Table of contents
In determining content's success, video views have become the go-to metric for marketers and content creators alike. However, not all views are alike, and differentiating between high and low-quality views is crucial. Without this distinction, you do not know whether your time, money, and energy are going in the right direction.
This resource covers metrics that truly matter alongside ways to measure them. Aspects like viewer engagement, as well as actions post-engagement, are among some of the obvious metrics to consider. But by the end of reading this piece, you'll realize that there's a lot more you can take into account. Before getting started, though, let's get one thing out of the way.
Beware: Engagement Is A Buzzword
Engagement has become a catch-all term covering comments, likes, shares, and post-saves. These are all factors that social media algorithms track to assign value to different pieces of content. This value determines the level of reach each piece of content gets.
Because there are so many facets of engagement, it is harder to assign and prioritize their value. The best way to view engagement as a content creator is to not view it at all. Yes, we’re recommending that you do not get blinded by “engagement” and instead look at specifics that point towards high or low engagement.
A video with 10,000 dislikes has higher technical engagement than one with 5,000 likes. Content creators need to measure engagement by looking beyond “technical engagement.”
Technical Engagement: The average of all facets of engagement, usually presented in a percentage.
True Engagement: The individual avenues of engagement considered by the level of priority.
|Technical Engagement||True Engagement|
|Likes, views, dislikes, and shares are all weighed equally.||Likes count more than dislikes. Other aspects are also prioritized.|
|Prioritizes the algorithm over the viewers||Prioritizes the audience over the algorithm|
|Doesn’t account for perception||Builds positive perception|
|Discounts creator rapport||Cultivates creator rapport|
|May vary by platform||Is unchanging at its core|
Video Content Metrics Beyond Views
The hallmark of true engagement is your audience's investment. If people get more interested in your content or message after consuming one video, then each view you earn counts far more than that of the average creator.
Generally, the audience is apathetic towards the people behind the videos they watch. Viewers encounter a wide range of videos on social media and are not moved by all of them equally. Yet online platforms assign the same count to each view.
When creators don’t see behind the number of views, they can fail to assess the true power of their content. Many might give up just as they’re about to build momentum. Here are metrics beyond views that can help you understand the impact your videos are having.
CTR means Click-Through Ratio and refers to the ratio of people who click on a video compared to those who see the video title on their screen. It is a metric tracked by platforms like YouTube, where clicking on a video is crucial to get a view. If YouTube suggests your video to a hundred people and only one clicks through, your CTR is 1%.
Because viewers judge most videos by their titles and thumbnails, the CTR is generally a reflection of your video thumbnail and title’s effectiveness. But at some point, a certain number of viewers start trusting a creator enough to watch all their content.
As this happens, the channel-wide CTR begins to climb. That's the only CTR metric that matters. If a greater number of people start clicking a specific video, then that video is valuable to them. But if a greater number of people start clicking on all of your videos, then you're succeeding as a creator.
CTR depends on how curious you can make your viewers with a thumbnail and a headline. But if they immediately turn off your video, then you're not really doing a good job. Audience retention is one of the metrics where technical and genuine engagement overlap.
That’s why platforms value it above anything else. If few viewers click on your videos but stick around for a long time, your video still gets suggested to more people. The platform’s goal is to get more people to click through out of repeated exposure.
The longer each view lasts, the better it is for you as a creator and for the platform as an ad-serving machine. Pay attention to your audience retention and adjust your content to maximize it.
The number of likes your video gets can point to its broad appeal. But understanding which one of your videos is among your audience’s favorites requires more than counting likes. The video with the highest view-to-like ratio might have fewer likes but could still be more resonant than one with more total likes.
Video A, with 100 likes and 100 views, is far more interesting to your audience than Video B, which has 200 likes from 10,000 views. The view-to-like ratio isn't displayed on standard creator dashboards. You need to manually sort your content by view count and see which videos have more likes relative to views.
When more people start returning to your channel for more content, you can bet that you’re doing a great job. The metric is typically tracked by the video distribution platform and reflects the percentage of your fresh video’s viewership that has already interacted with your content.
Some platforms share this data with their creators. Others do not. Fortunately, YouTube, the biggest video distribution platform in the world, lets its creators in on the returning viewer data. Having returning viewers is crucial for building a community.
One sign that you're beginning to build your tribe online is an increase in the number of comments you receive. Often, comments can be surface-level and even irrelevant to your content. That's why comments, in general, are technical engagement milestones.
Whether someone has commented on your video because of its content or because they’re trying to boost their own visibility, the platform will count it as engagement. You need to ignore the irrelevant comments and count the relevant ones only.
If the commenter talks about having watched your content before, that’s even better. Ultimately, comments create the dialogue necessary for creator confidence, content improvement, and community building.
You can even ask questions throughout your video and request your viewers to leave their thoughts in the comments. And you can reward comments by replying to them.
It is easy to confuse the watch time and audience retention as both point towards the depth of viewers' engagement. But the metrics track view duration differently.
While the audience retention graph refers to the percentage of your audience that watched the video up to a certain point, the watch time reflects the total number of hours your video has been watched. If your video is one hour long and two people watch half of it, the audience retention will be 50%, while your watch time will be one hour.
Where audience retention shows how engaging your content is to each viewer, watch time showcases how appealing your content is to your broader audience.
