TikTok vs. YouTube: Which One Is Right for You?

Creator needs are different from users; there are 6 key items to think about

TikTok and YouTube are rival social media and video platforms popular with viewers across the globe. The TikTok vs. YouTube rivalry has consequences, as each platform is better suited for specific viewers and creators.

Here's how to decide if TikTok or YouTube is better for you.

TikTok vs YouTube

Overall Findings

  • Videos are fast and brief, with a maximum of 10 minutes.

  • UI immediately delivers new videos based on an algorithm.

  • Creators are paid from a Creator Fund.

  • Nearly 1.4 billion monthly active users.

  • Videos of varying styles and lengths.

  • UI focuses on subscriptions and recommendations.

  • Creators are paid from advertisements.

  • 2.5 billion monthly active users.

YouTube and TikTok are large, mature social media and video platforms, but one thing is clear: YouTube leads the Tiktok vs. YouTube rivalry, at least in terms of users. YouTube has roughly 70 percent more monthly active users than TikTok as of 2022.

The rivals also differ in presentation. YouTube is driven through subscriptions, recommendations, and searches. YouTube is happy when viewers stay engaged with long videos.

TikTok is a quicker, more immediate experience that moves viewers straight from one video to the next. TikTok wants to keep users engaging with new videos and seeing new, fresh creators.

Creators have a different experiences. TikTok is easier to start using thanks to better in-app tools, while most YouTube creators use third-party video editing apps. YouTube offers a more direct source of revenue, however, which makes the platform appealing to those looking to make money from their videos.

Supported Devices and Availability: Both Are Nearly Universal

  • Launched as an app for mobile devices.

  • Now available as a website.

  • Also available on most smart TVs.

  • Best for vertical video.

  • Launched as a website.

  • Now available as an app for mobile devices.

  • Also available on most smart TVs.

  • Best for horizontal video.

YouTube and TikTok have different origins. YouTube was created for use through a web browser, while TikTok was built for use on mobile. This still influences the look and feel of each platform.

Both companies have put effort into expanding the reach of their platform. YouTube has apps for iOS and Android, while TikTok can be viewed through a web browser. Both have apps available on most brands of smart TV.

However, there's an important difference in the type of videos each supports. YouTube supports both horizontal and vertical video, but leans heavily towards horizontal video. TikTok only supports vertical video. As a result, TikTok works best on smartphones, while YouTube is best for PC and televisions.

Both are banned in some countries. YouTube is banned in China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and South Sudan. TikTok is banned in India and Afghanistan. These bans are not entirely effective: TikTok still has an audience in India, for example.

Reach and Audience: TikTok Is Big, YouTube Is Huge

  • Nearly 1.3 billion monthly viewers.

  • Popular in Mexico, United States, and Nigeria.

  • Year-over-year growth around 40 percent.

  • Over 2.5 billion monthly viewers.

  • Popular in India, United States, and Indonesia.

  • Year-over-year growth is slowing.

YouTube and TikTok are both popular and influential, but YouTube has a big lead. It's the second most popular social media platform in the world with 2.5 billion monthly active users.

TikTok has nearly 1.4 billion monthly active users, which is huge—but far less than YouTube. TikTok is growing more rapidly than YouTube, however, so it may catch up to its older rival before too long.

The audience differs significantly. YouTube is preferred in India, Indonesia, and Japan, while TikTok is very strong in Mexico and Nigeria. Both apps are popular in the United States, Russia, Brazil, Pakistan, and most Western European countries.

Types of Content: TikTok Goes for Viral, YouTube Has Variety

  • Maximum video length is 10 minutes.

  • Most videos are less than a minute long.

  • Most videos are brief and to-the-point.

  • Videos can be any length.

  • Most videos are around 10 minutes long.

  • Very wide variety of video content.

The length of content differs. YouTube supports varying lengths, from Shorts that last seconds to documentary and podcast-style videos over ten hours long. YouTube hasn't published its platform-wide average video length recently, but 10 minutes long is a decent guess.

TikTok is more focused on short videos that last a minute or less. The platform has increased the maximum length of videos to 10 minutes, however, so some creators are making videos similar to those on YouTube.

