Winning the Internet

Don’t ever do this

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

It’s a near certainty that if you’re in this business long enough, one of two things is going to happen (or both):

1. You’re going to read several articles that state with deadpan seriousness that in order to grow your list you should consider creating a viral video.

2. Your boss or client is going to strongly suggest to you that what you need to be working on is creating viral videos.

Basically that’s like suggesting that you get drafted to the majors and hit 500 homeruns. It’s a very small club of people that are successful at doing this kind of thing. Sometimes you catch lightening in a bottle, but not often. What’s more likely to happen is this:

I can’t even tell you how indescribably horrible this video is. No really, I can’t. I’ve tried to watch it four times now and I can’t finish it. By taking on this meme with all of their clients these startups have not only lost their dignity but someone spent a lot of time and money making this monstrosity.

It is possible to take a meme to a whole different level. Just ask Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert. But often the me too additions just end up being lame versions of the original.

That doesn’t mean you can’t create video to promote what you’re doing as part of some campaign. It just means that you need to stick to storytelling. If you find yourself trying to copy some popular Internet meme or you’re setting out to create a “viral” video then you’re likely to be setting yourself up for failure.

This video for example is amazing, and a good example of what you can produce with some time, effort and great storytelling.


About Raven Brooks

Executive director of Netroots Foundation and Netroots Nation.

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