My friend Lee LeFever linked to a guest post at TechCrunch by someone named Dan Ackerman Greenberg of The Comotion Group, a “video viral marketing company”. (I realize I’m providing them with links and maybe that was one of the points of his post, but it doesn’t really matter). The post is titled “The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos”. Basically, he’s talking about how you can get people to your video. The problem is when you get into stuff like this:
Forums: We start new threads and embed our videos. Sometimes, this means kickstarting the conversations by setting up multiple accounts on each forum and posting back and forth between a few different users. Yes, it’s tedious and time-consuming, but if we get enough people working on it, it can have a tremendous effect.
Commenting: Having a conversation with yourself
Every power user on YouTube has a number of different accounts. So do we. A great way to maximize the number of people who watch our videos is to create some sort of controversy in the comments section below the video. We get a few people in our office to log in throughout the day and post heated comments back and forth (you can definitely have a lot of fun with this). Everyone loves a good, heated discussion in the comments section – especially if the comments are related to a brand/startup.
(“Every power user on YouTube has a number of different accounts”? I wonder how the Angry Video Game Nerd, Ask A Ninja, Barats and Bereta, Blame Society Productions, Brandon Hardesty and Derrick Comedy feel about that?)
Basically, what you have here is a group of individuals who aim to create what I try to prevent on my communities. We get this sort of stuff with frequency (not necessarily with videos, but with links, etc.) and it’s always shut down right away. If someone joins and their first post (or one of their first posts) contains a suspicious link that they may be affiliated with, the post is removed and they are contacted, making them aware of our user guidelines. If they start off with more than one post that does this, they’re posts are removed and they are probably banned. New users are not given the benefit of the doubt on these matters. Once someone is established in our community, they will be given more leeway, however it is not appropriate to create threads or posts to bring attention to something that you are affiliated with.
Spamming is not a strategy that respectable individuals employ. If you want to post your website on a community, you check their guidelines. If you are unsure, even in the slightest, you ask a staff member and then proceed as they outline – and only as they outline. If a particular website is a persistent offender on my network, they might find their link banned from the network as a whole. That is, their link is not allowed to be posted on any of my communities in any instance.
Regardless of what the guidelines say (unless they specifically permit it, which is… suffice to say, highly unlikely), covertly creating multiple accounts to boost up your discussion or talk amongst yourself is universally looked at as uncool. Really, it’s embarrassing behavior that no respectable organization will want to be associated with because if it should come to light, they’ll be roasted and you should never do anything that you will be ashamed of should it come to light.
I certainly disagree with the notion that can’t be successful if you promote your videos in an ethical fashion, as the article states that the days of natural hits like Ask A Ninja, etc. are over. If you create something engaging and you work at it, you can be a success – just as much as if you manufacturer that success in an artificial fashion. Quality stuff, funny stuff (to someone, not necessarily you or me), gets passed on. If no one likes it, it doesn’t, no matter how much you push it.
The article has some good points, I’m sure, but how can you be left with anything but a dirty feeling after having read it? I mean, yeah, some people won’t feel that way, but those aren’t people I really want to associate myself with. There is always a group of people who don’t care how they get something, they just want it. And there can be serious consequences for that. It’s good for us to know that people like this exist so that we can know what we’re up against and also so that we can know what we don’t want to be.
For me, it’s about creating something of quality and doing it the right way, through hard work and dedication and through respecting others’ space – in other words, having a semblance of ethical values to adhere to. If you think “this is business” and there are no ethics, that’s just not true and, to me, that’s a terrible way to think. You always have a choice. You don’t have to be slimy.
Just a random question you have to ask yourself if you are a client of a company with this philosophy – if they are not above manufacturing interest in your video, why would they be above manufacturing views, favorites and whatever else in order to meet their quotas to fulfill their contracts and make you feel like you’ve really gotten your money’s worth? Be careful who you get in bed with.