Spending enough time hanging around rookie YouTube creators, you’ll start to hear people talking about something called sub for sub. Essentially, sub for sub means that I subscribe to your channel and you subscribe to mine. It’s a technique that is meant to boost sub numbers across the saturated, small-time YouTube community.
In theory, sub for sub should work gangbusters, but as it happens too often with non organic tricks like this, its usefulness always ends in the theory stages. Here are a few reasons sub for sub is a seriously bad idea:
Subscribers Do Not Equal Success
As YouTube creator and NMR contributor Tay Zonday once wrote: “There is no reliable connection between a YouTube channel’s total number of subscribers and its video views.” Examining how YouTube has set up a user’s dashboard, simply being subscribed to a channel does not guarantee views.
In example, I am subscribed to several channels, yet I rarely receive notice that these channels have new content. The only way that I see these channels’ content is through my homepage which I am rarely on. Most views, unless they are coming from diehard fans, are gained via social media push and word of mouth promotion. Subs have a purpose, of course, but don’t for one second think piles of subs equals smash success.
Inorganic Subs Look Bad
Say you are a big supporter of sub for sub and you convince every creator you know that they should be also. So you guys subscribe to each others’ channels regardless of whether you like the content or not, then nothing happens. Creator A doesn’t watch creator B’s videos and vice versa. Now you are stuck with 100,000 subscribers and only 200 video views.
Perception is a big component in crafting a hit YouTube channel. If your sub to view numbers hash out unevenly, people are going to assume that either (1) your content was good once but now sucks, or (2) you bought those subs and you suck.
YouTube Is Crazy About Subs
Over the past two years YouTube has been absolutely insane about convincing people to subscribe more and more and more. It make sense from their perspective: If you are trying to sell ads, you want to show brands that your creators have audiences that will watch every video from start to finish. You wouldn’t subscribe to someone and not sit through ads — you’ll buy anything they tell you to, right?
But if YouTube is on a crusade to force every man, woman and child to sub, won’t that just flood the ecosystem with half-hearted subscribers which will ultimately end in point #2? This is less of a sub for sub problem and more of a modern YouTube problem, but nonetheless, it still feeds into the flawed logic behind sub for sub.
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