donderdag 27 augustus 2015

Is Social Media Turning Us Into a Bunch of Voyeuristic Assholes?


Back when I was in high school in the UK, whenever there was a fight a group of kids would create a circle and encourage the combatants.

This was primarily for two reasons – one, to egg the fighters on and hopefully see blood (yeah, we were a civil bunch) and two, to ensure no-one would interrupt until the end of the fight.

We got so good at enabling this “circle of doom” that even teachers struggled to break up really good fights, and sometimes didn’t even try – they’d simply wait until the fight was done, and then dish out whatever punishment was relevant.

As mean as this might sound, one thing I recall would happen every single time is that, once the fight was done, the two combatants would usually smile and be friends. Kids, eh?

The point being, there was no ongoing damage from that moment of carnage.

Jump forward 30 or so years, and now social media is enabling us to return to that schoolyard environment, but with one key difference – now we’re just being voyeuristic assholes, and the damage isn’t being limited to a few bruises and cuts.

It’s Social Media, There’s No Such Thing as Privacy

Earlier this week, Twitter (and the subsequent social web and entertainment rags) lit up with the live tweeting of a couple’s break-up on a delayed flight.

While waiting on the tarmac for the flight to take off, allegedly a guy broke up with his girlfriend, and their 90 minute exchange was shared across Twitter by New Yorker Kelly Keegs.

The live tweeting started with the image below (I’ve blurred the heads of the couple involved):

Kelly Keegs 1

This was followed up by a whole bunch of tweets that gave a play-by-play account of what was happening.

Kelly Keegs 2

Kelly Keegs 3

Eventually, according to Keegs, the couple started making out and ordered a round of drinks for the flight when it finally took off.

But this wasn’t the end of it.

As Twitter users got hold of the “story”, it started trending, and people started following Keegs to get updates. By the end of the “event”, her Twitter followers had at least doubled (stats by Twitter Counter).

Keegs twitter growth

Which kinda says a lot about the kind of people we’ve become, when we see a young couple’s emotional distress as entertainment fodder.

Yet should we be surprised? This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened.

I’m Bored, Let’s Stroke My Ego a Bit

Back in November 2013, TV executive Elan Gale live tweeted his exchanges with a passenger on his flight.

Much like the flight Keegs was on last week, Gale’s flight was also delayed. By his account, a female passenger named “Diane” became agitated and demanded special treatment.

This frustrated Gale, and once they were on their flight, he started sending notes to Diane about how awful and selfish she was.

As it turned out, this whole “exchange” was a complete fabrication (many people are thinking the same of the Keegs example, too) made up by Gale.

Much like Keegs, Gale’s Twitter following during the event jumped from 35,000 followers to over 175,000.

Clearly, social media enjoys a humiliating sideshow, real or otherwise, as evidenced by the amount of favourites and retweets both Gale’s tweets about “Diane”, and Keeg’s tweets about the emotional couple, show.

Elan Gale 1


Of course, these are just simple passive endorsements – anybody can like, favourite or retweet.

It’s when you look at some of the commentary around these things that the assholery of our current love for social media voyeurism comes to the fore.

Karlee Kanz

Kanz 2

So, not only are we moving from an encouraging-the-chaos-to-continue-to-be-shared mindset, we’re actually laying the blame for all of this on the victim(s).

Like when others decide to stand up for those being humiliated further in the name of social media entertainment, and the peanut gallery tries to deflect this empathy by (once again) blaming the victim.

Keegs 5

Because, yes – public place and all that jazz. Except there’s a very big difference between a public place that’s limited by confinement, and public on social media.

Forget Empathy, Give Me My Internet Fame!


Jumping back to Keegs and her live “commentary” of the couple breaking up opposite her, she seems to have taken all the recent attention in her stride and celebrated it.

From getting all giddy at her Twitter count jump, to saying the worst part about the whole affair was having to apologize to her nana for the profanity in the updates, there’s very little empathy or sympathy on display for the couple in question.

(Note: I haven’t watched any of her TV appearances, or listed to any of her radio interviews, as I have zero interest – she may well have shown sympathy then.)

Which does seriously make me wonder if she didn’t make the whole thing up to get attention – after all, you’d need to be a pretty shitty human being to take joy from someone else’s suffering, right?

Internet fame can be alluring, after all – just ask the countless number of people who try and create viral Vines, or share outrageous memes and social updates in the name of stoking follower count (even through controversy).

But let’s take the viral side of things away for a moment, and look at what’s really happening.

It’s Not Following Along, It’s Voyeurism, And It Can Be Damaging

In the case of the alleged break-up shared by Keegs, this is about a young couple going through one of life’s toughest moments – a romantic break-up.

If you’ve ever broken up with someone – or, more specifically, been broken up with by someone – you know the pain and anguish you immediately feel.

Your heart is broken. Your soul feels empty. Your skin feels like it belongs on someone else. Simply put, you cease to be who you were just a few seconds before.

Now, as bad as that is, we (eventually) get over that. Our friends help us forget and move on, and our family provides the emotional cushion that only they can truly give.

