The internet can be a wonderful place, full of joy and happiness. The only caveat: don’t read the comment section.
This is where the worst of the internet shines. From racist to downright mean, internet comments are the worst.
No one knows this better than Youtube (the company).
This is a great example of why you shouldn’t care what your users think. After all, they aren’t always right.
It all started with the most disliked video on the internet. 17 million users to be exact. What could possibly be so offensive to millions of users around the world?
The Youtube Rewind video of 2018.
If you aren’t familiar with Youtube, this is an annual video that Youtube creates where they showcase the biggest creators and moments from their platform. It’s supposed to be a celebration of their users but in 2018, it became a PR nightmare.
It is clear that their users hated this video. We don’t have to get into the reasons why this happened. Instead, let’s focus on the business aspect of this incident.
In this video, Youtube tried to please everybody but failed in a spectacular fashion. The irony is that Youtube shouldn’t care what these users think.
Youtube is doing fantastic across any metrics that you can think of:
- They had 2 billion logged-in users in 2019, up from 1.8 billion in 2018
- Each visitor spends around 11 mins 24 secs per day, up from 8 mins 41 seconds in 2018
- Youtube was the #1 app on iOS in 2019, which was also the case in 2018
- Their net advertising revenue in 2019 was $4.96 billion, up from $4.43 billion in 2018
- Youtube is the second most-preferred platform for watching video on TV screens among 18 to 34-year-olds, after Netflix
Clearly, they are doing quite well when it comes to growth and revenue. Those 17M users who disliked the video are also, on average, spending more time on Youtube than ever before. They may say that they are unhappy but their actual actions communicate something else.
Youtube is also clearly learning from their mistakes. Their 2019 Rewind video simply listed the most liked videos across popular categories such as music videos, gaming, cooking, etc.
It still has almost 8 million dislikes but the overall production value is much less. Youtube likely saved quite a bit of money on the 2019 rewind vs the 2018 (and previous years) which tend to be elaborate film productions. This is Youtube growing up and reacting less to useless user feedback.
The lesson for all of us: Don’t focus on what users are saying but what they do i.e. their actual behaviors.
Users may complain that Youtube sucks, it’s going downhill, or things are worse than ever (Batman reference). However, their actual behavior says otherwise.
Don’t fall into the hype of collecting as much user feedback as possible. I see companies try and get feedback from everyone including the users who signed up and never used the product. This isn’t helpful.
Instead, focus on getting feedback from the users who actually matter: your paying customers (or however you define it). You’re more likely to find similarities among your best users than among your worst.
When it comes to consumer products where the user may not pay directly for your product, look at their behaviors and not their words.