TikTok vs. YouTube: Which Is the Best for Content Creators in 2023?

TikTok vs. YouTube: Which Is the Best for Content Creators in 2024?

No matter the length, it’s clear that video is a very popular form of content. In addition, the video medium is highly versatile for content creators. Depending on your platform, interests, and goals, you can make dynamic content like tutorials, livestreams, and challenges. Furthermore, you can leverage the power of video to promote your products, teach skills, or even connect with your fanbase.

Despite the benefits of video, however, it’s important that you create the right content for the right platform. Not only are the rules different between TikTok vs. YouTube, but the audiences can be quite different. Ultimately, answering which platform is best for content creators depends on the creator’s goals, preferences, and audience.

Exploring TikTok and YouTube

Before a content creator can make the best TikTok vs. YouTube decision, it’s critical that we understand they need differences between these social networks. That’s because there are a few video formats that are incompatible with TikTok and less popular on YouTube. Similarly, there are often significant differences between the audiences you’ll find on each.

TikTok and YouTube

Briefly, TikTok is a short-form video platform known for its creative and engaging content, while YouTube is a versatile platform offering a wide range of video formats and lengths. On TikTok, content creators love the challenge and one-up each other, sometimes with outrageous or funny results. At the same time, many topics on TikTok can be serious — it’s just that they are more likely to be presented in a lighthearted way. Furthermore, the audiences tend to be younger.

YouTube works rather differently. It has a very broad appeal, attracting users of all ages. You can find videos made just for children, for students, and for adults. Furthermore, videos span every topic imaginable, from cute cat videos to medical procedures and other professional content. Typically, you won’t find much professional material on TikTok because of the format limitations.

YouTube and TikTok as social media platforms

YouTube and TikTok alike are very successful. Both platforms have immense user bases, with YouTube excelling in long-form content and educational materials and TikTok focusing on bite-sized, viral videos. Similarly, the platforms have vastly different growth rates. Although YouTube continues to grow, it has done so at a much slower pace than TikTok. In fact, most people hadn’t even heard of TikTok until about 2020.

Along with the difference in video length and growth rates, there are significant differences in the user base. Specifically, TikTok has a very young audience overall, so it’s most effective if you want to reach GenZ or Millennials. On the other hand, unlike YouTube, they have relatively few older users. So, if the content you want to create has a wider appeal generation-wise, then you might be better off with YouTube. On the other hand, if you want to create viral videos for young audiences, consider TikTok.

Importance of choosing the right platform for content creators

For content creators, choosing the right platform is crucial in order to reach their target audience and maximize engagement effectively. This also ensures that their content is tailored to the unique strengths of each platform and therefore generates more income for them.

Not only are the audiences different, but there are some differences in TikTok vs. YouTube for monetization strategies. Both platforms let you capitalize on advertising, collaborate with brands as an influencer, and provide your audience with an opportunity to send tips. On the other hand, YouTube has memberships and more ways to make money than TikTok.

No matter how you monetize your content, however, you won’t perform as well if the audience on your chosen platform doesn’t match your target very well. Similarly, the length and type of your intended video content should help dictate where you build your channel. Just remember, you can also create a channel on the other platform that may or may not be monetized to expand your reach.

Platform Nature

There are different reasons to make a particular selection between TikTok vs. YouTube based on how the platforms work. Similarly, you must think about format restrictions and content creation methods, which differ between them. Understanding how each platform works will help you pick the best one for your content creation.

TikTok

By far, the most important thing to consider about this platform is that videos must always be short. TikTok’s 15-60 second video format encourages creativity and engagement, making it easy for users to consume and share a variety of content quickly. At the same time, this type of short-form content is easy to share and easy to digest.

Another advantage is that TikTok is easy to use. The platform empowers users to create, edit, and share their own videos using built-in tools, fostering a strong sense of community and creativity. Similarly, because the tools are built-in, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on software or code express topic toys around just to make a quick post.

