How clickbait ruined the streetspeed717 YouTube channel

Of all the automotive YouTube channels I’ve seen grow from nothing to something, watching Mike grow streetspeed717 into one of the largest car channels on YouTube in less than two years was really fun. Even when Mike was a nobody with less than 8000 subscribers, I immediately subbed after watching just one of his videos. He had a very easygoing and friendly personality that was easy to latch onto, which no doubt was one of the reasons why he grew so fast (read about other ways to grow an automotive YouTube channel). But suddenly, even when he already had hundreds of thousands of views per video, he started using clickbait and it completely ruined his channel.

Streetspeed717 before clickbait

One of the reasons why I was so drawn to Mike and the streetspeed717 YouTube channel so early on was the fact that he was down to earth. Unlike other YouTubers such as Salomondrin and TJ Hunt (among others), Mike was able to speak into a camera with a confident and calm demeanor. He didn’t over exaggerate everything, and he was very humble about his lack of video experience. He was never trying to be someone he wasn’t.

For over a year Mike uploaded highly entertaining and engaging content while just being himself and not worrying too much about creating technically perfect coentent. He listened to what his audience was asking for, and he provided exactly that.

Somewhere around the time after he sold the Hellcat and jumped into a Z06 (2016), the streetspeed717 YouTube channel blew up and Mike was getting at least 300,000 views per video. That view count is a lot more impressive once you realize that he only had about 300,000 subscribers at the time.

If you’re not familiar with how the YouTube subscriber / view count ratio (usually) works, getting a view count that matches the subscriber count is rare. Achieving something like that is widely viewed as a very healthy sign for the channel as a whole, and he was definitely on the path to be hugely successful (more than anyone could have imagined).

Streetspeed717 after clickbait

Listening to what his audience wanted (and providing exactly that) ended up being the thing that steered Mike in the wrong direction IMHO. His first Z06 build ended up being a hacked together piece of junk that he couldn’t wait to get rid of – all because he modded it so much that it became unreliable and a complete money pit. His audience wanted him to install “Lambo” doors (doors that open vertically like they do on a Lamborghini) and he did it. Very poorly actually, which he has admitted to time and time again.

That one mod was the turning point for Mike and the streetspeed717 brand. Of course it was a total disaster in terms of execution, but Mike saw firsthand how well an active and engaged audience boosted his view count for every upload. With his growing subscriber base and increasing view average per video (which translated into more money) the feeling of greed was no doubt starting to sink in.

Of course there’s no way to tell just how greedy Mike was feeling at that time, but his actions (as they applied to the streetspeed717 brand) made it clear. Mike began losing touch of what built his channel so quickly (behind humble, honest, and transparent) and started moving towards a “questionable” way of increasing his view counts: clickbait.

Now, as a long time subscriber who used to watch every single one of his videos, I know that the clickbait thing started as a joke just to get people triggered. Mike is a prankster like that, and it’s actually one of the things that I like about him. He certainly doesn’t take himself too seriously like so many other automotive YouTubers do.

However, the problem started when the clickbait became rampant, and he was giving videos titles with extraordinary statements to lure viewers in and boost his view count. For example, there were several times he posted videos claiming that he was arrested (for example, “ARRESTED FOR TRESPASSING” was one), when the video showed no such thing. Instead, what really happened was that he and his buddies were riding quad bikes on private land when they were questioned by a rude game warden. That’s it.

The annoying part of all this is that he would change the titles 24 later to something more truthful (and not ridiculous clickbait). It was completely obvious that Mike was gaming the system to get more people to click on his videos. It actually worked for a while, but it didn’t take long for streetspeed717 to start losing credibility.

The aftermath of years of harmful clickbait

At the time of this writing (January 2019), there’s no indication that Mike’s streetspeed717 YouTube channel is in danger of collapsing. He still has a very large and devoted fan base, and his videos are getting an average of 150,000 views each. Not too shabby, right? And if so, what’s the problem?

First of all, many of his loyal fans are getting tired of his clickbait ways (even if it is supposed to be a joke). Many have unsubscribed. Me included. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would have unsubbed from streetspeed717, but 8 months ago I did just that. As a matter of fact, it was the “ARRESTED!” video I mentioned above that pushed me over the line.

Mike streetspeed717

It only takes a few videos for new viewers to realize how much Mike over exaggerates everything. And it gets old quick.

Not only that, I was getting sick and tired of clicking on his videos (with interesting titles) only to realize that (99% of the time) he only mentioned what was in the title very briefly. Sitting through 15 minutes of fluff only to get 45 seconds of what was mentioned in the title was getting really frustrating. Especially considering how busy I am and how much I value my free time when I get it. I was starting to get the feeling that Mike was maliciously stealing my time right out from under me, and that was extremely frustrating. Unsubscribed.

