Every “YouTuber” knows what the platform promises as its ultimate goal. To provide the right video to every viewer at the right time. To give them the videos they WANT to see, at the very moment they WANT to see them. But … there is a flaw in that statement. A very big one.
All of the “gurus” of YouTube cater their advice around this premise. That we need to up our title and thumbnail game to help the algorithms place our video into the perfect hands. To create our content in such as way as to be consumed by those who are waiting to receive it. But there is a single word in that premise which is misleading. And that word is ‘want’. Because when you replace it with the word that YouTube is really after, it changes everything about what we create.
Oh, and the current subscriber count is 626. And growing?
SCENE ZERO (desk)
Every “YouTuber” knows what the platform promises as its ultimate goal. To provide the right video to every viewer at the right time. To give them the videos they WANT to see, at the very moment they WANT to see them.
But … there’s a flaw in that statement. A really big one.
Hi, I’m Rick Higgins and I need to wordsmith YouTube’s goals just a bit. To make them make sense to us … small creator types.
All of the “gurus” of YouTube cater their advice around the premise that YouTube is looking for the perfect video for every viewer. But that’s not completely true.
They tell us that we need to up our title and thumbnail game to help the algorithms place our video in the perfect hands. To create our content in such as way as to be consumed by those who are waiting to receive it.
But there is a single word in that premise which is misleading. And that word is ‘want’. Because when you replace it with the word that YouTube is really after, it changes everything about what we create.
Want is defined as “having a desire to possess or do something”. And if that were the case with my personal YouTube home page, then each and every one of those recommended videos would be a “banger”. I would look at my top 12 with lust, not even sure where I wanted to start. That’s giving me what I want at the right time.
Instead I usually stare at a list of videos that I’m WILLING to click on. The same channels I always watch. Sometimes the same video I’ve already seen. And all too often, offerings repeated over and over again in my feed.
I mean really YouTube … you couldn’t find one new thing for me to watch so you just repeated Peter McKinnon’s latest three times in the first 20 videos you showed me? Really?
So … with what I’m given as my personal list of “perfect” videos, I instead scroll for a bit and finally select the best of the bunch. The one I’m “willing” to watch first. Which isn’t usually the one I want.
That’s the big word. Willing. The mission should really be worded as … To give viewers the videos they’re willing to watch when they’re willing to watch them.
SCENE ONE (CAM-ONE)
(Lazy Is As Lazy Does)
Now I’m a software engineer by trade. I build things that others consume without thinking how they work. And when I look at the YouTube algorithm the word I most want to use is … lazy. Let me explain.
I know that it’s difficult to turn desire into a logic circuit. And that you can only use whatever data points are available. But the stated goal of YouTube is to find the “right video” at the right time. And yet, they use weighted factors such as channel size and watch time as indicators of what people want. And a channel with a million views is indeed a watched channel.
But does that translate into providing a SINGLE VIDEO that I might want to watch?
That’s only true if I take the lazy way out and make assumptions. Assumptions like “that channel made watchable videos before, so it’s likely they’ll do it again”. I don’t need to figure anything else out. It makes our past … our future.
If this is true, it means that there’s a major aspect to our videos being considered “the right one” that we can’t do anything about. No amount of online-guru-help is going to suddenly bulk up our watch time numbers and subscriber counts. The only thing we can add is … time. Because YouTube isn’t trying to find the right video. They’re primarily looking at the past performance of our older offerings to simplify the task of serving something new up to the viewer.
SCENE TWO (Desk)
(In A Perfect World …)
In a perfect world, YouTube would fulfill its promise. As a viewer, it would find me what I want to watch and serve it up every time. Instead it gives me what I’m willing to click on. And not one YouTube guru has yet told me how to make a video that a viewer is “willing” to watch.
And I’m not sure I want to make that kind of video anyway.
So the game is catch-22. You need size to get attention from YouTube. You need size to get enough data points to make your analytics really worthwhile. And you can’t get size without having … size. Which means you have to play the long game, and hope the platform doesn’t outgrow your ability to catch up.
Look, I get it. YouTube has way too many options on its menu. There is no way it can serve up every entree to someone, somewhere. They aren’t Cheesecake Factory after all. They have to do what’s best for the company. To minimize risks and be good enough to grow, without pushing the bleeding edge into failure.
But part of that growth is keeping creators happy. After all we’re the ones providing them with their menu options. And small creators can be just as important as the large ones. We may not have the chops and experience of Mr. Beast … nor the support team … but we do have passion, energy, and knowledge.
So the name of the game is apparently to create lots of quality videos that ever so slowly increase our channel weight until it reaches the point where YouTube can’t ignore us any longer. Where the algorithms will start to recognize us as that potential needle hiding in the haystack.
That’s something I wish the gurus were more honest about, instead of just cheerleading us on. Every video doesn’t have an audience. Not until YouTube feels that the channel is first viable.
Oh, and the current subscriber count is 626. And growing?
The battle continues. We’ll see you soon.