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YouTube is sporadic and irregular - a case study

Uncivilized Elk

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My personal view on YT, from the perspective of small channels and ignoring the rare viral aspect, is that YT is similar in some ways to playing the lottery. There really is a significant aspect of luck to the thing (I'm hardly saying that's all there is, just that it is a large factor - quality is very important in regards to turning luck into success). The difference of this luck aspect from something like the lottery though, is that you're constantly getting "tickets" in the form of how many videos you've produced, and the amount of time for which the videos existed. Therefore, as long as your channel exists (and especially if you regularly make videos), you're constantly playing the odds, so to say.

Case in point: one of my recent videos. When I uploaded it almost 4 months ago, it started off like I would expect for the most part. The views were relatively high (for me) the first few days, and then they decreased into a constant rate that maintained itself for a while.

Then, a few days ago, for whatever YT-algorithmic reason (which may itself be called luck seeing as how random it can feel), my video got latched onto somebody else's 3 month-old video that was gaining some traction. This video isn't even particularly well-received considering how it has about a 1:1 like to dislike ratio, but it's still a video that is being clicked on decently (last I checked it was on its way to 50,000 views).
In particular, my video actually seems to be featured as the UP NEXT video, which as we all know (and are annoyed by I think), is a feature that often gets switched on somehow (despite me turning it off last time, dammit!) and automatically takes you to a different video when the one you're watching ends. So when you're featured as "up next", not only are you technically the first in-line on the recommended videos tab, sometimes people end up watching your video without even clicking it.

Well, long story short, this seemingly arbitrary association my video got to one that is getting a lot of views (relatively), is that my video's total view-count increased nearly tenfold thus far (analytics below haven't updated for the last couple days, my video is actually over 10,000 views already). The vast majority of my new views have come from this single related video.

Here's the analytics for my video. From humble beginnings, comes that ridiculous spike:
upload_2015-12-19_4-58-51.png



So, what does all this mean for you, assuming you're a small channel wondering how the "magic" of YouTube works? Well, sometimes, even if you do absolutely nothing, one of your videos can blow up for no real good reason beyond what can be labeled as "luck".

So the short story is basically, stay in the game. One day the random entropic flow of the universe can smile on you for no reason. And in my opinion, for the vast majority of small channels, "random" things like this is what you can expect in terms of gaining exposure.
Now whether that exposure helps you become successful in the long-term so you can one day kiss luck goodbye and have predictable stats/growth? That depends on a ton of other mostly non-luck related factors of course.
 

Ricky - AniRhythm

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i was thinking about this the other day, I find youtube a catch 22, i've been on youtube since before google bought it....

when it started, hacks and bots abused the kittens out of it......and you would get drowned out by stupid senseless videos that had millions of fake views .....then you had all the software that automated getting followers to keep up.....then youtube got purchased by google .....google took over the hacking and botting lol.....and little by little, I watched all the views go down, the automated software makers were getting legal notices from youtube .....and a new algorithm was put in place - which i call the rich get richer - which ironically enough makes business sense, since youtube / google is trying to recoup money for their 'free' service by giving more traffic to those who have proven to have a real following ...

Fast forward to today, the rich get richer algorithm is alive and well, Universal and the rest of the majors united and pummeled google / youtube into trolling the music uploads on youtube - even after the false flag show they put on with taking 1 billion views away from the majors - i'm convinced that was a show meant to explain why youtube was crippling smaller channels by cutting views, killing followers , and eliminating the contact list method of gaining a following. Then add to that the years of video that get uploaded every minute to youtube.

I've come to the conclusion, that you don't want to gain your audience from youtube because the politics there are so "Who's the Pirate Now?!!" - it's just not worth taking serious and the only ones that can compete are corporations that hire a staff of marketing promoters to flood all social networks to spam the daylights out of their videos. You have a better chance of going to some small community in a forum, or social network, and growing your audience there. But youtube wants to be the next tv, they want to make ad money, and the people that they have as reps power trip on channels with a divine button that can kill your adsense account because .....well....because they can.

The demand for free video hosting on the worlds most popular video site is so high, it outweighs any opinion - negative or positive most content developers have. If all the indie content developers stopped developing, Youtube would be tv and dominated by corporate film makers, and ad agencies paying big bugs to place ads. BUT youtube needs the indie developers, because ultimately it's them that are driving traffic to youtube for free, or rather , pennies on advertising.

If indie content developers didn't exist on youtube, they'd have to compete vs netflix, hulu, amazon etc

If you want to see youtube tears, all indie content developers need to do is stop using youtube and use another website like daily motion or vimeo, then youtube would just be another netflix - with very little free content.

to make a long post short - "I had rather be first in a village than second at Rome." - Julius Caesar

while fame can be caused by luck, even being lucky often requires hard work. no free lunch! lol

Lucky is a matter of being everywhere all the time.
 

Kelkschiz

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When viewing a small part of a complex system events can often seem pretty random. But that doesn't mean that there aren't good reasons hidden out of sight.
 

