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Give your videos a fighting chance

I was looking at an industrial company’s YouTube channel recently, and couldn’t help but notice that some of the videos it had made received 1000 times the number of views as others.

Now of course there are many possible reasons for this, but there were a lot of very highly-watched videos (let’s say over 25000 views) and a lot of digital landfill (let’s say a couple of dozen views). Without knowing how the videos had been promoted, it’s impossible to say that the disparity was due to the subject matter. And yet I found that I could guess ‘high’ or ‘low’ just from the index on the company’s YouTube channel page.

In every case, the view count was low if the video had a boring thumbnail image (just a still frame from the video) and a meaningless title (when truncated to just five or six words). If the view count was high, it usually coincided with a sharp title and a decent thumbnail featuring a strong text overlay.

Maybe the company had made more of a presentational effort with the videos it also happened to be promoting strongly. But if it had the ability to do some of them well, surely the others ought to be given a chance? Remember the rules of virality: once something starts to take off, it gets prioritised in suggestions, and its growth can become exponential.