“I thought he switched to the pixel 7 pro <sic>, then the fold 4 <sic>. How many times can you switch?”
“Come on mate, you have done this switching to android <sic> from iPhone so many times now just with different androids <sic>.”
To be fair, I got off fairly lightly with this one. Those are two of the very few negative comments I received against my recent YouTube video where the title suggested I was switching from the iPhone to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
I haven’t switched. Although, I made that abundantly clear at the end of the video (it’s just a shame that so few people have the stamina these days to watch the entirety of a Lord of the Rings-paced eight-minute video).
Someone else questioned my desire to carry two phones. I’ve had similar queries thrown my way about my penchant for owning more than one Apple Mac. Each time, I’ve had to explain that I’m running a business and that those devices are tools which sit on the balance sheet of said business. I’m not doing this for fun (although, it is fun).
Are we, as tech reviewers, extracting the Michael here, though? Is it a case of us all having fallen deeply into the rabbit hole of meta-reviews, cliquey creator friendship groups, and troll-baiting?
Today, I’ll give you my side of the story.
We’re all switching smartphones (only, we’re not)
Let me make this abundantly clear. If a tech reviewer suggests that they are ‘switching’ from the iPhone to an Android device, they’re being economical with the truth.
They’re not lying – nor are they attempting to pull the wool over your eyes – but, chances are, they’re not actually switching platforms in the truest sense of the word. They can’t, and they probably don’t want to, either.
The ‘switch’ will most likely have been for the review process. It might continue for a few weeks or even months thereafter, but if that reviewer has previously shown allegiance to the iPhone, I’d put money on the fact that Apple’s device remains their primary smartphone.
I’m referring to myself here as much as any other tech reviewer who has used ‘switch bait’ for views and engagement. If you were to take my last few smartphone reviews at face value, you’d come to the conclusion that I’ve switched to about four different devices in as many months. That isn’t normal behaviour, and it’s barely possible in terms of the time required to continually flit between smartphones.
The reality is quite simple – and, I’d hope, rather obvious. We carry two smartphones (I have two carrier contracts if you’re interested). I made the decision when I started this reviews brand to spend as much time as possible with both iOS and Android to give my audience the best first-hand experience of those platforms.
The iPhone remains my main steed because of the Apple ecosystem, but I spend just as much time using Android – on whatever device that happens to be installed.
Reaching for clickbait
This week’s S23 Ultra versus iPhone video completely tanked when it went live. It was a straight ten-out-of-ten in the analytics charts (which means it was the worst performer out of the last ten published videos).
This is always annoying, disheartening, and frustrating. Any YouTuber who tells you otherwise is lying.
There was a time when such videos were pretty much dead on arrival, but these days, you can do something about it.
As a YouTuber, you have two powerful tools at your disposal which are immensely useful during a ten-out-of-ten incident. They are the thumbnail and the video title.
In the case of this video, I left the thumbnail as it was. I was convinced the issue lay with the title, which was 5 ways the S23 Ultra BEATS the iPhone. Clearly, this wasn’t hitting the spot for anyone who was presented with my video in their feed.
So, I did the only thing I could do – I reached for an even spicier dose of clickbait. The title was subsequently changed to iPhone fanboy switches to Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra!.
The views immediately started to climb. As I type, the video is now sitting at number three in the charts and is beginning to challenge the second spot.
As a content creator who deeply loves the process of making videos and who greatly respects his audience, this is annoying. As important as clickbait is, I’d rather not rely on it so heavily. I preferred the original title (as I’m sure a lot of my regular viewers did). It was more accurate, less hyperbolic, and far more pleasant on the eyes.
But it didn’t work.
The irony of this is laughable. People resent clickbait. They actively despise it. When they spot clickbait, they’ll often inform the creator that he or she is unfairly tricking the audience. Yet, they would never have found that video if it wasn’t for the clickbait title.
I’m sorry, guys, but YouTube and its audience favour this stuff, which is why we do it.
You would too.
The exception to the rule
All things are not equal on YouTube, obviously. There’s a huge exception to the clickbait rule and the need for tech reviewers to suggest – with tongue wedged firmly in cheek – that they’re switching smartphone platforms.
If you have a big audience (and by ‘big’, I mean one-million subscribers and upwards) you rarely have to rely on tabloid-like clickbait. At that level, you have an audience that is big and engaged enough to pretty much guarantee healthy, consistent viewing numbers for each video.
Those big creators can be far more creative with their titles and rarely have to resort to headline-grabbing clickbait to tempt people in. Although, I still see them doing it occasionally, which always draws a wry smile from yours truly.
None of this really matters. What does matter is that the best reviews, comparisons, and buying guidance ends up in front of the most appropriate audience.
I’m confident I’m doing well at that task. And, as much as I long for the day when I won’t have to be quite so reliant on clickbait, I know exactly where I sit within the pecking order on YouTube.
So, if you’ve winced at one or two of my YouTube and blog titles – apologies. I just hope this goes some way to explain why we do this as tech reviewers. Plus, it is entirely harmless, isn’t it?
Before you go
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