YouTube Dilemma: Put Best Foot Forward? Or Most Recent?

Now we’re getting into our 200 series classes. This topic is complex, but vital to the sustainability of a YouTube creator. Today’s lesson is based on some discoveries I’ve made this summer.

  1. Months ago I noticed VenetianPrincess showcasing a “best-of” reel on her channel page’s auto-play, which perplexed me. I had initially asked YouTube if I could turn off that obnoxious auto-play (a video frame that begins a video involuntarily). I have often used it to promote other video creators, but this completely confuses new YouTubers because they understandably assume that the autoplay video is the work of the channel-page owner. Sorry for those of you who beg for us to “feature” your video on our auto-play, but that really confuses the noobs.
  2. I’ve usually gotten as many views to my recently-posted videos as I have subscribers, despite the low subscriber-to-view ratio. Turns out this is resulting from people that play “catch up” on most videos but not in the way I had thought. Or maybe they would discover one of my popular videos, and then surf the “more from Nalts” that I thought was restricted to my most recent videos. Not the case.
  3. I noticed MrSafety was featuring his best videos in his “organize video” section, which allows you to select 9 thumbnails on your channel page. What I failed to appreciate is that these 9 videos also appear as “more from this creator” below the video they chose to view.
  4. Most importantly, my friends who recently discovered me were referencing recent videos, even though I knew they weren’t savvy enough to sort videos by most recent. It confused me, and made me wish they had elected to view my most popular videos (but they’d need a PhD to find this link).

Alas I realized what was happening! People don’t discover a video creator, then do the “rational” thing to determine what further content to view (check out their most popular videos or playlists). Rather, they look at what ever happens to appear on the “more from Nalts” (see image to right, which appears in the bottom-right corner beneath the ad beside a Partner’s video).

So now we introduce the dilemma. You currently have to decide whether you want to serve your regular audience or the noobs (the ever-growing number of new YouTube addicts). I’ve long focused on the former, and have done a lousy job of introducing myself to the ever-growing YouTube audience. The noobs, for the most part, aren’t aware that you can sort a creator’s videos, or surf “best of” playlists. So they stumble about based on YouTube’s user interface. And they may decide you stink if your last few videos are luke warm. But they have a positive first impression if they see your best videos because you’ve featured them in your valuable 9 thumbnails — which follow them around loyally every time they view another Nalts video.

Mind you- I can’t complain about the fact that YouTube hasn’t bifercated the functionality for the noob versus the addicts. I recently observed that my “OMG Kitty OMG” video was featured on Yahoo video and was viewed nearly 300,000 times. Want to know how many people saw adjacent videos? About two people! Yahoo Video is designed for programming like a television set. Not for exploration of a creator.

Since I knew I’d have a lot of people checking out my channel after my recent appearance on The Retarded Policeman, I decided to “gussy up” my channel page by placing my “best foot forward” to a noob. I picked my most popular or best videos in the “organize videos” and even had a best-of clip rolling on my channel page. I did this feeling somewhat guilty to giving regular viewers a repetitive, rerun-like experience. But in truth, those who explore a channel page are most likely not regular viewers.

So I’ll argue that the YouTube channel page should be a resume not a newspaper for hardcore fans. The latter knows how to find your fresh stuff easily.

It worked like a charm. My wife’s hair dresser and colleagues at work, who just discovered me, would specifically reference the videos from the magic 9. Clearly it was working. My subscribers grew, and people had a better first impression.

But now we make an important trade off. Guess what happens to my most-recent videos? They languish because they’re not getting spillover views. So a video (Boys and Dolls) which might have normally gotten 40,000 views, ended up with 12,000. But maybe that’s okay. If a noob had seen that, it could have made a lousy first impression.

I suppose I’m probably one person in 50 that think this hard about YouTube’s interface and how it reflects on the creator, but it’s not trivial. I’d love to hear from the other 49!

