Megawatt Apps

An Analysis of YouTube Stages of Growth

Aug, 28, 2016

I've been a member of YouTube now for over ten years, having created my first account on March 20th, 2006. I've lived through the age when YouTube was not yet owned by Google, I've seen and experienced the many redesigns of the YouTube website, the policy changes, the new rules set in place, the new features added. I've met thousands of people on the website, I've spent countless thousands of hours watching its videos, I've read tens of thousands of comments, shared hundreds of videos, and laughed, cried, got angry together with the content creators.

Throughout the years there have been a few core things that have never changed: The logo, the ability for anyone to upload any video, the ability to watch any public video, and the abilities to post comments and rate said video. Those are the core features that collectively make YouTube the site that it is. There are other sites that boast the same features, but they just can't compare. YouTube has the perfect name people trust which roughly translates to: "television you create." Former major competitors and alternatives to YouTube like "Daily Motion" and "Meta Cafe" have too many syllables and their names aren't as catchy.

As long as Alphabet (parent company of Google) is able to provide the server space for the exponentially increasing number YouTube uploads, then YouTube will remain the main video sharing website on the Internet for years to come.

Let's get to what I want to analyze in this article. YouTube Fame. Throughout the years I've seen YouTubers go from no subscribers to millions of subscribers. It happened right before my eyes as I watched their measly first attempts at making a YouTube video, getting hundreds of thousands of views, keeping up the momentum of growth, and then finally reaching equilibrium where they no longer have to try as much to gain subscribers and viewers.

I reached YouTube fame at least temporarily back in 2006. Now 20,000 views isn't a lot compared to many viral videos of today, but it was a lot back in 2006. One of the first videos I ever uploaded became viral through no planning of my own, and catapulted me to hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. After reaching over a million cumulative views across my videos and over a thousand subscribers (back then people weren't so hasty to click subscribe nor were there many YouTube accounts people could subscribe with), I stopped making YouTube videos and faded into obscurity. Well I'm back.

The basic premise of these stages is that it takes a lot of effort in the beginning, but later on it becomes easier.

YouTube Stages of Growth:

  1. Initial Videos The initial videos of a channel dictate what the rest of the content will be like. There are very few, if any, instances when a YouTuber's early content varies vastly from their latest uploads. Again, this is just from observation and the few selected samples that I've looked at, I haven't scoured every single YouTuber to see if this was the case, but most overwhelmingly it is. In every case I've looked at, it is the case.The initial videos usually are done in a timid fashion. This is when the YouTuber takes their first steps at making videos, they're not quite sure how to do it yet, they're still just testing the waters. In majority of the cases, the YouTuber looks terrible in their first few appearances compared to later appearances.Keep in mind these early videos are the foundation to what later videos will look like. The YouTube audience may approve or disapprove of them early on, if they like this content, more of it will be produced. If they don't, the YouTuber vanishes into oblivion.
  2. Decision to create more content After the first few initial uploads, the YouTuber will have a breakthrough of either continuing to create more similar YouTube videos, or giving up and abandoning the entire project. Most people abandon their project after experiencing little success from their initial uploads.Some experience a small amount of initial success with their uploads, some experience a lot of success with their initial uploads. Nevertheless, most people give up after a few videos.
  3. First Viral Video There is a stage in every famous YouTuber's life where one of their videos went viral causing an influx of new viewers who have never seen their content before. Every stage of content creation before their first viral moment still counts as stage 2, no matter how many hundreds of videos they've made before they had a viral video.Once their first viral video has been created and viewed by many, all of the YouTuber's newer and older content will started to gain exponentially more views. At this stage, it is up to the YouTuber to continue creating content similar to their viral video so as to continue to the gravy train of YouTube viewership and subscription gains.The YouTuber will continue growing exponentially for a short period of time before the growth stabilizes again. Don't get too excited YouTuber, the effects of this viral moment will wear off before you know it. Many viral sensations last a few days and then quickly fade away back to obscurity.
  4. Creation of more videos At this inflection point the YouTuber can again choose to stop creating content or choose to keep on producing content. It would be a terrible decision to give up at this point because it's hard to get back in once you leave.Because of the growth experienced from the first viral wave, the YouTuber will receive more comments, video ratings, and views compared to prior the viral video was created, as long as the following content is similar, better yet if it's related, to the viral video created. This is usually when the YouTuber will start replying to fans in the comments and will start to involve them more.
  5. Continuous Growth Because you never lose any subscribers as a YouTuber, from this point on it's just continuous never-ending growth, as long as the YouTuber chooses to create content. There will be stagnant periods, viral periods, and repeats of the cycle, but overall the number of viewership and subscriptions will not decrease. Most YouTubers do not make it to this stage.

The YouTube stages of growth that every YouTuber has to go through. There are no shortcuts though much like in life, some people are luckier in than others in YouTube.

What do you think about the Youtube Stages of Growth? Do you agree or disagree with the stages? Which stage are you on in your YouTube journey?