You might have noticed that your favorite YouTuber has a pretty big Instagram. Or your favorite IG influencer has a large Twitter following. A great example of achieving escape velocity as a content creator is building a following on different platforms.
If people start finding you and following you on platforms other than your primary one, you know that you're making a difference. More importantly, you're becoming independent of a platform that might one day suspend you for no good reason.
By repurposing your content for different channels, you can achieve this independence much quicker. Plenty of creators use ContentFries to turn their long videos into clips that go viral on TikTok and IG Reels. Multi-platform success is the greatest indicator of content quality.
Different platforms use different yardsticks to measure engagement. And if your content starts popping on more platforms, you can be sure that it is resonating with humans and not just the algorithm of a specific platform.
CTA is short for Call to Action and can range from “like this video” to “purchase this product.” Anything you ask your audience to do is considered a call to action. The effectiveness of your video can often be summed up in the follow-through on your call.
If you earn views and likes, but no one follows your call to action, then you need to make your videos more persuasive. There's a ladder of resistance in CTAs. People are more likely to engage in unpaid actions like "like, comment, and subscribe" than they are to purchase products.
They’re also more likely to follow through on one CTA than a cocktail of multiple requests.
If you do not ask your viewers to subscribe to your channel yet get subscriptions anyway, then you can be sure that your videos are resonating. Unprompted subscriptions are among the best indicators of your viewers’ engagement with you and not just your content.
Requests For Content
If you’re consistent enough in producing and releasing high-quality content, there will come a time when you’re asked to upload specific types of videos. When people start liking you as a creator and feel the need for certain content that you’re not making, they will request said content. It is not mandatory for you to fulfill these requests, but you can see them as a sign of rapport.
Technical engagement metrics fail to take content requests into account. A comment telling you that your video is pretty cool and one asking you to make a video essay on Coffee are viewed equally by the algorithm. But as a human, you can tell that one viewer liked the video, and the other likes you as a creator.
A very organic sign of content creation success that almost no social media algorithm can pick up is your own enthusiasm. When you start feeling energetic and ready to create more content, things are probably going well. Momentum can be tracked with engagement metrics, but nothing emphasizes it more than your own willingness to film more videos.
If you feel excited about your content and want to make more of it, you know that you’re on the right track. And if you feel exhausted and blocked, then you might want to go back to the drawing board. Reassess your content until you arrive at something that generates internal enthusiasm and external engagement.
Finally, you must track the lifespan of your videos. Fresh videos are algorithmically prioritized over old content. Only when your audience is loyal does it consume your old content. When your old videos continue to get fresh views, you should be flattered. It means that people prioritize your old content over others’ fresh content.
How To Make Truly Impactful Content
Having covered content metrics that truly matter, let’s explore how A/B testing and other strategies can help you make more impactful videos.
Test Ideas To See What Resonates
A/B testing concepts and ideas with smaller pieces of content can help you understand your audience. For instance, you can make two shorts, each geared towards a different concept. The reception of both clips can be compared after 48 hours. If one short engages your community more than the other, you can use it as a foundation for longer videos.
Balance Technical And Human Aspects Of Video Marketing
While technical metrics don’t matter, technical work does. You need to optimize the SEO of your video to improve its chances of discovery. Of course, you cannot rely on SEO alone for your video’s success. Ultimately, it needs to engage on a human level.
Don't Obsess Over Lag Measures
There are lead measures (things you can do) and lag measures (the results you get). It is quite human to want to measure the results of one’s efforts. But too many creators spend too much time obsessing over details that they cannot change. There’s no use in measuring views, CTR, and view-to-like ratio on a minute-by-minute basis. It does not serve your practice.
Improve With Each Upload
Instead of over-tracking lag measures, you should focus on lead measures. Upload more videos and try to improve one thing with each upload. By making this a habit, you orient yourself towards success. You can still track views, likes, and other metrics, but only to see if you're trending in the right direction.
Engage Your Community
Your video is your product, and your audience is your customer. You should listen to feedback and even ask for content ideas from your community. Do not be too cool to reply to viewers' comments. There might be a point where you're unable to reply to everyone. But until you reach that point, you can personally engage your community.
Repurpose Your Videos For Different Platforms
Content repurposing frees you up to focus on your content's quality. When you know that you need to shoot just one video to make 36+ pieces of content (as you can do with ContentFries), you can pour your heart into it. By focusing on quality over quantity, you can get both quality and quantity. That's the power of content repurposing.
Make Your Content Stand Out
As is the case with anything on the internet, standing out is the most important thing you can do. You must experiment and come up with an angle that makes your videos stand out from everything that’s already out there. If your videos are just like those of someone successful in your niche, then they don’t stand a chance.
A fresh angle can help you give a spin to something that is already resonating with the market. There are countless examples of creators who broke new ground. Mark Manson put a snarky spin on self-help content, while Jake Tran incorporated the viewer into his documentary narratives by using second-person pronouns: "So, you're a mafia boss…"
Most people obsess over the wrong metrics and get bogged down in what's relevant only in the short term. Content creation is a long-term game, and you need to look beyond the view count to understand the impact your content is making. Look for data like returning viewers, social shares, and relevant comments. Also, pay attention to content requests alongside unprompted subscriptions. All these are signs that you're going in the right direction.