How To Get More YouTube Views With The Word “You”

Last updated on June 15th, 2024

A few years ago, Dane teamed up with Phil Starkovich from Tubebuddy on a study about how saying the word “you” at the beginning of a YouTube video can help a video get more views. Today we give you the inside scoop about what they found in this study.

HOSTS: The VidAction Podcast is hosted by:
– Dane Golden of VidAction.tv and VidTarget.io | LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube
– Renee Teeley of VideoExplained and ReneeTeeley.com | LinkedIn | Twitter |
Instagram | YouTube

SPONSORS: This episode is brought to you by our affiliate partners, including: TubeBuddyVidIQMorningFameRev.com, and other products and services we recommend.

PRODUCER: Jason Perrier of Phizzy Studios

TRANSCRIPT

Dane Golden:
Saying the word “you” just once in the first five seconds of a YouTube video can increase your overall views by 66%, and you can increase your views by 97%. So that’s essentially doubling your views if you said the word “you” twice in the first five seconds.

Dane Golden:
It’s time for the VidAction Podcast. This is the podcast where we help marketers and business owners, just like you, get more value out of your video marketing efforts. My name is Dane Golden from VidAction.tv, where we help you up your game on YouTube for business and transform your viewers into loyal customers. And my new business is VidTarget.io, where we help you save time and money through more targeted YouTube ads. Along with my cohost, she’s the powerhouse video marketer from San Francisco. It’s R-E-N, double E, T, double E, L-E-Y, Renee Teeley, from VideoExplained. Hello, Renee.

Renee Teeley:
Hello, Dane. Today, I’m happy as Scrooge McDuck swimming in a pool full of money to be cohosting this podcast with you.

Dane Golden:
I want to go swimming in a pool full of money.

Renee Teeley:
I want a pool full of money. It doesn’t matter if I swim in it.

Dane Golden:
You can do whatever you want with it. And, Renee, what do you do at VideoExplained?

Renee Teeley:
Yeah, at VideoExplained, I offer video production and consulting services to help companies use video to build credibility, generate leads, and convert those leads into paying customers.

Dane Golden:
Okay, and for you the listener, you should know that, as always, you can follow along in this podcast app you’re listening to right now with the transcript and the links. Hey, send us a message on social media like Twitter, we’d love to hear from you.
Okay, Renee, today, I wanted to talk about a YouTube study that I did a few years ago in partnership with Phil Starkovich from TubeBuddy, about how saying the word you at the beginning of a video can help a channel and a video get more views on YouTube. I thought that I’d tell you some of the high points of the study, and we could discuss, you could ask me any questions you might have, does that work today?

Renee Teeley:
Yes, absolutely. So I’ve actually quoted this study a number of times online, so I’m excited to dive in and get some more information about it.

Dane Golden:
Yeah. I mean, the thing is, is that one of our friends also quoted it recently, and I was like, she didn’t even know that I did this study, so it’s still holding value, clearly, if only as a rumor. And we did it a few years ago, so I thought we would dive into it again because I feel it still holds up. So it’s called Harnessing the Power of You in YouTube, how just one word, you, can double your YouTube viewership.
So I just want to start off by saying some of the high points, and for you, the listeners, listen close here. Saying the word you just once in the first five seconds of a YouTube video can increase your overall views by 66%, and you can increase your views by 97%. So that’s essentially doubling your views if you said the word you twice in the first five seconds. Okay, Renee, what do you think of that?

Renee Teeley:
I think that makes a lot of sense. So I know I just started off that sentence by saying I. But it really does make a lot of sense, and I think if you’re using the word you, it is a very audience-centric approach. So it’s kind of a no-brainer but also really fascinating. So can we start at the beginning? Why did you do this study with TubeBuddy in the first place?

