It can make you do dumb things (like making MARVEL brickfilms ).
Oh gee, thanks.
To be honest, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want any recognition, and in truth anyone who says they don't harbour a dream of being successful is also lying. Yes, a lot of us do this purely because it's fun, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't want your animation to be a success. Getting a mere 17 views on a video can be really disheartening.
There's a difference between that and setting out to be successful, which rarely works. I think that's a dangerous way to produce brickfilms, as you will find you put less of an emphasis on creativity, and will end up regurgitating something else. The only reason I did my past two Avengers Tower animations as straight-up fight scenes was as glorified animation tests for something larger (having not animated a proper fight for years). I also try to balance every licensed IP brickfilm I do with an original one, so while I work on Ultron Ascending I'll also be doing an original animation about a hyperactive genie. Just wanted to throw that in case some people think my comments here are a bit hypocritical.
However, the mass audience that is YouTube does have a lot of upsides:
Designed for ease of use
It's designed to be easy to use; the interface is pretty simple and inviting, and it's easy to upload videos. Brickshelf was a total faff. Back when I first started out brickfilming, I wasn't allowed a YouTube account, so I had to make my videos really tiny in size and put them on Brickshelf, which took forever. It also meant they weren't public, and you had to use a specific link for other people to see them. Until recently, BZpower (a BIONICLE forum) banned YouTube links, so I had to upload many of my animations to Brickshelf for that purpose as well. I know a lot of people would be turned off by the amount of effort that goes into compressing a file and uploading it to Brickshelf super-slowly, so YouTube's ease of use is something of a blessing. Like I said, it's inviting. This is a good thing.
Personally, I really enjoy having a Facebook and Twitter page specifically for my brickfilms. Yeah, it's great to try to build an audience, but it's also quite fun pretending I'm a real studio, and trying to make the pages look somewhat professional can be surprisingly enjoyable.
It's also another platform for additional material, something that was difficult to do in the pre-YouTube era. You can take your video's URL, but it in a Facebook post, along with behind-the-scenes pictures and additional canon. You can do this on blogs too, but Facebook's more accessible for people these days. Overall, when used correctly, this can enhance the viewing experience.
Also, the people who tend to make Facebook and Twitter feeds for their brickfilms are usually the kind of people who are serious about the hobby, rather than - and tell me I'm wrong, but there are a lot of these - ten year olds putting six frames together at 3fps and never touching the hobby again, so this use of the the YouTube connectivity schtick isn't oversaturated. Ish.
Like/dislikes, playlists and favourites
It's become easier to keep track of your favourite brickfilms. Pre-YouTube, you had to create Word docs with URLs to all the places where your favourites were on display, but now you just click a button and it's saved to a playlist, so you can easily access it whenever you like. That's awesome, and I wish I'd been allowed YouTube sooner as it would have saved me the hassle of the Word doc thing.
More importantly, the like/dislike system can encourage good work. By clicking like, you're showing support for the creator - you've specifically clicked a button that says "I really liked your brickfilm. Keep up the great work!" Equally, however, the dislike button can wreck a person's confidence.
All that said, there are some negatives to YouTube:
Luck of the draw
No matter how much you try to make a film that will appease a wide audience (if that's what you've set out to do, which I don't recommend) unless you already have a fanbase, a lot of it's down to luck. Luck that word of mouth will spread about your film. Luck that it might get on the front page of YouTube. Luck that it might get tweeted by someone with a lot of followers. Luck
And a lot of the time, bad videos get lucky. Mass Text. Friday. Justin Bieber was first 'discovered' on YouTube. Seeing things that don't necessarily 'deserve' to be viral become so can be disheartening, especially for younger brickfilmers whose motivation may well come from wanting to show the world something cool they made last Saturday (there's no problem with that).
Content to 'get famous'
Like I've said, it's not healthy to animate something simply to see it go viral, because you'll be horribly disappointed. I'd like to point out here that making a licensed IP brickfilm is not always, or even mostly done to 'go viral', and making a fanfilm is not a "dumb thing" to do. It's part of a learning process; learning to write character development, animation and vfx training, amongst other things. But making a licensed IP brickfilm to get famous isn't a good idea, but neither is making any brickfilm to get famous. If that's all that's on your mind, then you're not thinking about the more important elements of making a brickfilm: set design (not just simply building a set), good writing, good cinematography, characterisation, lighting...going viral would be cool, not gunna' lie, but it should be thought of as an added bonus, and one that you have as much chance of receiving as you do winning the lottery on your first ticket.
So there's my long-winded, rambly view on this.
EDIT: Also, no offense to people who make MARVEL brickfilms. mini/shifty
Sorry, but some taken. Don't tar everyone with the same stick, dude. And I'd like to point out that three years ago I made a Green Lantern video for fun, with no intention of any return, simply because I wanted to make it (just as I do with the Avengers today), and I was rewarded with 200,000 views and £150 in revenue, plus I became a Partner. The punchline? I haven't made a Green Lantern video since.
"Nothing goes down 'less I'm involved. No nuggets. No onion rings. No nothin'. A cheeseburger gets sold in the park, I want in! You got fat while we starved on the streets...now it's my turn!" -Harley Morenstein