Matt Santoro: A Case Study on Rapid Subscriber Growth on YouTube

/ Sep 26, 2014

Ear Biscuits Matthew Santoro

When Matt Santoro appeared on this week’s “Ear Biscuits with Rhett & Link,” the YouTube duo deemed it a “case study.” Why? Because Santoro has experienced recent success on the platform with his subscriber base having doubled between May and July of 2014. In that time span, he was gaining 25,000 subscribers a day, falling just behind PewDiePie in terms of growth.

Santoro joined the video platform in 2010, and before he blew up, he was “happy to get 2,000 views a week.” According to Santoro’s take on coming into YouTube recognition, “It just kind of happens.” Though the creator has not ended up with a viral video (his videos steadily attract 1 to 2 million viewers, or more, but have yet to make it into the tens of millions range), he managed sudden yet steady growth on his channel, in which he mostly narrates top 10 lists with his specific brand of comedy and enthusiasm.

Santoro noticed he was taking off when his top ten videos started piling on the views. “Just through experimentation I realized that people really like top 10s,” he explained. “There’s just something about that round number people like.” At this point, Santoro regularly checked his analytics, allowing him to really see the popularity this type of video had gained over his others, which were mostly comedic skits.

As Santoro’s subscriber numbers continued to climb, he actually found himself at a place where he’s stopped looking at the YouTube analytics. Gaining notoriety on YouTube, for him, was “almost like a drug.” Santoro described sticking within the top 10 genre because “you want to do more of what you’re doing to keep people coming…the attention is addictive.” (Santoro also has a video in which he explains his addictive personality to audiences.)

However, lists weren’t Santoro’s primary passion on the digital video platform. He preferred skit-style content because he could really explore his own creativity. Lists, on the other hand, box you into a very specific format as a creator—the structure of each video becomes predetermined. However, Santoro justified this by explaining, “The top 10s outweigh the loss of not being able to have that creativity because you’re getting so much attention. It satisfies you in a different way.”

YouTube is a job, after all, for Santoro, and he needs to maintain and grow an audience there. Also, don’t get the idea that Santoro is selling his soul for popularity on the platform. In fact, he noted on “Ear Biscuits” that he always creates list videos of topics he personally finds interesting (save that one about the zombie apocalypse, but hey, not everyone can be a zombie enthusiast, not even in the undead’s current heyday). Though he makes videos using catchy, clickable phrases like “…You Didn’t Know” and “…of All Time,” Santoro still noted, “I don’t look at it as how can I get the most views.” In fact, he said that these days, “I’m sort of returning to my roots of I’m just a guy who likes making videos.”

Most importantly, Santoro’s skilled at maintaining that balance between “leading your audience and being led by your audience” (as Rhett put it). Find out more about how Santoro has made his channel flourish on “Ear Biscuits with Rhett & Link.”

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  • BrandGizmo

    Haha looks like a jolly good ol’ time

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