Logan Paul: When a Video Strategy Goes Bad

Logan Paul has made a very good living being a weird, shocking, daredevil type. At least, I think those are good descriptors. I’m not a fan, nor am I one of his 16M+ YouTube subscribers.

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some YouTubers. I subscribe and follow quite a few channels religiously. But as far as my preferred video strategy and subject matter are concerned, I lean toward beauty and lifestyle personalities like Jackie Aina and Patricia Bright.

The only reason I know who he is is because he’s a top YouTube earner/digital influencer, and as a media consultant and aspiring YouTuber myself, I’m interested in such things. Oh, and I know him a bit more because in December he showed a dead body in Japan’s suicide forest in one of his videos and got himself into a spot of bother. Yes, that was sarcasm. It was more like, he brought down a poop storm of bad publicity upon himself so foul he took a hiatus from his own channel. It was brief.

Now it would appear that Paul has done it again. PETA’s hot on his tail – pun intended – in a bad way after he uploaded a new video on his channel using a stun gun on rats. Oi. YouTube finally cracked down – wonder what took them so long? – hard and temporarily cut off Paul’s ad revenue. He’s out an estimated $40,000 to $600,000 per month. Ouch, dude. Just, ouch.

It led Fox News to publish a piece titled YouTube star Logan Paul’s rise and fall from internet fame. Granted it’s Fox News, but it’s still a major news outlet predicting the demise of his career, a bit prematurely I’d say. But that, coupled with a serious ouch-ey of a knock to his income potential, is not a good sign.

Now, fan or not, I like to do some research on my blog topics. So, in the interest of knowing who I’m talking about, I searched for the rat video. I didn’t find it – thank you, God – but I did watch Paul vlog about having his home broken into.

I saw some evidence of douchery – forgive me; it seemed like an appropriate use of the word given the subject matter – immaturity, random, pitiful ebonics-esque speech, shameless self-promotion. The latter I was on the fence about including in that list because, let’s face it. Self-promotion is necessary these days. You gotta cut through the noise and get your call to action out there, and he wasn’t totally obnoxious about it – the first few times. Some of his bits to get viewers to subscribe to his channel and buy his merch were quite clever – the first few times.

I didn’t want to, and please don’t “murk me” as Paul said in the video, but I actually found him oddly – charming.

*crickets*

Like how he masked his curse words with the sound of a dog’s squeak toy? Come on. It was cute…

Anyway, I watched one video. Not nearly enough to form a definitive opinion one way or the other. But y’all know that Dana Carvey stupid “bro” humor makes me grind my teeth – while awake. I couldn’t watch any more.

Still, I think there are few things that anyone cultivating a digital media presence, building a YouTube channel, or aspiring to be a successful digital influencer can take away from Paul’s recent negative notoriety. In YouTube speak, if you want to know what they are, then keep on reading.

1.    Guard your image. I’m literally a broken record here, but I can’t say this enough. There’s such a thing as going too far. You have to be able to reign it in sometimes. Whether that’s backing away from Facebook and the ‘Gram when you’ve been drinking, or not firing off an impulsive response to someone else’s mistake on Twitter, lest the world turn right back around and point its crooked finger at your activities.

That can be tough. Not that tough, but I know some people have a harder time with restraint than others. Especially when they’ve grown to like a bit of attention. And sometimes, I’m all for taking a calculated risk, putting a line in the sand, taking a controversial position because you believe in something, and want others to learn from or share in your belief.

Sometimes I’m all for taking an un-calculated risk. But that’s because I’m fully prepared to face the consequences, whatever they may be. Not saying that Paul isn’t, but I doubt very seriously whether he wanted to have YouTube mess with his money like that.

You can never take for granted how quickly public sentiment can turn against you. And the public has a very long memory, which the Internet helps to facilitate – hello screen grab. Granted, that same poor public sentiment can turn back around just as fast – people love a good comeback – but you can’t count on that. And if you are, you have to think about the costs you’ll pay – and all the work you’ll have to do to rebuild – in the meantime.

2.    Don’t let ego eclipse your brand. Logan Paul doesn’t seem to care about the rules, and that’s likely pure ego talking, walking, posting and uploading. His latest foolishness, offering to eat Tide Pods and trying to monetize a video in knowing violation of YouTube’s advertiser guidelines. Dude. Come on. What did he think was going to happen? His bad press is building up like a mountain of old, funky ass laundry. Did he really think the search engine giant would grant him yet another pass?

Apparently he did. But YouTube didn’t. In a statement a YouTube spokesperson wrote: “This is not a decision we made lightly … we believe he has exhibited a pattern of behavior in his videos that makes his channel not only unsuitable for advertisers, but also potentially damaging to the broader creator community.” That’s corporate speak for, you’re crazy. Specifically, you’re crazy if you think we’re going to allow you to mess with our money, which is still way bigger than your money.

In point no. 1 I talk about paying a cost when you don’t guard your image. If it gets to that point a la Logan Paul, rebuilding a brand is expensive. It takes time, money, effort, resources and strategy to garner public and media forgiveness; it’s a lot. You have to ask yourself, can I afford to pay this price? Do I want to pay it?

3.    Learn from your mistakes. Paul said it himself, he’s only human. Humans make mistakes, and the media game is volatile. You have to shake the tree now and again to remain relevant. But that doesn’t mean you have to knock down every flower and bird from every branch.

Dial it back, bro. Think twice once in a while. It won’t actually kill you. Nor will it be the death knell for your creativity.

It wouldn’t kill Paul to take a break. Get some zen. Travel. Maybe even see a therapist to noodle over exactly why he seems to be a perennial guest in shit city. Or, just ask some questions of an objective third party to get some perspective, a new lens through which to see your way forward.

I’m not saying don’t be you. Or, in this case, that he should stop being him. Paul’s uniqueness is part of what made him such a huge success. But there’s something going seriously wrong when YouTube cuts off yo’ cash! You may need prayer, a retreat at an ashram, a media consultant, something.

We’ll see what happens. In the video I watched, I ARRESTED THE GUY WHO BROKE INTO MY HOUSE, Paul talks quite cleverly about the spirit of forgiveness, being human and making mistakes as he debates whether or not to press charges against his milquetoast home invader. The cynic in me wonders whether or not the whole video was planned just so he could vocalize those very sentiments…nah.

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