Dane Golden:
Sure. And by the way, if it’s a no-brainer, I’m all over it. That’s me. Anything that says no brain, that’s me. Yeah, so I was talking with Phil from TubeBuddy. Because I had this… When you optimize a business YouTube channel with a lot of videos, you start seeing things that are happening in a similar way from video to video. And yet it’s not always easy to prove some things unless you have a lot of data. So one of the things that I think was troubling about how I was seeing audience retention in YouTube videos was that, particularly with business videos, a lot of them talked, they spoke not directly to the camera, but they spoke off camera to a producer, an interviewer, et cetera, which is sort of like the long tried and true TV method. Right, Renee?

Renee Teeley:
Yes. I think we’ve talked about this on the podcast before. But the more that you can look at the camera, the better that connection is with your audience.

Dane Golden:
Yeah. And I felt and was seeing anecdotally that that was particularly true for YouTube. I mean, YouTubers know this, they don’t look off camera. But I couldn’t prove that looking at the camera with just 10 videos, I couldn’t prove that that was better for views and engagement. And so I started looking for a word that would be a proxy. Because I can’t… I don’t have any AI at my disposal. I can’t go and look through thousands of videos to say, oh, this person is looking at the camera, and this person isn’t, and I wasn’t going to tally them by hand. But I realized that the word you, if someone was looking at the camera and saying the word you, or even just saying the word you without looking at the camera, it was almost impossible to not look at the camera. If you’re saying it in a video, and you say the word you, you’re not going to say it to the interviewer, because you’re referring to the viewer, or if you’re a business, the customer. Does that make any sense?

Renee Teeley:
Yeah, that’s just sort of a natural thing that happens when you’re looking at the camera, and that becomes your audience, and saying the word you. That makes a lot of sense.

Dane Golden:
So Phil from TubeBuddy is of course phenomenal with data, and I asked him if he would try this experiment with me and do the study, and he agreed. And we spent a number of weeks really diving into this data. I mean, we have a methodology in this thing, the study, it will be linked in the show notes, that’s 10, no, six pages long on this methodology. So you can find out more about it. But basically, we were trying to find out if the word you would help get more views and engagement.

Renee Teeley:
Yeah. So I know before, I said it was a no-brainer. And to me, it feels like a no-brainer. I know it might not be for other people that haven’t been in the industry as long. But I do want to back that up just a little bit and say, I’ve had this discussion with people who are blogging and doing other things for business, and I like the customer-centric approach in saying the word you. And I’ve pointed this out recently to someone I’ve been working with, that they started their blog posts out with, most of the sentences started with the word I. And I was like, that is not a good approach. It is very you-centric, but you as in the writer as opposed to the audience. And so it’s good to kind of flip that around.
But I love the study because it actually backs it up with data. So instead of just thinking that, hey, I think there’s something here, you actually went through and analyzed it, and there really is something, and the data proves that.

Dane Golden:
Exactly. Exactly.

Renee Teeley:
Yeah. So let’s talk about when, I know the study has been out for a little while. When did you actually do this study?

Dane Golden:
Yes, it’s a no-brainer now because it used to be a big brainer. But we did the study, so it was simplified. Now it’s a no-brainer. So we did it in 2017. Well, I finished it in 2017, and we used data across 2016. But I think that the… I mean, there’s nothing that’s changed about how people engage with a YouTube video or any video. We looked at 30,000 videos randomly sampled within certain parameters, and we could go into those. But basically, we looked at videos, we were trying to eliminate certain things, like we tried to eliminate kids videos, and ads, and music videos, and things like that.
But basically, we looked at videos that were two to six minutes long. And we looked at medians, which was the middle number if you don’t remember your high school math. The average is the, well, it’s an average. But the median is the middle number, and so we felt that that was a better way of finding the true math in this.

Renee Teeley:
Yeah. So in the study, you analyze 30,000 videos, which is a great sample size, and you’re looking for the word you, but I know there’s some other kind of takes on that word that you guys were looking at. So what other words besides you did you study?