One of the other problems Mike and the streetspeed717 YouTube channel is experiencing right now is substantially lower average view counts per video. As I mentioned earlier in this post, every streetspeed717 video was getting 300,000 views or more back in 2016, and now (early 2019), he can’t get half that amount with nearly double the subscriber base. If that isn’t a sign of an audience that has lost interest, I don’t know what is.

What Mike needs to do to turn around the streetspeed717 brand

Mike has to keep in mind that he has the kind of magnetic personality required to attract viewers, and he certainly doesn’t need scammy clickbait tactics to take his streetpeed717 YouTube channel to the next level. After all, it was his honest and transparent personality which propelled him from 10,000 to 300,000 subscribers in a little over a year. It wasn’t the misleading video titles.

In Mike’s defense, there may have been a chance that he didn’t realize what kind of damage he was doing. He definitely thought the clickbait was funny, because he mentioned it several times, but sometimes youthful humor doesn’t translate well when it comes to building massive online brands. Consistently misleading your audience with scammy “bait and switch” business tactics is a sure fire way to destroy a thriving business. And that’s exactly what the streetspeed717 brand is – it’s a thriving business that has generated Mike well over $1 million at this point. He can’t afford to be thinking of it so casually and not thinking about the implications of his actions. His livelihood depends on it.

All Mike needs to do is grow up a bit and go back to creating the honest and exciting content that he was doing before the clickbait started. As a matter fact, there was really nothing different about the content that he was coming back bad compared to the content that he’s creating now. The only difference is his questionable video titles and thumbnails. If he’s willing to clean up his image, I’m willing to bet anything that his channel will start growing again and break free of the stagnant rut it is in today.

Believe it or not, I actually like Mike

On the surface, this entire article may have seemed a bit over-the-top and perhaps too negative in regards to the way that I talked about Mike and his streetspeed717 YouTube channel. No matter how much you may think that I’m holding a massive grudge against him, you should know that the only reason why I spent the time to write all this out because I believe in Mike and what he is doing. Yes, he’s a bit obnoxious at times (especially when it comes to his fascination with loud exhausts), but for the most part he’s a very down to earth guy who seems like he’d be really good guy to have a beer with.

I would love nothing more than to see streetspeed717 become the largest automotive YouTube channel in history, and what Mike is doing right now isn’t helping to propel it in that direction.

Whether or not he reads this article doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. He would likely disagree with me on pretty much every point, and I’m cool with that. Lord knows that I naturally get a bit defensive when somebody critiques the way I choose to pursue my passions in life, so it would be no skin off my back if he didn’t think that anything that I wrote here had any basis for credibility.

This is fine, because Mike is still very young. As he matures, he will certainly learn to appreciate the value of a raving fan base and everything it takes to build and maintain it. I’ll be his number one fan again once I start seeing him come around.

Interesting facts about Mike and the streetspeed 717 YouTube channel:

  • Mike’s first love is trucks – not cars
  • The first streetspeed717 video was posted on March 13, 2014 and it was about his Chevy truck. Note that he has since deleted all of his previous content prior to the Corvettes, and now the first video in his archives is him taking delivery of his 2015 stingray.
  • The automatic transmission in that car failed completely shortly after taking delivery.
  • Mike has purchased a total of seven C7 Corvettes for the channel as of January 2019 (a yellow 2015 Stingray with automatic transmission, a yellow 2015 Stingray with a manual transmission, a yellow 2017 Z06 with a manual transmission, a yellow 2017 Z06 with an automatic transmission, an orange 2018 ZR1 with a manual transmission, a blue 2018 Stingray for a raffle giveaway, and a black 2019 Grand Sport for another raffle giveaway)
  • As of January 2019, Mike has owned 9 additional cars (in addition to the Corvettes) since the beginning of the streetspeed 717 YouTube channel: A 2004 Duramax truck, a 2019 Ford Raptor, a 2016 dodge hellcat, a 1993 Volkswagen Corrado, a 1984 Corvette, a 2003 Corvette, a 2006 Corvette, a 2018 McLaren 720s, and a Mini Cooper (year unknown) for his mother.
  • He sold his 2016 Hellcat for exactly as much as he purchased for brand new
  • Mike was a financial planner before going full time with Youtube
  • As far as what was shown on his YouTube channel, Mike has received a total of six speeding tickets since 2015
  • The highest speed ever shown on the speedometer during a streetspeed717 video was 156 mph in his 2017 Z06. He has no doubt gone faster, but he has wised up a bit since then and now blurs out all speedometer readings in current uploads.
  • Mike spent four years in the army before starting work as a financial planner
  • Based on the appearance of his house and where he lives (Hersey, PA), the cars he owns out right, and his viewership numbers on YouTube, his current (early 2019) net worth is valued to be somewhere over $1.3 million
  • Mike has appeared on Matt Maran’s Youtube channel twice since 2016

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