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YouTube’s New Policies Divide the Creator Community

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INFLUENCER: What could these new regulations mean for microinfluencers on YouTube? Arnold Worldwide's Katie Ginsberg explores

For years, YouTube has served as the stage where influencers of all sizes could amplify their voices. It is the home base for creators to learn, laugh and connect with others around the world; the gold standard community to connect individuals based on common interests, passions and experiences. 

That was certainly the case, at least, until January 16th, 2018. 

Given some unfortunate and downright horrifying uses of the platform publicised in 2017, YouTube recently announced that it’s tightening up its contributor policies through video monitoring and a stricter monetisation program in an effort to eliminate future misconduct.

What does this mean for content contributors? Well, to start, creators will now only earn money off of their videos if they garner at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of overall annual watch time. YouTube believes this threshold will substantiate the legitimacy of a content creator and prove that they must earn the right to place ads on their videos.

With this new guideline in place, the creator community is being divided. The gap is quickly increasing between the likes of the highly popular YouTube giants and the lesser known, yet still important microinfluencers. Those who don’t meet YouTube’s new qualifications are being stripped of their rights to earn profits off of their work. 

What does this mean for smaller content creators on YouTube? Only time will tell, but it’s easy to see that the policy change has the ability to impact the role and significance of microinfluencers at large. Any content creator or marketer worth their salt recognises that subscriber size and watch time do not dictate whether a channel is necessarily worthy of a monetary reward. It’s about the quality of the content and the audiences that they engage and influence, however niche. 

With these regulations in place, such microinfluencers could understandably feel frustrated, overshadowed and undervalued. Being rewarded monetarily for their work serves as an added incentive and motivation to share content. By eliminating this factor in favour of more highly networked, larger-scale content contributors, YouTube could essentially be pushing out the niche players, forcing them to start relying on alternative promotional platforms and content styles. 

These regulations will also impact the way brands work with microinfluencers. Brands partner with influencers, big and small, to create an extension of their voices and engage relevant audiences. If microinfluencers start looking to create content elsewhere, brands will have to re-evaluate the type of content they’re planning to co-create and the kinds of audiences they’re aiming to reach. Even more, YouTube will miss out on the opportunities to host this sponsored content.

Although this effort is an attempt to protect and rebuild the platform’s reputation, these new rules could significantly impact YouTube’s ability to attract and foster a truly diverse creator community.

Katie Ginsberg is Senior Associate of Digital & Social Strategy, Arnold Worldwide

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