16 Replies to “YouTube Dilemma: Put Best Foot Forward? Or Most Recent?”

  1. You make YT sound like rocket science. I actually dislike how you have your Top 9 there, but I understand why you do it. (I’m just mad cause it makes me have to perform one extra click to get to your latest video)

    Let me ask you this Nalts. Do you want the peon, subscribe now because you seem cool, subscribers who will be happy with you for a couple of months then desert you or the GURU subscriber who will explore the depths of hell (YT) to view your ENTIRE archive, rummaging through “Ketchup Creams” and “Being Renetto’s” and stick with you through thick and thin (weinergate)? Huh Nalts?

    Ahhh, I don’t care what you do, just as long as I can find latest Nalts video! :o)

  2. Nutsack didn’t have his coffee this morning!

    I love when people say nyuk though. I am really not sure why. It just makes me giggle in general.

  3. Oh yeah. Kevin. Is this what you were rambling about last night?


    Go find the cadaver you were talking about.

    That convo was all Mish Mosh to me…but I do remember a cadaver.

  4. I may not think about these things so deeply on my own, but I’m glad you do it for us! I had no idea that’s how it worked, with the nine hand-picked videos.

    I don’t hang around channel pages much past initially finding a user, but I always thought I was odd for that. But maybe people just continue to hang around the channels of their favorite people.

  5. It’s all about how you wanna network. For semi-noob creators without a lot of established fan base who are still in “showcase mode,” it may behoove us to make our personal 9 Hollywood Squares filled with our best stuff…

    For episodic content (Rhett & Link’s Road Trip, ferinstance), or for established “What’s he gonna do next” creators such as yourself, you probably ought to leave ’em up in chronological order.

    Then, of course, there are those videos that creators make which are sponsored, and are contingent on curiosity click-throughs (link). I’d not let those get buried too deep in the archive, either. Keep ’em near the top, fo’ sho’.

  6. wow nalts, I never thought of it that way. I have learned something new today. Now to go to school where I might learn another thing today… probably not, seeing as how I live in CA.

  7. i dont feel the need to make a best of reel because every video is so effing good.

    have you seen my Two Girls One Cup reaction? Its a classic!

  8. I personally like having the most recent. I don’t know if it’s a good move, but the stuff I actually put up I feel has pretty even distribution of funny – meaning if they don’t like my new stuff, they won’t like my old stuff and vice versa.

    Except the Daisy thing, that was thrown together in a matter of minutes. I just knew it would get to you, Naltsy. 🙂

  9. @4: I agree. If i miss a week or two on YouTube (like I have recently), I would like to be able to to just go to Nalts’ channel and see what I missed, not wade through all of the videos I have already seen (many more than once). I love “Mall Pranks”; it’s one of my favorites. Which is why I have it in my favorites. Where I can see it any time I want. It doesn’t need to be on your front page, Nalts, unless you are whoring yourself out to noobs and neglecting your loyal followers.

    But that’s just MHO.

  10. It’s a precarious struggle, the battle between wanting to keep your current viewers happy and the desire to bring in new subscribers. And part of me asks why do either? I mean seriously, isn’t YouTube about Broadcasting Yourself? Doing what YOU want? Making the sort of stuff that amuses YOU, even if everyone else shrugs their shoulders and heads for the “Best of Fred” playlists? Why do we cater to anyone at all, when it’s supposed to be all about us?

    Of course, about .03 seconds after saying all of that, one can realize that in a way, this is still doing what you want. If you want to have more fresh fans, the way to do that is through making your site appeal to them. Same thing if you want to appeal to the old fans.

    Right now my subscription base is growing much faster than it has in a while, and I’m doing the opposite of the advice above: my most recent videos are playing in the “top nine”. (Of course, one could argue that of the whole pile of festering crap that is my videos my most recent 9 are my best, but I digress). But on the flip side, I have been doing a lot of outreach and collab stuff lately. In fact, of all the videos I’ve helped with in the last two weeks, not a single one was on my own channel. Go figure.

    Alright, I’m off to make another embarrassing mistake that will probably hinder my ability to find employment in the future. I’ll let you know when it’s uploaded so you can go watch it.

  11. Yeah- that’s exactly why I hate when people organize videos. I always assume the recent ones will be on the channel page. What they need is a tab that shows most recent and most popular. That solves everything.

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