I am a YouTuber. I am intensely proud of my 166 subscribers that I have painfully gained over the last 2 years. The effort it takes to get people to hit that red subscribe button is … well let’s say disproportionate.
But YouTube has started 2018 with the Logan Paul horror show. I really feel for this guy. He is 22. He has 15 million subscribers. He is under huge pressure to produce a video a day. He has found himself yes living the dream, but also in an unenviable position where he is employing his friends and his success sustains not only his lifestyle but theirs. They need hits, they need views.
Any content producer will tell you the best performing blogs and vlogs are negative. Titles like “5 things not to do” work better than “5 things to do”.
Videos like “look at this view in Japan” will not get the views that “look at this dead body in Japan” get.
So the Logan Paul team decided to take a hike to a suicide spot looking for dead bodies. To shock. To be negative. To get hits. To get views. They edited it leaving in all the offensive and disrespectful behaviour, they added the dead body to the thumbnail, I won’t repeat the title choice. They trailed it on Twitter… next video is a shocker.
Anyone with any life experience could tell you that a dead body thumbnail isn’t going to end well for a brand. But we aren’t in the Logan Paul bubble where daily views sustain an ecosystem.
I can see their logic. And in many ways the Logan Paul team did their job well. They got 6 million views. Until someone with some sort of common sense in his team took the video down. Hat tip @robertoblake.
So I’m not going to jump on the “isn’t he an intensely awful human being.” I am going to jump on the “it’s just not good enough YouTube” bandwagon.
It’s not good enough for YouTube to be so passive in situations such as this.
It can’t hide behind being “just a platform”. It is the creator of the algorithm that doesn’t care about content that breaks its own rules, it cares only about view-time. It encourages and promotes “stars” that create bottom-of-the-barrel click-bait shock-tactic content.
Logan Paul said he wanted to highlight depression and suicide. His intentions he said were good. But Logan Paul is a successful YouTuber and his team know a thoughtful video that is made with expertise, empathy and respect is never going to perform well on YouTube. Just ask the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline charity with their 1.9k subscribers. So instead they made one with idiocy, crassness and disrespect. One that would and did perform well on YouTube.
That’s on YouTube.
I have no idea about whether Logan Paul’s intentions were genuinely good. Only his team know. But I do know that he wants to be successful as a YouTuber. He wants views. I believe this wish to make a high performing video was at the centre of his team’s decision to go looking for a dead body to laugh at.
YouTube needs to take the type of content that is made on their platform into account. It needs to enforce its rules. Maybe it even needs to have an opinion and put that opinion into the algorithm.
It needs to level up in 2018 otherwise content made on its platform will continue to freefall, there will be more public outcry as more of its stars chase view rates over common sense, and the advertisers will walk away.