And the reason we’re able to get on with our lives is that the pain and fallout has been kept in a very limited and reasonably private bubble.

Social media assholes

Now consider one of your worst moments in life being shared to thousands on Twitter. Not only described in words, but “enhanced” by a picture of you and your soon-to-be-ex breaking up.

Then think of all the abuse coming your way to protect the sharer of your break-up, just so the voyeurs of that break up can justify it by saying it’s in a public place.

That’d suck, right? So why do we encourage others to share the very thing that would break our hearts if it was us?

Why do we encourage others to share the very thing that would break our hearts if it was us?Click To Tweet

Take it just one step further.

Someone is emotionally raw, vulnerable. They’ve just had their heart broken. They feel life is over. And then they learn that it’s been not only shared but celebrated on social media.

Mainstream media too, going by the interest in Keegs’ little Twitter adventure.

And then the abuse starts piling up. And the shame, and humiliation, and strangers saying you deserved all you got because clearly you’re highly strung and your boyfriend (or girlfriend) is well shot of you.

You already feel life is over, because the love of your life no longer wants to be with you. So why not actually make it over?

A little far-fetched? Examples around the web would suggest otherwise – all so we can get our voyeuristic kicks.

It’s Not the Same As When We Grew Up

In drafting this post, I shared on Facebook that I was writing a piece on how social media has turned us into voyeuristic assholes.

One of my friends who I respect a lot for his measured take on things is Ike Piggott. He suggested something that I’ve heard a lot of in the last 12 months or so, when this kind of topic is raised.

“Rubbernecking” always existed before automobiles, it just got more pronounced and easy to spot when we were all lined up and going the same way.

The point Ike makes (and it’s correct) is that assholes have always existed – it’s the environment that determines how many assholes are visible.

Social media, by its sheer raison d’etre, merely enables assholes to have the kind of audience they could only have dreamed off pre-2006.

And yet… does that really offer an excuse? Does that essentially agree with the premise that, hey, it’s in the public so it can be shared?

Perhaps, at least legally. Different countries have very different viewpoints on what’s classed as an invasion of privacy versus something along the lines of “fair use”.

And maybe that’s what we, as a generation, have signed up for when we openly share the private moments that otherwise would only have been seen by family and friends. Pictures of our kids on Facebook, for example, or that goofy vacation photo.

But that’s the difference – we choose to share, as opposed to some attention-hungry stranger who gets their kicks out of the misery of others.

Yes, we’ve all seen something happen in the supermarket, or at a bar, or in a park, and we’ve talked about it with our partners, our work colleagues, our friends.

But that’s always been within a very closed circle, with zero targeting of, and abuse to, the person or people in question. That doesn’t make it right, necessarily, but it does “protect” them.

Today, there’s no such protection. Today, everything is fair game. Today, everything and anything can be shared so we can claim our 15 minutes of digital fame.

If you think that this isn’t a big deal, and that it’s simply fun and will soon be forgotten, ask yourself this:

If it’s your son or daughter that’s the object of the voyeurs of social media, would you laugh at them and tell them to stop being such drama queens?

Think about it.

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Is Social Media Turning Us Into a Bunch of Voyeuristic Assholes?
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Book Review & Interview: Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

Book Review & Interview: Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi


The Godfather of Content Marketing has struck gold again. Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi has a new book that will hit shelves and amazon carts this September.

His newest book, Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses is a delightful blend of inspiration from Joe’s personal experiences building Content Marketing Institute and advice businesses can follow to create an actionable content business model.

Content Inc. takes readers down the logical path from starting their journey, to monetization and creating next-level content.

When the Godfather releases a new piece of content it is always worth a read. If you don’t, you may have to answer to his loyal base of subscribers and followers. Below are some highlights of Content Inc. as well as an exclusive interview with Joe on his new book.

What You’ll Learn in Content Inc.

By focusing on building an audience first and defining products and services second, an entrepreneur can change the rules of the game and significantly increase the odds of financial and personal success.
– Joe Pulizzi

How to Lead with Goal Setting

There is a big difference between inherently having an idea of what your goals might be, and actually getting them down on paper and persistently working to achieve them. Even though this book is largely about content, Joe makes sure to emphasize that you should document all goals, personal and professional in order to be successful. This approach can help you prioritize and scale your business model.

The 6 Step Content Inc. Model

This book is built around what Joe calls the “Content Inc. Model” which is a six step process marketers can follow to efficiently and effectively develop a winning content marketing program. What are the steps?

  1. The Sweet Spot: A blend of your  core knowledge and passion.
  2. Content Tilt: Defining what makes you different from your competition.
  3. Building the Base: Determining which content distribution channels will be your foundation for publishing.
  4. Harvesting Audience: Leveraging different methods to draw in new audience members.
  5. Diversification: How to break out from your base distribution channels and build additional streams.
  6. Monetization: Once you’ve scaled your model, how will you use it to generate revenue?

Real-Life Examples of Why Content Inc. Works

Content Inc. has a high impact ending. After we’ve been instructed on the six steps, given prompts for action and resources for more information, we have the best part; examples. Readers can gain inspiration from hearing more about how companies like Razor Social, Lego, Marriott and more have found success from following the Content Inc. Model.

