TL:DR/ The BTS fanbase worked out a series of YouTube growth hacks to increase YouTube views in the 24 hours after a video release.
During their eight year ‘overnight success’ rise to ‘World’s Most Popular Boy Band’, BTS have re-written the playbook on fan engagement.
Their global fan-club, or the ARMY as they’re known, demonstrate the extraordinary levels that a well-organised and highly motivated micro-community can achieve, even in an age of social media and algorithms.
When BTS release a new video on YouTube (which is often!) the ARMY take on the challenge of getting it played as many times as possible in 24 hours.
The aim is to trigger the YouTube algorithm which rewards a popular video by pushing it to even more people. In other words, the short term success achieved by the ARMY results in long term success for the band.
To achieve their goal, the ARMY issue a set of guidelines to growth hack YouTube, enabling fans to generate as many plays as possible in a short timeframe.
However, similar to a game, their challenge is to avoid being labeled as a ‘BOT’, which means their plays don’t get counted.
So, here are 14 Growth Hacking Guidelines to get your video high up the YouTube charts!
1/ ACT HUMAN, CLICK STUFF
If a fan behaves like a bot then their views may not count. To avoid this, the ARMY recommend searching for the video manually, turn off autoplay, click on stuff, browse and don’t replay the same videos over and over. PLUS, don’t repeat this behaviour too much because if YouTube marks you as a bot all your good work could be undone!
2/ GO EASY ON THE COMMENTS
The ARMY know that lots of comments helps a video rank higher. But, fans get a warning not to overdo it. YouTube won’t count video views if the user comments too often in a short period of time.
3/ WATCH THE ADS
Not because it helps the video rank. But, because it results in the labels and band making more money, so they can make more great videos. OK, this isn’t really a growth hack to increase YouTube views, but it shows a great appreciation of how artists make money in a digital era.
4/ WATCH TO THE END
Although there is some debate about the exact length of time a fan must watch for (30 seconds is regarded as the minimum), it was generally agreed videos with a longer watch time generally rank higher.
Encourage fans to watch to the end each time, which they want to do anyway, right?
5/ WATCH YOUR RE-WATCH TIME!
Fans cottoned on pretty quickly they can’t simply hit ‘Replay’ and watch a video continuously. 30 mins is a safe gap between video watches. However, one tip is, reload the page a couple of times to catch out the YouTube cache storage system.
Fans are directed to a Chrome extension that makes this easier by auto-refreshing the browser. Or, fans could simply watch other BTS videos during the 30 mins, which of course, helps them being marked as a “BOT” (See Guide #1).
6/ DON’T MESS AROUND WITH THE VIDEO
Don’t Skip to the end. And don’t hit Replay. However, rewinding or pausing is fine. Going back in a video tells YouTube there is interesting content in the video that is worth re-watching. One crucial tip – never, ever close YouTube with a BTS video open. This will hurt the band. Click on another, rival band’s video and close your browser then!
7/ DON’T MUTE THE VIDEO
Even the most die-hard fan may feel burnout after listening to the same song multiple times? Unfortunately, muting the video is a strict No No. Low volume is OK, as is muting your device – just don’t mute the vid. Oh, and don’t watch anything less than 480p quality either.
8/ AVOID PLAYLISTS
Watching the video, native on the BTS channel is good. But, only watch the video in a playlist if you absolutely have to.
This is because streams from a playlist only get added hours after the fact. And since one of the key objectives is to get as many plays in the first 24 hours, this is to be avoided.
9/ MULTIPLE TABS IN THE SAME BROWSER, NOT OK
Anyone thinking they can open multiple tabs to watch multiple videos needs to get smarter – you actually need multiple browsers and multiple accounts. One account per browser is the suggested ideal. Then, with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, opera and Vivaldi open, you can click away, making sure you follow the guidance.
10 / BE AWARE OF IP ADDRESS DETECTION
Point 9 only works up to a point. The problem is that YouTube has a dim view of multiple plays from the same IP address.
To avoid the dreaded BOT tag, fans are encouraged to use multiple devices and watch the video in different places. Using a VPN is discouraged because those views don’t get counted anymore.
11/ WATCH EMBEDDED VIDEOS
YouTube reward video plays outside of its own platform. So, if you find a video embedded on a popular site, e.g. Billboard or BBC R1, then get watching and tell other fans. A further benefit is that it’s harder for YouTube to detect the IP. The exception is if the video autoplays. Since YouTube only reward clicks, if you find an autoplay, move on!
12/ SHARE ON FACEBOOK
Embed the video on Facebook to increase YouTube views since the views count immediately and best of all, Facebook won’t give away your IP address!
13/ SHARE THE VIDEO ON BLOGS
YouTube themselves told the ARMY at Vidcon they will rank higher any video they see embedded on other websites getting views.
The number of shares, links and embeds are used to select which videos get shown on the highly prized YouTube home page and ‘recommended’ sections. Fans can use the Embed code on YouTube to share the video in as many places as possible.
14/ BE CAREFUL CLEANING YOUR BROWSER CACHE
A totally empty cache or search history will be flagged as ‘suspicious’ by YouTube.
So, if you clean your cache, to avoid IP detection, then only clean the last few hours that contain the videos you’ve watched. BUT be careful not to delete the history immediately after watching the video. Wait at least 10 to 15 minutes.
According to Chart Metrics, at the end of 2020 BTS ranked as the 7th most popular artist in the world. This included 42m YouTube subscribers, watching 44m daily video views and 1.2bn monthly video views. Using Growth Hack information supplied by their ARMY of fans, BTS will no doubt continue their global growth and increase YouTube views.