November 2014: Crime, Race, Crime and The Month I Figured Out Twitter…

November was great. It’s an uncomfortable fact that current events outlets thrive on tragedy and my YouTube channel is no different. My series on the racist US criminal justice system really took off this month. I had been unable to produce it in time to take advantage of the summer’s Ferguson rage, but the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson came down at the end of November, and gave me some of my biggest days since the FATCA video’s success trailed off in June. Though the performance of the channel didn’t come anywhere near the May and June heights, it was great to see something kind of work again.

I only managed to produce 5 videos this month. Some issues with power in my Istanbul apartment derailed the production schedule, as did my trip home to the United States for the Thanksgiving holiday. Things generally went according to plan however. The “Our Racist System” series proceeded alternating more detail heavy videos with my own experiences as a white dude getting away with murder (not literally). First up was “Who Gets Arrested”, annoyingly the least watched of the series, which documents the differing jobs that police officers have in different jurisdictions. “Arrested While White:Privilege Edition” told my most outrageous story of white impunity, and was the biggest hit of the month. This may have been due to the use of the “White Privilege” keyword. The importance of the name of a video is a lesson I’m just beginning to incorporate six months later. “How The NYPD Proved That Justice is For Sale” is the closest thing to real reporting that I have ever done. It tells the disturbing story of what happened to the defendants in the high profile “Operation Ivy League” case from 2010 after the media stopped paying attention. “Arrested While White: Finally Arrested Edition” tells the tale of my weekend in jail in New Orleans, and the privileged treatment I received there. We rounded out the month with “Inequality and Incarceration”, which makes the little made but obvious point that we can’t deal with inequality without dealing with mass incarceration.

This was the month I finally figured out Twitter. Since the beginning I had always been posting the vids on the service, but usually only once. I wasted time trying to come up with clever hashtags. Twitter is pitched as a micro-blogging service, but that’s not the point. It’s a direct communication service. You can contact anyone from celebrities to complete strangers who you think might be interested in your product. If you’re pitching something on twitter you need to do so with volume and directness. Last November I finally started doing this, and it represented a real turning point for the channel. If you’re uncharitable you could call my current use of twitter “Spammy”. If someone tweets on the topic covered by the vid, I reply with the video. It’s pretty straightforward, if annoying, and it gets the channel out there. In the past six months of doing this, through thousands of tweets, I’ve only gotten one complaint. The rewards can occasionally be out-sized, but the total yield probably averages about a view or less for each tweet. My channel is still small enough to make spammy tweeting valuable.

At the end of the month I got one ridiculous piece of good luck. Around November 26th the #crimingwhilewhite hashtag became popular. In October and November I produced three “arrested while white” videos that were essentially built for this. An evening of frantic tweeting at my parents’ kitchen table gave me my biggest day of views since July.

Views finally recovered a bit in November. Views jumped from October’s 4,480 to 7,182. Of the top 5 vids, four were produced either in October or November. All of the new crime series vids performed quite well. All of them broke 200 views within a week or two of upload, and three out of 5 broke 100 views on the first day which hadn’t happened much since the Spring. The total channel views finally broke through another 10K mark after not doing so for awhile, steaming past 90,000 views. At the end of November we had 58 videos, all of which were watched at least 3 times, 47 of which over 10 times, 12 of which over 100 times, and 2 of which over 1,000 times. FATCA was finally joined by another 1K+ vid for the first time since June (The White Privilege one at the top of this post). I learned a lot this month, and the uptick in views gave me a lot of hope. Unfortunately December can be the cruelest month for a certain type of video channel…

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