Dane Golden:
I really had to break down some of my thought process on this. And some of the things you’d think were really, really simple, just had to do some thinking about them, because I was like, okay, we’ll study the word you, but what technically is the word you? And so I didn’t want, if someone said the word YouTube, I didn’t want that to show up. So we had to exclude that because that had nothing to do with the study. But words like your, yours, you’re with an apostrophe, you’ll, you’d, you’ve, yourself, yourselves. We even looked at y’all. So 10 different versions of the word you. We excluded yous. And if you’re from a certain part of the country, all y’alls, I did not include.

Renee Teeley:
That’s interesting. I do feel like it kind of all speaks to the same… there’s the same intent, which is referencing your audience.

Dane Golden:
Yeah.

Renee Teeley:
But I think that’s a good set of words that you guys tested.

Dane Golden:
And I’m sorry, I want to just take it further because you said the audience. And I’ve really started, since this study, thinking of who’s watching as an individual viewer. So when I say you, I’m thinking of one person, and I try to get my customers to think of one person instead of an audience, which is a group of people.

Renee Teeley:
That’s a good approach. I think that, because on the other side of that video typically is an individual person unless you have… unless it’s really funny, and you’ve got someone calling over a group of people to watch the video. But traditionally on YouTube, you have an individual person watching it.

Dane Golden:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Renee Teeley:
So I like that approach. So what are some of the key findings? Like you gave us a couple of highlights, but can you dive in a little bit more? What are the key findings in the study?

Dane Golden:
Okay, I’m going to repeat what I said at the beginning, and then we’re going to go into some more later. But just to repeat what I said at the beginning, saying the word you just once in the first five seconds of a YouTube video can increase overall views, pardon me, by 66%, okay? So that means if you had 100 views, and you didn’t say you, in this new video, you said the word you, you could get 166 views, all right?
And views increased by 97%, meaning if you had 100 views before, now you have 197 if you is said twice in the first five seconds. And somebody says, well, how you can say the word you twice? Today, I’m going to show you how to fix your car. You is one, and your is another you.

Renee Teeley:
So those are some pretty powerful numbers. If you’re looking for a way to increase your traffic, and you’re not doing this already, and view count, this is a very easy way that you can increase that view count, essentially doubling your traffic if you use the word you or some variation of the word you in the first five seconds. So that’s pretty amazing.

Dane Golden:
You are correct.

Renee Teeley:
There you go, twice. Can you give us some examples of how you can use the word you multiple times in a video without sounding awkward? You gave us one example, but can you give us some other variations of that?

Dane Golden:
All right. Okay. You know, when you do X, Y, Z, and then you… That’s three, right?

Renee Teeley:
Yes.

Dane Golden:
If you’re like me, then you… If you’re an X, Y, Z, this video is for you. If you’re a real estate agent, this video is for you. So that’s a couple of examples with multiple yous. Should I give you some with just one you?

Renee Teeley:
Sure, why not?

Dane Golden:
Are you a… Are you trying to… Did you ever wonder why… If you’re going to be… in Paris for spring, spring fashion week.

Renee Teeley:
Yes, wouldn’t that be nice.

Dane Golden:
How to make yourself… a sandwich, whatever. So a different way. Have you seen, here’s how you, hey, you guys, hey, you. If you’ve been following…

Renee Teeley:
Yeah, I think those are good examples.

Dane Golden:
Okay.

Renee Teeley:
And I think those are nice, natural ways to start a video without sounding like it’s forced. So I think that’s good. Can you talk a little bit about why saying the word you can lead to more views from a psychological standpoint?

Dane Golden:
Yeah, I can tell you why I think it does. And just saying the word you, you can’t open a video and go, you, you, you, you, you, you and suddenly get a whole bunch of views. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about engaging the viewer. And in a video, you do not know the viewers name, right? People like their name, and that’s the best way to get someone’s attention is by saying their name. And if it’s a live stream, people do say names. They see people in live stream, and they shout them out. But you can’t do that if you’re just doing a YouTube video from scratch.
But people like their name, and in place of their name, saying the word you is the best way to get their attention because you are specifically referencing that whatever you’re talking about is going to be specifically relevant to them personally as an individual. It gives the implication that the reason you’re doing the video is for them. And it may very well be. I think the video creators have some of their own interests, which is to get more views, money, whatever. But when they make a video that is targeted towards helping, or getting the attention, or serving the viewer, the viewer can recognize that by hearing the word you.

