How to Game YouTube and Go Viral

Dan Ackerman Greenberg’s guest post on TechCrunch sparked heated discussion about the ethics of gaming YouTube to get more views.

I am not a fan of gaming the system with fake comments and trickery like changing titles, tags and thumbnails, but there is no doubt that many “viral video specialists” use these tactics to get their videos viewed.

If you really want to generate a following and positive karma for your brand, I think it’s best to let the good videos rise to the top and go viral. Call me a dreamer. Natural selection FTW!

Here’s a little tongue-in-cheek video that shows you how it’s done by the people that brought us Ooh Girl!:

I personally miss the “Wild West days,” as Greenberg termed them, when a great video on YouTube would rise to the top with no tampering. I think the best videos still do, but the space will certainly be cluttered by those who will try to manipulate it in the coming years just like the blogosphere.

Web Culture 101 via South Park

If I am going to open a conversation on social media and community building on this blog, we are going to have to discuss Web culture from time to time. Hence, a new category!

Want to know what makes a video go viral? Just look at the history. Here’s a quick Web culture test to start off your education–or continue it. South Park recently tackled the life of an Internet superstar in the “Canada on Strike” episode.

Can you name every meme/viral sensation featured in this clip?

WARNING: This clips is not entirely “family friendly.” It IS South Park after all.

Bonus points if you knew what a meme was before reading this post. Maybe we can all learn something from South Park after all.

via Veronica Belmont’s Pownce sharing 🙂 (You do know Pownce, don’t you?)

Help A Reporter Out!

Although it’s gotten its fair share of blog posts and media hits in NY Times, Marketing Sherpa and MarketingProfs over the last several days, Peter Shankman‘s Help A Reporter Out project deserves a mention here as well for those of you who don’t have your finger on the pulse of the marketing infostream.

Help A Reporter is Shankman’s mailing list for requests from reporters seeking interviewees and experts on a deadline. He runs it to generate good karma, but the list also benefits public relations pros and businesses who watch it as long as they respond when a request is relevant to them.

In short, don’t abuse this system. It’s very bad karma, and Shankman will remove you for repeated offenses. The value of Shankman’s list is in the trust that the emails connect reporters to truly relevant and available experts.

The group began as a Facebook group called “If I can help a reporter out, I will…” that I was lucky enough to stumble upon a few months ago in perusing the words and tips of marketing gurus online. It was growing at the time but has since grown beyond the scope of Facebook’s messaging restrictions. At 1200 members, Facebook no longer allows admins to send out messages to the group members, so Shankman acted fast to create the new site/list system at helpareporter.com.

Shankman sent out a Facebook message to the group members celebrating the new site:

It means our little experiment here in social media and PR is working!

This makes me happy. 🙂

But, we’re getting bigger! And we’ve outgrown our Playpen!

If you are looking to get your business mentioned in the media or work in public relations or as a publicist, you should get on this mailing list. Remember what it’s all about and keep winning good karma points by responding when you can assist but not pushing yourself into a story where you don’t belong.

As long as we keep this thing going, this list could be the start of a nice mutual network for public relations practitioners and reporters. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all get along?

As Shankman says:

It’s a simple idea, and one that can really help not only reporters, but all of us, as well! The bigger it gets, the better chance we have to make sure that reporters get the sources they need. The more they get the sources they need, the more likely they are to tell other journalists, which in the end, gives you more chances to get yourself, your clients, or your company some good press!

Go to helpareporter.com to sign up for the list. More on the list from Shankman himself:

The site’s been built to be as simple as this one: Simply enter your name/company/email, and you’ll get reporter requests sent to you via email, usually immediately after a reporter sends them to me.

It’s simple, it’s STILL FREE, and it’s no SPAM. It’s a double-opt-in list, with an automatic opt-out if you ever decide to leave us. Couldn’t be simpler, and yes, I’m still doing this because it’s good Karma.

So go to http://www.helpareporter.com and sign up.

Pluckers built reputation on personal service

There’s a wing joint that dominates the city of Austin and has started its migration across Texas. Started by two former University of Texas students, Pluckers has become the name that defines Buffalo wings in the state capital.

