Monday, June 2, 2008

Getting Views on YouTube

I recently uploaded a six-minute excerpt from my feature length documentary, and I figured by sending it out to all of my friends and business colleagues, as well as posting it on the RotoWire blogs I'd get enough traffic for the clip to go viral. I was wrong - at least for now, and the clip is stuck at about 885 views with more trickling in slowly each day. This was a far cry from the 200,000 I had hoped to get in order to attract the attention of potential distributors.

So I did some looking around the web to find good sites to send the clip to, better search tags to add to it and whatever else I hadn't thought of. And I found this site, Tech Crunch, which no doubt offers sound advice if boosting your views is your main objective.

Suggestions on Tech Crunch include: logging in under many different YouTube usernames and generating fake commentary about your own clip, logging onto message boards with several different usernames and getting into heated discussions about your own clip, etc.

And I thought this was funny because I was feeling guilty at clicking on the video from different browsers and thereby generating multiple page views myself. My naive idea had been that my clip and documentary were actually good, and so once I sent it out to a few hundred people, naturally they would forward it along, and it would blow up. But Tech Crunch pointed out that:

There are tens of thousands of videos uploaded to YouTube each day (I’ve heard estimates between 10-65,000 videos per day). I don’t care how “viral” you think your video is; no one is going to find it and no one is going to watch it.

And so you have to game the system to get your video to the top of YouTube or onto key lists where it will be recognized. Which I thought about doing for about 10 seconds and then rejected. It's fake! It's cheating. It's fundamentally not merit based.

But what if through cheating you're able to get something you genuinely believe is good and worked very hard on for years into public view. Surely, the end justifies the means?

It's a fair argument, but I just can't get behind it. Pretending people like your clip is bad for the system, and while plenty of other people do it, it's fundamentally because they lack faith in their creative ability and their ability to adapt and market in an honest way. I'd be thrilled for instance if some big-time blogger picked it up and it spread that way. The key is that people send it along because they genuinely enjoy it.


Jonah Keri said...

There's also the issue of cost/benefit. How much time/work would it take to generate all those fake usernames, post all those fake comments, and get to 200,000 hits (or more)? One would guess there'd be an inflection point at which the clip would take off (100,000 hits?) and generate its own buzz.

But to build up to that point sounds like it'd be a monumental task. And even if you did reach that point, what are the odds that many people watching the clip allows you to monetize it, in the form of a movie house picking it up, distributing it and paying you appropriately for it? 25/1? 50/1?

Ethics and personal pride aside, it's very possible the whole thing just isn't worth the time or the effort. Might be better to take the clip around to individuals. As much as a moviemaker happening on this huge buzz for your clip/film and deciding to cut you a blank check would be great, it also seems very unlikely, unfortunately.

And I say that as someone who loved the film (all of it, not just the six-minute clip).

Chris Liss said...

Yes, that's true, too, but my initial thought is it's like steroids - if everyone starts doing that crap to maximize views, then the bar is just higher for the amount of views that matter. So now you're doing that extra work, and it doesn't help at all because every stupid clip gets 50,000 fake views. Already the people doing it and the guy on that site are screwing things up...

But it's just the nature of things - if there's a way to cheat, people will until the loophole is closed.