Renee Teeley:
I think there’s something really great about video in the sense that you can start to feel like you know the person who’s the host of the show or whatever it might be. There’s that connection that happens. I’ve been watching a lot of hair tutorials recently, as I’m sure a lot of people have been kind of around this time.

Dane Golden:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Renee Teeley:
But I’ve been watching one person in particular, I’ve watched a ton of her videos. And I feel like I know her through her videos. And she does say you a lot, and there’s that connection that happens. So there’s something just really amazing that happens in video, and I think if you’re using that word you to make an even stronger connection, you’re going to be in a much better place, and you’ll be able to help more people that way. So can you talk a little bit about why the word you can potentially lead to more views based on the YouTube algorithm?

Dane Golden:
Sure, sure. And by the way, making that connection, some people call that a parasocial relationship, so the impression that you have a friend without technically having a friend.

Renee Teeley:
That actually makes it sound more sad the way you just said it.

Dane Golden:
It’s a proto-relationship.

Renee Teeley:
Very one-sided when the other person doesn’t know that you guys are friends.

Dane Golden:
I think we all have friends like that.

Renee Teeley:
Yeah, sadly right now, quite a lot of them.

Dane Golden:
So as far as the algorithm goes, does simply having the word you make the algorithm give you more views? No, I don’t think so. So what I believe the reason is, is why this gives you more views, as per the median of the study, and it gets you more engagements too. But the reason why it gets you more views is that the algorithm likes people who watch longer. And so my theory is, is that when you say the word you, people tend to watch longer, be more engaged in the video, and thus the algorithm says, people are watching this video longer, let’s show it to more people, and thus it gets more views. So it’s sort of circular. Say yous, you get longer watch time, algorithm shows your video more, you get more views, and so on. It’s a virtuous circle.

Renee Teeley:
Yeah. Okay. So you mentioned median a couple times.

Dane Golden:
Yeah.

Renee Teeley:
Can you talk a little bit more about what is the median, and then why is that important?

Dane Golden:
Yeah.

Renee Teeley:
Why did you use it for the study?

Dane Golden:
So I just want to give like a refresher math test. I know everyone likes math. So if you think about it, if somebody says, well, how much does it cost to live in your town? And you say, well, the average is $100,000 because half the houses cost $50,000, and half the houses cost 150,000, and if you average them, it’s 100,000 on average. And then you go to another town, and you say, how much is the average, and they say, oh, it’s a million to live in there. That may be accurate, that may be helpful information. But what if it was every house cost exactly $100,000, but one house cost $100 million dollars. Now if you average all those together and divide by the number of houses, the average might be 10 million. But that’s not really helpful because you’re not going to be buying that $100 million dollar house, you’re only going to be buying one of the other houses.
So in fact, the median, the middle number, meaning if you took all the numbers, and you took the middle one, that’s the median, it actually is 100,000. So in this case, this second town is just as the same price as the first town. So what we found is that if you throw out the top numbers and the bottom numbers, it helps you to filter through a lot of the bad data. Because there were so many possible things that could happen with this YouTube data, and we were really piecing together a lot of different tools to make our study. And also, if you look at our study, we use 100,000 as the baseline, meaning if you didn’t say you at all in the first 30 seconds, which we studied, you get 100%, meaning that’s the baseline, that’s what would happen if you didn’t say you. But clearly you’ll see, just by saying you one, two, three times, we studied various parts in the first 30 seconds, that raised your median number of views.

Renee Teeley:
I liked the math lesson. My big takeaway from that though is it’s very sad being in San Francisco and knowing that the median house here is so much more than what you were talking about.

