The Internal Battle on Social Media Engagement

Mikey Home Studio Set Up
Mikey Home Studio Set Up
Mikey Home Studio Set Up

Are real-time lives better than pre-recorded videos? I find myself stuck between the past and future but with consequences.

Way Back In The Day

We first joined social media, before the name was even established back in 2008. At the time, limitations on what could be done. This is even pre-dating Facebook Business Pages. YouTube and Facebook live features weren’t even a thing.

We did have access to a streaming service called Live Stream. It was okay but not integrated into our social media. We would have to record with a second camera for other social media outlets. Inconvenient, yes.

We could have taught on Livestream but we felt the audience was more engaged in our Monday Night Drinking and Talk Session. Daniel realistically didn’t like doing it, to be honest with you. He felt the whole thing was manufactured, which to some degree the idea of yapping in front of a camera is planned. It also opened us up to our real personalities and sense of humour that could be off-putting to some people. We didn’t do this very long but was a great excuse to have a martini.

Getting Off-Topic

It was so easy during live on-camera events to go off-topic based on the conversations that we would read from the participants watching. It was fun but there is a problem with the playback. It’s never the same twice. I’ll explain. 

During the live broadcast, people would talk to us and we would respond and share stories. However, in the playback, the conversation is missing as the moment has passed. Time moves on, what is relevant at that moment is irrelevant right after. People during playback cannot talk to us to get an answer. So if you are watching a playback, you cannot steer the host or get in on the jokes as the conversation that is being viewed by the host is missing. Unless Daniel and I read the response out loud to keep people engaged, there was a gap of detail that a replay can never deliver.

 Real-Time Cyber Bullying

Crochet Baby Shoes Mikey
Crochet Baby Shoes Mikey

Daniel and I attended a live workshop with YouTube where they were really pushing creators to be live as it’s better social engagement, higher numbers and much more. We had to team up with another couple of creators and use our platforms to practice. We went out back to a parking lot and tried it. WHAT A DISASTER! 

YouTubers were uninformed that we are going live, so they don’t know to tune in but what happens is that our Live Video in real-time can be overtaken by a person or group of people to intentionally harass or pull us off to be defensive. It is self-destructive and in the end, we felt like it had been better to stay in a pre-recorded method so that a guest cannot pull us off our topic and demean us. 

In the words Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

However, that’s easier said than done when someone that is harassing you has a determined method to ruin the broadcast. We tried a few more times and each time, it was harassment. It’s even harassment from people who follow who are demanding your personal attention.

YouTube Curation of Content

Mikey's Pergola
Mikey’s Pergola

In my years on YouTube, I was doing videos of giveaways. I touched on a bit of interviews, a few lives and updates at home. These are all in-the-moment videos. They lose their relevance really quickly. 

I called my YouTube Channel being contaminated with irrelevant videos when there is a mix of these types of videos. When people search my channel, I want them to find the educational components first. My points of view, interviews with others and giveaways are not what people are looking for. They are looking to do a project or be inspired by the knowledge of “How To”.

While many people care about Daniel and me, the majority who view the channel is looking to improve a skill. In a massive sweep one day back many years ago, I axed 1200 videos out of the collection of videos on YouTube. Irrelevant, too personal and things that have come and gone. I don’t want people to find that there was a giveaway and due to the date they are watching, it’s come and gone. It feels misguided to offer something that is no longer available.

If I post a video on macrame, knitting or loom knitting, I am most likely going to be facing off with comments of being irrelevant to the channel. That’s my reality. 

While on YouTube, I protect my channel by having only knowledge-based videos. I see Facebook as the platform to be silly, have fun and socially engage people.

Facebook Engaging With Community

Facebook Stitch Social
Facebook Stitch Social

Facebook for me is a completely different monster. I find I can relax a bit but you are also facing off with worldly issues that expand beyond the topic at hand.

I find Facebook is great for just letting personality and casual conversations flow. I believe that’s the intention of the platform.

So while a live video can be great on there, you can relax a bit and go off-topic with a bit of forgiveness as long as the entire audience is also willing to ‘go there’ in the topic. You have to read the vibe of the audience.

One of the benefits of Facebook is that your audience is the ones to participate, not the general public as a whole. You may be harassed but it’s less likely to happen because people feel like they know you and give you the respect of your feelings to some degree but, of course, what you choose to talk about will open you to being held to account.

Lunch and Learn on Facebook

Mikey Live from Home Studio
Mikey Live from Home Studio

We participate with Yarnspirations request to host Lunch and Learn Sessions. We are scheduled for about 2 per month. Sometimes I am asked to fill in spaces where other hosts become unavailable.

