Comment, Like and Subscribe
We used to hear these words on almost every video from successful YouTubers, but over time this phrase has started to be phased out by the larger guys. If you are to be successful on YouTube, it is important to know why this phrase is starting to die out and the reasoning behind the change.
Let’s start with a quick lesson in how search engines work. It’s not a secret that Google owns YouTube and that any advances Google makes in their own search algorithms (the recipe Google uses to show the most relevant search results) will be replicated or at least used in some way to improve YouTube’s search features.
I’m not going to go into huge detail on how Google works, but in the last few years they have indicated that they will be focusing a lot more on user experience. The search engine wants to provide results that are relevant and keep people coming back to use them instead of a competitor (Bing, Yahoo, AskJeeves, Altavista - I’m just showing my age now!). One of the easiest ways for Google to see if a user is happy with the results is to look for certain engagement signals.
It isn’t a huge stretch to imagine that similar algorithms are in place on YouTube as well. YouTube is designed to provide the most relevant videos for your search, but they also want you to keep coming back (and watching the adverts) on their site instead of going away to watch TV or any other video site. This means that videos that have high engagement rates are likely to rank higher as it shows that a significant number of viewers felt strongly about the content they just watched.
Think of it as a TV network deciding whether or not to greenlight a new series of a show. If the TV show got a lot of people talking on social media, managed to get a lot of great reviews from critics and resulted in more people subscribing to the network, then it makes sense for the new series to be given the go-ahead.
YouTube works in a similar way. If people discuss the video in the comments, manages to get a good proportion of likes to dislikes and results in people subscribing to the channel, then it’s a simple decision for YouTube to make. People obviously like this video, why not show it to more people?
Both YouTube and TV networks need people to keep watching their content, even after their favourite show has finished. This is why YouTube rewards users that have proven that their viewers watch more YouTube content than their competitors. It doesn’t matter what video you send people to in your end-card, as long as those people stay on YouTube, you will see benefits from it.
Many YouTubers know that it’s important to get these engagement signals right to tell YouTube that you are serious about your channel, but almost all new YouTubers fall in the same trap of simply telling people to “Comment, Like & Subscribe”. This Call-to-Action is no longer effective because people hear it so often, it’s lost it’s meaning. Similar to ad-blindness (how many people actually pay attention to the display ads to the top right of the video watch page?), users rarely do the action you are telling them to do. It’s more effective than not telling people at all, but there are better ways to get those important engagement factors.
We know how important these things are to our channel’s growth, so here are a few tips on how to make the most of them on your own content. These tips are being used by some of the world's most successful creators instead of relying solely on saying "and don't forget to Comment, Like and Subscribe".
No one likes spam, but we do love initiating a comment war. Find a highly divisive subject that is relevant to your content and ask viewers to leave their thoughts in the comments. A great example of this is the “Epic Rap Battles” channel, where they ask viewers to leave their opinion on who won. Incredibly simple, but the views to comment ratio on their content is also a lot higher than many others. For gamers, you can ask people to suggest what games to play, but instead of leaving it open ended, give a choice of 2 or 3 for people to pick from.
Competitions can also be a very easy way to bump up the number of comments you get on your videos. I’m not suggesting you giveaway anything with monetary value, but you can easily start adding a new feature to your video where you show the “Comment of the Week”, where you go through your latest video and pick the comment that made you laugh the most. Tell your viewers to visit their channel (make it easy with an annotation) and suddenly this free promotion gives other YouTubers a reason to comment on your videos.
Some YouTubers have been getting their viewers to like their video as one of the first things they do when watching the video. One of the easiest ways is to get to about 15-30 seconds into the video and say “Thumbs up if you like [video topic]”. Because people aren’t expecting the Call-to-Action to be at that point of the video and they are still engaging with what you are saying, you are likely to get an increase of likes from following this method. Mix it up across different videos so people don’t know exactly when you will be asking for likes.
Another great way is to simply (and quickly) explain how much time and effort you put into each video and that liking the video lets you know what content is most popular with your subscribers. Simply spin it to say that by liking certain videos, it is more likely that you will create more content like that. Very effective if you have multiple series on a single channel.
Yes, we know: subscriptions is broken. It never works quite as well as we want and the big guys get all the benefits. However, it is still an important viewer satisfaction metric that YouTube may take into account when deciding how to rank videos in their search results.
Subscriptions are very difficult to earn legitimately when starting out, so we understand how tempting it is to participate in Sub4Sub or even buy subscriptions. These things are incredibly easy for YouTube to flag as fake subs. If you suddenly get loads of subscriptions from people who haven’t watched any of your videos, then this is a huge indicator that you are trying to manipulate your ranking in YouTube’s search engine. This can result in your channel being flagged as “spam” internally within YouTube and make it incredibly difficult for you to grow your channel. The most important thing is to make sure that you grow your subscribers organically and don’t fall into the Sub4Sub trap.
If you have any tips on how people can increase engagement on their videos, leave them as a comment below. We will promote the best tips in a future article.