YouTube’s Leading Creators On How Data Drives Their Content

YouTube stars Bhuvan Bam, Scherezade Shroff, Prajakta Koli, Sahil Khattar and Lisa Mishra tell us how the platform's analytics shape their videos
YouTube’s Leading Creators On How Data Drives Their Content

In today's digital world, numbers are everything. They not only let creators know how their content is doing but also enable them to shape and target their videos to better perform with the relevant audience. YouTube is one such platform that provides creators analytics at length. We asked some of the leading YouTubers – Bhuvan Ban (BBKiVines), Lisa Mishra, Scherezade Shroff, Prajakta Koli (MostlySane) and Sahil Khattar (Being Indian, Khattarnaak) – how they use data to better cater to their subscriber base. Here's what they had to say:   

Bhuvan Bam: Data doesn't bother me much but the age group does. I know that when I put content, the views will come because I have subscribers, so people will watch it. But if the content slowly deteriorates then those guys will also leave. So the age group is always useful. Before Titu Mama (one of the characters he plays) was introduced, my age group was 13-25. After Titu Mama, it has gone to 18-45. It's a good thing and that helps with ticketed shows.

Scherezade Shroff: I don't really look at analytics a lot. I've been doing this now for 6-7 years – it's just been a long journey. People have seen me in a younger space, then they've seen me get married on YouTube and go from long shoulder-length hair to this. It just feels like it's a reflection of my life and what's going on at that point in my life. Relevancy is important, you've got to be aware of what's going on in the world. But at the end of it, I feel like the content needs to be genuine, real and organic. As long as you have a vague indicator of who your audience is – for me, it's obviously primarily females of a certain age group – then I think if it appeals to me, I'm sure it'll appeal to them. But other than that, it's not like I think, 'Oh, this city is watching more. How could I cater to this city?' or 'Regional content is doing really well so I should do this.' I don't look at it from a business perspective, I look at it more as sharing my life with people because that's the kind of content I do so it needs to real and organic.

Prajakta Koli: I feel like as far as creativity is concerned, more than the YouTube analytics, the comments section is more reflective. We get a lot of feedback. We understand the sort of audience that's watching us – what they like, what they don't like. They're very honest – sometimes brutally honest – in the comments section.

Sahil Khattar: The worst comment I read on a girl's video is 'Just mute to watch' which broke my heart to another level. Why would you do something like this? And it was (a user called) 'xyzxyz12pakistan' or something like that. You can't even catch hold of a guy like that. It's so difficult to quantify that. When it comes to data, it doesn't matter because I hardly understand it.

Lisa Mishra: I have the opposite problem. My background and work life is in data analytics. So I study numbers, engagement and demographics. And how, where and what people are doing. I might have the longest-running YouTube channel amongst us – I've been making videos since 2007. I was 13 and at that time, they didn't provide those tools. Unfortunately, all of these available tools came out when I decided to start a career in data analytics. I went, 'Take a deep dive – this is going to be amazing!' Then I said, 'This is more depressing as I keep reading. No men are watching. Too many men are watching! No women are watching. Why are no women watching?' So I think for me, I had to just tune it out and for probably around the past year, I just don't look at any of the numbers anymore. Because the way that it plays out in my mind, I can survey it to a clinical degree and that just gives you so much anxiety. It makes you really upset when you aren't doing as well as the last thing you put out. So I decided, 'No! No more! I'm just going to make stuff and if people are happy, great!' And I think Prajakta brought up a really great point – comments are the truest engagement. So I only read comments now. That is my basis of self-reflection as opposed to numbers because that's a much more real study of what people are feeling.

These excerpts were taken from a roundtable we did with some of the leading YouTubers. The full conversation will be out soon.

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