This is not a complaint against YouTube. YouTube has been very good to me. The only video of mine they ever took down was one where I talked about why it wasn’t a good idea to buy views on YouTube.

That’s when I learned that anyone can buy views for anyone else’s video there. Someone didn’t like my message, bought 20,000 views against my video, and YouTube summarily yanked it.

Somehow their algorithm never got the irony.

That video can still be seen, by the way, on Vimeo.

The security of your videos is only one of the problems with YouTube that they’ve never fixed.

But it’s not the main one.

If you have a business like mine, it’s just good to be aware of the real purpose of YouTube if you want to use it for yours.

YouTube is a sort of bazaar/trade show, where videos jostle each other in a constant fight for dominance.

You can rank there if you use our methods, which is pretty amazing under those circumstances, but if you need the attention of your audience from time to time in a more sustained way, say for a sales message, that’s when you realize YouTube is just one big Somewhere Else machine.

Jerry Seinfeld said “Men don’t want to see what’s on TV. They want to see what else is on TV”. That is a perfect description of YouTube.

YouTube isn’t about going somewhere. It’s about going somewhere else. And their algorithms are perfectly designed to keep you going somewhere other than where you intended.

This is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. How can exploring new ideas ever be considered a bad thing?

But for a non-transactional business like mine, this sort of fidgety activity only works if my message is one of those that gets constantly recommended. And this only happens if I can slow down the pace of that mindless searching by filling up the recommended column with my other videos.

And we have a surprisingly simple way to do that. But even that isn’t my goal.

When my perfect clients find themselves on YouTube, it’s my job to escort them out of the hustle-bustle of the bazaar into the warm cozy tea room of my website.

Now they can sit quietly and think along lines that will help them make decisions that will have major implications for their business.

So while it’s maybe nice to be able to say you have lots of YouTube subscribers, it’s not really helpful for your business, unless your business is getting subscribers on YouTube and making income from the ads.

And even though I could do that, I don’t, because that’s not my purpose.

For me to find those perfect people, I need to show up in a way that’s consistent with who I am. And if I show a stranger’s message in my own video, I’m demonstrating how to work against yourself, and that makes no sense to me.

YouTube subscribers pick up subscriptions like visitors at a trade show pick up a tchotchke at a booth, while trying to get somewhere else. Then they drop the pen/personal fan/cushy toy in the garbage later because they don’t want it bulging out of their luggage on the way home.

On YouTube that cushy toy becomes a trash subscription that sits inertly in your account, waiting for the apocalypse. They don’t watch your videos. They don’t even remember they subscribed. They don’t get your message. They don’t get you.

They’re a person who, despite all your efforts to show them a better way, still lack enough trust in you to join your list.

In short, your message has fallen on deaf ears.

But this is good news. Because if you can develop your message so that it does reach those who can best use what you’ve got, YouTube could become a laboratory and a way station, and not just a trade show/bazaar.

That’s mostly a matter of creating the kind of content that appeals to a highly irritating problem that people on the very outskirts of your world keep encountering and yet have failed to succeed at, at least up until they meet you.

And the problem has to be very practical, very surface, very top of mind.

Try not to get caught in the gears of the great Somewhere Else machine. Most of your subscribers already did. That’s how they became your subscribers. And once they’ve been on that list for more than a few weeks, it’s kind of a lost cause.

Bottom line: your next client might be on YouTube, but don’t look for them in your subscriber list.

More on this later…

    2 replies to "The Great Somewhere Else Machine"

    • Mia Sherwood Landau

      Yet another counter-intuitive bit of wisdom, Steven. I have experienced the “something else” nature of YouTube, yet considered it a necessity. Looking forward to hearing about why it’s not!

      • Steven Washer

        It is and it isn’t. Oxygen is a necessity to carbon-based life forms, and yet an oxidized entity dies. YouTube can bring someone to your video as well as another’s, but that little trick fails when it’s a sales video and you MUST keep someone’s attention.

        It’s mostly a matter of being clear on your purpose and appreciating how the platform wants to work.

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