How Social Proof Works on YouTube

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Ever wonder how all those big name YouTube stars were able to amass millions of subscribers? A lot of people who are just starting out on YouTube often struggle to break the 100 subscriber mark. In fact, it seems like the only people getting new subscribers are the ones who already have thousands. So, in a system where you need subscribers to gain subscribers, where do you even begin?

Enter the concept known as social proof. Many people have used it as a key to their success. Social proof is the idea that more people will view your content if they presume it to be popular. Well, it’s more than an idea.

You can see the “proof” of social proof in a lot of viral videos. There have been so many videos that go viral after being uploaded for over a year. It’s because they finally generated enough social proof – enough people have seen the video to warrant sharing it with their friends.

It all starts with quality

quality-youtube-videoLet’s take a step back first. We don’t want to jump the gun with the idea that all you need is a little social proof. The fact is, you still need to make a really good video if you want it to go viral. The video needs to have some sort of value. This can be in the form of humor, information, empathy, or anything along those lines.

If you upload a video showing off your PEZ collection, it’s not going to go viral (sorry to break it to you!). However, that’s not to say you shouldn’t upload the video if that’s your channel niche. Just don’t make something so unrelatable be your focus for a viral video. However, something like “Blowing up my Childhood PEZ Collection” might have a fighting chance.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you’re working on a viral video or just regular new content. You always need to be producing high-quality content. You can have all the fake metrics in the world, but crappy videos don’t keep interest.

Social proof can always bring in organic traffic, but it’s up to you to keep that traffic and make it worthwhile.

Proving social proof

social-proof-case-studyNow that you’ve got a good understanding of social proof, let’s see it in action. Recently we did a test with a company (who has asked to remain anonymous) to see how two similar accounts would perform if one had social proof and the other didn’t. We followed them as they uploaded to YouTube original content that hadn’t been seen before.

They kept everything as similar as possible, but left a few changes to avoid any automated action. After both videos were live, they started loading one of them up with bought views, likes, etc. This created fake social proof, which often works just as well as real social proof. In this case, it worked extremely well.

First, they shared the non-boosted video on appropriate sub-reddits and forums to promote it. You could count the amount of people who responded on one hand. Then after a little time had passed, they re-posted the boosted video and got a different response – the video quickly jumped to the top of several sub-reddit pages, and became a hot topic on relevant forums. Organic views started rolling in, followed by likes, comments, and discussions about the content.

Soon enough, new subscribers started to roll in, and the rest was history. This account now has an active following on YouTube.

Faking social proof

We mentioned fake social proof, and this likely sparked some curiosity. Fake social proof can be bought from various online providers of social media services. These vendors offer YouTube likes, comments, dislikes, and subscribers. They even offer similar services for Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. Pro tip: social proof works on all social media platforms. They also complement each other very well.

By far the most important thing to remember about fake social proof is that quality matters. Just as the video you create needs to be high-quality, so do the social engagements it receives. Many providers of fake social proof will try to rip you off and not deliver what they promise. These are generally quite easy to detect, especially with the right knowledge.

The key things to look for are reviews, guarantees, and history. Make sure whoever you’re buying from has been around for a while. Read around on review sites to see what others said about the services they received. And of course, make sure they’ve got some sort of guarantee that gives you a refund option.

Bad social proof definitely exists, and it will haunt your YouTube account. Fortunately, it is generally easy to avoid.

Time to get proofin’

You’ve got all the tools and knowledge you need to establish social proof. It is now up to you to put in the hard work and make it happen. Remember the guidelines we’ve shared, and you’ll be on the right track.


Date: February 11, 2016 / Categories: Explainer, Tips, YouTube, / Author: Rich Drees


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