Social Media Influencers & Your YouTube Channel

In the world of online marketing, the right link from the right site is the best way to improve your visibility in search engine results pages. But is this true when marketing YouTube channels? The purpose of this article is to document some research, tips, and food for thought regarding how to target the appropriate influencers, and how to go about getting their attention. Ultimately, I hope to answer a question of how to get more people to subscribe to my YouTube channel. Should I seek a mention from PewDiePie, who has the most subscribers on YouTube, or are more traditional methods of promotion more effective?

Why Subscribers?

There are really two ways to go about making money on YouTube. Many are aware of the massive impact viral videos can have. But, those who actually make YouTube videos for a living rarely, if ever, see a singular video actually attain this massive number of views. By seeking out subscribers YouTubers are able to develop a more reliable stream of income and eventually get paid sponsorships on their channels, as they become influencers themselves. Sponsorship deals are far more lucrative than the YouTube ad revenue that google shares with creators.

How to get YouTube Subscribers?

We are going to consider the trends surrounding two YouTube creators who have experienced significant growth in the past few years, and try to identify the key drivers that helped each of them gain subs. Each creator primarily distributes their content via YouTube, and could both be classified as niche musicians. The reason that I have selected these two is that I initially heard of both creators because of the same influencer, Philip DeFranco of YouTube, and I know that they have had more main-stream mentions as well, that we can compare against.

Social Media Influencers for Kawehi

The first creator is the Hawaiian-born, Kawehi, known for several viral videos. Utilizing a looping machine, a few instruments, beat-boxing and vocals she is a one-woman band who as of this writing has gathered over 170,000 subscribers to her YouTube Channel
Kawehi Subscribers according to social Blade
Using SocialBlade I pulled Kawehi‘s statistics from YouTube subscriber count for the past four years. I identified 4 major events to analyze using her subscriber count over time. After comparing the timing of those strong up ticks and google results for pages crawled at about that time I have concluded the following:

Start Date Most Recent Video at the Time Most Likely Source of Traffic
3/21/2014  Heart-Shaped Box – Nirvana (covered by Kawehi)  Appearance on Esquire
9/1/2014  Anthem – By Kawehi  Appearance on Huffington Post
4/19/2014  I’m Only Happy When It Rains By Garbage (cover by Kawehi)  Shout-out on Official Garbage Facebook page
3/21/2014  (Not Another Lame) Fight Song By Kawehi  Organic Video Impact

Although the influencer I was investigating, Philip DeFranco, mentioned her very shortly after the date subscriber count started rising, it seems that his mention was impacted by other sources that reported on the story earlier, and that most subscribers gained are because of those who broke the news. It is difficult to say for certain how the news outlets first caught wind of the stories each time they broke, and the role other social media influencers may have played in that. Additionally, looking at the data the news outlets seem to be associated with an immediate spike on the day the news article is posted while other influencers, such as the band Garbage who was covered in the video, seem to have their impact spread out over several days and even weeks.

One of the reasons that I chose Kawehi was that I know she also made an appearance in a Super Bowl Commercial on February 7th, 2016, as well as an in-depth commercial that was aired afterwards where she went into detail about how intel processors helped her make her music. What should have been a major source of interest for an up and coming artist is completely invisible on the time-line.

Social Media Influencers for Hot Dad

The second creator is another solo act, Hot Dad. Hot Dad has been described as someone who loves creating new theme-songs for people and businesses who never asked for them. As of this writing he has 60,000 subscribers.

Hot Dad YouTube channel Subscribers According to Social Blade


Hot Dad has a far less interesting curve compared to Kawehi. Additionally, researching for an influencer for the smaller jumps in subscribers is encumbered by unrelated content, due to creator having a far less unique name.

For our purposes, I know that he has received a shout out from Philip DeFranco, on November 20th 2016, in response to Hot Dad’s Video, “YouTube Star Philip DeFranco Has Song Written About Him (?!)“. He also made a guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, on January 18th 2017. The question now is which influencer has had more impact when it comes to gaining subscribers for Hot Dad?

According to the data, 24,408 new subscribers started following on November 17th, and another 10,490 subscribers where picked on between November 20th & 21st. What’s particularly interesting here is that the bulk of the subscribers came not because of action the influencer made, but before the influencer had even acknowledge the video that was clearly targeting him. The influencer happily accepting this significantly increased the impact, but overall less than the content simply being discovered, likely by fans of DeFranco.

His appearance on the Jimmy Fallon show gained him 115 subscribers on the day of airing, almost 100 times fewer subscribers compared to DeFranco. Over the next few days he lost 102 subscribers. The appearance arguably hurt his channel!


Though hardly enough data to draw any universal conclusions, there are some very interesting things discovered in this dive. The first is, what would be considered a major influencer marketing win, was repeatedly inferior to a far less popular influencer. Many people are aware of how Jimmy Fallon has helped create several viral video sensations, but seeking out someone who is more connected with the social media platform seems far more effective. Interestingly, getting mentioned in news outlets was still the most impactful way to get more subscribers on YouTube. A successful YouTube strategy seems to be a healthy combination of learning how to create viral videos, and building relationships with others in the YouTube Community.<