At some time or another vapers have looked to reviews as a means to determine whether they should make that next purchase or not. Much like any other purchase, having access to the latest reviews of a product can serve to be useful, offering pros and cons with all the little details in between. How many people read the Amazon reviews before making a purchase, watch a tech channel before buying a new phone / TV, even check out a movie review before going the cinema? In the right medium, reviews of products can be very much a part of everyday consumerism as making the purchase itself. The vaping industry is no different, even here at Drip Hacks we implore you to leave a review of our flavours of the month to see what ones are to stick around, the feedback is extremely valuable to us. However, what happens when a reviewing medium loses its value? What I want to do today is explore whether You Tube has become a barren wasteland in the UK for vape reviewers or whether there is still hope for the platform yet?
The old adage I have always believed is that anyone can be a reviewer, including myself. As long as you have hands on experience, a little bit of honesty and a way with words, anyone can offer their experience with any given product. Perhaps you have been sat at home with a new tank or mod and critiqued it yourself and wondered whether anyone else agrees? Reviewers are a dime a dozen online but that is not always a bad thing. After all, it gives us a grander scope of opinion on a product after release to allow us to make a much more informed decision. If you follow reviewers then perhaps you have a few that you follow due to similar interests. There are some fantastic You Tube and written reviewers out there that I am sure you check out regularly. So perhaps you do have a favourite or two which is fine, but for everyone else, who to trust and who not to? One thing is sure, the avenues for these reviewers are starting to become barren for a number of reasons for many reasons, so let’s start exploring why You Tube is perhaps a dying platform for reviewers here in the UK.
There is no better place to start than the fundamental issues that reviewers find with their videos, the multiple rule changes that have impacted social media over the past 9 months or so. This issue is not exclusive to the video platform but right across the board and it has led to a lot of groups, channels and individuals being removed as a result. The rules in question relate to advertising, selling of products outside of registered businesses and promotional material such as affiliate links. That is why so many groups on Facebook have disappeared, why YouTubers were demonetised and why you can’t sell anything on social media anymore. The motivation for this can be sourced back to May 2019 and a ruling that was put in place over in America, which is why there has been such a big impact on social media. Anti Tobacco groups signed a letter asking for advertising to be removed from many social media platforms, with the groups hailing from all over the world. You can read the letter HERE. It took around 2 months after that before you started to see waves of clampdowns take place on Facebook before moving to You Tube and beyond, which I am sure you seen in some part yourselves.
With everything that has happened, you can see why it is suddenly so difficult as a reviewer to get their work known let alone create a following. Instagram influencers disappeared overnight, You Tubers lost their advertising income and well known groups just vanished without warning. Giant channels have managed to survive but many others relying on that income no matter how small suddenly struggled and have been hit with other strikes in relation to the advertising rule. So starting here with a big one, it seems it is more when rather than if in regards to vaping disappearing off the video platform in the future.
It is easy to point the finger of blame at rules or advertising but the truth is, to some extent vapers themselves have shunned reviewers and favoured a buy now culture that has arguably driven supply and demand from the manufacturers themselves. Just checking google analytics you can see that searching for reviews has almost disappeared over where to buy the products, or more so where to buy them cheapest. Consumers have moved from an informed stance to impulse buying whether it is based on brand loyalty or more so word of mouth. So following this shift in interest from reviewers to our wallets, have people stopped caring what a review has to say? After all, going back 3-4 years, most products seemed to become popular following a review from a well known reviewer, certainly world of mouth following a review built up hype. Companies such as Aspire, Smok, Uwell pushed single tanks or mods as big launches and reviews followed by hype seemed to determine whether they were a success. Compare that to now, how many tanks, mods and even coils are pushed out at any given time? There are no more flagship products from the big manufacturers, instead we get several versions of the same product all within a small scale of time. I counted at least 3 MTL devices from Aspire before Christmas, one of which was a repackaged one from earlier in the year. A far cry from when I started vaping and the Nautilus was THE product for MTL from Aspire.