The chain was recently featured in The Alcalde [Note that the article on Pluckers is not available online], alumni magazine of the University of Texas.

According to The Alcalde, the idea to create a late-night wing delivery restaurant came to the two founders when they were up late one night in the dorms, but they didn’t put it together until they graduated. Contrary to what they had imagined, they spent most of their first months in the kitchen rather than spending their days shaking hands and chatting up customers inside the restaurant. Always putting service before everything else, the founders would personally deliver corrected orders and apologize if a mistake was made.

On a recent visit to Pluckers, some friends asked if one of the TVs could be tuned into the UT men’s basketball game. Unable to locate it on the satellite programming, a Pluckers employee brought out his laptop and placed it on their table so that they could watch the game while they ate. Pretty nice service if you asked me.

Each store has it’s own motif of college sports memorabilia, but to keep it up to date, Pluckers also has policy of updating a store every 5 years to keep it fresh and keep the TVs top-of-the-line for sports fans.

The greatest link that established Pluckers as the dominant force it has become is its incredibly close tie to all UT Austin’s sporting events. Pluckers hosts events at each location and gives out coupons for free wings after almost every UT sporting event.

With this motto of service, Pluckers has put itself on top.

I am a slave to my Google Reader–efficiency is simple ignorance

It started as such an innocent tool. In my love of Gmail, I stumbled upon the powerful Google Reader (reader.google.com) and begin to fill it with RSS feeds from my favorite Web destinations. Instantly, my reader became the fastest way to skim through the gaming blogs, tech news and business musings of the talking heads of Internet.

I’d say I had a good six weeks or so where the RSS feeds made me more productive. I didn’t have to surf the Internet because I had it delivered to me–right there within Google’s little window. As I sorted through my feeds–keyboard shortcuts and all–I would star posts that were noteworthy or that I wanted to blog. I could also send posts to friends that I found helpful and pass along funny quotes.

The sinister force that was the RSS master emerged when I started to expand my tastes. I would stumble upon a particular site or one post from a blog and find it interesting, and there it went into my reader. After awhile, I had to go in and reorganize my feeds. I had too many loose, uncategorized ones, but after a quick shuffle, my RSS heaven was back to the organized filing system I had created.

One weekend, somehow in my techy ignorance I left the computer. That’s right. For 48 hours, I stepped away from the digital world. When I returned to it Monday morning, the Gremlins had owned my system.

My unread posts counter read (1000+). Uh oh.

For the next three weeks, I tried to catch back up and manage, but for the non-Scoble, you just can’t handle following that many bloggers. In fact, you never get a chance to blog a post yourself if you spend your entire day reading what 100+ others have said in the last day.

I was a slave to the RSS reader everyday. I loathed leaving it with 100+ unread posts. I was becoming a Google addict. It became an impossible task, so I had to step out and selectively nuke my system.

I devised a way of removing blogs that no longer needed to be followed. If it updated too frequently with information that I didn’t cherish everyday, it was gone. If two blogs covered similar topics, I made myself choose the one that covered the topic more completely or that was more worthwhile for me to read as a fellow blogger. If given the choice between a blog that posted 30 times a day, and one that posted once or twice a week with the same basic info, I went with the less frequent, more complete option.

I went simple. I became ignorant to what 50+ or so bloggers were writing about, but I got my life back–my life outside of RSS. It was entirely necessary, and I tell you now: Ignorance is bliss.

You can’t follow 1000+ blogs and still exist outside of the online world. Keep that in mind before you start getting crazy with the RSS subscribe button.

The Moneyball Method of Marketing

I know that this post by Steve Rubel was posted last year, but in mining my RSS feeds from Google Reader today, I came across this post on the movement towards Moneyball Marketing as marketers look to online and had to talk about it because of how much I enjoyed Moneyball.

In Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, Lewis showed how baseball manager Billy Beane built a successful team by changing the critical stats. Rather than choosing players based on the big time stats that the Yankees liked, the A’s started getting players with good on-base percentages and slugging percentages–players that weren’t as highly sought after in the drafts and had less star mentality.

