Marketing Tools With Low Subscription Cost

Your health and wellness YouTube channel just blew up with tons of new subscribers?!

And then a check comes from YouTube!

What have you stumbled upon?!

I’ll get back to that scenario, but first a dive into what’s happening behind the scenes, and the dynamics of a free to near-free cost structure of the internet (and why this is a longterm bad idea). I want to paint a different portrait of the internet and particularly social media than you might have held in your mind’s eye.

The public has free reign to sign up on social media platforms. The problem with that is it gives every single person access to tools marketers also have free access to. Marketers, who’ve spent four plus years in school learning the craft and conducting their work professionally, are at a massive advantage over the general populace regarding attention hijacking. Both in terms of executing the hijacking and avoiding, as best they can, being hijacked. They know how to grab your attention and hold it, whereas perhaps you’re still beta testing without realizing it which status updates or tweets perform the best and give you more exposure.

Social media is an excellent tool for the trained marketer. It is a detrimental tool for the amateur.

The metaphor I had in mind when I was coming up with one of a person misusing a tool of great power is not exactly correct. It’s more like a person is misusing a tool without ever knowing it’s a tool at all.

Jaron Lainer, a computer philosopher, tells us in an interview with New York Magazine On What Went Wrong With The Internet how advertising is detrimental on social media “because as long as you have advertising, you have this perverse incentive to make it manipulative. You can’t have a behavior-modification machine [social media platforms] with advertisers and have anything ethical; it’s not possible.”

Jaron calls social media platforms “behavior-modification machines” and this is about as accurate of a philosophical description as I have come across. They’re not connection tools first and foremost (not anymore). They’re behavior modification tools. Let’s look in further.

Each brand (I mean social media profile) builds an audience and finds something ‘worthwhile’ to share. There are eventual calls to action, a marketing term, trying to make people take some form of action based on the argument made in all caps (at the most annoying), or subliminally stoking a fire inside the targeted audience (at worst). I’m thinking of the worst usages we’ve seen via political and aggressive ideological stances. But the online shopping spree you went on because of the repeated targeted advertisement custom tailored to you with catchy calls to action are just as important to start taking notice as the inflammatory political attack ad.

So here is what is happening. People are unknowingly, or to a slight degree knowingly, leveraging a tool they have entirely missed initially as a marketing platform, and are attempting to convert sales from their audience (followers/’friends’) on the position or ideology they are bludgeoning their audience with.

The subscriber isn’t good at making sales, they’ve never been trained in the art of persuasion, and they are wielding the power of a tool which can reach the minds of many, at least the audience they’ve curated.

And here’s how my mind got hijacked (and yours likely too).

I’d rather pull down to refresh the homepage of Facebook to see what might pop up via the algorithm in my feed for daily news coming from uninformed enraged conservative store owners or from intolerant but preaching ‘tolerance or else’ liberal accountants, than I would turn to actual news sources first.

What I have found further disturbing in myself is I would rather go to the social media newsfeed to read something offered by the poorly trained marketer than sit down to read highly edited (which, need to remind some people at this point, editing is a good thing) book by an author who took over a year to write it, years prior to research the content, have it edited down by professional editors, go back and fill in some gaps, and put together a cohesive, well informed argument they are passionate enough about to write an entire book in the first place.

It’s like I have put my trust in these caricatures of people to be better news aggregates than the news themselves. Better scholars than scholars.

I have placed my psychological conditioning into the hands of marketers ranging from amateur at best to utterly novice at worst.

Meanwhile, the actual marketers on these platforms do the best convincing of all and merely nudge me in one emotional direction or another.

This is the territory we’ve entered long ago and it’s nothing but full steam ahead.

Back to the ‘accidental’ health and wellness YouTube influencer, which is the person who started getting paychecks from YouTube by putting out content people watched over and over.

A good portion of such influencers likely stumbled on this paycheck initially, or found the tool’s method to be a valid way to earn a wage. I mean, they get to put health videos up on the internet at no cost and create a following which helps people and makes a positive impact! And gives them some cash! What’s wrong here?

What’s wrong according to the likes of Jaron Lainer and many other technology philosophers is the actual paid advertisements by marketers getting to leverage the most addictive screen devices we’ve constructed. So this health influencer is spreading a wonderful message to people, but it is spread further and further because the advertisers on YouTube need highly viewed content makers to create so they can get more eyeballs on their advertisements. As Lainer and company argue at this point, the drive to hijack your attention and keep you watching whatever is most popular is increasingly motivated by monetary means.

If it’s uploading a video which incites fear and outrage in people, but gets people viewing the page by the millions, then that’s all good to the advertisers. The content making influencer finds it good as well because they get a paycheck for the fear driving video. The health video maker, which is the ‘good content,’ just doesn’t perform as well. And starts noticing. There’s an incentive to be more provocative, inflammatory, outlandish. It literally pays more because there are more eyeballs glued to the screen.

Of course there is a matter of integrity and reputation at this point. One could maintain a level of commitment to their positive health videos. And there are tons of them. The issue at hand though is, as always, the medium itself is highly addictive. Without a philosophy of digital use as prescribed by Cal Newport in Digital Minimalism, your human psychology doesn’t stand a chance at guarding itself against the most negative, trash talking, gossip filled videos becoming your eventual perpetual watches.

Sure you’ll get a quick health tip at some point in the day. But the advertisers who are paying the accidental influencer teaching you a proper squat are also paying the right-wing conspiracy theorist spitting into the camera and whipping their viewers into a different kind of sweat.

I’d highly recommend learning a few things about marketing actually. StoryBrand is a great place to start. At this point, with no change in site regarding the way social media platforms are subsidized, it’s best to know what professional marketers are doing with full access to human psychology.

It’s equally important to understand this for the same reason because your conspiracy theory uncle has full access to these platforms as well.

But also your seemingly once level headed college dorm room mate who became a lawyer and was great in person, but is just sharing end of the world content all day long.

Published by David Mieksztyn

I am a writer passing along what I've learned.

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