Avid YouTube users have undoubtedly encountered the almost spam-like proliferation of the “1000-degree knife” trend, conquering sidebars for recommended videos over the last few weeks. The videos are almost content-less; the host, now a variety of desperate channels grasping at a clear break in the YouTube algorithm, heats a knife up (not to 1000 degrees) using butane torches. The host then takes the knife, cuts into some mundane object – a bar of soap, a soda bottle, a stick of butter – and films the process, all while there’s royalty-free music playing in the background.
And some of these videos are getting tens of millions of views – nearing 50, 60 million in some cases. The originator of the trend was briefly gaining 200,000 subscribers per day.
Part of the way the sidebar works is to recommend videos based upon previous videos viewed, and this is now (we hypothesize) largely aided by the minutes watched (% of total) metric. That is to say, watching more of the particular content piece (in terms of ratio) will ensure that more content pieces similar to that will be promoted. As the videos are just a few minutes long, it’s not hard to watch all 2-3 minutes. Doing so will increase the minutes viewed percentage of the content, thus boosting it to the top of your recommended feed. Once the knife videos appear, and once you’ve watched one, it would seem that the videos continues to flood the sidebar.
This trend has gone so far that some gaming channels are now converting into knife heating channels, desperately clawing at the newest trend in getting quick views.
The lesson learned is that some content pieces can be strategically crafted to better expose the YouTube algorithm’s strengths and weaknesses. Taking the same sort of formula and applying it to more “real” content, we can learn that a few shorter videos are useful in increasing minutes viewed of total (ratio), theoretically boosting the entire channel.
The recommended bar on the side of YouTube is where a large portion of channel traffic is driven. Leveraging that bar to better advance your own channel is the best way to rapidly scale, but just try to do so while retaining integrity of the original content plans.
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