Let’s Talk YouTube: Subscribers vs. Viewers
Conventional thinking on YouTube is that a channel is doing well if it has a lot of subscribers. Now, I’m not here to bash channels with a high subscriber count but I would like to point out that a high subscriber count might not be the best metric for success on YouTube.
Subscribers Vs. Viewers
I hear a lot of folks equating subscriber count to channel size. It’s not a huge surprise as it’s the metric that YouTube shows beside your avatar and they even give out rewards for subscriber growth. I myself have earned the silver play button and am 1/4 of the way to the gold play button. It’s fun to grow in subscribers, but maybe it shouldn’t be your main goal.
In general terms a channel with a smaller subscriber counts means having lower monthly views. A channel with 1k subs vs. one with 100k subscribers are likely quite a large spread apart in scope. But two channels with the same number of subscribers may have a wildly different influence. In the end your subscriber count is just a vanity number, and I believe it has less bearing on your overall influence in the YouTube universe.
A channels subscriber count is most easily equated to setting your DVR to record a show off TV. You haven’t watched that show until you’ve….well… watched that show. Until then it’s just a promissory note, an IOU for one view. For me I see a LOT of large channels with over a million subs that only get 70-100k views per video. That means that less than 1/10 of their subscribers watch the videos they are producing. To me, that seems low.
Views are where real channel growth is measured.
So, if subscribers are just a vanity number to boost our ego and help YouTube market itself to advertisers, then is all this just a sham? Not hardly! What I’m saying is enjoy the subscriber number as it is rising, but keep your focus where it matters. Focus on your view count.
My best advice might not make you happy. I obsess over views. Sharing videos and getting views is a very time consuming effort. I don’t focus on my subscriber number. Again that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to grow. I do, but I don’t think it’s a good bellwether to gauge how I’m doing. I get that feedback from views and my likes to dislike ratios.
In the summer of 2015 I had 90k subscribers. I was getting close to a million views per month. Today I have 260k subs and I’m getting…. wait for it…. a little over 1 million views a month. Some months are better, some are worse but 1 million is still my go to metric for each month.
What Do Your View Ratios Mean?
I’m not saying it doesn’t feel good to see it grow, but just don’t let it be your sole purpose. Connecting with you audience and growing your view count seems more important to me than a number that really doesn’t put more money in your pocket (if you’ve monetized your channel) or change much of anything for your channel.
Lets talk about the view to sub ratio. If there is a metric that matters to me, this is it. For me personally, I want each video to get views equal to or better than 50% of my total subscribers. When I had 20k subs that meant I was shooting for 10k views per video inside of a 30 day period. Now that I’m at 260k subscribers I’m shooting for 130k views inside of 30 days.
It can be a good gauge for how well you are connecting with your audience. Is it low? Try sharing your video and getting in front of more eyes. Is one video outperforming others? Why? What’s unique about it? Is it something you can use to improve your view count? Was it just a fluke, or did your audience prefer that video to others?
Is 50% a good ratio for everyone? Maybe not. Set a reasonable goal for yourself, and work towards it. What matters is that you shift your YouTube focus from subscribers to viewers. Remember growing your channel is about connecting with an audience. As you grow you want to make sure you still have an active base behind you. Not just subscribers, but actual viewers.
What to learn more about connecting with your audience?
I’m just a geek with a full set of power tools and some crazy ideas I want to try out.