TheWillofDC, Tubefilter’s new weekly columnist, who brings his mastery of the inner workings of YouTube’s movers and shakers from his popular YouTube channel to you, our fine readers in a weekly dish every Friday. Will has two weekly web shows—’YouTube News’ and ‘YouTube Winners and Losers’—that appear on his YouTube channel and of course right here on Tubefilter News every Friday. Questions for Will? Leave a comment below.]
What’s More Powerful on YouTube: Views or Subscribers?
While at its heart YouTube is a community of people passionate about new media, online video and social networking, it also has a more professional side to it. In the effort to define success and influence on YouTube there are two schools of thought on what is more important. One favoring a higher subscriber count and the other favoring a higher view count. While obviously the ideal is to have both, like RayWilliamJohnson and ShaneDawson currently, evidence from the past 5 years of YouTube suggests that dual success has a very short life span. So YouTubers seeking success are left either trying to come up with videos that will reach a high number of views or pursuing a community building strategy to gain a high subscriber count.
While its easy to be seduced into doing videos in a viral style and/or trying to take advantage of news worthy current events I find the more successful people to be those that cultivate community and have the higher subscriber count.
The main problem with focusing on simply wanting to rack up views is the lack of audience interaction. It is precisely that interaction which in turn leads to the audience knowing they are appreciated and thus a community is formed and built upon. The reason community should be important to YouTubers is that 1, it builds upon itself benefiting and advancing the site as a whole and 2, that is where the success lies for the YouTuber trying to become successful. A passionate subscriber in an active community will do more for you in spreading your channel and multiple videos around while the multitude of random viewers of your popular or viral video will enjoy but move onto the next popular or viral video from someone else.
Eventually every YouTuber wants to give back or help promote something and there in lies the test of how successful and influential a YouTuber is. By promote I don’t mean selling out making a video convincing us to buy the latest corporate entity. By promoting I mean anything authentic ranging from a charity to a new project they’re passionate about to supporting a fellow YouTuber or an independent artist.
The YouTubers who have been most successful at promoting something are the ones who have spent massive amounts of time cultivating an intensely active community on their channel including; Livelavalive, Pogobat, and Vlogbrothers. From charities to contests they have gotten their subscribers to come out hardcore for what they’re advocating. I can’t think of the last viral or viralish video, by which I mean received close to or way over a million views, which mobilized the people who watched it to support anything. (I exclude ShaneDawson helping his brother get his channel 100k subs in 2 weeks because he has both a passionate community supporting him and amazing views which as I stated in the beginning is an accomplishment only a couple users at a time can attain.)
Obviously the pro’s for attempting a higher video views strategy are:
1) By not cultivating community you have a lot more free time which can be put toward video making
2) More views means more money.
Yet the downside is no one can predict what goes viral. So those attempting to do so usually have a few viral or viralish videos and then a TON of flops that have awful view counts. So if they ever attempted to utilize their audience the video would receive awful views cause its not a randomly successful viral vid and little if any one who did watch would follow through on helping the YouTuber.
While I believe the better choice is to cultivate community and wait long term for monetary success I want to be clear that no YouTuber is better or worse for which path they choose. It is important above all else for the community to support the community meaning every user supporting every other user. But in summation, let me pose this week’s question alongside last week’s question. What’s more powerful viewers or subscribers? How do I get big on Youtube? The answer: build a community of active subscribers!
Highlights of the Week on YouTube
Other highlights this week include the new YouTube watch page. As with all change on YouTube there is fierce resistance to it and heavy criticism. Although if the channel page redesign taught us anything, it is that give YouTubers a month and they’ll get used to it and learn to love it. If you are confused by any part of the new watch page a couple weeks ago I was able to see the full version before the switch and made a video guide to the new watch page which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Iiztu3JrxI.
Expert village became the first channel to reach over 1 billion combined video views! While technically VEVO was first I consider that more of a cheat since its pretty much combining the views of every music video ever uploaded to YouTube. So congratulations Expert Village on the monumental achievement!
PianoChatImprov put out a second video and finally made the top 100, taking a little longer than I originally predicted. After 5 days the new video has 1.5 million views, which is nowhere near, the 4.2 million the original received but still is very substantial. I’m not ready to say it’s a fad just yet. I don’t think we’ll be able to know that until a few more videos come out.
The ATTEMPTED revival of wastetimechasingcars. This isn’t the first time Mac has taken a break and then come back to YouTube but what makes this time interesting is how he is doing it. After 2 months of silence on his main channel he returns 2 weeks ago with 2 videos on his personal channel, one a remix of a song and the other a lighthearted vlog. This was a smart calculated move on his part because the place where you will receive the most support is on your personal vlog channel. So it seems his new passion and what he wants to do with his main channel is remixing songs. In a very smart move he’s trying it out on his personal channel with a more supportive audience first before posting it to his main channel. Basically doing what so many big Youtubers do with each other: screening a video to make sure its really good before posting it up, that way additional edits can be made before unleashing onto the general YouTube audience.
Interactive or Spam?
And the last thing I want to cover is SMPfilms. He put out an interactive video this weekend with MANY parts, which in turn filled up people’s subscription boxes. The risk is always there with interactive videos that users will see the many videos and unsubscribe because the flood turns them off. Yet pretty much all users have benefited more than they lost. That is until smpfilms. Saturday he lost over 1300 subscribers and only in the past 2 days has he gained subscribers, almost 200 for each day. He has struggled for a while now on how to reinvent himself on YouTube in order to reintroduce himself to the general audience on YouTube, which is much different now than it was in 2007, when he was one of the top users. But I wonder if this setback is a nail in the coffin on that idea. He even responded to the obvious rejection explaining in a video that (in reference to his videos) he feels as if he’s throwing spaghetti at a wall trying to get something to stick and nothing is. Also, he recently privated the interactive video.
The tragic thing about YouTube and life in general is that sometimes what was once popular becomes unpopular or people are no longer interested. YouTube is still very much young and very unpredictable on what will be successful or unsuccessful but there are many channels already that were once popular which have fallen off the top 100 sometimes to near obscurity. Every YouTuber wanting to be successful or having found success will tell you that fighting for it is extremely important. But at what point does the fight become a lost cause? While I hate to use him as an example I have to make a point I could write an entire column about: at what point should users start thinking about their professional (meaning paid career, not hobby) lives post YouTube? It’s a question I hope every YouTuber thinks about before their forced into thinking about it