YouTube’s Silver Creator Award and Recognizing Our Top Users (Business Brilliance #19)

28 May 2020 | 55 Comments

Recently, one of my favorite YouTube channels–Ordinary Adventures–posted a video about receiving a silver play button plaque from YouTube in commemoration of reaching 100,000 subscribers. Something about it made me think that YouTube is onto something special that could be applied elsewhere (and probably already has).

I dug a little deeper (i.e., I looked on Wikipedia) and learned that YouTube has a series of plaques they send to creators, though the most common one is the Silver Creator Award (100,000 subscribers). The plaque is customized with the name of your channel.

I think I like the idea of this award so much because it’s YouTube’s way of saying, “I see you.” YouTube is otherwise a largely passive, distant platform, and they could easily let creators simply feel good about reaching a 100,000-subscriber milestone. But instead, they acknowledge the creator.

It’s notable to me that the acknowledgment is tangible. It’s a physical thing, a shiny plaque, and it has your name on it. It’s something you can hold and touch, a pleasant juxtaposition to the digital nature of YouTube. I think it’s tangible nature has a way of legitimizing your efforts on YouTube. The plaque isn’t the reason I create and post videos on my channel, yet I know it will feel good if I ever receive one.

I’m wondering if something like this could apply to businesses like mine: a tangible acknowledgment of loyalty, persistence, and longevity.

Let’s start with who could be considered for such an award, as some metrics are easier to track than others. For example, there are people who have answered hundreds of questions about our games on Facebook and BoardGameGeek. Their participation and generosity is amazing, and Facebook in particular lets us track the number of posts and comments from any member in a particular group. But rewarding more comments and posts could change peoples’ behavior in a way that may not be positive for the group.

In a more behind-the-scenes way, I could reward our lead playtesters for completing their 10th blind playtest or something like that. While those playtesters are already rewarded on a per-playtest level (we pay them), I still appreciate them returning time after time to help us improve unpublished products.

Then there’s our customers. We could reward customers for their 10th purchase from our webstore or something like that (Shopify makes it easy to see those customers), though this wouldn’t take into account our Kickstarter backers from 2012-2015. Also, there are plenty of Stonemaier Games fans who buy games from places other than our webstore.

So what about letting customers tell us about their Stonemaier collection? We’ll release our 10th game this summer, so we could ask customers who own all 10 of our games to send us a photo of their Stonemaier collection. That’s a nice milestone to commemorate.

I’m sure there are other options too–feel free to mention your favorites of these and others in the comments.

That brings us to what these customers would receive. Obviously it would be something tangible, like the YouTube plaque. I also like the customized nature of the plaque and that it’s pretty enough to keep on display (clever marketing to inspire other creators).

Also, we’d need to choose something that we can make in a very small batch (opposed to our typical minimum order quantity of 1000 units).

I was thinking at first that it should be something utilitarian, like a dice tray or dice tower, but anything functional is going to raise the question from people who don’t own all of our games: Can I just buy it? Which is a totally fair question.

So I lean towards something pretty but functionless. Something that fits onto a game shelf but doesn’t take too much room. Something that Stonemaier fans are proud to display near their collection. Beyond that, I’m drawing a blank! What do you think?


I’m curious to hear your thoughts about this concept, both for companies like Stonemaier Games, YouTube, or other types of businesses. Have you ever received something like this from a company, especially if it made you feel really good?

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55 Comments on “YouTube’s Silver Creator Award and Recognizing Our Top Users (Business Brilliance #19)

  1. How about a 10 part puzzle/scuplture – like a jigsaw, with one of the pieces in each game. Could etch the game logo onto each piece

  2. I think it’s worth considering whether a specific award type works in all countries.

    IIRC I for example have never seen anyone here in Northern Europe wear a pin nor think that pins have any use/value.

