YouTube Apology Videos: Are They Effective?

youtube apology

A YouTube apology video can help — or hinder — your online reputation. Learn the best ways to apologize online with our guide.

When it comes to modern crisis communication and tactics for image repairing, apology videos are one of the most popular media that is being used by mainstream celebrities and influencers who want to make a public apology.

The apology videos are not the best option in many different situations and poorly received apology videos have the potential to do more harm to an individual than an unaddressed scandal ever could.

Most recently people are discovering that these videos that celebrities are sharing on their media where they apologize about some situations are not sincere.

From the many apology videos that are getting posted by public figures, people can see they are staged with a “tired” personal appearance, and background changes and lighting made for the video to feel “raw”. Additionally with plenty of forced tears that are visible, the media and public are really skeptical when we talk about the sincerity of the person that is posting an apology video.

On the other side, there are some other factors for apology videos when they are done effectively and in the right way. There are a lot of critiques but still, these apology videos are boosting their popularity on daily basis.

When it comes to apology videos, their effectiveness is based on the ability of the person making the video to show understanding of their mistake and genuine remorse. Many public figures still haven’t figured out that optics and message are two different things in an apology video, which appears to be the primary reason why so many of these apology videos continue to be poorly received.

The industry perspective on using an apology video for image repair is that it can be done effectively with the right message, but only if you are willing to take responsibility for your actions and not make excuses.

Academics and industry professionals can provide valuable insight into how to create an effective and genuine apology video for crisis communications purposes.

What is a YouTube apology video?

A YouTube Apology Video is a video in which a person offers an apology for an offense or scandal they’ve caused. Although the videos grew so popular and numerous that they became a source of parody, they have since fallen out of favor.

YouTube apology video origin

These kinds of apology videos on YouTube became popular in the mid of 2010s. The exact date of the first apology video is unclear, but there are some parodies of these videos that started 7,8 years ago in 2014/2015.

There is one example with the YouTuber under the nickname ‘PeanutButterGamer” that posted a parody where he gave an overly sincere apology for some error he made in a Super Mario Galaxy game and that video gained more than 1.5 million views.

Spreading of YouTube apology videos

Over the next several years, apologies for offenses on YouTube became more common, as a number of YouTubers posted insincere or overly emotional videos apologizing for offensive comments or actions.

One such example was an apology video that was posted by ‘Tmartin’ which was mocked for not being sincere and ended up being deleted from the internet space. Tmartin was accused that he is trying to gain more sympathy because he was using his dog in the video.

Another popular example is Laura Lee’s tearful apology video, which was parodied countless times online and became iconic. This trend became very popular and people started making analyses and parodies of those videos.

YouTuber Bobby Burns’ made and posted some analysis about YouTube apology videos and how they actually manipulate their audience, gaining over 1.5 million views. Another famous YouTuber ‘PewDiePie’ uploaded a video where he is making fun of those apology videos (including his own) and gained over 10 million views.

How do you write a good apology on YouTube?

We all understand that saying ‘I’m sorry’ is not always easy and many people are afraid that once they admit they were wrong it will make them vulnerable and open them to blame and critics attack.

It doesn’t really matter if you are getting embarrassed or ashamed or you just think that this kind of apology isn’t necessary, because apologies are important. Additionally, if you made a mistake that hurt someone it will be great if you man up and deliver a sincere apology, especially to the people you care about.

You need to understand that once you admit your fault, it will probably restore dignity to the person you hurt. An apology will give you a chance to discuss what kind of behavior is not acceptable and what is more important to make some form of restitution.

A sincere apology and taking responsibility for the actions you made will also boost your self-confidence and will restore your integrity in the eyes of other people, especially the people that don’t know you well in person.

People who avoid apologizing are risking damage to their important relationships with clients, family, or colleagues. This kind of action will definitely harm your own reputation and may limit your career opportunities. This is something that can additionally make a negative effect on your team because none wants to work for a boss who is not ready to apologize and acknowledge his mistakes.

What is the best way to say sorry?

A great way to start an apology video is by using the magic words “I apologize”, or “I’m Sorry”. You will need to be authentic and sincere because you cannot make an apology if you are not sincere or you have some other motives, such as using it for getting other things that you want.