While many YouTube and TikTok videos are of similar length, the format of TikTok encourages shorter, more to-the-point videos. YouTube is also embracing this with a new format called Shorts, but it's only getting started.

Both support live-streaming, as well, though once again YouTube is focused on longer content than TikTok.

User Experience: TikTok Is Fast, YouTube Goes for Subscriptions

  • UI is focused on quickly delivering a new, engaging video.

  • Individual creators can be difficult to follow.

  • Works best on vertical displays.

  • UI is focused on subscriptions and recommendations.

  • Individual creators are easy to follow.

  • Works best on horizontal displays.

YouTube and TikTok are both video platforms, so the core of the user experience is similar. Users visit each to see videos and, once a video is over, are guided to another video.

YouTube leans towards subscriptions and recommendations to offer an experience that feels curated and focuses on creators the platform's algorithm believes you will like.

TikTok skews towards using an algorithm to immediately serve up a new video that will engage your interest. Leaping to new videos is quicker, especially on mobile, but viewers may feel less connected with creators.

Creator Experience: TikTok's Creator Fund Falls Behind YouTube's Revenue Share

  • Most creators publish with the platform's video tools.

  • Focus on going views to sustain a channel.

  • Creators are paid from a shared fund.

  • Minimum of 100,000 views in last 30 days for payment.

  • Most creators make videos with third-party software.

  • Focus on gaining subscriptions to sustain a channel.

  • Creators are paid a cut of advertisement revenue.

  • Minimum of 1,000 subscribers for payment.

YouTube and TikTok offer different experiences for creators.

Signing up to create on both platforms is simple. It's possible to edit and post entirely within each platform. TikTok's tools are better for publishing within the platform, however, while YouTube's are only suitable for basic content. Most YouTube creators use a third-party video editor.

YouTube's focus on subscriptions encourages more direct engagement with an audience and a slower pace, with many creators uploading once or twice a week. TikTok's shorter, quicker videos offer less chance for direct engagement, and many TikTok creators try to upload once every day.

Revenue is handled differently. YouTube pays a percentage of revenue it receives from advertisements shown on content. TikTok uses a predetermined Creator Fund that is split among all creators based on an algorithm. This makes YouTube more favorable for creators since revenue is directly linked to advertisements.

An exception to this is YouTube's Shorts, which are TikTok-like videos. These are paid through the YouTube Shorts Fund.

Both platforms let anyone create and upload videos, but have a baseline for payment. YouTube requires a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 public watch hours across all videos. TikTok requires 100,000 "authentic video views" within the last 30 days.

Final Verdict: YouTube Wins

Both TikTok and YouTube have perks, but YouTube retains an edge over its younger rival.

YouTube is a more popular platform in terms of monthly active users. It also provides types of video content that TikTok can't support, such as in-depth product reviews or long-form documentaries. The breadth of content on YouTube is made possible by its more favorable creator's program. YouTube offers a better share of the revenue.

TikTok has its place, however. It's the best video experience for smartphones, and there's no denying the effectiveness of its algorithmically generated video feed. TikTok is great at keeping viewers engaged and entertained.

  • What is the YouTube vs. TikTok fight?

    YouTubers vs. TikTokers was an amateur boxing event in 2021 between stars of both platforms. It was dubbed the “Battle of the Platforms.”The fight’s highlight was Austin McBroom of YouTube vs. Bryce Hall of TikTok. In the end, YouTube’s McBroom defeated TikTok’s Hall in three rounds.

  • How do I create a channel on YouTube?

    To set up and customize a YouTube channel, navigate to YouTube.com and sign in to your account. Select your profile picture and choose Create a Channel. Follow the prompts to create your channel. Afterward, select your profile picture > YouTube Studio to modify and edit your channel.

  • How do I go live on TikTok?

    To go live on TikTok, launch the TikTok app and tap the plus sign at the bottom of the screen. Next to the recording icon, tap Live. Enter a title for your livestream, and then tap Go Live to begin your stream. TikTok users who qualify for livestreams can also create Live Events.

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