Creators who like getting immediate feedback will also find TikTok’s setup attractive. That’s because TikTok’s challenges and trends encourage user participation and drive engagement, helping creators gain visibility and grow their audience. The best way to encourage fresh user-generated content in response to a TikTok video is by using a hashtag challenge. Creating a branded hashtag, for example, is a quick and easy way to increase brand awareness or expand your company’s follower base.

YouTube

While TikTok is also them for very short content, viral challenges, and other rapidly-spreading material, YouTube is far more flexible. Specifically, YouTube’s support for longer videos allows creators to produce in-depth content, making it an ideal platform for tutorials, documentaries, and storytelling. That’s one reason why YouTube has long been favored by educational institutions, nonprofits, and B2B content producers.

YouTube hosts a wide range of content categories, including educational, entertainment, and news, allowing creators to cater to various interests and needs. You can get a tutorial on YouTube for just about any skill, from knitting or model making to surgical procedures and aircraft flight protocols. Nonetheless, people can and do have a lot of fun on YouTube, such as by sharing travel logs or offering humorous insight into everyday life.

With that said, YouTube has a new and popular feature called Shorts. This feature provides a short-form video format similar to TikTok, enabling creators to reach new audiences and diversify their content offerings. Sometimes, creators will even repurpose their TikTok content into Shorts, or vice versa. For that reason, there’s an excellent opportunity to repurpose content across these two platforms. Over time, you can dramatically increase the total size of your social media following by using this technique. Just be aware that there may be implications for monetization in either case.

Further Reading: What are YouTube Shorts? 7 Reasons Why Your Business Should Use Them

Audience Demographics and User-Base Target

As with the content options, there are significant differences between TikTok vs. YouTube when it comes to audience demographics. Therefore, the choice of one platform over another might be more obvious if you are trying to appeal to specific demographics. This is especially true if you’re trying to promote a brand with a narrower target.

TikTok audience

Despite its almost runaway popularity, TikTok isn’t the best platform to reach everyone. Specifically. TikTok is particularly popular among Gen Z and younger Millennials, making it an ideal platform for targeting content to a younger demographic. If you want to focus on an older audience, then TikTok is likely not your best choice.

With that said, the platform’s algorithm and focus on viral trends enable creators to reach a wider audience quickly, even if they have a smaller following. Brands with a niche market and topics that are trendy and appeal to certain demographics can easily thrive in the TikTok ecosystem.

The ability of videos to go viral on TikTok is actually a reason to use the platform, even if a significant proportion of your customer base is a little older. That’s because many things have gone viral on TikTok and then spilled over onto other forms. For instance, somebody might try a product they heard about on TikTok and then talk about it on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook.

In other words, TikTok is excellent for two major goals. The first one is reaching the younger audiences, especially fun they are your primary buyer persona, and you don’t expect your brand to appeal to older individuals. Secondly, you might use TikTok as a way to get a leg up by popularizing your products or content in the hope that younger consumers will share it on other platforms.

YouTube audience

YouTube attracts a more diverse audience in terms of age, making it suitable for creators who want to cater to various age groups or target a specific demographic outside of the younger user base. Along with the age differences, you’ll also see more variation in nationality, income, and even education level. This is especially true when you consider that many countries have banned or restricted TikTok, while leaving YouTube untouched.

With its diverse content offerings, YouTube enables creators to target niche interests and engage with a more mature audience, which can be beneficial for those focusing on specialized or in-depth topics. While there are relatively strict community guidelines (you can’t, for example, advocate something illegal in your home country), you still have a lot of leeway to craft quality content that meets the needs of your viewers.

Similarly, the longer format options let you take the time to explore your topic. One of the big weaknesses of TikTok is that anything informational must still be kept short. For that reason, you can’t talk about intensive subjects very easily. With that said, TikTok can be a great way to advertise your longer YouTube videos on the same subject.

Finally, YouTube is the best place to discuss topics that are important to an older population. While many of the oldest generations are still hesitant to use technology to this extent, most of their caretakers engage on social media. Furthermore, consumers who are late in their careers or early retirement often watch plenty of YouTube videos. They won’t, however, bother with TikTok.

