A funny thing happened on the way to the weekend. Well, it actually happened during the weekend...and after the weekend, but I've always wanted to use the phrase and I couldn't think of a better way to work it in. But I digress.
A little pre-weekend background is in order: as a matter of habit, I check our YouTube stats with some frequency (here's a link to our YouTube channel: AldermanFarms). I'm terrible at math, but for some reason stats intrigue me. I guess the main reason is that it's rewarding to see that stats related to the growth of our YouTube channel have been steadily on the rise since we started a little over a year ago, in March 2012. Since the beginning, we've never had a month in which we had fewer "views" than the month prior, we've gained subscribers every month, and so on.
During the month of March 2013, the last month for which I have complete statistics, we were averaging 759 views per day, as compared to 533 per day in February. In fact, from Monday April 1 - Friday April 19, the daily average had increased to 1,277 views per day. So I am accustomed to seeing the numbers rise. But I am not accustomed to seeing what I began to see sometime in the early evening on Saturday April the 20th.
We were out of town at our youngest daughter's final competitive cheer competition, and we were busy, so I hadn't been checking stats as regularly as I typically do. We had gathered at a local restaurant for a team meal, and at some point I glanced down at the iPhone app I use to monitor stats to see the number "3,321." What? Three thousand three hundred twenty-one views? In one day? I showed Patti and she said something to the effect of "Wow." In fact that's exactly what she said, and so did I. Little did we know that we were just feeling the initial moisture of a wave that was rapidly building, and would take us for a ride we never expected, couldn't control, and that would cause us astonishment, worry, and amusement, in turn.
When I awoke the following morning, I could see that before the previous reporting day had ended at midnight on the West coast, 2:00AM our time, we had accumulated a whopping 10,008 views. And I also learned that we'd gained several thousand more already on Sunday April 21st.
While my reaction on Saturday can be accurately summarized as "WOW," my reaction on Sunday is better represented by "Uh Oh," as I was suddenly afraid that we were somehow the victims of a cyberattack intended to make Google/YouTube think that we were artificially driving up our own traffic. I didn't know whether it was a random attack, or a personal attack (though I had no real idea why someone would want to attack our channel), but I reported it to Google immediately on Sunday morning. Later that day I received a response from Google thanking me for my vigilance and assuring me that they would be looking into the matter. Over the course of a few more email exchanges, they further encouraged me that I'd done the right thing and would not be held responsible for any malicious activity. That was a relief.
While leaning on the comfortable prop provided by those emails from Google, I kept watching the numbers rise...and rise...and rise. That Sunday we ended the day with an incredible 27,523 views, followed by 23,771 on Monday. By the end of Tuesday, the numbers were falling, but we still had logged an amazing 10,914 views. Yesterday, Tuesday April 24, 2013, things seemed to be back to normal, although our new "normal" was higher than it had been just a few days earlier, as we finished the day with 1,517 views.
So what happened? Well, as I said earlier, my initial guess was some sort of attack. But as I discussed the matter on that Saturday and Sunday with my pal Jared Stanley of "J&J Acres" (blog - YouTube), he said something like "It will be interesting to see the traffic sources for all of those views." Indeed.
Since YouTube analytics run a couple of days behind, I had to wait until Monday to see the stats for that Saturday when all the action started. What I found was an incredible stroke of good fortune that created what Jared called a "wave," and his advice was to "ride it all the way and hold on tight." Here's what happened:
A few of my most popular videos deal with fencing. I've listed and hyperlinked them here:
1) How to Tighten Fence with Nothing but Pliers
2) How to set a Corner Post WITHOUT Concrete
3) How to Pull Fence: Homemade Help
By an incredible coincidence, someone had uploaded a short clip called "FBI Fence Jump," and for reasons that no one knows, of course, it went viral. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure (it is amusing):
And as always, here is the link to YouTube for those who have trouble with the embedded video: http://youtu.be/ahwSmcZxBAU
Did you notice the title of that video? "FBI FENCE Jump," emphasis mine. Apparently because the word "fence" appears in that title, and because I have three videos in which the primary keyword is also "fence," plus other reasons that will probably remain a mystery for the ages, my three fence-related videos began showing up as "Suggested Videos" at the end of, and in the sidebar next to, the "FBI Fence Jump" video. And again for reasons that I'm convinced no one can know, the FBI fence jumper video has garnered over 8,700,000 views at the time of this writing. Wow.
What a weekend: for reasons I'll never completely understand, having that fence jumping video go viral provided over 72,000 views for us in just four days.
But although the wave has ended, the good news has not: in addition to those additional one time views, I also gained over 200 subscribers who have so far stuck around. There were some who subscribed and then changed their minds, but over 200 remain as a net gain for us, bringing our total to 840 subscribers at the time of this writing.
Finally, as a result of the wave, and probably primarily due to the influx of new subscribers, our new "normal" appears to be not only higher than our normal prior to April 20th, but it also appears to be higher than it would've been today had the wave not happened. In other words, the lasting benefit of the wave is not the ridiculous number of views we gained over the weekend, but that the wave seems to have lifted us to higher ground...to a point on the channel growth curve that is higher than where we'd be today had the water remained steady and calm.
What a great ride it was, and we like where we've landed. Will it ever happen again? No one can know the answer to that question. We hope it does, of course, but we aren't holding our breath and neither should you hold your breath waiting on your own wave. But if the wave hits again, we'll "hang ten" and not worry about the sharks. ;-)
~ Tommy A.