Thumbs Down and What I Think It Really Means

Any content creator on YouTube, be them woodturner’s or not get a few of the dreaded ‘Thumbs Downs’ and pathetically critical comments. This week, I look at the possible reasons why this cowardly anonymous Thumbs Down may occur on our videos .

thumbdownYou’ve made your video, uploaded it to YouTube, added a nice description, tags and stuff. You sit back and wait for the views and comments to start rolling in. They do – Hoorah! It’s always a nice feeling when your video is watched…and even better when it is commented on with great supportive and constructive comments.

But then, possibly within hours of the video going live, what’s this? A Thumbs Down? How can that be? There are no negative comments, so what is the point of hitting the thumbs down in the first place?

In the beginning, some hundred videos ago, a thumbs down was like a dagger in my heart.

Before we dive into the possible psyche behind the ‘Downers’, or, those people who anonymously give you a thumbs down, you need to understand that a Thumbs Down on my channel now means virtually nothing without a comment to back it up. Not just a comment that slates the video, but a comment that gives clear reasons why the video was disliked in the first place. Without that sort of feedback, how am I (or anyone else who creates content for YouTube) going to improve the content?

The Reasons for a Thumbs Down

Curious as to why some people disliked one of my videos, I took a long hard look at my content and came up with these points that I now think about on every video I produce. Some I think about before I film, others I think about during the editing – some during. It is difficult to criticise your own video for sure, but the more you are able to play the Devil’s Advocate, the better your videos will become. (I do not, for one minute believe my videos are perfect!)

Is the video too long? Have you included a load of footage that just shows repetitive use of the tool without anything useful being said or demonstrated? A video that is too long will not be seen in it’s entirety by many viewers. By the same token, a video that is too short may miss out something important. Remember, the average view time on any YouTube video is just seven minutes. This could trigger a Thumbs Down.

I used to think about this a lot, but then changed my mind and figured that it is my channel, and it’s free, so why shouldn’t I post what I want? The subject matter of the content could be another trigger for a Thumbs Down. Perhaps the viewer simply doesn’t like the subject of the project if it is a bit non-traditional, or too traditional. Or something else. You could take this down to the n’th degree and look at all manner of aspects of the content, it’s up to you.

It is more than a possibility that a Thumbs Down could be given if the picture is low quality, shaky, out of focus, the piece is slightly out of frame or generally not well composed. How about he music choice? Maybe the sound is too loud, too quiet. It might be muffled or the sound  levels wavers from quiet to loud. Is there any music is drowning out the commentary (I’ve had this one myself). Are you considering the viewers attention span by trying to keep their interest for as long as possible? (See ‘Length’)

Presentation should be a really difficult one to dislike as everyone is different and we each prefer a particular style of presenter. Some like a jolly, energetic presenter whilst others might prefer a more serious, focused presenter. Take a look at your presentation style – it could be something that triggers a Thumbs Down. Are you being naturally ‘you’, or do you come across as ‘forced’ and not genuine? How do you sound? I’ve noticed that my ‘normal’ talking voice sounds a bit flat on video, so I liven up my presentation a little to compensate whilst still remaining as natural as possible. How about your general manner? Are you warm and welcoming? Do you smile when speaking, engaging with the viewer, or are you more aloof? And what about describing what you are doing with the wood and tools? Are you explaining clearly, or do you come across as patronising or condescending?  Anything you think may not be good about your video, someone else certainly will too – and may hit that dislike button as a result.

You, Personally
Yep, it’s true. Some people may hit the dislike button simply because of you. Because the dislike is so anonymous, it is easy for someone to give you a Thumbs Down simply because they don’t like you or what you are doing.

The Psyche of a ‘Downer’

There are a few people out there so bitter and bored that they have nothing better to do than try to pass their misery on to you. There’s no way of knowing how many Thumbs Downs are from these Downers, so just accept that they exist and move along. Nothing to see here.

YTthumbThere’s not much to be said about your every day anonymous Downer. A thumbs down without a constructive comment to back it up is a hollow gesture possibly telling you something is not to their taste and leaves you with the conundrum of what it could be. But why don’t they tell you what it is?

I reckon there are a couple of reasons why they don’t leave a comment with their Thumbs Down and this is probably the main reason: They don’t want to be seen as a negative person among the raft of the other, more positive and constructive comments. After all, they will be named next to their comment for all the world to see so maybe a Thumbs Down is their shadowy way of telling you they’re not confident enough to tell you as close to your face as possible,  leaving you to sort it out yourself – if you want to of course. As I’ve already said, without a constructive comment to support it, Thumbs Downs are virtually worthless.

There are Downers out there who are happy to Dislike simply because they don’t like you or what you do, and no matter how great your content is, they will never give you a Thumbs Up. I have one or two of those. Normally within a couple of hours of a video going live a dislike comes in – It is laughably predictable. I let them go like water off a duck’s back – normally with a smile at their predictability. It means nothing to me at all and I reckon I know precisely who it is.

Reacting To The Downers

Simply put: Don’t react publicly. If the number of thumbs downs gets to you, moan about them privately, but never publicly. To react publicly to a Downer is like reacting to your own shadow  – It will do nothing but tire you out and make you look silly to those watching – especially the Downers. Then, they’ll keep going because they got a reaction from you.

The best thing to do, in my opinion is to quietly go about your business and either totally ignore them or try to figure out why they disliked the video in the first place. Continue reading on page 2 for ideas on what to do next.

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