My Analytics Tell Me That the Internet Hates Me!
Over the last few weeks I have been spending a lot of my free time voicing over my old online comics and turning them into YouTube videos. Once done I post the links to my new masterpieces on all of my social network accounts. My initial uploads received many kind comments and “likes” from my friends and followers. Then I noticed something strange, each time I put on another video compilation I would get fewer and fewer views. My most recent five minute video had less than ten. So I decided to dig beyond the geo-location and reference source stats on the YouTube analytics to see if I could get insight on the waning interest. I found a clever little tool where you can see when your viewers stopped watching a specific video. To my shock I found out that not a single person of the 180+ viewers had actually watched all of any of the videos. In fact, no one had watched more than one minute. Clearly the internet hated me. But I wouldn't have known it if I had relied solely on the comments that I had received.
Now don't feel sorry for me. There is a reason I quit acting years ago. I am terrible. I use my website site to experiment with different tools and to have fun. The primary reason I did this project to play around with creating videos via PowerPoint instead of using the usual video creation tools. And yes, I had fun. In fact, I laughed when I saw how poorly received the videos actually were. What really interested me was that these new analytic tools gave me a way to get beyond civility and really see what people thought. The stats don't lie.
I have spent most of my adult life working in the theatre director's chair. Getting truthful feedback on a production is hard to do because people are just so damn nice. Trust me I lap up the false kindness. But the truth of the matter is that to grow you need to know the negative as much as you need to know the positive. Analytics gives us great insight into that dark side.
Recently, I was promoting an art exhibit with a video of the work. I immediately noticed that while there were a few positive comments to video, there were fewer than normal. After looking at the analytics I saw that not only were most people not clicking beyond the teaser, those that did were quitting the video after just a few slides. While the artist did some great work, all of the works were very similar and the viewer lost the wow factor very quickly. I immediately dumped the video and replaced it with one great photo and… well it still wasn’t a success. But I was able to rethink my strategy because of the unstated negative response I was able to discover in the analytics.
There is a negative aspect to the cold way the internet tells us that it hates us, it takes away the luxury of self-deception. We can give up too easily. I am reading the great Robert Triver’s book “The Folly of Fools” where he argues that self-deception is evolutionally ingrained in us to make us succeed. Hang around a twenty-something for any length of time and you know how driven they can be by the belief that they know everything. This drive, no matter how wrong headed it is, gets things done. And eventually the talented ones stumble onto their potential. So I hope that as these tools dig deeper into the psyche of the audience they don’t destroy some young careers before they really begin.
But as a business use these amazing new products coldly. Dump and replace. The internet is no place for sentiment when you are trying to make a buck.
And as far as my crappy comic videos are concerned, I’m not stopping. I make them for me and the few people who still lie to me.