The Reality of Getting Famous on the Internet
As a social media manager, I’ve pretty much heard it all when it comes to a client’s desire to hit it big on the internet. Whether it’s from their YouTube channel, their Facebook rants, or their blogs being syndicated, they all want their fifteen minutes of fame. However, most of them fail to understand that Justin Bieber was a one in a million shot and for a client in Anytown, USA it’s even less of one.
If I’ve heard the statement “I want to film YouTube videos so they will go viral” once, I’ve heard fifty times. It’s a highly ridiculous statement that comes from people not truly understanding the nature of the internet. It’s also a statement that is difficult to rebut because once people have it in their minds that they’re going to hit it big on the internet, it’s difficult to dissuade them.
She’s a Fickle Beast
The internet is not your friend. It’s not there to make you famous unless you happen to be an extremely talented, yet wholly obnoxious fifteen-year-old Canadian boy with golden pre-pubescent pipes. Yes, Justin Bieber, the mega-star was discovered via YouTube, but the likelihood of that happening for a small business owner publishing minute long videos about being a life coach is not bloody likely. The internet is a fickle beast and she’s eaten bigger fish than you for a snack.
There are also bloggers who have gotten pretty famous via the internet as well. Avid blog writers Jen Lancaster and the aptly titled The Bloggess have both gotten book deals based on the humor found within their blogs. However, their cases are also incredibly rare. Jen Lancaster was published because her blog revolved around losing her job during the dot-com bust and how difficult it was proving to be for her to find another one. One the bloggess’ blogs were about a pursuit for a giant metal chicken, which provided just the right amount of ridiculousness to appeal to people. Both of these witty women were discovered due to the right mix of reality and humor in their blogs, not just because they were publishing a blog in general.
Explaining the Reality… Tactfully
In customer service related industries, you have to choose your words carefully. You often have to tiptoe around issues in order to get your point across in a tactful and respectful manner. So, while I want to say to some of my social media clients something as simple as, “It’s not gonna happen, let it go. No one wants to read a blog about your daily walk around the block.”, I have to remain friendly and approachable (yes, that’s a real example). So instead I tell them that I will keep working to the best of my ability and plugging away at sites like StumbleUpon and Medium in order to appeal to a bigger audience.
The fact that most of my clients are of the baby boomer generation and the explanation of social media’s importance, in general, is a challenge, explaining why every video doesn’t go viral is even harder. I’ve had clients that have asked me how to make people follow them on Twitter so that famous people will RT them. I’ve had a client make several poor attempts at Vine videos, and more recently Snapchat stories trying to appeal to a younger audience about commercial real estate. These stories make for charming and amusing anecdotes now, but when I’m up against the wall with a client who is paying me for specific services, they’re quite painful.
I’m well versed in how to increase someone’s following with value driven content. I know how to draw attention to their blog and I can certainly make sure that their audience is well educated on the service they offer. But I’m not a miracle worker and I can’t control what the internet pays attention to. Sometimes a blog is going to get a lot of attention and sometimes it isn’t, but the common denominator one either side of that chance is that it’s what people wanted, not something I could do.
I wish there was some magic formula that could get every blog published on Huffington Post or other worthy sites. If every YouTube video went viral, my job would be so much easier. However, that isn’t the way the internet works and it probably never will be.