Screenshot: The video on People's Daily's Youtube channel that gathered over 5,228 thousand views
As our readers might know, People’s Daily also has a YouTube channel. Despite the fact that as a newspaper we do not specialize in video making or production, we do want to bring more Chinese stories to the world. Seeing that short video clips are a good way to grab the attention of audience, we thought YouTube might be an ideal platform for short videos.
But things didn’t turn out quite well recently. Read on, I am one of the social media editors behind People’s Daily’s YouTube channel.
Just two weeks ago, I posted one particular 38-second video on our YouTube channel, titled “Toddler picked up steel pipe to defend his grandma from China's urban management force”. For two consecutive days, the video was enlisted Trending on YouTube. It won over five million views and 18,460 thumbs-up in less than one week. Websites such as Huffington Post, Mashable, Yahoo News, Sputnik News, etc. quoted our story.
The vast amount of traffic drawn to the video subsequently attracted new subscribers to our channel. Just last week, we got 6,019 new subscribers, according to YouTube analytics. Seemingly, that should be the time to celebrate. Well, turns out it was just some sort of youthful naiveté.
Based on my experience, the increase of view count will usually lead to the increase of YouTube subscribers. From last Monday, however, as I saw that all view counts for our videos were still climbing up, the subscription count suddenly started to drop. The figure plunged by hundreds each hour. In the next two days, People’s Daily’s channel lost 3,552 subscribers. The whole incident occurred all of a sudden and continued went downward in a rapid speed, and more importantly, out of nowhere. To this date, I still do not have a clue about what triggered the fall. Whether it was something wrong occurred with YouTube’s algorithm or else? I do not know.
Screenshot: Background data showing the drop of subscribers
I tried to contact YouTube by all possible means, including reaching out to @TeamYouTube on Twitter, but in vain. Nobody responded to my inquiries, regardless it states clearly on @TeamYouTube’s Twitter that “We're here to help. 9am-5pm PT, Mon-Fri.”
All my tweets were ignored. I managed to find one communication mean, the only single one available on YouTube’s website, and that was the media inquiry email. With no other doors opened, I shot an email to press@YouTube.com. No feedback. None.
Then, I realized our channel is not alone.
I checked out this YouTube Help Forum and found out that there were others facing similar situation. As a matter of fact, there were so many postings asking why their accounts were losing subscriptions all of a sudden.
Among them was an FAQ post titled “FAQ: My subscriber count is dropping. Why is this happening?”. It was created by someone named “Marissa - Community Manager” on April 7. This FAQ post urged the affected people to leave their certain info there so to help YouTube “investigate.” Info such as their YouTube channels' urls, the specific date the subscriber count dropped, the number of subscribers lost, and where the users noticed the fall. Apparently, based on the list of information left by others, many have already been experiencing the same problem in the past days. I left the requested info anyway. And, not at all surprisingly, no reply. No explanation, nothing whatsoever from YouTube on this issue.
YouTube did not show a bit of respect to our 3,552 subscribers by removing them from our channel without any reasons.