How trustworthy is our media?
People are often more sceptical about news that’s come from the internet, via blogs and various social media networks. However, once information has been printed in the newspapers or aired on the national news channels, then it has to be believable. Right?
Jimmy Kimmel’s Twerk Stunt
Twerking has been in the news rather a lot recently. (For those of you not in the know, it’s a raunchy dance move.) For a start, it’s made it into the Oxford English Dictionary – though somebody apparently forgot to tell my spellchecker. It also created rather a stir when it was showcased by Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards, causing a slew of complaints from outraged parents, amongst them the rather fabulous line ‘acting like a devil flicking that tongue as demons do.’ Ahem!
A few days later, a video appeared on various social networking sites showing a twerk described as an ‘epic fail,’ when a girl, attempting to make a raunchy video for her boyfriend, ended up with burnt yoga pants. So amusing was this footage, it had over 9 million views on YouTube, and made it onto the national news across America. Trustworthy, right?
Here’s the full story:
Yes, the original video was a complete fake, set up by Jimmy Kimmel and acted out by a stuntwoman. He admitted to that, with rather light-hearted amusement, only after it had been reported on the likes of Fox and CNN.
Jimmy Kimmel’s twerk video was a mere prank, aimed at ridiculing the idiotic twerking craze rather than anything more sinister. But just how much can the media be manipulated? And can we believe everything we see in the news today?
Last year, Ryan Holiday published his book called ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.’ Here’s the trailer:
The first half of the book is dedicated to how to manipulate the media. Holiday goes into detail about a process he refers to as ‘trading up.’ Using examples from his own background, he details how he created fake personas, then used them to send fake scoops to small blogs – who tend to be more trusting because they’re often strapped for cash and hungry for a juicy story. He then fanned the flames by writing fake comments, boosting traffic, so that eventually the stories made it to larger and larger blogs, ending up in the mass media.
Media manipulation is a volume game. Essentially, you want to create enough buzz so that people assume there’s no smoke without fire, and the unreal becomes real. Andrew Brietbart, another famous media manipulator, once compared feeding the media to training a dog, stating, ‘You can’t throw an entire steak at a dog to train it to sit. You have to give it little bits of steak over and over again until it learns.’
The second half of the book describes why not to do it. Holiday bemoans the loss of quality journalism in today’s high-pressured environment. With 24hr news channels and stories breaking on social networking sites such as Twitter, journalists are under increasing pressure to produce content under tight deadlines. Which means that sources aren’t always checked, facts may be, at best, dubious guesses, and any mistakes are rarely amended. The media is looking for a good story; something emotionally charged that grabs people’s attention and is shareable.
Lessons from the Media Manipulator
Now, let’s make one thing quite clear: we’re not condoning media manipulation at all. However, by understanding how it works, it’s possible to learn some valuable lessons about how to promote your own online video content. Indeed, Ryan Holiday has used some of the techniques he describes to promote his own book online.
One of the biggest lessons we learn from Holiday, and Kimmel’s twerk video, concerns the implied credibility of a shared video. Sharing video is a major part of online activity, and with the number of social media channels out there, everybody who shares a video has become a content promoter, distributor, and redistributor.
By sharing a video, those people are giving it their own seal of approval and endorsing it to their friends and followers. They’re saying, ‘Hey, this is great, check it out.’
So who can you share your corporate video with to get the ball rolling and start your promotional campaign?
Firstly, think about your existing contacts. Do you have an email newsletter you regularly send to all your subscribers? Good. Include a link to your video. These guys know you, therefore are more likely to watch your video, and even share it. And it can be a great way to cross-sell or entice them to buy a more profitable product.
Have a think about people who could be influential for you – those who blog about the products or services you provide. We are moving to a stage in the internet where trusted and respected individuals are leading in each niche. There is so much crap out there that we need search engines and social networks to help us identify who the real leaders are and who we should be listening to.
If you are serious about your future on the internet then you need to establish yourselves as one of these leaders; this can sometimes be simply achieved through a great product or service but most of the time it takes a lot of background work too.
It’s definitely worth spending time each week developing your networks and building relationships with other leaders in your industry; attending and speaking at industry events, blogging about your personal experiences and commenting on others blogs. Once you have a strong network of people that like what you do and say then distributing your content through social media and sharing sites to the right people becomes a whole lot easier.
Moreover, there’s nothing wrong with fanning the flames a little on various forums and starting a discussion concerning your video and the message it portrays about your brand. It didn’t do any harm to the promoters of The Blair Witch Project, which ran the one of the best viral marketing campaigns of all time by creating buzz online.
Conducting Your Own Video Marketing Campaign
On our blog, we’ve spoken numerous times about the importance of creating quality content for your videos. Something emotionally charged that speaks to people and is, ultimately, shareable.
However, that’s only half the story. You can make the funniest video in the world, but there’s absolutely no point in making it if you’re not going to promote it properly. And to do that, you can learn some valuable lessons from the Ryan Holidays and Jimmy Kimmels of this world.
Think carefully about how to promote your next video. By choosing the right audience to contact and share, you could trade your way up and get your video noticed and shared by the widest possible audience.