously, viewers are able to easily relate with the experiences and thereby feel comfort in them. 

Channel: 냥숲nyangsoop | Anonymous aesthetics

Vlogs have evolved to become the expression of ideas and personality that allows one to develop a bond with their audience. The resulting freedom makes vlogging extremely appealing to both viewers and creators alike.

Relatability and communities

The ‘showing’ aspect of vlogs is a key component of creating communities. By showing things that people can relate to, it makes them instantaneously more appealing and shareable. Over time, creators will find themselves with a big enough community made of audiences that share the same interests and thoughts.

Leaving comments and generating conversation is just a small part of it. Ultimately it’s the organic results because of this community that propels creators and their videos into YouTube’s ranks. Hence, why creators with communities treat them like family, as corny as it may sound.

For example, fashion and beauty is a huge and popular niche on YouTube. Due to the personal nature of beauty products, beauty creators tend to be extremely relatable to different demographic segments, depending on their preferences and styles.

Trying on products and showing their actual effects vs advertised effects not only boosts the creator’s 3rd party credibility, it also encourages engagements and hence relatability. An example of a creator that does this is Joan Kim, who produces weekly video content largely centred around beauty and fashion, along with daily vlogs in South Korea.

At a time where air travel is still largely restricted, vlogs also serve as a way for people to seek solace or explore new places with. They bring together people of similar cultural backgrounds, or those who are interested in the same culture.

Monetary benefit 

Having a large enough subscriber count and organic audience will in time put creators in the sights of brands. It says a lot to have brands wanting to collaborate with creators. For starters, the brand has acknowledged that the creator has a decent reputation within the YouTube community and is likely an authority figure. This signifies trust with the audience that thereby allows a wider brand outreach. 

In addition, monetization features become available for the creator through YouTube’s Partner Program. It enables them to earn with their content, sell channel memberships, merchandise and more, as we discuss further below.

Insights & Trends:

The creator economy

Money is what incentivises creators to keep on creating. Amidst the rise of social media platforms over the past year alone, existing ‘Empires’ like Facebook and YouTube are in a rush to entice creators via payments. As seen with TikTok’s largely successful monetisation strategy thanks to prior experience with DouYin, YouTube response was to inject a $100 million fund into YouTube Shorts.  

Roughly two million creators in YouTube’s Partner Program stand to benefit from this. This totals to roughly a portion of the sites ad revenue of $46 billion over the last 3 years and subscription revenue from services like YouTube Premium, YouTube Music, and YouTube TV. Due to the variety of different ways to monetize payments, YouTube can be seen as the role model monetisation ecosystem for creators should they stick around. However with alternative services like Patreon or Cameo, creators’ loyalty may be put into question. 

From a marketer’s perspective, understanding creator loyalty can assist in guiding advocacy and content strategy. As an example, knowing that gaming channels have higher retention of dedicated viewers, a marketer can deduce that the creators have established trusted connections with their viewers. This will enable a better quality outreach and brand lift, should there be a brand collaboration. In fact, the team at Tubular Labs have analysed the top 100 channels over January and February of 2021 in the topic of loyalty.

They have found that gaming audiences were more loyal than average, implying audiences tend to stick to creators they like the most. However, there seems to be a special case for top creators who have shown to have higher loyalty.

Case in point was The Dodo, having a 67% audience loyalty well above the benchmark as opposed to its genre of Animals and Pets at 38% below the benchmark. In addition, influencers have a 17% higher average loyalty than companies. This does not come to a surprise, as they establish better connections through a more direct ‘face to face’ approach compared to most corporate brands.

3 ways for marketers to leverage YouTube

Does this mean that all hope is lost for marketers? Not quite, as Forbes Communication Council has put out 12 ways to leverage YouTube in the current landscape. Here are the 3 most pertinent to social media marketers:

  1. Know and interest your audience

Understand that each social media platform has a dedicated audience. TikTok appeals to Gen-Z, while Instagram appeals to a slighter older audience in comparison. So, who uses YouTube?

YouTube has a strong Gen Z user base. Taking the US as a sample, 81% of people aged 15 to 25 use YouTube. 71% of those aged 26 to 35, and 67% of those aged 36 to 45 use the platform as well.

However, what’s interesting is that it appeals to older age brackets as well. 66% of people aged 46 to 55 use it, and beyond 56 years of age, 58% do. This means YouTube can provide you the means to reach a wide range of audiences.

What’s important then is to hone in on a specific target audience, and create content to their tastes. The more interesting it is to them, the more they will share it. As it is, 76% of consumers agree that fun video content will be an increasingly popular form of entertainment with an emphasis on positive content.

  1. Incorporate YouTube into the marketing funnel

As much as YouTube can be used to direct traffic to other platforms, the opposite can be said as well. The emergence of short video content features seen in Instagram Stories/IGTV and even TikTok can serve as part of the content funnel.

Think of ways to use them in tandem, perhaps as a teaser for a full-length video content over on YouTube. 

  1. Enable convenience with step-by-step videos

Long videos offering advice should be backed with well-researched content. By providing the in-steps, this can help make dry information short and absorbable. In other words, provide value with convenience.

You can also go a step further by providing time stamps in the description box or a pinned comment, which will be well appreciated by viewers.

Success Cases:

For inspiration, let’s examine a few channels that managed to make it big, along with their niches. 

Ryan’s World  | 29.9M subscribers

What started as a toy review channel for kids, the channel has since grown to include various educational content. Ryan Kaji , the adorable star of the channel started back in 2015 then known as RyanToysReview by literally reviewing toys with his family. Proving to be a huge hit that quickly attracted audiences, earning 29.5 million in 2020 and an estimated 10 times that through branded apparel. Owing to Ryan’s success, his family founded Sunlight Entertainment that manages all of their nine channels. As of now Ryan’s World has a staggering 29.9 million subscribers.

PewDiePie | 110M subscribers

One of the most well-known and biggest YouTube channels, Felix Kjellberg is the top gaming creator. Evident from the 110 million subscribers, Felix is known for his gaming playthroughs with absurdly hilarious commentary and personality. While his content usually is gaming centric, his reaction videos are also plentiful and all the more relatable. 

Dude Perfect | 56.3M subscribers

The go to channel for mindblowing trick shots, Dude Perfect is one of the most popular sports channel on YouTube. Featuring a bunch of friends aka dudes, they started out with trick shot videos but have now expanded their reach towards athletic challenges, when compared to trick shots are still as entertaining.  

Good Mythical Morning | 17.1M subscribers

A comedy talk show hosted by Rhett & Link, Good Mythical Morning has been putting out videos since 2012, spanning over 19 seasons. A slightly different genre compared to the rest of the channels on the list. Experiments and tests make up the majority of their videos, bordering between edutainment and just plain entertainment.

Just take a look at one of their more recent videos titled: How Long Can You Hold Your Pee? (Experiment). Now, would anyone really want to know the answer themselves? Probably not. But as the comment section puts it, it really defines our preferences for entertainment.

From the channels mentioned here, all serve different genres and have different distinct styles to their name. However, these channels have all utilised a broad range of YouTube’s features, like creating playlists, selling merchandise, not to mention using effective video call-to-actions. All of these come together to improve the organic rankings and traffic to their channels.

TBC: How to succeed on YouTube

Growing channels to reach such levels of success will require investment and in-depth knowledge of all of YouTube’s features.

If that’s your goal, you’re in luck. In our upcoming YouTube marketing guide, we analyze its algorithm, the best channel strategies, opportunities of monetization and the latest tools in development to keep updated on.

Until then, stay tuned!

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