Content Creation and Editing Tools

Even though both platforms focus on video content, there are a lot of TikTok vs. YouTube differences in content tools between the platforms. Both of them have native video editing that is available for free in your account. However, the features of these, and the formatting required, are quite different. If you have a strong preference for one set of editing tools over the other, then this will be a major factor in your final platform selection.

TikTok video editor

One of the things that you will notice immediately with TikTok is that their formatting guidelines are relatively strict. In particular, TikTok’s native vertical video format is optimized for mobile viewing, making it easy for users to create and consume content on their smartphones. This makes a lot of sense, considering that most TikTok users record their video with a smartphone and quickly post it to the web.

However, you’re not expected to simply point, shoot, and post. In fact, TikTok offers a range of intuitive editing tools within the app, allowing users to add music, effects, and transitions, making content creation accessible and streamlined. There’s even a media library of music that you can include with your videos. Of course, the best part about the TikTok video editor is that you rarely, if ever, need to leave your phone app to create dynamic footage.

YouTube video editor

YouTube video

YouTube supports both horizontal and vertical video formats, providing creators with greater flexibility in choosing the best format for their content. Not all content is appropriate for vertical filming, especially if you have something that’s highly detailed. That’s because horizontal pictures can look larger than their vertical counterparts and often perform better on larger screens when rotated to landscape.

Unlike TikTok, YouTube creators often use external editing software, which allows for more advanced editing capabilities and customization. More flexibility enhances the overall production quality since you can make more changes to the original footage and easily highlight hard-to-see areas.

Try to look at it this way — if you’ve ever tried to use a mobile app on larger screens with a horizontal orientation, such as a tablet, chances are the image will fill your screen. That’s because the app contents continue to be presented in portrait mode. Needless to say, your customer experience typically is not as good as it should be.

Monetization and Creator Support

Once you’ve spent time building up your channel, you’ll probably want to monetize it. After all, building a channel is hard work, and you will continue to create content as your following grows. However, there are a lot of differences between TikTok vs. YouTube when it comes time to make money. It’s important that you know what to expect from each platform before you invest all that time and money, making your channel a great place to hang out.

TikTok

Arguably, the most unique monetization option on TikTok is called the Creator Fund. This initiative provides financial support to eligible creators, allowing them to earn money based on their content’s performance and engagement. The idea here is that you don’t have to work extra hard to make money, and you also won’t feel the need to “sell out” or otherwise compromise in a bid to make money. To take advantage of the Creator Fund, there’s a relatively brief application to ensure that you meet all the requirements.

TikTok’s live stream feature enables creators to connect with their audience in real time, while in-app tipping and virtual gifts provide additional revenue streams. Streaming is usually very popular, and it gives you the opportunity to get tips or virtual gifts. Therefore, this methodology can make a lot of money. You can even offer a subscription service where you offer extra content.

Finally, many TikTok influencers make decent money by collaborating with brands. Companies pay influencers because their organic user-generated content can reach a broader overall audience. These arrangements can take several forms, such as tutorials, contests, and reviews. As a content creator, you can get compensated in any combination of free product, commission, or a flat fee.

Further Reading: 8 Easiest Ways How To Make Money on TikTok in 2024

YouTube

YouTube video

On YouTube, monetization options are somewhat more diverse than what you see on TikTok. The most basic way to earn money from your YouTube content is by joining the YouTube Partners program. Once you’ve joined, it’s easy to earn revenue through ads displayed on your videos, providing a consistent income source based on the content’s performance. Once you post a monetized video, you can keep making money from it as long as people continue to view your content enough for YouTube to earn ad revenue.

For a different option, YouTube offers exclusive content deals and opportunities for creators to be featured on YouTube TV, increasing their visibility and revenue potential. YouTube TV is a less common choice for individual creators because it mostly offers an alternative to traditional broadcast and cable television. However, they also publish special features which can star content creators.

