I’ve offered up this advice for years: No website is too big to fail. I’ve said it in particular to YouTubers many, many times only to be dismissed. The site was “too big” I was told. Data was trending up, they told me. Well, here we are, at a point in time where I think I’m not going to be brushed off so quickly.
First off, major props to anyone who has been able to build up a big YouTube audience and do it to the point where it has paid your bills. That takes an incredible amount of time and work and I have nothing but love for those who’ve pulled it off.
Now stop being foolish.
Your platform is slowly falling from relevance. No, it doesn’t help when major YouTube “celebrities” say or do wildly inappropriate things. No, it doesn’t help that bots seem to scan your stuff and limit more monetization than ever before. It also doesn’t help that companies like Nintendo really strong arm everything to the point where it drives people away from wanting to cover their stuff at all. But ultimately, the biggest issues stem from the types of content that exist on the platform, one that people should be diversifying from anyway.
Plan beyond YouTube
No website is too big to fall from grace. I could easily hear people referring to YouTube someday just as we do MySpace right now.
Ah, the mighty MySpace. It was once the kingpin of social media and every damn one of us used it. There were actually people who got famous strictly off of MySpace usage, as odd as that sounds to say now. It seemed to be too big to fall and then one day – quite suddenly – it did. I still remember looking around, wondering why people were less active, just to find that they all jumped to Facebook, a new social media platform that is quite frankly still less interesting to use than MySpace was in it’s peak.
YouTube is going through this same thing, just more slowly. The main reason is Twitch, which is now allowing for the upload of previously recorded videos in addition to the live ones. I think more growth is going to go that way from here on out, too. No, Twitch is no more invincible than any other website is, but at the present time they are staffed with a crew that is a lot more hands-on that YouTube’s grumpy auto pilot and who is willing to work hard to continue the site’s evolution.
I think too many did exactly what I feared they would with YouTube, seemingly making no plan to ever grow beyond it. Rather than spread out before the bubble was in danger of popping, they are now reacting to a sudden drop in views, subscribers or revenue as if nobody saw it coming or something.
If you are a YouTuber that hasn’t yet expanded into other arenas, it’s on you. Get on that now before you join Tom from MySpace at the job application kiosk at Home Depot.
Sounds mean, but I’m just keeping it real here. Grow up. Your audience has or will.
Quite frankly, if your videos post a thumbnail that includes you making a stupid face or wearing an outfit that makes Screech from Saved by the Bell look like a fashion plate, I’m not going to click on your video. I don’t care what you are talking about, how well you edited and presented the content or anything else.
Yes, that’s a big deal and not just because of my click. I’m instantly lost on interest because I’m a grown up. Your screwy rants and goofy faces might have appealed to an audience before, but for the most part that audience has aged up and started to age OUT of interest in that sort of content. This happens in all forms of entertainment. One day you are into Nickelodeon and the next day you’ve moved into more centered and mature programming choices.
The trick here is to mature with them, because there’s not always going to be a fresh audience of younger people to follow in behind them. In this case, there’s not. The younger set is coming in and taking interest in content made and posted on other platforms, such as the aforementioned Twitch. If you are a YouTuber that posts thumbnails that make you look like you sat on a chair of ice cold nails and your numbers are flat, this is why.
Look at TV. Look at the YouTube videos produced by people from the television industry. Notice that none of them present their content like they are a 1990s Cheetos commercial come to life? Notice how they look like grown ups if they appear in their thumbnails? Notice how they don’t look like they just rolled out of bed or came from a trip to the 7-Eleven?
No shame in evolving your content and your brand. In fact, you’d be smart to do so sooner than later. Do you really want to be the last raving lunatic on a platform?
Worst Content Ever!
You know, I really don’t know what anyone actually likes anymore? The main reason why is that – thanks to YouTube rants and the spawn of them – everything is deconstructed to the point of insanity. There must be 100 rants for every positive video because it’s believed that negativity and rants draw more views, and people still think that more views at the cost of your soul mean more than quality content.
From Star Wars films to new video games to the latest Netflix binge show, it seems that nobody can just enjoy something anymore. It has to be slowed down frame-by-frame and overthought and just flat out bitched about for no solid reason. Worst yet, there’s no originality in the videos that do this. There must be hundreds for every possible subject, many of them containing thumbnails with the dumb faces I mentioned earlier.
I don’t watch them. I won’t.
Look, I understand that sometimes you’ll have to speak out of stand up against something. There are many times where that’s a more than worthy cause or a solid idea. But when you base the majority or entirety of your content on whining about every little thing in the world, people will eventually tune you out. They already are tuning out a lot of YouTubers just due to this, choosing instead of take in content creators that might actually have positive things to say about something more often than not.
Nothing wrong with shifting gears, relaxing a bit and covering the things you actually find joy in, people. I, and other more mature viewers, might actually watch you if you do.
To Wrap Up
I know when I write something like this that I’m going to get a mixed reaction. Some of you reading this are nodding along with me while others are already making one of those funny faces for real, demanding that you know what you’re doing or that you’ll do what you want. Fine. By no means do I think I’m expressing anything more than an opinion.
That said, the old saying is that those who cannot remember the past are bound to repeat it. There are those out there who believed that Sears and Blockbuster were invincible companies, who believed that AOL IM and MySpace would last forever and many who still haven’t trended away from America Online and Yahoo! Those that I see posting about dropping YouTube views need to realize that you are in dire risk of staying at the party for too long. Either change your content or expand out of it before you are lost in space like millions of Friendster profiles. Better yet, do both.
Author: Patrick Scott Patterson
Patrick Scott Patterson is a 36 year veteran of the video game world. His philosophy states that the past of our industry and culture must be preserved in order to understand where we are and where it is all going.