an artistic form of the words 'social media'

Is YouTube Social Media?

While the term social media was non-existent 30 years ago, it has now become part of the vernacular language of today. Facebook is typically considered the predominant example of social media. Still some wonder if the video sharing application, YouTube, can also be considered social media. We will explore the term further and if YouTube could indeed be considered social media.

What is Considered Social Media?

Social Media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications. From text posts to digital photos and videos, this viral sharing of content through interactive platforms makes up a huge part of modern-day communication. The term ‘Social Media’ was first coined by self-described photographer/writer and social media researcher— Darrell Berry. He began using the term sometime in late 1994, while developing an online media environment called Mattise.

Social Media vs Other Media

The major difference that sets social media aside from other media is the focus of attention. While mass media puts the audience in a passive position, social media puts the audience at the center of focus. Social media allows for direct audience interaction.

6 types of Social Media

  • Social Networking: Facebook, LinkedIn
  • Microblogging: Twitter, Tumblr
  • Photo Sharing: Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest
  • Video Sharing: YouTube, Facebook Live, Periscope, Vimeo

Many of these social media platforms have become very similar over time and have much in common with regards to what they offer to their users.

7 Requirements of a Social Media Platform

Video sharing has become the most popular form of digital content. Below are the 7 requirements for something to be considered social media. We show how YouTube fulfills each of these.

  • Web space —YouTube has massive digital storage facilities to store the over 5 billion videos watched per day. See article “Where Does YouTube Store Videos” to learn more.
  • Web Address —YouTube has the website for accessing their vidoes.
  • Build Profile —YouTube allows you to build your own personal channel (profile) and share content on the platform.
  • Connect With Friends —Most importantly, YouTube falls into the category of Social Media by allowing their users to connect with friends and other users of the site. While the connections are different than in a social network like Facebook, still one can use comments and the chat feature to communicate with each other.
  • Upload Content in Real Time — With YouTube Live, users can now broadcast content in real time.
  • Enable Conversations —YouTube’s chat feature lets you disuss videos without leaving the app. Users can discuss videos in a chat-like interface with friends.
  • Posts Have Time Stamp— Comments and video posts all show the date and time of posting.

YouTube and Social Media

YouTube is the second largest search engine next to Google, with many elements of a Social Media Platform:

  • User Submitted Content (viewed by other users)
  • Likes, Pulses, Thumbsup
  • Messaging and Commenting
  • Sharing
  • Private messages and Groups

Primarily used in this way by the younger generation, YouTube has rapidly become one of the best ways to communicate to a wide audience. Making huge strides in growth over the last 15 years, now 1 in 3 children between 6-17 now aspire to be YouTubers.

Sharing video content for educational purposes, or just sheer enjoyment, it has been recorded that 500 hours of video are uploaded per minute to YouTube. It is considered to be the largest video-sharing platforms in the world, reaching 2 billion monthly users in 2019. This has caused cyber war between competing platforms to ensure they don’t lose users to other social media sites.


Social media is a term coined in 1994 which is considered to have 7 traits. YouTube fulfills each of these traits and so it is a social media platform.

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