As Rubel projects, the same could be true for marketing in the online realm. Marketers looking to reduce costs could go more niche and find smaller sites that produced better results. These sites wouldn’t have as much of a “star mentality” and don’t charge as much for advertising.

I had never thought about Moneyball applying to marketing until I read this post, but now it seems like a great way to describe the more efficient way of marketing on the Web. Rubel also lists some ways to start applying the Moneyball method:

Here are three ways you can apply Moneyball Marketer in your organization today:

1) Become a Super Cruncher – Look beyond the common methods for evaluating media and identify more meaningful, perhaps esoteric statistics. For example, make a buy based on a site’s ability to drive consumers to complete high value tasks.

2) Skip Reach, Go Niche – As hard as it is, try forgoing some of the larger sites in favor of emerging niche ones that deliver a higher percentage of your target. Work with them to create measurable, outside-the-box programs. For example, consider Takklean emerging social network focusing on high school sports.

3) Think Relationships, Not Impressions – The most successful companies in business today recognize that relationships rule. Consider launching programs that allow you to hone your relationships with narrow segments of your audience. Go beyond impressions.

Is Community Management the future of marketing?

There’s a reason that I want to integrate a role as a community manager into my normal public relations duties. As more and more marketers profess the equal ground that social networks create between marketers and consumers, marketers have to redefine themselves.

Jeremiah Owyang answered his own question on how marketers could stay relevant in a recent post.

Question: Many consumers loathe marketers, now consumers can bypass marketers with social media tools, the power has shifted to the participants, how do marketers stay relevant?

Answer: Marketers must participate, or let consumers participate on their behalf, it’s a new world.

The best way to participate is to become what is today defined as a community manager.

Just like Larry Hryb became the face of Microsoft’s Xbox as Major Nelson and Frank O’Connor became a “Content Monkey” for Bungie, community managers have taken on the role of passing information to the community and letting the community do what they will.

This model works best with brands where a large fan base already exists on the Web. It’s not as strict and defined a communication format as traditional public relations, but it is one that more consumers and fans appreciate.

Community managers produce original content and writing for the community rather than issuing press releases directly to the press. They overcome a greater challenge in establishing a relationship of trust with the consumers since they are affiliated directly with the company they represent, but those marketers that pass on a consistently honest message to the consumer reap the reward of developing a brand community out of their marketing efforts.

By bypassing the media, niche brands can also see rewards. Even though they may be too small for industry journalists to take note, they can develop a cult following through their own blogging and community development.

This passive marketing of the future puts the community managers on equal ground with consumers and allows them to interact and participate in a meaningful way. It will be the most effective marketing communication method in the future, so it would benefit every PR practitioner to integrate community management into normal PR functions in order to stay relevant.

Understand what public relations can do for you

TalentZoo.com featured a great set of 18 PR Tips for Startups from Brian Solis in a recent email. His tips feature a few pet peeves of mine about some people’s concept of public relations. Often, folks can doubt the power of PR.

2. Don’t undervalue PR.

PR, when done right, is extremely valuable to company branding, which has immeasurable benefits in the long haul. Customers have choices and if you’re not consistently vying for their attention, it’s pretty easy to fall off their radar screen when they evaluate options. Too many companies nickel and dime PR to the point of absurdity. Don’t get me wrong. Expensive PR doesn’t equal success. But short changing PR is usually a first step in the wrong direction.

As a general rule, PR should always be consistent because it does take time and maintained effort to establish relationships with the journalists that cover your business and find coverage opportunities. Solis does a great job expanding upon these two principles through all 18 tips–even enforcing how important it is for executives to meet regularly with their PR department and involve them early in decisions that can affect their messaging.

Marketing-savvy corporate executives are working with PR, Advertising, and Marcom teams to explore options and strategies on how to participate in relevant online conversations. This represents a shift in outbound marketing as it creates a direct channel between companies and customers, and ultimately people.

He even recommends my dream job within a company:

Hire a community manager. In the new world of social media, new PR can be complemented through the efforts of someone who can actively represent the company in all things social so that they can provide proactive information and support to people looking for guidance in the communities they frequent. Don’t market to them, have conversations.

