Alex Butzbach

Conventional wisdom (and plenty of stats) say Facebook is the largest social network. It has over a billion users, and it’s the biggest driver of referral traffic on the web. Yet when it comes to social marketing, brands need to think carefully about where they’re expending most of their time, resources and efforts. These days, they may want to hedge their bets on video.

According to data compiled by Complete PRO, YouTube has finally surpassed Facebook as the most visited social network. In June 2014, Facebook had 166,497,314 unique visits, while YouTube squeezed past with 167,848,349. While that’s not a huge lead, it’s enough to say once and for all that YouTube is at least on par with Facebook in the social marketing conversation.

Wait – YouTube is a social network?

Everyone knows that YouTube is incredibly popular, but you may not consider it a social network in its own right. Yet when you think carefully about the site, you realize it possesses all the hallmarks of a real social platform.


 Friends and followers can connect with each other, see what they’re posting and share content they’ve seen.
•  A News Feed – The YouTube homepage shows what connections have been up to and what’s currently popular.
 Comments are YouTube’s version of engagement, and it has some of the most involved, engaged and dedicated users commenting frequently.

So besides the fact that there’s a huge and active user base on YouTube, what are the benefits to embracing a YouTube strategy?

Rich snippets: As Brafton reported, video thumbnails aren’t appearing as often as they used to in search results. The ones that do display aren’t from third-party websites – they’re hosted on YouTube. The click-through bonus that marketers expected from rich snippets are still there for the taking on YouTube.
SEO boosts: Showing up in SERPs with a small thumbnail is only one small part of the overall SEO benefits video (and YouTube specifically) offer. How-to headlines and in-depth guides are among the first things Google tries to offer users in search, and videos are often the best results.

So what we’ve seen is that YouTube is not only one of the biggest social networks on the web, it’s also a superior SEO tool. Taken together, these two sides of the YouTube coin should be ample proof of how much of an ROI powerhouse the site is. Brands looking to take their campaigns to the next level should consider how video can help them generate more awareness and engagement.

Want to learn more about how YouTube affects content marketing? Check out these related resources:

The YouTube marketing takeover: Jumpstarting your strategy (Video)
Is a picture still worth 1,000 clicks? (Video)