More important? YouTube subscribers, views, comments, likes? A surprising answer

More important? YouTube subscribers, views, comments, likes? A surprising answer
Written by: Dexxter Clark, 25-10-2022

What is more important? subscribers, views, comments or likes?

If I would rank subscribers, views or likes, in order of importance, I would say:
  1. Views
  2. Comments
  3. Likes
  4. Subscribers
A better question would be: Why?

The reasons for this I’ll explain below, because they are more surprising than most creators think.
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4. Subscribers are not important

When I say that subscribers are not important, creators often react with disbelief.
But I’m going to take it a step further by saying that subscribers are only a vanity metric.

The amount of subscribers says only that you enticed viewers to click on a button in the past, but says nothing about how well you are currently doing with your audience.

Think about it this way:
what would be more useful to YouTube?
  • viewers that clicked on a “subscribe”-button 5 years ago and don’t watch the content or
  • viewers that return and watch every single video? (without clicking a button)
Viewers-not-watching videos literally takes up valuable space on YouTube Home and Suggested that they could use for a video that viewers actually DO watch and YouTube earns ad revenue on.
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Subscribers is not a metric that the YouTube algorithm looks at, returning viewers is.
This is why it is important to create binge-watch sessions with your videos.
When you create a video, always think about where it fits in your overall content and what video viewers might like to watch next after the current one, so you can refer to that in your end-screen.

YouTube drops hints in YouTube Studio to tell us what is important, they gave us a metric that tells us how many viewers return (YouTube Studio → Analytics → tab: Audience).
The purple line are returning viewers, the blue line are new viewers.

We headed into an era years ago where audience attention is much more important than the click on a red button.

In 2015 YouTube integrated the artificial intelligence algorithm of Google, called Google Brain into YouTube.
From that moment on, the video suggestions on YouTube that were previously subscribers-based, all of a sudden became interest based.

The algorithm looks at patterns in viewing behavior, like “what did viewers watch in the past, did they watch the video all the way to the end”, “viewers interested in this topic, are probably also interested in that topic”.

Look at YouTube shorts for example, that is purely based on: can you keep viewers in the video?
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Does subscribers say anything at all?

Sure, it says something.
A channel with 10 subscribers is probably smaller than a channel with 10 million subscribers.

But if a creator was once popular, got millions of views and subscribers, it still has the subscribers, but not the views on new videos.
This happens to most creators that don`t innovate their content and repeat the same trick over and over again for years.

A wise lesson to always keep innovating :)

3. Likes

Likes are a ranking factor, but only a teeny tiny amount.
If you have a lot of dislikes, it won’t automatically influence your videos’ promotion.
Likes is just one of the hundreds of factors that YouTube looks at.
Also here, audience retention on a video is much more important.
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When viewers dislike the video but watch all the way to the end, it tells the algorithm that viewers don’t dislike it enough because they keep watching.
Something is fishy.
The same goes the other way around, when viewers like the video, but only watch the beginning, something is fishy too.

Dislikes are mainly used to determine the future recommendations for the viewer that clicked on the dislike button.

2. Comments

Comments are actually quite important for the promotion of a video.
But, just like with Likes, it is just one of the hundreds of factors YouTube uses to determine a videos’ promotion.

Leaving a comment increases another metric that YouTube uses for video promotion and that is: time-on-watchpage.
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The reason I say it is more important than likes is, because I’ve seen it having an impact on a videos performance.
I exploited that for example in a video on music production software, because I knew that music producers were very religious about the software they use and want to tell everyone about it.

So, entice viewers to leave a comment or discuss a topic, but be careful by the way you ask for engagement.
Asking for a comment can also hurt your audience retention, because it is seen as wasting viewers’ time.

1. Views

When you manage to return viewers, it makes your views automatically go up.
But even views are not that important, if you can’t make viewers watch all the way to the end of the video.
Because even more important than views is watch time for your channel authority, in other words: ranking power.
Channels with a lot of watch time get more exposure right out the gate when they release a video.

What get’s you more watch time? A better audience retention!
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While views don’t do much for you when it comes to the promotion of your video, it does something for you money wise.
Because more views, can lead to more ad revenu, affiliate sales and more sales on your products.
But more views also gives you a better bargaining position when it comes to sponsorships.

What is the number #1 thing that gets you more views?
Getting the click in the first place, because without the click no view.
Every view starts with the click.
So you better become darn good at getting the click with better titles and thumbnail.
In this YouTube video I’ll explain how to do that.
When you are serious about YouTube and want to take it to the next level, take a look at my video training program: Viral Strategy.
The program takes you step-by-step through the process of getting views, subscribers and going viral.

For new creators I included a module that guides you step-by-step through the process of starting, creating and setting up a YouTube channel.

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photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
YouTube consultant
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