Dane Golden:
Well, yeah, but you want to know the average. Well, you want to know the median, not the average, right?

Renee Teeley:
Yes. Yes, yes. So is there a time when saying the word you will have the most impact in your videos?

Dane Golden:
Okay, well, we looked at it at various times. So we looked at it at various times within the first 30 seconds. We did not look at other times. So we tested three windows that I arbitrarily decided were important, zero to five seconds, six to 10 seconds, and 11 to 30 seconds. And I don’t want to go too deeply into it, but even figuring out how to track the word you saying in those first five seconds was hard. Because we were tracking manual captions in closed captions, but sometimes a sentence might be longer than five seconds or whatever. So we had to do a lot of, again, medians.

Renee Teeley:
It sounds like a very complicated study with a very simple idea. It sounds very involved.

Dane Golden:
Yes, done by a no-brainer.

Renee Teeley:
Yeah. So can you talk a little bit more about your approach to testing and sort of the effectiveness throughout the video for each of those windows?

Dane Golden:
Yeah, let’s go dive down into these, and I’m going to start with the lowest numbers and work up. So if you said one you after 11 seconds but before 30 seconds, and I’m reading from the study here so I get it exactly right, and forgive me for reading. If you said one you after 11 seconds but before 30 seconds and did not have a you in the first 10 seconds at all, your views were increased. Sorry, your likes per view were increased by 33%, engagements per view by 38%, and views by 39% over videos that had no yous. Does that make sense?

Renee Teeley:
It does make sense. And before you move on to the next window, I think it would be very interesting for us, after the podcast, to tally up how many times we say the word you in this podcast and see if that’s had any sort of impact.

Dane Golden:
It only matters if we said it in the first 30 seconds. So if you was mentioned two or more times in the 11 to 32nd period, likes and engagements were constant but views increased 65%. So think of this, right, Renee, this is like the worst, almost the worst option that we studied, the least effective. But just saying you once, not even in the first 10 seconds, but in between 10 and 30 seconds, you still got views 65% higher just by saying that sentence I said, today, I’m going to show you how to…

Renee Teeley:
That’s incredible.

Dane Golden:
… fix your car. Yeah. Okay. If you said the word you three times or more between 11 and 30 seconds and also once before 10 seconds, your viewership increased by 123%. So I mean, I talk about all these numbers, but why is it really important? Well, if you’re a business, and you’re trying to get leads, if you [inaudible 00:25:06] 100 leads with a 100 views, if you get 123% more, that means you get an additional 123 views. So you… Sorry, leads. So instead of… You went up from 100 leads to a total of 223 leads. Because the ratio is going to work out. Does that make sense for people, do you think? Should I explain it differently?

Renee Teeley:
No, no, no. That makes sense. And I think that, I think when you’re talking about smaller numbers, it might not sound that impressive. But once you get to larger numbers too… That is a big increase. And for anyone who’s on the marketing side of the business, you know that it takes a lot of work to really increase the percentage of the amount of people that are opening your e-mails or visiting your website. And if you can increase that by just a small amount, and if you can get more people watching your videos, and getting more leads by even a small amount, that could have a big impact on your business. But these are big numbers. These are big percentages. This is not 1% or 2%. It’s 65%, it’s 123%. That could have a major impact on your business.