    1. I agree, I don’t get the excitement pins generate in our US cousins. I have had KS’s offer them a stretch goals and lots of people got really excited they had been added but I got it and threw it out. Certainly used to be seen more of a kids (under 10s) thing in the UK. Probably getting more accepted these days but not really that exciting over here.

  3. I know you made some custom box covers for Wingspan – could you do a custom cover for someone’s 10th game? For now that could be only for SAND, but it does mean that once game #11 comes out, then you would have to expand the option to two potential games.

    I assume those are pretty expensive to print (and shipping an empty box top cannot be cheap), so maybe a set of 10 gold shiny stickers to cover the SM logo on the box spines – I know some people won’t want to deface a box, but in this case it would be designer-approved! And, something like that would make the collection pop on someone’s bookshelf, highlighting your games / that person’s devotion.

  4. Wooden boxes inside wooden boxes in the Matryoshka doll style.

    The first wooden box would show art of your latest game. When you open it, you find a Tapestry box. When you open that, you find a Wingspan box, etc.

    Later when you publish more games, they could get their own wooden boxes, always a notch bigger than previous ones.

  5. Another rewarding option – people who didn’t miss any of your FB Livestreams (top fans for years now). That’s what I call, in your own words: “acknowledgment of loyalty, persistence, and longevity.” :-)) :-D

    But anyway, cool ideea! A top fan would appreciate and cherish a tangible reward like this.

    1. I get this. I really do. But as someone who hates Facebook and refuses to be a part of that platform, I would feel a bit isolated and left out — perhaps even underappreciated as a fan — if that were the criteria for such things. At least I would if this were the only path available. As long as it was one of several possible paths, I think I would be ok…

  6. Something I think is fascinating is that the Wikipedia page linked in the article mentions that the top two awards are seemingly not publicly displayed. This may work with the potentially difficult to measure Facebook and BGG comments and contributions you mentioned. Perhaps you could have different rewards for different levels of commitment, loyalty, community, and engagement.

    An set of items that fans collect over time? Pins, art, tokens, coins, miniatures, or Funko-like toys. Fits with some of the set collection trends seen in boardgaming.

    Another idea is something that has signatures.This is something that may make make mass production difficult- but since your batch is less than 1000, that may work. Wingspan art signed by Elizabeth or My Little Scythe artwork signed by Hoby. This would certainly help me feel “seen” as a fan.

    I originally thought luxury components that were either exclusive or luxury may be a good idea, but from what I’ve read in your blogs and such it seems that throttling supply on items like this doesn’t seem to be congruent with Stonemaier’s brand.

    I enjoy Steven’s comment above about having names on cards as the result of contributions.

    1. Maybe a custom trophy, mini or standee for the game shelf with the 10 mini logos representing each game. I think I saw you post an image with these 10 logos before

  7. I work at Google, and one of the coolest things I’ve seen was a group of coworkers preparing to give one of these plaques to a creator. They were so genuinely excited to have it sent because they know how difficult these milestones are to reach, and they knew how excited the creator would be to receive it.

  8. I for one felt very good when I saw my name on Encounter card #42. And I recently asked a question about a Viticulture visitor card on FB, and the guy whose picture was on the card made a comment. Those kinds of rewards for participation in SM games were really cool. Neither of those are really loyalty awards, but they did recognize involvement in the company that goes beyond the average customer-company interaction.

      1. Perhaps a large d10 to commemorate 10 games in your company colors. It could sit on the game shelf or be a desk paper weight.

        1. I like the large d10 idea; could put the symbol for each game of the ten games on each side, like the Champions shirt. At best in terms of functionality it would be a way to randomly determine which of the ten games to play.

          1. I know that Stonemaier Games only has 10 games right now… but my favorite die is the humble d12 — so if this is done, one can hope for that piece of three-dimensional perfection to be used. :)

  9. Pins are a very cool idea. My first thought, though I have no idea how you would do it, was a 1:12 scale replica toy of your game boxes on a book shelf. Maybe it’s because we just got finished playing with my daughters dolls. LOL
    Besides owning all 10 games another reward milestone could be length of time as as Stonemaier Champion with different pins for hitting certain time milestones.