If you love to interact with subscribers in front of the camera, there are some additional ways to make money. One of the more lucrative ways to make money on YouTube is with live streaming. During those streams, you spend time with your followers, and you will have extra monetization options. In particular, you can receive a Superchat/Supersticker message. Superchats are one-time tips that let people say something to you for a fee. For non-stream videos (or the replay crowd), there’s also a Superthanks, which is a highlighted paid-for comment on your content.

Channel memberships are another great option. Here, you’ll offer exclusive content to your members in exchange for a monthly fee. Because you get a monthly fee, memberships provide a base level of income every month regardless of how well an individual video or livestream performs. For an off-site option, consider Patreon or a similar service to collect memberships.

Finally, many YouTube creators participate in affiliate marketing or brand deals. You’ll often hear a brand deal referred to as an influencer marketing agreement or campaign. In both situations, a YouTube creator or other influencer exchanges their influence and access to their audience for something of value. A common brand deal on YouTube is a sponsored video. Here, the brand will compensate an influencer for Featuring their product as the sponsor. Similarly, user-generated content can include a product is an integral part of the video, such as by filming a tutorial or try-on.

Affiliate marketing is a little bit different. Generally speaking, a YouTuber will mention a product and then provide a special link to their viewers. That link frequently delivers a special offer for the customer. Depending on the agreement, use of the link and purchases through it also generate compensation for the affiliate.

Further Reading: How Much Does YouTube Pay You Per View?

Algorithm and User Engagement

For both TikTok and YouTube, user engagement is an important aspect of how the algorithm ranks and recommends content. Although there are differences between TikTok vs. YouTube regarding the specific details, if you have engaging content, then you will have an advantage over the less interesting competition. However, the formulas and specific factors vary.

TikTok algorithm

@tedtoks

You may *think* you know how the FYP works, but do you *really*? ???? Here’s how the man himself @TikTok CEO Shou Chew (@shou.time) says TikTok’s famous algorithm actually works. (Hint: It involves a lot of math ????). Visit the link in our bio to watch his full #TED2023 discussion with head of TED Chris Anderson on US data privacy concerns, how TikTok gave rise to the creator economy, the power of communities like #BookTok and more. #ShouChew #LiveOnStage #TikTokTips #TikTokAlgorithm #HowTikTokWork

♬ original sound – TED Talks

TikTok’s algorithm is designed to quickly surface relevant and engaging content to users, increasing the chances of discoverability for creators and fostering a personalized user experience. In other words, the algorithm tries to give each individual the best experience and the most relevant videos possible. For this reason, there’s no “one size fits all” approach to reaching your target audience.

The algorithm encourages user participation in hashtag challenges and viral trends. In other words, there’s more of an incentive to create content in response to another user’s post than there is to simply comment on it. This is one reason why the number of videos on TikTok, along with the number of members, is growing so fast.

Furthermore, the emphasis on continued content creation as a response to existing content is one reason why TikTok has become such a strong community. So, if you want to foster community around your content, then TikTok is an excellent place to do it. Similarly, successful TikTok personalities stay current with the trends.and helping creators gain visibility. Choosing, or developing, the best hashtags is a major way to go viral.

YouTube algorithm

YouTube video

YouTube’s algorithm curates content based on users’ watch history, preferences, and interests, creating a tailored viewing experience that keeps users engaged. This means that even though new content and current trends are important, it’s still relatively easy for people to discover your older content. Often, the algorithm will recommend videos that are years old simply because the user might enjoy watching them.

Similarly, the algorithm factors in user interactions such as comments, likes, and shares when recommending content, incentivizing creators to produce high-quality, engaging videos that drive audience interaction. There is even a section on YouTube’s home page that invites users to explore trending content.

Although YouTube is still a great place for trending videos, one of its major strengths is the potential for evergreen content. That’s probably one reason why so many companies post their brand videos on their websites through an integrated YouTube player. Best of all, your content will continue to circulate on YouTube as long as it remains relevant. This is extra useful for knowledge-based creators.