Dane Golden:
Yeah. And even for someone just hoping for ad revenue, you potentially double your ad revenue. And if it was $100,000 you made this month, well, next month you make $223,000, and that’s nice change. So if you did it… Okay, now we did the six to 10-second window, right? The second five seconds of video, not at the very beginning. If you said just one you after six seconds but before 10 seconds, and you did not have a you in any other place in the first 30 seconds, you’re also going to increase your metrics. So I don’t know what happened to my average, but it went higher, I missed my note in that. But then if you said it twice in the six to 10-second window, views increased by 101%. Again, that’s not changing $1 to $1.01. It’s changing $1 to $2.01, over not saying you at all.
Now, if you said it in the first five seconds, like we said, your views are going to go up by, and I’m going to get to this. Okay, remember, saying you just once in the first five seconds of YouTube increases overall views by 66%. 66%, you said it one time right off the bat, and that’s all you had to do the entire video. People are so concerned about getting more views, and this is free with three letters. And you could increase it by 97% by saying the word you twice in the first five seconds. And there’s a number of variations of this. So ideally… People can look up the study. We don’t need to go in all these numbers. But if you said it in each of the intervals, that was actually the best. If you said it between zero and five, between six and 10, and between 11 and 30, it’s potentially… the median is saying you’re getting almost triple the views. And I ran this on a lot of videos.

Renee Teeley:
So I’m going to throw you a curve ball question.

Dane Golden:
Okay.

Renee Teeley:
And I don’t remember seeing this in the study, but is there a point where it’s just too much of a good thing, and you get diminishing returns? Is there a point where if you say the word you 15 times in the first 30 seconds, that’s the point where you start losing your viewers.

Dane Golden:
Yes. Yeah. So yeah, the idea is not to just keep saying it for the purpose of saying this word. We found, and again, I mean, the study, even though it was a big study, it’s pretty hard to find a video or multiple videos that make the study worthwhile, that have so many yous in there that you have diminishing returns as far as being able to understand the data. But we studied just the first 30 seconds. If you didn’t break down the first 30 seconds into any windows, the best shot was five yous in 30 seconds. So on either side, it’s a little bit less. But four and five were pretty close, five is a little bit better, and you’re almost at triple the views by doing that. And then the same thing, it’s pretty similar number right around when you say the word you once or more in the first five, then six to 10, and then once again in 11 to 30. So three to five times is the right amount of times, essentially.

Renee Teeley:
Yeah. I think this is such a good study. I found it fascinating. And my key takeaway from this is yous equal views.

Dane Golden:
What?

Renee Teeley:
Yous…

Dane Golden:
Oh, yous. Y-O-U, apostrophe S. Or no, Y-O-U, plural S.

Renee Teeley:
Yous equals views.

Dane Golden:
Yeah. And by the way, we also tracked likes per view and overall engagements per view, so likes, dislikes, comments. And they indeed did go up the more times you said you. But it wasn’t quite as exactly aligned, but it was closely aligned. So it wasn’t 100%, one-to-one the same way views go up. Engagements went up a little bit less. And the only reason I could think that that’s happening is because sometimes when a video was very well viewed, it may be being viewed more than once by the same person, and you can only like a video once. So that’s my theory.

Renee Teeley:
Yeah, that makes sense.

Dane Golden:
So I’m going to post this in our show notes, a link. And by the way, it says my old company name, which is Hey.com, not VidiUp. But it’s the same company, I just changed the name, and people can see a link to that. And my name is Dane Golden with my cohost, she’s R-E-N, double E, T, double E, L-E-Y, Renee Teeley. And we want to thank you, the listener, for joining us today. Don’t we, Renee?

Renee Teeley:
Yes, absolutely. And today, I want to leave you with a quote. As I once told my good friend, Anne Handley, if you aren’t having fun creating content, you’re doing it wrong. So I just want to remind people, make sure you’re enjoying the process and having some fun along the way.

Dane Golden:
And by the way, for those of you who don’t know the amazing content marketer, Anne Handley, we did have her on our podcast at, I think, the beginning of the year or sometime in the last year. And she was so great, and we also gave her a whole new business plan for launching e-mails, didn’t we?

Renee Teeley:
The e-mail viewing party.

Dane Golden:
So you can go back and listen to that one. And I invite you to review us on Apple Podcasts, or share us, or message us via Twitter. But those reviews, particularly on Apple Podcasts, help other listeners find us. Renee and I do this podcast, and our various other YouTube videos, and all other projects because we love helping marketers and businesses just like you to do YouTube and video marketing better. Until next week, here’s to helping you help your customers through video.

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