Uncivilized Elk

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When viewing a small part of a complex system events can often seem pretty random. But that doesn't mean that there aren't good reasons hidden out of sight.
Mutations arising from DNA replication are considered (and called) random. Sure there's actual physical aspects underlying the reasons for the error rates that exist and for what specific mutation occurs at a given time in a certain scenario. But it's so buried in the substrata of complex minuscule and practically un-explorable interactions, it gets to a point where it's easiest just to call it random. So biologists do call it random.

That's similar to YT algorithms for me. A "good reason" hidden out of sight behind those algorithms as to why my video rather than somebody else's managed to latch onto a growing video in this specific moment time - that's not something anybody is able to nor will bother to investigate.
Random is a pretty damn good word to describe such an event.
 
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Ricky - AniRhythm

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imo - if people really want to "own" youtube and views - kill the 'randomness' of it ....all you really need to do is build a community of developers. It's something I've considered doing in the past, but have also hesitated on, because it's just hard to keep a team of people working together creatively ...being an organizer of a team like that ...would probably leave me little to no time actually creating content myself, as more of your time would be spent planning, organizing, promoting and dissolving disagreements..... But a content developers guild that runs like a tv station would be powerful with the right curator running it. It's why some of these mcns are so powerful - they simply have dedicated teams organizing and promoting the top developers as one network. Nothing random about focused hard work with a team of dedicated and talented people.

it reminds me of being a gm in a top gaming guild - they plan everyones build, when and how long they practice, they choose the strategies, and the team follows without question, practicing long and hard for the tournaments. - I've been there ...it's work....and we won top honors - but it's hard work...sometimes even takes the fun out of it.

even if you make it alone, you can liken your fans / following to your dedicated team focused on making you popular .....you don't make yourself popular, your fans make you popular.
 
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Sabrina

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Obviously there's a reason why your video was picked, but yes, with millions of channels and the algorithm itself having 1 million lines of code ( :wideyed2: ) it sure feels like luck.
 

Uncivilized Elk

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Well, my main point was simply about how if you're a small channel, don't expect growth to be this steady and gradual thing. Expect peaks and valleys, expect arbitrariness, and there's no real guarantee of anything - there's merely trends and likelihoods.

As always, the best advice comes down to: make quality stuff on a regular (or at least semi-regular) basis.
But beyond that, you're usually just playing the odds. I don't recommend expecting a welcome surprise at your door, but it may happen.

I don't mean for this thread to be about the overturn of YT and a digital revolution, haha.

I'm merely providing an example of what I believe to be a regular occurrence for small channels when it comes to growth.[DOUBLEPOST=1450542809,1450542566][/DOUBLEPOST]
Obviously there's a reason why your video was picked, but yes, with millions of channels and the algorithm itself having 1 million lines of code ( :wideyed2: ) it sure feels like luck.
Almost everything above the quantum-scale in the current known universe can be delegated to some cause-effect scenario, but as we all know, at some level somebody draws a line and we call things luck because otherwise the language used to describe these things just starts to break down or take forever.

This is the sort of "luck", "randomness", "chance" I am talking about. I'm not sure why people are so averse to just calling it what it is when it comes to YouTube, haha. I think it's because people like to think they have more control than they actually do, but that's a whole other topic entirely >_>...
 

Ricky - AniRhythm

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it is a great study, and a hot topic - that i've studied to death and looked for ways to compete. Currently imo, the most prevalent style of gaining a following on youtube is the talk show format....with a popular topic - I'm music videos and experimental animation clips - I can't keep up with weekly uploads to do that...so each video for me is like starting over. - my 'random' factor is different in that all I need is a few music magazines, a famous dj, or blogger to boost my views with articles - but i'm more likely to get that on twitter than youtube. I don't believe in "random" - but I do believe that the number system is so big, that certain outcomes become harder to predict when we stop counting at a trillion lol

that one view that can boost your career exists, but will we be alive long enough to see it ? heh! - that's the random factor that worked for Justin Beiber.
 

Sabrina

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I think it's because people like to think they have more control than they actually do, but that's a whole other topic entirely >_>...
I actually think your original post was weirdly comforting because it seems there's a probability for luck to happen :D
 
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Uncivilized Elk

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I actually think your original post was weirdly comforting because it seems there's a probability for luck to happen :D
Good!

I definitely didn't mean for my post to be a downer. I'm just trying my best to explain it how it is (from my perspective of course). I've really tried to incorporate a laid-back attitude toward YT myself; I find it's the best for the mental health, haha. I don't like obsessing over positive or negative growth. I'm just content making videos (sometimes, took a long break recently) and discussing things with people.

Getting a decent amount of engaged subscribers helps though, because at least you feel like you're making a conversation happen rather than sending your video out to die. You don't need more than 3 people who make really good and thoughtful comments to feel fulfilled in my opinion when it comes to "making" a conversation via your video. Of course since I do review/discussion videos, that's the sort of content I'm looking for. What kind of comments other people are looking for may be totally different from me.
 
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