Having a large subscriber base on YouTube is a legitimate currency, both socially and economically, in the modern era. The big YouTubers have spent years toiling hard and creating content that goes viral to build a loyal fan base that eagerly waits to consume their content. This translates into further business and career opportunities as they can be backed to reach a dedicated user base.
There are, however, several cases where YouTube channels are built on a foundation of fake followers. These are usually bots that can be paid for and help boost a channel’s views. It is key to note that as these aren’t real consumers, they don’t add much value except for the count.
Brands and advertisers are increasingly wary about financing content only for it to be displayed to fake accounts. While the short-term benefits of buying followers might seem advantageous, in the long run, it is disastrous for the channel’s online health.
In this blog, we’ll talk about why buying fake followers is a bad idea, and how it can affect your brand value as an influencer. Invest your time and energy in garnering organic followers who come with possibilities of real earning potential. Read our blog: Discover The Huge Earning Potential For YouTube Content Creators, to learn more.
Downside Of Fake Followers
Fake followers and subscribers are an issue that plague all social media platforms, and YouTube is no exception. As the monetary stakes grow, there are always people looking to manipulate the system for their immediate benefit. The average YouTube consumer opens the platform looking for engaging content and is more likely to opt for a video from a popular account rather than one from an account with very few followers. The elusive YouTube algorithm also pushes videos that are garnering more engagement while ignoring newer channels, no matter how authentic they are.
This is a psychological bias that people take advantage of and create fake engagements as a shortcut to getting out there. It’s only when the video falls on a bunch of deaf ears that it becomes evident. This is why brands, today, go out of their way with due diligence to scrutinize if a collaboration or influencer campaign is being targeted to genuine and interested users.
Pitfalls Of ‘Buying’ Followers
In all fairness, it does seem too good to be true that one can just skip all the steps to going viral organically and pay to get followers, and it is! While top YouTubers don’t bother about fake followers, it is a cause for worry. There are two ways in which a channel’s follower count can be gamed. The first is a simple barter system where mediators get you to like a bunch of other channels in exchange for a guaranteed number of followers to your channel.
While these might be actual followers, they aren’t necessarily the right audience and are purely transactional followers. The second is a more direct approach where services get you to pay a dollar amount in exchange for followers – be it actual or bots.
Let us take a look at a New York Times study that followed 3 such services – BuyYouTubViews.com, 500Views.com, and Devumi.com.
Figure 1: New York Times study. Source: New York Times
The above graph clearly shows that the duration of viewing was way longer during the process of the campaign. Once the campaign was done, the retention dropped to almost zero across the three, clearly exposing the fact that the channels have been manipulated. The fake followers will never respond to an influencer campaign or click on a targeted ad, rendering them useless to brands and sponsors.
Attracting Loyal Followers
Any YouTuber who creates content with passion, consistency, and dedication should avoid the temptation of fake followers and focus on generating authentic engagement. While subscriber count is invaluable, the long-term benefits of genuine followers are invaluable.
Read our blog, How To Promote Your YouTube Channel, to learn everything you need to know about garnering more followers.
By sticking to focused strategies, and creating unique and curated content, one can easily attract a following that is more engaged and invested in the content being generated.
Niche content that solves a problem
The ultimate sign that a user is now loyal to a channel is when they convert from a casual viewer to a subscriber. This is a sign that they want more of this channel’s content. YouTubers should always push for viewers to subscribe through a call-to-action at the end of the video and in the description. As any marketer would attest to, CTA’s might seem obvious but add substantial value by cognitively convincing users to become loyal followers. While overdoing it might put users off, doing it once in every video is a bare minimum requirement.
While exploring the value they add in the nascent stages of running a YouTube channel, creators should be looking to find a niche that is unique and solves problems for a segment of users. The overall content of a channel shouldn’t confuse a user as to what the channel’s expertise is. Brands and sponsors would much rather collaborate with channels that take a unique offering and deliver it to a unique audience. It is imperative to settle on a theme for a channel and strive to become the leader within the chosen niche.
Quality over quantity
While YouTube continues to be a user-generated video platform, users have come to expect a certain level of quality from videos. It is way more effective to post one high-quality video with a proper message once a week, rather than 7 basic, low-quality videos every day throughout the week. While users aren’t expecting feature film level of production from YouTube videos, they do expect a certain level of attention-to-detail that includes clarity, high definition, clear audio, and engaging narratives.
With YouTube becoming a device-agnostic platform, your videos need to be easy to consume across devices without any distractions. All this adds to the overall value addition that the channel provides.
This also depends on the niche of the channel. While a design channel like Femke focuses on clean, crisp production for videos, audiences are much more accepting of dynamic production quality from a prank channel like HoomanTV, given the nature of the content.
Bonus read! Get your YouTube channel the eyeballs it needs with tips from our blog: 10 YouTube Marketing Tips for High Ranking Videos.
Consistency with content
YouTube has today become a legitimate alternative to traditional cable TV programming when it comes to content consumption. It’s no secret that the most successful YouTube channels follow a fixed calendar and post videos following a schedule. This helps users subconsciously look forward to the content by getting into a routine. The more consistently content is posted, the more likely a channel is to garner more subscribers.
For example, fans of shows like the Last Week Tonight Show with John Oliver have become accustomed to a new video on the YouTube channel every Sunday and have included it into their weekly routine. It is more beneficial to build a schedule based on the resources available rather than over-committing and failing to meet a deadline. Once the chain of consistency is broken, it is extremely difficult to get back into the groove.
A hub-and-spoke model
As creators choose to focus on trending topics and issues to build on what users are looking for, it is also important that channels have videos that stand the test of time and can be consumed at any point without context. These videos often act as an entry point through which users discover the channel and explore further.
By creating a healthy mix of trending and evergreen videos, users bookmark the channel to consume at various times. While most videos correspond to a set time, it helps to have content that generates the same reaction five years from now as it does today, making the channel time independent.
Building excitement through engagement
A key point to always keep in mind is that YouTube is essentially a social media platform. While posting content is one part of it, it is important to be social on the platform by responding to users, interacting through live streams, creating teasers, and rewarding followers.
The ability to connect content creators with content consumers directly is what differentiates YouTube from streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Every comment is a part of a YouTubers job and must be given due respect. For what it’s worth, audiences can be a great source of inspiration.
As a YouTuber, one should look to gain every subscriber for free, purely on the merit of their content. From creating content that helps engage users to collaborate with brands for successful campaigns, fake followers do not add value and are detrimental to a YouTube channel’s development.
Successfully achieving milestones organically is far more beneficial, financially and creatively, and can be achieved through the tips mentioned in this blog: Get our Ultimate Guide To Becoming A YouTube Content Creator, to learn more.
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