These are intended to teach a skill or go through a pattern in detail with some demonstrations. The topic for me can go off into something else but circles back to the topic we are engaging with.

We did try zooming classes and ended up with a similar situation as YouTube where we can get strangers that become a bully in the live class. Strangers are most likely to say things like “Get on with it” and things that they may never say to a person in real-time. As a host of that, it’s really emotionally rough. It’s comforting to be teaching with people who care about you in some way not to redirect live into a path that is destructive. There have been moments where I have ended a live early because my emotional line in the sand has been crossed.

Here’s where we find ourselves questioning the value.

Decisions To Be Made

Mikey's Rooster Crochet Bird
Mikey’s Rooster Crochet Bird

I find myself conflicted with the advanced preparation time it takes to prepare for a live broadcast versus a recorded video. I find it’s virtually the same. So do I spend hours in advance to prepare for a live broadcast or do I do the same thing for a pre-recorded broadcast. I have decisions to make such as:

  1. How long do the instructions on camera really need to be?
  2. Will a participant actually be hooking with me in real-time or just watching?
  3. How fast do I go knowing people may be doing it in real-time?
  4. How do I adjust for a crocheter that may be wanting to learn but hasn’t got the skill set to do what I am demonstrating?
  5. How do I include everyone in the chat?
  6. How do I respond to a person who is looking for advice beyond the topic?
  7. How do I handle myself with a person trying to take over the chat with not letting others engage in a timely manner?

The biggest question is, “What do I do with the video after it’s been done live?” 

  • Did the hour-long presentation need to be an hour or could the skills have been taught within 10 – 20 minutes by letting the participant stop the video so they can try the activity and then continue to play when ready?

I’ve Been Triggered

Behind the Scenes at JOANN Fabrics & Crafts Before Live Broadcast
Behind the Scenes at JOANN Fabrics & Crafts Before Live Broadcast

I like to socially engage but know each moment of my time is accountable in preparation time. Social Media algorithms are favouring live broadcasts over pre-recorded but that many lives, including my own, become outdated so quickly and aren’t fun to watch in a replay. 

The advantage of pre-recording, I can stay measured inflow and even break for lunch without the crocheter knowing it. It’s not uncommon for me to be recording over 2 or more days on the same video. You may notice if my shirt cuffs are changed.

The live broadcasts are less work in the sense of after preparations that need to be done such as editing and more that go into a pre-recorded tutorial. So it feels easier.

I’m seeing more and more YouTube hosts moving into the Live Stream direction and I am perplexed by it. Yesterday, I was looking at how to do a skill in computer programming. I fast-forwarded the video to get to the area on the screen that matches my own for what to do next. I stopped and the host is talking about “their dog being hit by a car and the medical expenses at the vet”. I’m like what the hell. I am there to learn how to snap the grids, not get into this host’s personal life. It was filmed as a live stream and based on the response, I can tell the host is responding to people who I cannot see. To me, this is a garbage video. 

It doesn’t make me not have empathy, but my moment of struggling with Adobe isn’t my moment to listen to a host talk about their personal life when the topic and thumbnail suggest that I am going to learn what I need to. Do you know what I am saying here, the flow interrupted by an off-topic. Anyway, it didn’t last long and I searched again for a different host.

Some hosts in the yarn industry have mastered the live format, stay on topic and keep it moving. I’m not one of those people because I do like to flow with the group instead of being the ringmaster. Live workshops for me are run the same way, I can adjust with the vibe of the room.

I’m Perplexed

Mikey Yarn Bath
Mikey Yarn Bath

Are the live videos in the educational platform being contaminated by off-topics to the point where the educational experience is being compromised? 

As a host, our own stories can feel important but I think there is a difference in broadcasts where the host is venting and using it as an affirmation to make themselves feel better. I don’t discourage that but I feel it’s a misrepresentation when a skill is being presented and it takes so long to get to the moment because the host feels the need to use the platform for other purposes.

I have learned the best introductions for YouTube are to get on with it, jump into the pattern. Overview of the pattern and get on with the stitching skill. I have learned that mumbling about my personal life doesn’t work. Once in a while, I may let the viewer get a preview of what I found funny but more often than not, I will most likely be criticized if I go off topic and contaminate my own video. A time to hold and a time to fold I say.

Is Social Media At the Cross Roads?

