I made a spoof video last week called “Why You Should Rate” that was designed to point out a little YouTube myth. People think that a highly rated video with lots of comments means that they’ll get views. To further illustrate the point, the video itself is one of YouTube’s “top 20” highest rated videos of the week, and has about 7,000 views. Contrast that with my recent “Snake in a Pool,” which has no “honors” and 100,000 plus views.
While I’m too lazy to disprove this “ratings = views” myth via statistical analysis, I would invite a high school student to take this on as an independent project. Further, they could analyze the correlation between total duration and total views to identify the theoretically ideal video length. The time that optimizes views (I’m betting on 75-90 seconds). There’s plenty of public data to help here, and I’d love to publish the findings.
While it’s true that a video resulting in lots of comments also often gets lots of views, the comments and views are not directly related. It’s likely the video topic’s high impact and/or controversial nature that causes other things: views, comments and ratings (although it’s possible that videos ranking high on these ratings are rewarded with preferred placement on the YouTube’s “promoted videos” homepage section to balance the paid videos that sneak there… and that would result in a second wave of views).
Very few people surf YouTube’s ranked videos on a regular basis. So while the “highest rated” or “most viewed” of all time is almost impossible to dethrone, the daily and weekly honors are little more than ego feeders. The sustainability of a YouTuber is a function of good content, fresh material, a balance of consistency with variety, creator adaptability (I’ll call the Madonna reinvention factor), and a loyal audience that is satisfied enough to watch and share the content with friends.
In theory, a highly rated video would be highly viewed. But in fact the highly viewed videos are often one-hit wonders that pop outside YouTube and therefore have lots of views by innactive YouTube viewers- those that don’t tend to comment or rate. It’s also true that what we watch isn’t necessarily what we like. Would you rate a highway accident 5 stars? Nope. Would you look?
So where am I going with this post? The same place I went with this video, which is artificially ranked in the league of HappySlip, Smosh, KevJumba, The Onion, College Humor, and even the Retarded Policeman. Heck I even topped the inexplicably popular “Fred” and one of the”very funny cats” videos.
In the end, I like the creative experience of YouTube, the people with whom I interact in various ways, the videos that don’t suck, and the revenue subsidy (aka debt-relief fund). But assessing yourself based on subscribers, honors and other proxies to faux fame is fools gold, friend. Shiny and perty, but it will just sink you when you try to swim from the shipwreck. And that’s a mixed metaphor you can take to the bank on your horse that you lead to water in a stitch in time.