3. Are subscriber and view counts an accurate measurement of how strong/dedicated/sustainable/whatever a community is?
Not at all. This might sound crass but I swear it’s not. The best analytical measure of how dedicated a community (that I have found) is merch sales. We’ve sold shirts for a lot of people at DFTBA, and I’m always shocked how some channels with 50,000 subs can sell more shirts than channels with 2 million.
View counts are a terrible measure of engagement, subscribers is even worse (since channels that have been around a long time have /tons/ of subs that don’t watch anymore. Not necessarily because the content started to suck, just because people move on and get interested in other stuff.)
If you think about things like how to design thriving communities, this is the most important post you will read today.
Edit: also check out this reblog by sunsetclimber:
It’s funny because I’m part of the Gear/Knife/Gun community on youtube, and it’s so radically different than what Hank is talking about, even though it’s very similar format. The primary difference is that it’s product focused; reviews and test videos are the primary staple. But the demographics are crazy different, instead of 18 and under females, we mostly have males over 20, with a large body of them having kids of their own.
The product-centricity makes for an interesting dynamic, sometimes people who have access to new things that we’re excited about can break into the community with little else; likewise it’s very hard for someone to get noticed reviewing the same things over and over again, unless they have truly different content.
Anyone can ‘like’ a Facebook post or watch a Youtube video with ads because it’s a low barrier to entry. But how many people would actually buy merch, music, or drive 100 miles in the rain at 4am to see you perform?
I constantly say that wanting 200,000 followers is a worthless “numbers game” with no meaning. What matters is the passion and purpose of the community, not the size of it.