One of the Internet’s biggest challenges is the protection of intellectual property and User Privacy. The ease with which people can publish things on the Internet, including video-based social media networks, making it easy to publish things that shouldn’t be.

Fortunately, a major similarity between TikTok vs. YouTube is that both platforms try to protect intellectual property. Therefore, content creators should both take care to avoid copyright infringement and be confident that there are processes in place to help when they are the victims. However, there are several significant differences between these two platforms regarding user privacy.

TikTok policies

@tiktokguideiines2023

First victim???????????????????????????????????????????????????????? troll tiktoklive foryou foryou funnyvideos funnylivestream viral communityguidelines

♬ original sound – Tiktok Community Guidelines

TikTok actively enforces copyright protection, removing or muting content that infringes on copyright holders’ rights. This means that you will need to ensure that you don’t produce anything which could be considered in prendre. On the other hand, there’s plenty of music that TikTok has licensed for use, and you can always choose from those options.

TikTok’s community guidelines outline acceptable content and behavior, and the platform actively enforces these rules to maintain a safe and positive environment for users. For instance, there are significant limitations on mature themes, violence, and bullying. Naturally, the principle that whatever you place on the Internet can be available forever should always be considered.

While community guidelines are similar to what you see on other social networks, TikTok has faced scrutiny regarding user privacy and data protection. This publicity caused the company to take measures to address these concerns and improve transparency. In particular, there are new measures in place that help prevent unauthorized access to user data from actors outside the company.

As of mid-2023, TikTok is still struggling to convince the government that its website is secure enough to be on certain devices or if it should be allowed to operate at all. This is something that you should consider when considering where to post your content.

YouTube policies

YouTube video

YouTube employs a robust Content ID system to detect and manage copyright infringement, protecting the rights of copyright holders and ensuring creators respect intellectual property. Briefly, Content ID is an AI-based algorithm that helps intellectual property owners identify their work in other videos. Unfortunately, this also means that many instances of fair use are falsely flagged as infringing. Fortunately, when this happens, YouTube has a way to mediate disputes.

Likewise, user safety and privacy are important. YouTube’s community guidelines set clear expectations for content and user behavior, and the platform actively enforces these rules to maintain a safe and inclusive environment. Examples of prohibited topics or behavior include bullying, revealing someone’s personal information (doxing), or promoting illegal activity. Notably, YouTube has been accused of censoring legal speech that goes against the government’s approved narrative on controversial topics.

YouTube, as part of Google, adheres to strict data protection policies and privacy regulations, ensuring user data is handled securely and transparently. The privacy standards on YouTube are similar to what you will see on the rest of Google, with modifications to reflect the public nature of most YouTube content. Importantly, Google has a very level of security on its networks and does not have a record of large security breaches.

Pros and Cons Summary

It’s easy to see how YouTube vs. TikTok are very different. On the surface, they are both video platforms that allow anybody to be a star. However, a combination of format differences, the various restrictions, and even regulatory concerns can help set them apart. Nonetheless, certain advantages and disadvantages emerge from the data.

YouTube

There’s no question that YouTube has a much longer history and more name recognition. It also doesn’t face the same regulatory pressures as its newer rival. However, from a content creator’s perspective, there are very specific advantages and disadvantages to posting your content here.

Advantages

If you think that bigger is better, then you’ll probably prefer YouTube. That’s because YouTube has a much larger user base, and this will likely continue far into the future because YouTube has a presence in almost every country around the world. Plus, it has a wider generational appeal.

Similarly, YouTube supports more diverse content options. You can post almost anything, from a 15-second short all the way to a multi-hour documentary. Long-form video, in particular, gives you a chance to develop your story over time and draw people into something that’s highly engaging. Furthermore, with more format options, you can cover a wider variety of topics.

Finally, there are more monetization options on YouTube than on TikTok. While both platforms let you share ad revenue, collaborate with brands, and receive tips, YouTube allows for other options, such as memberships and merchandise purchase links. This is significant when you consider that certain fans might prefer to buy something fun, or to access exclusive content, rather than sending tips. Of course, Ad revenue shares are great because they don’t cost your viewers anything extra.

