You already know that the top factor to consider when deciding on the social media channels that make sense for your small business is audience: who is your primary customer base, and where are they connecting with other brands and businesses on social media?
So what about video? Should you use YouTube or TikTok to reach your audience? While both channels rely mainly on videos to engage users, they otherwise differ wildly across the board—from audience age to video length and beyond.
Most of the folks who use social media aren’t experts in creating or editing video content, which can make entry into video-based platforms feel daunting. But video has never been more important: according to Imagen, online videos will account for over 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2022. And an Optinmonster study found that a whopping 84% of consumers state that they’ve bought a product or service after watching a brand’s video. With such a sizable majority of internet users engaging with video, shouldn’t your small business be next?
Not all video-based social media platforms reach the same audiences, however. While Facebook “still remains the largest social platform among consumers and marketers” alike, as found by Sprout Social, YouTube and TikTok rely on video as their primary medium, making them the perfect places to zero in on building video-based relationships with your audience.
Wondering which platform is best for your business? We’ve got the details to get you started.
If you’ve been wondering where Gen Z was getting their social content, look no further: they’re nearly all on TikTok. This short-form video-based social media app, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, is booming in popularity, with most of its wild growth attributable to teens and pre-teens:
TikTok users are also the most likely, by percentage, to buy a product that they’ve encountered on the platform. Just under 40% of Gen Z social media users reported buying a product they found specifically in TikTok videos in 2021, compared to 23% of purchases via Instagram ads or 19% via Facebook ads.
If your small business’s products or services primarily target this age group, it’s non-negotiable: time to start a TikTok account. A product going viral on TikTok, like the 300+-million-views-and-counting hot chocolate bombs (#hotchocolatebombs), can shoot a crafty entrepreneur into the revenue stratosphere.
Because TikTok is a video-based platform—specifically, one with the unique ability to “stitch” or connect videos with others from different accounts—it’s a great way to get people to organically showcase how much they love your offerings. My favorite beauty store here in Chicago, the Korean-skincare wonderland Choc, uses TikTok to demonstrate the best ways to use their myriad skincare offerings—some that you can only buy from Choc. The before-and-after tutorial content that their videos offer is hard to beat.
On TikTok, engagement is all about hashtags. Knowing which recurring hashtags help make videos go viral and connecting those authentically to your small business will expand your reach on the platform tremendously.
After Google, there’s literally no search engine more popular in the world than YouTube (which is owned by…Google). While TikTok thrives in the short form, YouTube showcases longer video content: up to 15 minutes for users and beyond 15 minutes for verified users. The platform also boasts a broader age range and more uniform gender breakdown than TikTok, as well as double the overall users:
Unlike TikTok, however, the experts at Sprout Social have found that most YouTube users turn to the site for entertainment, vs. hunting for new favorite products or brands. “Brands still have a lot of work to do on the platform,” they note, “finding a balance between entertainment and advertising.”
Threading this needle can be challenging, but the rewards are worth it. Unlike TikTok, “[YouTube] supports active content marketing with a clear call to action,” states the social-media gurus at Promo. “You can ask your audiences to subscribe to your channel, watch other videos, leave comments, [and] visit your website or other social media pages.” Boosting your overall content web in this way can make hugely positive impacts on your business’s bottom line.
You may now be sold that video-based content is best for your small business—but which of the above platforms is best to host that content?
A service-oriented business with fast, fascinating services—like a restaurant making a massive sandwich or a salon doing ornate manicures—could utilize short-form TikTok videos to offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the sausage gets made (perhaps literally).
“Turn the camera around on things you already do,” shares social media expert Rachel Karten This will entice customers not only to try out your offerings, but to replicate the content on their own platforms as well.
In contrast, a professional office, like an accountant or small healthcare practice, could benefit from YouTube, with its longer run time, to share a deep-dive on a tax form or detail how a complicated procedure is done safely: for example, like my dog’s beloved veterinary practice recently did on comprehensive oral treatments for their pet-patients.
Once you’ve invested time—and, possibly, money—on your video content for TikTok or YouTube, where else can you use it? Don’t forget about also hosting these videos on your homepage or online shop. This will grow your web of engagement further, directing website viewers to your social pages for a like or follow, while showcasing your brand’s authenticity at the same time.
An added perk of embedding the videos you make for social onto your blog posts or business websites: it helps boost your Google search rankings by increasing the on-page time visitors spend on your site.