After doing something you regret, take responsibility for your actions and empathize with the person you wronged. For example, you might apologize by saying: “I know that I did wrong and hurt your feelings when I shouted at you in front of everyone. It probably embarrassed you. It was a wrong way to treat you like that.”

The next step is to take action to make things right between you and the other person. For example, you could say: “I’d like to offer you another opportunity tomorrow so you can show your real skills.” It’s important not to offer more than what’s appropriate when making amends.

In the end, you need to explain that you are not going to repeat the same action again. This one will make other people understand that you are going to change your behavior, and you will try to rebuild trust between you two.

You can say something like this: “This situation is something that made me manage my stress better, and I won’t snap at people like that anymore. You can feel free to call me out in case you notice that I’m repeating the same thing again.”

Always be sure that you are going to honor your commitment because if not, you are going to get into deeper problems additionally.

Why do YouTubers make apology videos?

All the videos that are getting posted by YouTubers where they apologize for their controversial actions are starting with “Let’s talk”, “So Sorry”, “A long overdue apology”, or “Holding myself accountable”.

Similar to other public figures in our world, YouTubers are also prone to scandals and criticism at some point in their careers. However, many of their actions are seriously harmful and are going beyond the borders of “normal”. You need to remember that is your responsibility to keep them accountable and not fall into those lame excuses they are making in their apology videos.

One of the most widely publicized apology videos was posted by Logan Paul in 2018. The video addressed his posting of a suicide victim hanging in the Aokigahara Forest in Japan. The video received almost 60 million views, and Paul’s actions should never have been filmed in the first place, but his apology is what is truly frustrating.

What is most frustrating about the video is not only that he filmed a dead body, but that it took him almost two minutes to apologize for his actions and state that he would do better.

He vowed to do better, yet a month later he went back to regular posting and urged viewers to buy merchandise because YouTube had restricted his AdSense account, which is a significant source of revenue for YouTubers.

Many people will think that this kind of disgusting action would bring a lot of consequences and will lower his follower, yet Paul’s YouTube channel now has more than 23 million subscribers.

Another similar situation happened with James Charles a 21-year-old YouTube star who was accused of child grooming because he was sending explicit photos over social media to underage boys.

Charles, who is now facing calls for criminal charges and has been fired from his job at a PR agency, says in his apology video that he was “desperate,” and so fixated on being in a relationship that he didn’t take the necessary steps in order to be sure that he is communicating with people who are over 18.

None of these videos will justify or excuse him for what he did, and there were a lot of people who are calling for the police to get involved.

In addition to this latest incident, last year Charles was the host of the YouTube show Instant Influencer, where contestants competed to become the next big social media influencer.

In one episode of Instant Influencer, Charles has the contestants film an apology video for a minor scandal in 15 minutes—suggesting that many of his own apologies have been insincere and highlighting how many YouTubers are more interested in preserving their image than making things right.

Recently, YouTube personality David Dobrik has been involved in two separate controversies involving sexual misconduct. In both cases, multiple women came forward with stories about being sexually harassed or assaulted by his friends while he was filming vlogs for his channel.

Although Dobrik himself was not the perpetrator in those situations, he was there but he didn’t make any attempt to stop the incidents from happening.

Dobrik released a short apology on his podcast channel with 1.7 million subscribers before releasing a longer apology video on his main channel, which has 18.5 million subscribers. This second video was certainly more genuine than the first, but the issue is that Dobrik had to make two apologies before “getting it right”.

No one should have to apologize for behavior like this, but if someone finds themselves in a situation where an apology is warranted, then it’s best to make one as soon as possible (and put some effort into it).

Those actions made Dobrik lose a lot of followers and brand deals because of this controversy, his career was not in question and he will most likely return to posting regular content sooner or later.

Because of this controversy Dobrik has lost his brand deals and a lot of followers on his social profiles, however, his career didn’t end and he will be back with posting his regular content soon enough.

Last Words

Many of these people who are getting famous on YouTube are very young and probably not aware of the consequences that can appear from the immature actions they are making.

Of course, that doesn’t justify their actions, because once you become popular you need to be aware of your actions and how they are affecting your followers or any other people that are watching those videos.

Because many of those young people are not aware of the consequences, we can see plenty of YouTube apologies that are getting published on daily basis and this trend has no intention to slow down.

Instead of trusting an apology video to turn your reputation around, consult the professionals. Contact us now.


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