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Something that every creator fears: stagnating view counts. They keep putting out new (hopefully better) content, they gain more subscribers, but overall they don’t really see any progress. This happens to channels of all sizes, big and small, and is an issue for everyone.
While this is hardly anything new, a few points at VidCon made me think about it again. When I encounter these problems with channels, I often look at what the channel is uploading now, compared to what the channel was uploading originally. I look at the most popular videos on the channel, and compare them to the videos uploaded now.
What you often end up seeing, is that the channels have changed content or style, compared to when it started out. For instance, take a gaming channel: perhaps it started out playing games like Civilizations, XCOM2, and Star Craft (all strategy games, for the uninitiated). But now, the person is playing Call of Duty (an action shooter), Minecraft (a very slow paced building game), and Overwatch (a fast paced newly released shooter).
This happens constantly; the latter games are more modern, and these days far more popular. So many channels grab on to these more popular games, to get some of the many people looking for gameplay of them. However, those games are very very different from what original games were played, and is simply not what people originally subscribed to the channel for.
This creates a problem where newer subscribers don’t want to watch older content, nor the older type of content if the channel uploads it again, and all the people that have been subscribed for much longer, doesn’t want to watch any of the newer content the channel puts up.
This was an example with a gaming channel, but the same thing applies to any kind of channel. Remember what kind of content people subscribed for, the type of content, the feel of it, and look at it and compare it to the type of content you upload now.
I was also lucky enough to run into Mari, Flitz and Sohinki, from Smosh Games, on the first real day there. I asked them where they thought YouTube was going, and what they were doing on Smosh Games themselves.
Flitz talked a lot about back to basics too – looking at the original type of content people subscribed to the channel for, and what they were doing now. They all felt they had learnt a great deal over their time doing YouTube videos, and had much more knowledge now – but also felt they needed to back to what the channel was originally about.
Essentially, what Flitz said could be simplistically boiled down to “Going back to a more refined basics”. That is to say, take what they had learned over the years, and apply those learnings to the type of content people had originally subscribed to the channel for.
Matt Gielen, who I mentioned in the previous article too, also had something to say about this. What they had seen in their data, was largely the same conclusions I had come to over the years (though with little data to back it up): that is, stay on topic, don’t change.
YouTube, much like Google, prefers channels with a narrow theme and topic for their videos. This makes sense algorithmically: a channel that has 150 videos about learning Japanese, and only about learning Japanese, is probably a more trustworthy source than a channel that only has 10 videos about learning Japanese (and then 10 videos about gaming, and 5 videos about traveling, and 20 videos about cooking, etc.).
This even further ties things together with their findings on subscriber views vs. overall video views. If your subscribers don’t watch a specific video, that video will perform worse overall. And if you start putting up new types of content, then your current subscribers won’t watch that. As a result, even if you go back to your original content later, you’ll have already shot yourself in the foot. You’re in a downwards spiral, that will be hard to get out of.
So, not only from a perspective of pleasing your current subscribers, but also looking at it from a data and algorithm point of view, be very careful about changing the type of content you put up – and if you’re stagnating, look at the type of content you originally got your subscribers by uploading.
I want to round things up, by talking about what could only be called Hollywood-Celebrity-Type-Scenarios, at VidCon. Young’ish people (mostly men, interestingly) walking around with a buddy, a huge security guard walking next to them, and 20-30 people following them screaming and taking pictures – all while being largely ignored.
It happened constantly at VidCon.
It felt very pompous, and very Hollywood Star’ish. When watching that, I couldn’t help but feel a part of what made YouTube so great, was slowly being lost in its success. YouTube was a place where you connected with people, with was all very personal, you felt like many YouTubers gave you a look into their lives. You talked with them, you wrote, they responded, and video replies were still a thing in existence.
For me at least, that is what made YouTube so different, than say regular TV. These were regular normal people, sitting infront of a small webcam, and talking to you. Letting you in. It wasn’t all glamorous, they didn’t have a script, they didn’t have special lighting set up, no special backgrounds and props – it was just real.
And walking around VidCon, watching these Hollywood-like celebrities walking around, I couldn’t help but feel that a part of what originally made YouTube so great, had now slowly been lost.