Why a YouTube Channel is like a Startup
Getting your first retentive subscribers and getting your first video that brings in 90% of your views is finding your product market fit.
This was original tweets from my Twitter account
If you’re thinking of starting a YouTube channel. Subscribers are like the number of sign-ups for a startup. What you really care about is active users. The whole idea of subscribers, initially, is guaranteed reach, but today that guarantee is no more. You’ll need another metric.
If we want to go through this startup comparison route. Finding your niche on YouTube is like finding your competitive advantage as a startup.
Getting your first retentive subscribers and getting your first video that brings in 90% of your views is finding your product-market fit.
Just like at a startup, the typical metrics you look at are user acquisition, user retention, user engagement
On YouTube, you increase user acquisition by making a video that reaches outside your core viewers and keeps bringing in new viewers. Look at your views from non-subscribers. Usually, that’s what you call your evergreen content
Retain your users by consistently providing new content/value. You can proxy that by looking at your views from subscribers per video in the first week of publishing. If that grows, your active followers are increasing.
Another metric is unique views from subscribers in a week. Those are your weekly active subscribers, just like weekly active users.
The reason why you see some channels with 1M subscribers but less than 10k views per video is because their subscriber churn rate is higher than their acquisition rate. And it’s been like that for a while. That can be caused by a lack of innovation or long-term value prop.
Churn rate cannot be measured by unsubscribes. No one unsubscribes anymore. There’s no cost to subscribing since we’re in an algorithm-driven feed now.
User engagement can be compared with how well you can call your viewers to action. That can be telling them to move to another platform, telling them to buy something, or just telling them to like your video.
It’s taboo but in the end, your reach is what matters to anyone. And the reach is important because you can easily monetize reach thanks to ads. As a YouTuber, your business model is the same as the social media platform itself.
If Facebook is in the business of selling user information because they run ads. Then technically your YouTube channel is also in that business. You’re selling your subscribers to companies that want their eyeballs for 30 seconds.
So when your CPM is high on YouTube, that’s because your audience is highly monetizable. Either because they’re rich or they’re prone to succumb to aggressive call to action advertisements, so advertisers are willing to bid higher for your viewers.
Companies like Facebook will try to grow, acquire more users, retain them, and then engage them so they can watch ads. You will be the same as a YouTuber, especially if this becomes your full-time job. That’s similar to a startup with investors who are eager for their payout.
You will continuously test your audience, create the most effective thumbnails, most engaging videos, best sign-offs to make sure they loyal, influenceable, or even, malleable. All that so you can see your core metrics grow.
The moment you make content public and monetize it. You are part of the attention economy. If you’ve ever complained about sensationalism in journalism, clickbait on YouTube, and aggressive notifications on social media apps, know that it’s because of the incentive structures.
As Jay Z once said, you’re not a businessman. You’re a business, man. Good luck, be mindful of what you create in this world. We all have to play our parts in this social dilemma.
Wow this is one of the most insightful things I read about YouTubing. I started 10yrs ago and subscribers were the only thing that mattered then stopped and started again and I couldn't figure out why i couldn't track a ratio of views/sub any more. It's not a subscriber feed anymore! The YouTube model resembles the fb model with search on top.