Further Reading: 11 Tips on How to Grow Your YouTube Channel in 2024

Disadvantages

While YouTube is a very versatile platform, it isn’t perfect. For instance, the opportunity to create long-form videos means that you will spend a lot more time and effort creating those videos. Similarly, you’ll have to import your footage into YouTube’s creator studio before editing — unless you do everything on your computer and just upload it straight.

The other disadvantage is that it can take a long time to grow your channel. Many creators require months to grow their channel to large enough for monetization. However, you can mitigate this issue somewhat with careful planning and a clever strategy. And as your channel grows, you’ll have plenty of ways to keep your audience interested.

TikTok

Likewise, TikTok has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages for content creators. Some of these are similar to YouTube, while others help differentiate the platform. When you’re choosing between one platform and the other though, you need to understand what distinguishes TikTok in general.

Advantages

There’s a reason why so many people love TikTok. For one thing, a segment of the population will always try the newest technology phenomenon. On the other hand, if a platform is of poor quality then most people will leave relatively quickly. TikTok has grown very quickly, and many of its users have been on the platform since earlier versions of the app. This mixture of old timers and newcomers indicates that TikTok’s rapid growth is justified when considering quality.

Similarly, TikTok is a place where posts frequently go viral. This means a creator’s video can reach a huge audience very quickly, and frequently far beyond the intended user base. If you want to create content that is wildly popular and get your name (or username) everywhere, then you have a much better chance on TikTok.

Finally, TikTok is very easy to use. Most of your video editing can be done right in the app using footage you have just shot. Plus, making the changes required for dynamic content is very easy. Almost anyone can make quality content on TikTok.

Further Reading: 80 Awesome TikTok Username Ideas to Go Viral

Disadvantages

Despite its potential and user-friendliness, TikTok is not perfect. For many content creators, the largest disadvantage is that you can only create short-form content up to a minute long. That severely limits how well you can discuss a serious topic, for example. Once your content has become popular, you’ll find that monetization on TikTok is much more difficult and has fewer options. For this reason, TikTok is not as good of a steady income source as its larger competitor.

Lastly, your audience is more limited on TikTok because users are much younger on average. They also have less disposable income, which is a concern if you want to work with major brands. Because TikTok is such a young platform, it’s hard to determine how its user base will evolve over time and if the audience interests will change with maturity.

Recommendation to Content Creators

Ultimately, only you can decide if the advantages of TikTok vs. YouTube make one platform more suitable than the other for your content creation. However, in these cases, your overall goals will help you between them.

Content creators who want to make a lot of money or at least have a steady income frequently go to YouTube. That’s because YouTube offers monetization opportunities through its Partner Program, allowing content creators to earn revenue through Ads, channel memberships, and merchandise sales. Many YouTube creators find that the platform provides a significant second source of income, and quite a few can live entirely off of their YouTube income.

On the other hand, TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes content discoverability, giving even new creators a chance to go viral and rapidly grow their audience, which makes it an appealing platform for those aiming to gain exposure and quickly expand their reach. Over time, we may find TikTok creators who are more able to live off of their earnings. However, the lack of memberships makes this possibility more challenging. Hobbyists, however, shouldn’t be turned off by the monetization limitations, especially if they just want to share their creativity with the world.

Conclusion

Although TikTok and YouTube are both video-based social media platforms, they are quite different. Each website has a different vibe, a different user base, and different features. For this reason, they are not interchangeable for content creators, even though it’s possible to use both. When you’re deciding which one to use, consider all the differences and similarities. You’ll put a lot of hard work into building your channel, so it’s best to do it in the right place.

Photo by Collabstr on Unsplash

Actionable advice for your digital / content / influencer / social media marketing.
Join 13,000+ smart professionals who subscribe to my regular updates.
Share with your network!
Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

Articles: 407

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

+
Table Of Contents