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What Does Subscribe Mean On YouTube?

What happens when you subscribe to a channel on Youtube? What about the Notification Bell and Thumbs Up?

Does it cost you anything? What are you committing yourself to? Should you do it or not?

About Subscriptions On YouTube.

To answer the question of whether or not you should Subscribe, hit the Notification Bell, or give a Thumbs Up properly, we’re going to need to delve a little deeper into Youtube.

YouTube is simply a collection of videos, uploaded by people. They’re all stored on a computer. Actually, it’s spread over many computers (called servers), but for our purposes, we can think of it as being one gigantic machine.

There are millions, possibly billions of videos. And more are added every day.

Anyone can upload a video to Youtube.

People, such as me, that upload videos regularly, can create what’s called a channel.

A channel simply groups all your videos in one place.

There are YouTube channels for just about any subject matter you can think of.

The At Home Computer channel videos on YouTube.
At Home Computer channel.

It’s Like TV Channels.

Think of it as being rather like TV channels. When you switch on the Nat Geo Channel or History channel, you kinda know what types of programs you’re going to get. Right.

Well, the same is true for YouTube channels.

When you click the subscribe button, you’re subscribing to that channel.

You’re simply telling Youtube that you like the videos that you’ve seen from this particular channel.

And you’d like quick access to that channel’s videos.

Subscribing to any YouTube channel is completely free. It’s not like subscribing to magazines etc. You won’t have to pay for anything.

In order to subscribe to a YouTube channel, you’ll need to be signed in. This can be with a YouTube account or a Google account. Both of which are also free.

Subscribe button on YouTube is indicated.
I like this channel.

YouTube Subscribed Channels List.

You can find all the channels you’re subscribed to by clicking the 3 horizontal lines on the upper left-hand side of the screen.

An options panel will appear and your subscriptions are shown down the list.

So when you stumble across a channel that you like the content from, feel free to subscribe to it.

YouTube subscribed channels list is marked with a callout.
When you subscribe to a channel, they’ll appear in your Subscriptions list.

Hitting The Notification Bell.

So what’s the Notification Bell do? Should you click on that?

When you subscribe to a YouTube channel, you’re automatically set to receive some notifications of the channel’s activity. Which generally means you’ll get a notification when they upload a new video.

YouTube calls this the Personalized Setting.

When you click the Notification Bell, you’ll have 3 choices.

All, Personalized and None.

Personalized – is the default setting and simply means some notifications.

All – means exactly what it implies. You’ll get a notification from YouTube every time there is any activity on the channel.

And None -simply turns off notifications for that channel.

Notification bell options menu open. All, Personalised and None are indicated.
The Notification Bell choices.

Again, notifications don’t actually cost you anything and can be useful when you’re waiting for a channel to release a new video.

  • You have to be both signed into YouTube and subscribed to the channel to get a notification.
  • In order for the notifications to work, your browser and computer have to be set to receive them.

Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down.

Pretty much universal I’d have thought. It means exactly what you think it means.

The only thing to note here is that, while you do need to be signed in, you don’t need to be subscribed to the channel.

How Does Subscribing Affect You?

When you click the subscribe button, hit the notification bell, and give a thumbs-up, things happen.

YouTube really is trying to offer you videos that you’ll be interested in. And it uses your subscriptions and likes to create a better list of suggested videos.

YouTube Subscribed Channels List.

When you first turn up on YouTube, you’ll see a page full of suggested videos.

The list is made up of the types of videos you’ve watched before, videos you’ve searched for, sponsored videos, popular videos, that kind of thing.

But some of the videos on offer will be from your subscribed channels.

Which makes sense, after all, by subscribing, you’ve already told YouTube that you like this channel.

Random videos offered by YouTube.
When you first land on YouTube, it doesn’t really know that much about you. But as you use it, YouTube starts to build a profile of you.

Giving It A Thumbs Up.

Giving a video a thumbs up obviously tells YouTube that you liked that video.

So YouTube will try to find similar videos for you.

If you gave one of the now-infamous “cat videos” a thumbs up, don’t be surprised to find lots of these types of videos showing as suggestions.

You’ll also get other videos being suggested from that channel, even though you didn’t subscribe.

A selection of "cat" videos offered on YouTube
Cats are everywhere

None of this affects your YouTube searches.

You can still search for Elvis or Beatles videos, or whatever else you’re looking for, just like you did before.

It only affects the suggestions that YouTube offers.

Elvis has been typed into the YouTube search box.
You can search YouTube in much the same way that you can search on Google.

Notifications Bell.

This one is slightly different from the others.

Notifications, whether from YouTube or any other website, need to be treated with a little caution.

Having too many notifications flash up on your screen can become frustrating, distracting, and a downright nuisance.

Of course, there’s no harm in getting notifications from the At Home Computer channel.

A Notification pop up on computer desktop is indicated.
Notifications can be really annoying. Treat with caution.

So Why Are YouTubers So Insistent That You Subscribe?

YouTubers can be quite insistent and persistent in trying to get you to subscribe to their channel. Even to the point of being annoying. So why do they do it?

In much the same way as TV channels are in competition with each other, so are YouTube channels. The more subscribers a channel has, the more often videos from that channel will be featured as a suggestion.

Which means that more people get the chance to see the channel’s output. And the more thumbs-up a video gets, the more often that particular video be will be offered as a suggested video.

If a video can garner enough thumbs-ups in a short space of time, then it can go viral. Which is good news for the video and the channel that produced the video.

Subscribing On YouTube – Summary.

There’s no real reason not to subscribe to channels on YouTube. There’s nothing sinister going on and it really won’t cost you anything.

Subscribing and liking videos will affect what videos you’re offered as suggestions by YouTube, but on the whole, I’d say that was a good thing. You’re more likely to see something that you’re interested in.

The only iffy option is the Notification bell. Use it sparingly is my advice.

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