Most of the conversation among YouTube professionals boils down to, “How do I get more views on YouTube?”

For the creator, more views means increased validation of their work.

For the marketer, it means increased sales.

For the YouTube network, it means more ad inventory.

But what does it mean for the actual viewer?

The reason for asking the, “How do I get more views?” question is usually rooted in a need to extract value from viewers, whether it’s validation, money, or something else. There’s nothing wrong with that because the world’s economy has always been based on exchanging value, but in the midst of pursuing millions of views let’s not forget what every view on YouTube actually represents: a real person whose life every creators has the opportunity to influence.

Increased views and subscribers isn’t just about growing the numbers and statistics behind a channel — it’s ultimately about an opportunity to regularly stand on a stage and share a message that has the potential to change lives.

As a certified YouTube consultant and a creator myself, I love working with people who get this, either intentionally or intuitively. Sometimes it’s the high school kid who is simply sharing his latest first-person shooter gaming experience while discussing his struggle of being bullied at school. By thinking out loud about his situation he’s actually giving hope to a lot of other students who are experiencing something similar.

Or it’s the mom of six kids who simply makes a video giving advice for how to help a baby to sleep through the night. Without realizing it, her video brings peace to the homes of countless struggling new mothers.

Perhaps one of my favorite examples is a YouTube creator who dropped out of college due to issues with depression, anxiety, and drugs. Although talking about those things with transparency feels risky and even scary, his story is positively influencing the trajectory thousands of other college students. The community of subscribers who surround his channel are making better choices because of it.

Just last year a newlywed wrote me and my wife after seeing one of our family vlogs and said (my paraphrase), “I got married two months ago and my husband and I are already struggling. I saw your video of you and your wife talking about how you’re learning to love each other better. I showed that video to my husband, we talked about it, and now we have hope for our marriage again. Thank you.”

Another girl told us, “I’ve been watching your videos for a while now and noticed that I’ve raised my standard of who I’ll date because of your videos.” I don’t know what her standard was before, but up is usually a good direction.

What bigger story are you telling through your videos? What difference are you making? It doesn’t matter who you are or what type of content you create, on YouTube you have the tremendous privilege and opportunity to spread a message that changes lives. No other platform can match this potential. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr are all nice, but YouTube allows us to establish a human connection with people in ways that text- and photo-based sites never can.

YouTube is more than views and subscribers — it’s people who are giving you their undivided attention. So the next time you take out your camera to shoot a video, ask yourself, “Why does this video matter? What difference do I hope this makes in someone’s life?” There are people out there listening. Let’s make the video count for more than personal validation and increasing sales.