Recently YouTube has begun deleting the channels of vape reviewers, and cannabis reviewers. So far I haven’t seen any effected channels, posting any correspondence from YouTube justifying the action. I have seen a few generic statements from YouTube simply giving the company lines of, “Any material deemed dangerous, illegal, etc”. After 7+ years of allowing vape reviews why has YouTube changed its mind? And how will this affect the vape industry (if at all)?
“So why? Why YouTube? What did we do wrong? Ok, I get it. You’re the strong silent type and don’t like talking. In fact, most people would call you down right mysterious and secretive….” In all seriousness, YouTube isn’t going to give us rational reasons, I doubt they give us any reasons. Given the history of YouTube, and other recent similar situations, I’d have to presume their reasons come down to advertising dollars. Either companies have begun pulling marketing from the platform due to being shown on vaper’s channels, they have threatened to do so, or YouTube is afraid of this. I doubt it’s the latter (YouTube usually allows questionable content for some time before axing, it has to get REALLY bad with advertisers), which leaves with the reality that SOME advertisers MUST be pressuring YouTube in ways that make them feel dirty and in need of washing.
Granted, we are into theoretical logic at this point, well because YouTube chooses to not participate in the conversation, so our last resort is to guess. That being said, IF we are being honest, there are A LOT of vape reviews/reviewers that could politely be described as “abrasive…belligerent…rude”. Now that’s not exclusive about vape stuff, in my opinion most YouTube content isn’t fit for human consumption lol. But we’re talking specifically about vape reviews, and again IF we are being honest, there are a lot of places where we could “clean up” our public image, and remove most of the arguments against this industry. Before anyone gets up in arms about “freedom of speech” and the like, I’m not arguing against freedom of speech, I’m simply pointing out that there might be consequences for what you say. And yes, that’s your right. It’s also the right of society to offer up consequences against you. If no vape reviewer ever curses again, or smashes things in a violent fashion with a hammer, will YouTube shift its gaze to another industry to harass? Maybe, they should, probably not, who knows. There’s no way to answer that question, but I do know that by putting our best foot (foots, feet?) forward, we can only increase our likelihood of success.
If we can’t flip on YouTube to enjoy our favorite reviewer(s), research the newest, latest, and greatest mod is that likely to have any effect on the vape industry as a whole? Well my short answer, yes bad at first, but ultimately insignificant. Let’s take a quick review of, well reviewers and how they impact the industry. Also, I am NOT going to call out any specific channels here, nor is my intention to throw shade on anyone. If you think you might know who I’m talking about at any time, you might be right, you might be wrong, I’m speaking in generalities and certainly there will be exceptions to any rule. Nearly all “vape reviewers” have little to no stake in this industry. They can generally be put into two different camps, people hoping to grow their personal brand and support themselves with said brand; or people that already support themselves from YouTube either partially or fully. They are also usually extremely passionate about vaping, and wanting to spread their message, share with others, and build a community. These are all admirable qualities and should be supported! But….we also have to look at the quality of information they are providing. How do they know what they know, what experiences do they have that would lend credibility to their information, and why are they an authoritative voice in this industry? If delivering the mail pays your bills and supports your family, and you just love creating content about your favorite vapes, common sense says you’re less inclined to worry about your “online vape persona”, then your “pay the bills 9 to 5 job”. If this industry isn’t your whole life, but your online voice may have negative impacts on this industry, do you care? Will you defend vaping by silencing yourself in the face of channel bans? Can you respect the bigger picture?
Let’s flip our view for a moment. From inside of the vape industry, I can tell you this, vape reviewers have become a primary cog in this whole marketplace business model machine! I’m sure there are other industries with similar situations, but I’ve personally never seen, or dealt with, anything like we have in vaping. Due to their popularity, market reach (number of subscribers), and total number of views on any given channel or video, YouTube reviewers have become a powerful marketing plan for the mostly Chinese hardware manufacturers. In the beginning I think YouTube was PART OF a marketing campaign, but over the past few years it certainly appears to be THE main way to market vape goods. As a vape shop owner I can tell you this, ALMOST NONE OF THESE COMPANIES ACTIVELY MARKET TO BRICK & MORTAR STORES OR ONLINE WHOLESALERS. In over 5 years in business I’ve ONLY had 2 “industry spokespeople” contact me. There aren’t any industry publications or secret groups (that I’m aware of) where we learn how to be professional vapers. In short, what I’m saying is that I learn about vaping the same way you do, from the internet, and primarily YouTube. Of the literal thousands of products on the market at any one time, I may only get my hands on a few dozen (that’s generally a good ratio, for every 1,000 vape products produced and sold about 1 of them will be worth the money lol), so watching someone else fondle, talk about, and point out things is the second best method I have to see it “up close & personal” myself. Also, the YouTube reviewers have developed working relationships with many of the manufacturers and have information that isn’t released anywhere else. The majority of marketing that comes with vape devices, or from the manufacturers, are generally poorly written, missing very important information, terribly translated, and occasionally filled with bullshit and lies. It has become the job of many of these reviewers to be a “vape ambassador”, a go-between from manufacturers and consumers. So much so that dozens of “collaborated mods and/or tanks” between YouTube reviewers and manufacturers dominate the current market!
So, do YouTube reviewers play an important role in the vape industry? YES! Is this an odd relationship defying most conventional business models / practices? YES! If YouTube does ban vape channels (for whatever reason) it will absolutely have an impact in the marketplace. Manufacturers will be able to flood the industry with subpar devices with almost no accountability. Because, let’s be honest here, that’s what YouTube does, it holds these companies accountable for the crap they try to push on us. It’s where the “cream rises to the top” so to speak, instead of business owners being forced to purchase ALL of the equipment to test it themselves. Manufacturers will HAVE to change their business practices and models, because if they don’t this very fragile industry will collapse under the weight of six million Smok mods……(I said I wouldn’t call out any YouTubers, I didn’t say anything about manufacturers, and seriously Smok, would you please innovate a new chipset before releasing another mod with 2+ year old technology, I’m tired of having to tell people “Yes they’re pretty but they don’t vape well!”)