Full disclosure: I have been watching Smosh since their now infamously bad Mortal Kombat video first came out! My bias aside, there’s no question that Smosh, once the most subscribed channel on YouTube, knows how to get free YouTube subscribers.
I am going to take you on a bit of a trip through Smosh history to show you how they became so famous. Along the way we’ll see their strategies for getting free YouTube subscribers, something they’ve done for a decade now. Take notes and let’s get you famous too!
Smosh shows you how to get free YouTube subscribers
The early days of Smosh’s success
Smosh rose to fame on YouTube seemingly by accident. While they no doubt had no idea that their first video, the Power Rangers theme song, would wind up getting nine million views they did do something smart: They ran with a theme.
The guys’ second video, below, has passed twenty-eight million views:
Yep, it looks dumb and it looks like they have no clue what they’re doing. What we all missed though was that Smosh were paying attention. First they did the Power Rangers theme song. Then the Mortal Kombat theme song. Then they did the theme song which catapulted them to the top of YouTube: Pokemon. The video was taken down for copyright infringement, but the Smosh/Pokemon connection became well established.
What Smosh have been doing right from the very start is establishing a brand identity, and running with themes that work. It started with theme songs, and slowly grew. Your YouTube channel needs this type of focus as well. You may experiment a little at first, but having one type of video you’re known for is your key to early success and subscribers.
Smosh create characters
Smosh knew that they couldn’t jump around like fools to cartoon theme songs forever. After Pokemon they did the Ninja Turtles and Transformer theme songs, and that was it. They then began working on their characters and creating 100% original content.
First, they worked on the ‘characters’ of Ian and Anthony. The California Experiment is where we first see Ian be the kinda dumb, often wrong but hopeful, and quick to anger/swear character he later becomes. Battleship is where we first see Anthony become the good-natured, sweet but slow, fall guy for Ian’s quick to anger temperament.
They have been playing these basic characters for 10 years now, and I don’t think it’s an accident at all. It was a strategy to tell a consistent story which draws in subscribers, and grow their channel. You don’t have to learn who the characters they play are over and over. They’re consistent from one video to the next.
They also branched out into a now-YouTube-legendary character: Boxman. Or, what you get with a low budget, a cardboard box, and lots of fun:
How does this help you get free YouTube subscribers? People subscribe to YouTube channels when they think that channel will give them good content consistently. You can buy some subscribers to get your channel kick-started, but creating characters is a way to get people invested in your channel as they want to see the characters grow. YouTube marketing is, in a way, storytelling for the 21st century.
Smosh as they are today
Not much has changed with Smosh since the beginning:
- They still play the same characters.
- They still have their infamous “Shut! UP!” Intro.
- They still create ridiculous comedy videos.
- They still have a Pokemon connection.
What has changed is their YouTube marketing. They are the most sophisticated Youtube marketing machine around in a number of ways. Smosh were one of the first to use custom thumbnails, which they did for their annual Food Battle in 2009:
And they currently have the best outro for getting free YouTube subscribers:
When the ‘Click Here to Subscribe’ button comes up, which it does on every video, it is accompanied by a custom auditory call to action as well. This may be the best strategy of all for getting free YouTube subscribers: Asking for it with calls to action. Repeatedly. Every video!
Their last advanced strategy is one which every single YouTube channel out there should employ. They have a regular schedule for their content, and they work to make sure everyone who visits their channel knows this. Where else but the header image would you advertise this?
Your favorite TV shows all had a regular schedule, and it was advertised heavily on the network it aired on. This was so that viewers knew when to turn their TV on and change to the right channel to watch an episode. The same applies to YouTube: Your audience has to know when to turn their computer on and head to your YouTube channel.
Smosh are excellent at getting YouTube subscribers for free!
Smosh have been showing us for years how to get YouTube subscribers. After being in the top three most subscribed for many years, in January of 2013 they finally broke through:
The strategies they used over the years to get there include:
- Finding their strength and running with a theme.
- Developing consistent characters which reappear often.
- Creating interesting custom thumbnails to get more clicks and views.
- Using video outros with a strong call to action to subscribe to get more subscribers.
- Having a consistent, and well advertised, schedule for their videos so fans know when to watch.
While you may not personally find success with Pokemon theme song parody videos, you will find your best success by discovering what you’re best at and running with that theme. If you’re not already uploading consistently you need to start or you’ll never grow an audience which knows when to tune in and watch you. All the free YouTube subscribers in the world aren’t worth anything if they don’t know when to watch your videos!
As a final thought, I’d like you to do one last important thing: When you get those subscribers, thank them! You’re not going to be successful on YouTube without their help. Create a video, say thank you, and keep building your channel together with your fans!
Feature image Helga Esteb / Shutterstock