WordPress is a great platform. It is used by over 75 million websites across the world, an absolutely staggering number. It’s gone from a blogging platform to a content management system and is capable of supporting sites that look nothing like blogs.
It’s open source, versatile and powerful. An amazing community is dedicated to designing themes, building plugins and providing support.
But there has to be a limit to WordPress’s powers, right? But where? For example, can WordPress create a site like YouTube?
Well, let’s find out.
YouTube started life in 2005 and was bought by Google in 2006. It looked very different back then.
Essentially, it’s a video hosting service. It’s also the second most visited website in the world. A billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every day.
Channels and YouTube itself make money mostly from AdSense adverts but there are premium channels, subscriptions and film rentals to spend money on too.
Functions are broadly split between the video technology and community features. You can read more about the engineering side – and everything else – on Wikipedia. YouTube has been at the cutting edge of bringing technology to customers – for free – including live streaming and 360° videos.
The community features are what really brings YouTube to life. It would be little more than an archive if users couldn’t follow, vote, share, comment and respond. Users can register to see their favourite videos, follow channels, set up their own channel, save for later, make playlists, upload videos and receive activity alerts.
There are other video hosting services like Vimeo and Wistia that are popular and have their fanbases. Vine was a star for a while before being shuttered. YouTube has stood the test of time and continued to be at the forefront though.
But can WordPress create a site like YouTube?
What you can do on WordPress with video
WordPress isn’t specifically a video platform but its versatility means it is up for anything. You can upload and display video, as well as embedding from platforms like YouTube. You can also implement all the community features of YouTube with help from various plugins.
Social Gallery Video Viewer
The Video Viewer is an extension of the Social Gallery plugin and, as you might have guessed, the emphasis is on social.
You can use it to get Facebook style images in WordPress and the same goes for video too.
Host videos in stylish lightbox galleries and have comments and discussions right there on the video. Using Facebook or Disqus comments it’s easy to have comments, discussions, voting and even Facebook tagging.
The familiar Facebook format means your site visitors don’t have to get frustrated trying to figure out a new UI to browse and navigate your gallery. There are now two billion Facebook users so the vast majority of internet users will be familiar with how to use your gallery and watch your videos before they even get to your site. You don’t want to lose your visitors to them getting frustrated with using your site, or thinking you only have the one video to see.
It’s easy to install, so you don’t need to spend ages setting it up and the plugin works out the box with 99% of themes. There are lightbox adverts to boost revenue on your videos and you have total control over your videos and how they are displayed.
Check out our list of the top WordPress plugins for video for even more on galleries, embedding and managing your videos.
Managing media on WordPress
Hosting the videos yourself on WordPress can lead to a lot of storage and a slow site. So some other important considerations are optimisation, caching and organising. You’ll also need to think about security and backups. Wrangling all the videos from WordPress’s own media manager could quickly get frustrating too.
Luckily there are plugins to help with all of these issues. Even huge WordPress sites with tonnes of images and even video content can run smoothly.
Caching helps serve your pages to visitors quickly. W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache and WP Rocket are great plugins that can minimise the load of your site. If you are getting really big a content delivery network, or CDN will help deliver your site quickly, for a price.
Enhanced Media Library, Media Library Assistant and WordPress Media Library Folders help you get your media library in order as WordPress doesn’t offer any options other than straightforward organising by date and limited search. Media Library Categories and Media Tags give you even more options.
If you are maxing out your web hosting storage third party options such as Amazon are cheaper than you might think. You can upgrade your web hosting too – we recommend Bluehost. But WordPress can handle your content management as a platform no matter the size of your site.
Creating an enormous site like YouTube on WordPress doesn’t have to be a total headache if you can take advantage of these tools to stay organised.
Building a social network with WordPress
You can also use WordPress to build a bona fide social network. Plugins like BuddyPress give WordPress super social features. Everything you would expect from a social network, and plenty of YouTube’s features are there.
Subscribe and follow people, get account activity, set up a profile, post updates, have discussions and much more.
Building a social network around video – and using Social Gallery Video Viewer – is easy with the right WordPress plugins. And with video being so incredibly popular you’ve got a ready audience.
Plus we’ve got a great tip below on using WordPress to create a community and social site dedicated to hunting out and sharing the best videos for your niche.
Doing more with video on your site
You don’t have to recreate YouTube to benefit from using video on your site. Just adding some video can boost your user engagement, visitors, time spent on page, shares and revenue. Find out all the amazing video statistics in our post on top WordPress plugins for video.
Product Hunt is a popular and fun site but what does it have to do with WordPress and YouTube?
With WordPress you can use Plugin Hunt for a community of people finding the best videos from across the web. Users can submit, comment and vote on videos and get them trending.
Embed videos and curate them into collections for the best video discoveries and an addictive site. You can run adverts and collect email addresses from registered users for email marketing, add premium membership subscription options to make money.
Hunt the scariest videos, the sexiest or funniest. Or collect videos relating to your niche, your location, your favourite sports team.
Or use a plugin like Video Mash to pit videos against each other and declare the winner with votes and social sharing.
People love rating and voting and it’s a great way to encourage engagement and interaction on your site. It’s also fantastic for social shares as people encourage their friends to play. By voting with social signals it helps share the post automatically and to spread the poll. These are some of the most viral kinds of content.
Video is a huge opportunity for your site, whether you aspire to creating an enormous site like YouTube or not.
Creating enormous sites on WordPress
The sheer size of YouTube is hard to comprehend. You might think you would need a custom platform to hold that much content. But there are absolutely enormous sites that run on WordPress. The hosting bill is a whole other question. Let’s take a look at what else is possible with WordPress…
Blogs are what the platform is famous for and WordPress runs the blogs for some of the most famous and busy sites in the world, including for Etsy, Skype, Disney, TED, LinkedIn, Sony Music, MTV and Playstation. Even the Official Star Wars blog.
Brands build huge, high end websites like Mercedes Benz, UPS Global, AMC and The Walking Dead site. Celebrity users include the Rolling Stones, Usain Bolt and Beyonce.
Media outlets are massive on WordPress. Huge names like Bloomberg, Variety, The New Yorker, Fortune Magazine, Wired and Time can be seen on the magazine racks and on WordPress.
WordPress also runs some of the biggest names in internet journalism like TechCrunch, Problogger, Thought Catalog, Quartz, The Next Web, Problogger and Outbrain.
These are huge sites both in terms of the size of content and the size of their audience. Many have community features with comments and voting, user registration and alerts, and so on.
One massive use of WordPress that people often don’t realise is the vast blog networks used by universities and schools. These are WordPress multisite installations that support millions of individual blogs for students and staff. They can be found at Harvard, Cornell, MIT, Berkeley and the universities of Berlin and Melbourne.
So can WordPress create enormous sites? Absolutely. Can WordPress handle video like the pros? Absolutely.
You really can use WordPress to create an enormous site like YouTube.
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