Mikey's Thoughts Social Media
Mikey’s Thoughts Social Media

For many people I have spoken to, Facebook seems to have taken a wicked turn into being labelled as “bitch-book’. People turning to it, ranting their moments. Even the littlest moments from an outsider’s point of view are so insignificant. “Oh, it’s raining outside and I am going to get wet” creating power struggles between people or companies because they are upset.

It feels like a negative space and being used for that intention.

Is this the dementors from Harry Potter of sucking the happiness out of the world? I mean seriously, people bitching that their food was cold as a restaurant… How about making your own food at home and control that element on your own? It’s personal decisions we make and no, not everything will go our way. I have a lot to complain about but a lot of it is my own personal choices I make for myself. If something didn’t go my way, learn from it and move on. Turning to Facebook isn’t going to solve it most of the time.

It seems people in my arena of working in social media are trying to appease the search engines and reaching power by compromising our own quality standards. Honest, if I put a major rant about a yarn right now on Facebook, I can guarantee you that I will have 100’s of comments leading in the 1000’s about the same yarn and people’s experiences.

  1. Does it change the yarn? No.
  2. Will I feel better? You bet I would.
  3. Does it serve people to read negative stuff, most likely not? Will I have cared about the same topic a week from now? Probably not.
  4. What was my point in doing that? More likely to find commonality with others on the same topic.

My personal belief is that we are doing a disservice to the educational platforms by expanding them into areas to satisfy the search engines social power. Somewhere, someone has made the decision that lives are better. I feel that decision is wrong. I would prefer the users of educational videos to have the power to push me ahead or steer me back to recover a topic without the fluff about my dog or situations going on in my life.

I could be wrong and I am willing to accept when I am wrong.

What do you think about this topic? I would love to hear your point of view as I may be missing the point. 

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  1. Kasandra Barber

    A little background before moving to my thoughts 😊- I learned to do basic crochet from my grandma when I was little (8ish).

    I am now 42 and when COVID hit, I found comfort in the rythym of crocheting. However I became board with the same-old same -old. So, I went to YouTube to see if “maybe” I could find out how to do a new stitch… Wow! I had not realized how “popular” crochet had become!🤣
    I learned quickly though, that not every video is created equally… Some are very difficult to follow and, as you stated above, off topic.
    However, there are a few people who have become my go-to… And you are one of them😊.
    I love your patterns, your humor, and how easy it is to follow along even though I am not very far along in my skills!
    If I understand your article correctly, you are debating how you should proceed? Live vs. Prerecorded? If that is your question, as a beginner, and someone who has very little free time to hang out and have fun 😁, I prefer prerecorded… It is easier for me to follow and quicker to learn ☺

    However, I also believe you should do what works best for you- and the majority, as I am only one person 😊

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m a professional fabric dyer and that area is small enough that people can find me through Google searches. I’m not trying to expand my business too much so I was able to get totally off Facebook and Instagram. Thank God. I hate both platforms. As a crocheter, I do enjoy YouTube for the tutorials and yarn reviews. Yarn reviews are helpful for me to just determine if I might want to try a yarn. I absolutely HATE the live and “happy mail” videos and don’t watch them. They are a complete waste of time. I think we are spending way to much time pretending we are friends with the channel hosts that we watch and that’s why people like the personal stuff. The unbound sharing of personal stuff on social media is very creepy and unhealthy to me. People share information that they probably wouldn’t even share with a coworker that they see ion person every day. I think your focus on the professional has really paid off for you as can be see from the number of subscribers you have. You clearly have the most successful crochet channel on YouTube. I enjoyed your book. It was a lovely way to share enough personal information about your and Daniel to show your professional journey without getting into the kind of personal information that’s really none of our (readers) business. Thanks for all you do for the industry!

  3. Gretchen

    I have to say, in almost all cases, I prefer pre-recorded videos vs. live streams – exactly for the reasons you detail. I watch several knitting vlogs all of which are prerecorded. They manage to get real life in there – what they’re reading, movies they’ve watched, house stuff, but it’s all contained, click-thru-able and secondary to the how-tos, the yarn purchased and gifted, patterns they’re working on etc. I like some more than others, but mostly due to personalities. Some of them do livestreams and after having watched one or two I avoid them. My next foray will be into the knitting night zooms – but I dread them a little too. I like having no pressure to participate verbally, but I HATE having to deal with the BIG personalities, the loud-mouths, the insiders. That’s just my INFJ thoughts.

  4. Josephine A Kelly

    I loved the sewer pipe video. Picturing you 2 naked on your knees had me literally crying. Your giggles made my day !!

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