Perhaps vapers have willingly moved away from reviews as a whole, it is possible they prefer to make their own minds up rather than buy on the words of others. It is very much true that a lot of popular products sell without the influence of social media in general but for the online community, the aura of a reviewer in general seems to be waning.
We have looked at general reasons why YouTube may be a dying platform for vape reviewers but lets start looking at the channels themselves, certainly what some of them have morphed into, starting with one question I will always carry, accuracy.
Any big review channel carries one thing, they know what they are talking about. A Vape channel doesn’t amass 100,000k subscribers without carrying a sense that they are experts in the subject matter, otherwise what is the point? So with that being said, many of the big channels that can be found all started from the same position, a vaper with an in depth knowledge who others found interesting. However, that was then, this is now and when you look a little closer it seems vapers are starting to question the content they are getting so to speak, with good reason. Looking at a channel with over 300k subscribers, there seems to be a push at around 4 product reviews a week, similar products each time. This clearly is down to the volume of products being released at any given time but it raises the question, how can you accurately review a product in such a short space of time? Many products may take days or even weeks to really get a grip on what the pros and cons are but a day or two before review isn’t ever going to give you a good idea of the product quality. How many coils last only a couple of days? Charging issues, leaking issues? The list goes on, but the point remains any big channel has had to move into much shorter review periods to maintain a high volume of output from their channel. Vapers are starting to see that reviews online are no longer a true reflection of products over a general wear and tear period, which seems to be a factor that is driving vapers away from watching entirely.
Big channels seem to carry a watch on interest rather than watch as a subscriber now days, with sub count compared to view count at any given time being massively disproportionate showing that subscribers aren’t tuning in regularly despite the high subscriber count. That and a very selective watch process means that 20 minute review is faring as well as a 5 minute information video. The last time you watched a You Tube video, did you watch the entirety or did you skip through to learn about the product only?
Drama is a touchy subject when it comes to Review channels on YouTube in the UK so we can leave the what as more of an ‘if you know, you know’ rather than go into detail on that front. However on the UK side of YouTube, it seems to grow a channel, it has been based more on what is now commonly known as drama rather than on factual informative videos for its subscribers which has certainly created a turn off approach for UK vapers. For every video review that seems to be posted, UK channels are posting out videos that create issues with individuals, try to create sides on a non existent war-zone and almost trying to get famous for shouting about something each week. The problem the UK find on this front though is that it isn’t just restricted to one or two channels, the influence is growing and seems to be playing a huge part in vapers choosing to not watch in the first place. Given each channel is designed to give you an informed view on a particular product, boycotting companies, bad mouthing others and generally doing anything but review products has damaged UK reviewers on the platform quite a significant amount. This has been a massive contrast to American channels who, other than significant topics, don’t seem to follow the same pattern. Over the past few years, I am sure you can pull more than one name out of your hat in regards to the drama element and have chosen not to watch anymore as a result.
It would seem that for many UK based vape reviewers, they have forgotten their subscribers are more interested in their opinions on a product rather than what argument they are having that particular week. Let’s be honest, it is childish and de valuing to their content compared to big American channels. As a result, UK channels have struggled to grow in comparison to their American counterparts which has created a stagnant industry this side of the water.
The future of UK YouTube Reviewers?
Looking at the topics we have covered in regards to UK based Youtubers, the future doesn’t seem to look too bright compared to their heyday back in 2016/17. For anyone starting out now, it is a bloated platform for content, vying for views with hundreds upon hundreds of channels. There are some fantastic content creators out there and if you like a channel then I absolutely recommend supporting and watching them. However many of these channels are cast in the shadow of others who have grew their platform through methods other than quality content, many of which at war with YouTube themselves now. There is no pot of gold at the end of the channel rainbow anymore thanks to external influences and consumers seem to be switching off anyway. What seems to be missing now is passion in the reviews, most becoming structured formulaic content rather than offering genuine opinion on products. Is there hope for the UK side of vaping reviewing on You Tube? Absolutely, bring back that passion into your content and focus on what your viewers actually want with honest opinions. There are many written reviewers online that offer that passion and attention that need a spotlight shone on their work but as for video reviewers here in the UK, long term there may not be a long term future, even if it is out of their control.