Please click the link below to listen to the 69th episode of my weekly crypto podcast ‘Two Minute Crypto.’ These are intended to be short, single-topic ramblings on some aspect of the cryptosphere. Consider dropping a like and or a review on iTunes or Podbean if you enjoy the podcast. Comments and critiques welcome.
To quote Oscar Wilde
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
Welcome to Two Minute Crypto this week deals with the rotten core of the crypto ‘news’ industry – the influencers. Crypto as a new asset class has had to forge its own infrastructure from wallets to website sites. While this has been an incredibly exciting period of development and iteration the space has attracted more than its fair share of fraudsters and manipulators. This is nothing new, charlatans and con-men of all ilk’s stalk each and every aspect of life; from cures to cancer to the will of the almighty there’s always someone more than happy to show you the way…for a fee.
Now a fair fee for a fair service is entirely reasonable and a core aspect of any functioning market but what I’d like to highlight here is how rare it is to encounter that balance in crypto.
What is meant by the term Influencer? For the purposes of his podcast, an influencer is someone who by their follower clout holds sway in the crypto industry. Their reviews bring revenue, their praise investors and their scorn capital flight. Most of them are to be found on YouTube with subscriber figures north of 100k. Small by YouTube standards but highly significant in these early days of crypto. The issue stems from the fact that many, if not most, of these individuals, regularly indulge in disingenuous practices that at best show scant regard for their viewers and at worst, amount to outright fraud. Rather than call-out a name or two these are the tells of a compromised influencer.
Leverage Trading Affiliate Links
An affiliate link to leverage trading or a short course on said training is a clear red flag. Leverage trading is a professional trader’s tool and even then used sparingly. It is absolutely not suitable for the average retail investor or trader. Influencers are well aware of this and few if any actually regularly leverage trade themselves. What they do often do, however, is encourage their viewers to do so. They may hide behind warnings not to overleverage and so on but they are fully aware that once ensnared in leverage trading most people end up fully liquidated.
Reviewing projects without disclosing that the content is sponsored. This is a clear violation of the trust crypto enthusiasts put in their opinion. In some cases, favourable reviews are posted without any reference to sponsorship in many other cases an admission of sponsorship is buried somewhere in the details tab.
Random Project Promotion
A random positive comment on a project embedded in unrelated content is another common practice. Pernicious and at first difficult to spot but exceptionally common and once you become aware of it, easy to pick up on. Fifteen minutes of faithful analysis of Bitcoin with a sudden short aside on the virtues of this new XYZ project that is really making waves – this is a huge red flag.
Hyperbolic titles – if the headline is bait, so too is the content. Nevermind the blame heaped on the YouTube Algorithm – these folks are happy to mislead you in order to get you in – it follows they are more than happy to continue to do once they get you there.
They profess love for you….
If you now return to your YouTube subscription list and cast a critical eye over your current crop of crypto themed subscriptions you may find more than a few of them exhibit these compromised traits. Does this require you to unfollow them - well no. Sadly, at this early juncture of crypto, it is very difficult to remain up to date with crypto while only following a few honest men such as Brad Laurie or Crypto Bobby. It’s a necessary evil to drink from the tainted well of some of these influencers as they often pull in the big interviews and lack of integrity aside, many of them do display a firm understanding of the cryptosphere.
Podcasting is one area where influencers seem to be much more forthright from Unchained to What Bitcoin Did to Everything EOS – they wear their allegiance as a badge of honour. Nonetheless, even in that space, the content can be swamped by frequent and in some cases, irresponsible, advertising (gushing promotion of DeFi services etc.).
In time a more dependable crop of Influencers may emerge – then again as the rewards grow so too does the temptation. Stay engaged but sceptical.
Thanks for listening.