Your Social Media is Your Public Image

One night last week, I was up late surfing the YouTube page of a huge, multinational corporation – let’s call them “ABC Inc.”. It doesn’t matter which company it was. The point of this blog post is not to criticize or embarrass anyone. And in any event, what I saw was by no means unique to this one corporation. It’s something I see quite often, and it’s something I just don’t understand… If you are going to set up a public YouTube page, either personal and corporate, it should be done properly. It is part of your public identity. If you’re going to do it wrong, it’s better to not even do it in the first place.

What I am about to write is true not only of YouTube, but of all social media mutatis mutandis. However, for the purposes of this post, I will stick to YouTube as the example.

The first thing I noticed when surfing ABC Inc.’s page were multiple “private” videos either on their “Videos” page or in their “Playlists”. For those who are not too familiar with YouTube, “Playlists” are a series of videos, selected by the user (or their account manager) that will automatically play one after the other, thereby directing the viewer to the next video.

There are so many things wrong with having videos marked “Private” in your “Videos” or “Playlists” sections. Not only is it aesthetically ugly for your channel, but it usually means the person uploaded a video, and then has since made it private. Anyone who is reasonably familiar with YouTube knows why this might happen. It could be that the video was offensive or inappropriate, and the user made it private to avoid public embarrassment. The uploader may not have had the rights to upload the video in the first place, and made it private to avoid further problems. It could be that the video was event or time-specific (like a New Year’s video), and the user made it private after the event, not realizing that removing the video is probably the better alternative.

Bottom line: Do not keep “private” videos in your “Videos” or “Playlists” sections. It’s aesthetically displeasing to look at. It’s unprofessional. And it leaves a lot of room for negative inferences as to why the video is now private.

The second thing I noticed was that comments were systematically disabled for every video. We know why someone might disable comments on their video. If someone disables comments after a video is uploaded, you can bet it’s because they didn’t like the comments they were getting. Examples are endless, ranging from the self-righteous person posting their fight with the store manager and getting chewed out in the comment section, to the parent being accused of child abuse for doing “baby yoga”. Some news agencies do it on the purported basis of preventing the comment section from being hijacked by “trolls”. This is a fun issue, but a borderline political one. And I don’t do politics on my social media…

As far as YouTube is concerned, there are few things I hate more than videos with comments disabled. Generally speaking, it is a sign of pride, ego or cowardice. People are “brave” enough to share their video with the world, but too sensitive to face the comments. Or the comments don’t go the way they wanted them to, so they shut down the discussion entirely.

But with ABC Inc., the comments were disabled for their own ads, which is even worse. It’s a sign of a lack of confidence in their products and/or ads. It demonstrates a total lack of transparency. And it’s fundamentally disrespectful to their customers / potential customers. Think about what this conveys as a public image… “We want you to see our ad and buy our product, but we don’t want to hear what you have to say”. Not a particularly good motto…

If you are going to have a public account on YouTube, you are going to get negative comments. Deal with it. If your ads are generating negative comments, learn from them. It’s not as simple as writing them all off as troll comments so as to justify suppressing them. But the anonymity of the internet does bring out the trolls. It’s human nature (for some). If you are so sensitive or insecure that you have to disable comments from your videos, bear in mind what this tells your viewers of you as a person or company.

Finally (because this post is getting long and ranty, and this next subject is a post on its own), make your page look nice. Some tricks that I have learned – make custom thumbnails for your videos. It takes extra time, but it is worth it. YouTube auto-generates a thumbnail which is not always interesting to look at or even relevant, and it can really fail to trigger the interest of the people you want to watch your video.

Organize your channel into “sections”. If you are a company selling a product (or multiple products), this will help your intended viewer navigate your site and products, and will certainly generate more organic exploration.

And create “playlists” with a relevant theme. Again, by doing this, you will enhance the likelihood that your target audience will continue to watch other videos with a common theme. Audience engagement ultimately pays dividends.

Peace out!