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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!