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TikTok's positive VidCon reception poses potential threat to YouTube

Jul 16, 2019
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TikTok generated muchenthusiasm among creators at this year’s (10th annual) VidCon — the digital video conference attended by video creators, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs — while attendees reported being underwhelmed by YouTube’s presence, per BuzzFeed News. The report came as little surprise, given TikTok’s exploding popularity: It was the thirdmost-installed app worldwide in Q1 2019.Business Insider Intelligence

TikTok’s newness — and unique use case — are likely helping drive young creators to the platform, and I think that impressive base of creators will allow it to eventually threaten YouTube. With its ability to viralize “challenges” and songs via its extremely short-form videos, all without being bogged down by heavy, often caustic, comments sections, the app likely presents a refreshing experience for viewers and creatives alike.

Not to mention, TikTok’s combination of novelty and scalability likely sets brand new creators up for success better than entrenched platforms like YouTube or Twitter. In fact, the app’s algorithms are designed to highlight all creators, rather than a select few, and that’s driven high usage of the platform as more and more Gen Zers take their shots at potential TikTok fame.

That spirit carries over to fan preceptions of creator authenticity and accessibility compared with YouTube stars, who’ve gotten “too famous” to run around a convention like VidCon with the general public.

It’s also important to note that because TikTok doesn’t sell ads yet, it isn’t beholden to brand partners, and that has likely helped it avoid some of the issues plaguing YouTube.

  • Despite sponsoring VidCon, YouTube tends not to send its biggest, most exciting stars to represent the platform because those personalities can be less predictable and brand-safe. By comparison, TikTokers were described as extremely young, authentic, and diverse — and it likely isn’t worried about brand safety to the degree YouTube is.
  • YouTubers are frustrated about the platform’s failures and monetization policies.YouTubers spoke frankly about the consistent harassment and abuse they face on the platform. And, despite rolling out new direct monetizationfeatures, creators remain concerned about YouTube’s policies hurting their reach and, accordingly, their livelihoods. Meanwhile, TikTokers discussed the freedom the platform affords them to develop creative niches and build fanbases and there weren’t complaints about policies that restrict money-making.

But, even though TikTok doesn’t yet have ads, TikTokers can still partner with brands on sponsorship deals, and ad inventory is likely coming soon. For example Andrea Okeke, who goes by DreaKnowsBest on TikTok and boasts 3 million followers, recentlypartnered with Chipotle, helping the chain to gain some followers and, more importantly, successfully activate a TikTok viral challenge.

In time, these partnerships will grow in number and give way to TikTok selling ads directly — something it’s alreadyexperimenting with, and something YouTube is likely worried about. TikTok won’t put the platform out of business, but it will poach more and more would-be YouTubers, sapping the lifeblood of the video giant over time.

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