Now, who’s interested?

Monitoring the Web: Where in the Google are you?

I’ll take your Seth Godin, and I’ll raise you one.

I suggest a tip I got a long while back from Scott Ginsberg, “The Nametag Guy,” about tracking your presence on the Web:

Set up a Google Alert for your name.

Really, go do it now.

By setting up a Google Alert for your name, you can easily keep track of when you are being discussed on the Internet and how extensive your Web presence becomes. Your alerts are handy for connecting you with people that discuss you on the Web. Hopefully, it’s all positive info, and you can enjoy increased alerts as you expand your interaction through the Google world, blogging and social networks.

Without my Google Alerts, I would never know how many different locations I can find to buy books written by the Jewish author of same name. That’s an added bonus.

Of course, for you college crazies, a Google Alert can also help you combat negative press out there. Didn’t know those Flickr pictures you tagged of yourself showed up on Google when someone searched for your name? Well, now you do, and you can go take care of untagging and removing the things better kept private when you apply for a job.

It’s a good idea to set up a Google Alert just so you are aware of what your potential employers will find when they type in your name and punch the dreaded “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. You don’t want it to be your Xanga from 1994 where you ranted on how much you hated your homeroom teacher, do you?

Why do all successful people have to be assholes?

Note: I apologize if the word “asshole” offends you, but for the purpose of this post, I am going to have to use the word quite a bit. Earmuffs please.

I got into a little debate over at On Moneymaking tonight about whether you have to be an asshole to be successful. Jon’s post there suggests that you should accept becoming an asshole if you want to be successful in life.

I know about a dozen people that make over $1 million per year, and I’d imagine all of them are called assholes on a regular basis. The two seem to go hand in hand, and I think there are reasons why.

Extreme Success Requires Extreme Focus

Jon goes on to note that focus requires giving “all of your attention and ignoring everything else” and comments on a pattern for wealthy, successful people that I don’t quite find to be true.

Frequently, they’ll:

  • Leave behind a trail of broken marriages and forgotten children
  • Lose the life savings of their friends and relatives on an ingenious but doomed business
  • Refuse to lend anyone money or give to charity
  • Avoid unnecessary expenses to the point of miserliness
  • Treat everyone that can’t help them as if they’re expendable

In the end, Jon implies that all successful people are assholes in some capacity, and you should be willing to be called an asshole to be successful.

Frankly, I just don’t agree with his suggestion. Even if you put your all into your work and some call you a “workaholic,” true character is what shines through and labels someone an asshole. I don’t think that many people legitimately label you an asshole just because of your wealth or success, and the few that do should be proven wrong by seeing your actions and character.

James Chartrand of Web Content Writer Tips and I went through several exchanges in the comments before finally coming to the realization that we actually agree. You can follow our long exchange in the comments.

James and I both agreed that you don’t need to be an asshole to be successful, and although you may run the risk of being called one, you don’t have to act like one to be a success.

From James:

Do people need to be assholes to be successful? No. But they do need to be focused and have drive and determination. They need to put themselves out there – and risk being seen as assholes.

The basic gist of my argument is simply this:

I don’t think that to be successful, you need to give up not being considered an asshole. Yes, stop obsessing about what others think, but don’t let that also lead you to fall into a philosophy of accepting your asshole-ism.

There’s a large difference between being an asshole and being successful, and I hope that many of the future moguls of America don’t take his advice to become miserable people because they think being an asshole is the only road to success.

On a minor note, Jon starts off using these examples as asshole successes:

What do Simon Cowell, Steve Jobs, Dr. House, Bill Belichick, and Donald Trump have in common?

Eliminating Dr. House because he’s not real, I had to argue that Bill Belichick while quiet, internal and often misunderstood by the press is no asshole. As for Steve Jobs, when did taking a $1 annual salary and refusing bonuses when coming back to save the company that you founded make you an asshole? I must have missed something with those examples.

My example of a very non-asshole success: Bill Gates. He is retiring to a life of philanthropy, has a successful marriage with children and I doubt he ever lived miserly during his rise in business. The only hit you have on him is running off with the idea for Windows, but can you blame him?