  10. I think that something important to point out is that by the time that you reach the 100,000-subscriber milestone YouTube will have become a much less “largely passive, distant platform” for you as the creator. When you have a channel of that size (or larger) you will have a channel agent, a.k.a. a human that you are direct contact with at YouTube.

  11. While it is always nice to receive this recognition from a vendor, what is even more nice to have people know about it.

    Once the world gets back to normal, having a small pin that fans/customers/playtester can add to their lanyard at a game convention. Having a custom lanyard or badge holder that they can bring with them to a game convention.

    Personally, I like the pin idea the best. I belong to a gaming organization called the The Greenville Mafia. And they provide pins that are indicative of your status within the community. Different colors denote different relationship.

    People who know what the pins are can easily see how they fit within the community. Being a member of the Stonemaier game community as a playtest, a customer, a retailer, or whatever, would be something that all of us would wear proudly, wanting people to know how much of a fan we are and publicly sharing your recognition of our contribution.

  12. Thinking of a couple great examples I like personally:

    1. Blanton’s Bourbon ( has the running horse figurine on the cork. There are 8? different poses of the horse during a horse race. Something like that could be available for each game the person owns? Blanton’s even has a stand the customer can purchase to display their 8 horses. Customer could work toward completing their “set”.

    2. virtual challenges that a customer buys into for $28, comes with an entry into the challenge and an award medal upon completion.

    These imply that the customer gets something with a purchase, or is willing to purchase something extra for a “Life Achievement”. I’m betting Gamers would be willing to purchase something cool for a Stonemaier Achievement.

    So, using both of these ideas… if your customer owns Scythe, maybe they can purchase a metal mech award, if they own Viticulture they could purchase a metal wine barrel award. Afterward, they could purchase the display stand to house each award for each game owned.

    Or something like that… just brainstorming here. This could go in many directions.

    Keep up the great work.

    1. Greg: Thanks for sharing these concepts. I wasn’t thinking the customers would need to buy the award from us, but the award concept you describe is a little different and could work.

  13. Maybe some kind of ultimate tiebreaker coin, one that you would use to break ties in choosing a game to play or when you want a non-shared victory.

  14. Do all of your games use cards? You could have a deck of 10 ‘Jamey’ cards, one for each of the Stonemaier games, with functionally useless text on them.

  15. It it’s going to be personalized (i.e. not mass produced), how about a personalized Meeple? (“Choose from many different colour combinations to approximate yourself!”). Functionally, it’s useless because it doesn’t match any particular game, and players already have enough meeples, but I bet most players would want one anyway (and would probably use it in ALL their games!)

  16. How fun! I had no idea YouTube did that.

    Looking at my own shelves, I like to showcase some X-Wing minis and Lego sets. And I know lots of folks do action figures or Funkos and the like. Makes me wonder — is there a creative option with a little more “toy factor” that might fit the bill?

  17. Maybe something like a custom T-shirt? You could choose a different color palette than the ambassadors T-shirts to distinguish the difference?

      1. That makes sense. My only other thought was some sort of art print thaycthat artwork from all of your games. Although I think people would still probably request making it available for purchase separately. I don’t think that’s something you’ll be able to avoid (although you obviously don’t have to make it available for purchase separately).

    1. Chick-Fil-A sends loyalty customers who hit a certain tier and invitation to tour their corporate office and eat lunch their. Cost of transportation is on the customer, so obviously not everyone takes them up on it.

      You obviously wouldn’t give tours of your home, but, maybe you could send out a signed commemorative ticket to a “Stonemaier 100% club” play day with you at small venue. People that can make it would get an awesome experience, people that can’t would still have a cool collectible to display on their game shelf (or wherever). You could make this an annual thing.

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