From the Mouth of the Godfather of Content Marketing

This book review wouldn’t be complete without some additional insight from the author, Joe Pulizzi. Here is how Joe describes the notion of Content Inc. in his own words:

Who is Content, Inc. for?

The book is perfect for two audiences.  First, for startups and small businesses, Content Inc. can serve as the underlying business model for long-term growth.  Build a loyal audience and sell them whatever you want.  Second, the book can really help marketers in larger companies who need to be change agents.  Marketers looking to build a valuable audience in a specific content niche – that ultimately will help them drive more leads, more sales or new lines of revenue.


In chapter one you talk about “Beginning with the end in mind”. What impact has goal setting had your own career?

My life changed for the better when I started to do two things.  First, write down my goals (with actual pen and paper).  Second, review those goals daily.  You have no idea what kind of impact this can make on your life.  It’s such an easy thing to do that no-one does.

Another concept you reference is about “Unleashing Your Passion”. How did you find your passion for content marketing?

I don’t like the idea that marketers only sell and don’t make positive change happen.  That’s why I love content marketing.  You can increase the bottom line while, at the same time, help your customers live better lives or get better jobs.  Content marketing is the only kind of marketing that provides ongoing value, whether you purchase the product or not.  Isn’t that what all marketers want to do?  Provide real value?

What are three things you want people who read Content, Inc. to walk away understanding?

  1. That the way we’ve been launching and growing businesses is not right anymore for how people consume information.  Building an audience around valuable content is the absolute best way to start and grow a business for the long-term.
  2. That even though Content Inc. is not a get-rich quick scheme or will make immediate impact in your business, if you follow the six steps and consistently execute on the idea, you will be successful.  Any sized company can do this.  Any company or person can follow the six steps.  I love it because it’s democratic.  Bigger budgets don’t necessarily win.
  3. The competition can copy everything we do as companies except for one thing – how we communicate.  That means delivering an amazing content experience to our customers on a regular basis is THE most critical thing we should be doing as marketers, business owners and communication professionals.

What Should You Do Next?

The way that Joe structured Content Inc. is incredibly powerful. He provides enough information to make the content actionable, without creating paralysis from information overload. If you’re looking for a content model to follow, enjoy a good story, or just want to know more about the man behind Content Marketing Institute, I would strongly recommend pre-ordering a copy of Content Inc. on Amazon.

The book will be released on September 8, 2015 to coincide with the annual Content Marketing World event hosted by Joe’s team in Cleveland, OH.  The TopRank Marketing team will be in attendance, and our CEO Lee Odden will be speaking on the topic of Participation Marketing: How to Co-Create, Optimize & Socialize Content With Influencers.

We are very excited about Content Marketing World and look forward to learning from some of today’s top content marketing experts and connecting with other passionate content marketing individuals. See you there!


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Book Review & Interview: Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi |

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Recreations of your favorite games in 6-second Vines



We asked you to recreate your favorite games for our latest Vine challenge, inspired by upcoming MashFlix film GTFO.

The interview-driven documentary is all about women in gaming. It was funded on Kickstarter, then debuted at SXSW earlier this year.

Below is a roundup of the #GroovyGaming Vines we saw. We’re sending out movie streaming codes to those who submitted, so stay tuned!


If you’re in New York City, we’re hosting a screening of GTFO on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 27. Following the screening, we’ll have film director Shannon Sun-Higginson and a panel to answer questions. You can RSVP by clicking here. Read more…

More about Vine, Social Media, Mashable Vine Challenge, and Mashflix

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woensdag 26 augustus 2015

Malibu’s round-up of the best hashtags ever



Can you imagine a world without hashtags? We can’t. Here’s a list of our favorite ones, you’re bound to have used at least half of them…

You’ve got to love the mighty hashtag. Now a staple of our everyday social media diet, this little symbol is key to staying in conversation with the world


It’s not just limited to public posts, though. Many of us hashtag words –- sometimes even whole sentences –- on private platforms including emails, instant messages and even real-life conversations (ironically though, of course). #WeveAllDoneIt #DontPretendLikeYouHavent

So it’s official: We’re obsessed with hashtagging, and we’re really #SorryNotSorry about it. From the ones we use all the time to trending terms that have been at the heart of some of the most exciting global conversations happening via social media (to be honest, we’re amazed they didn’t #BreakTheInternet), here are our top hashtags of all time … Read more…

More about Hashtags, Social Media, Brandspeak, and Lists

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3 Examples of How Partnering with Influencers to Build Content Creates a Winning Combination

3 Examples of How Partnering with Influencers to Build Content Creates a Winning Combination


“Influencer Marketing” is a phrase that has gained momentum over the past few years. It seems that everywhere you turn, marketers are telling you that you need to incorporate influencers as part of your integrated digital marketing strategy. But the question is, does it really work?

Many companies may not have the staff or resources to run a full-fledged influencer marketing strategy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin dabbling in influencer marketing campaigns to help meet marketing and business objectives. A successful approach to influencer marketing provides value for both the company, and the influencers that participate. 

One ripe opportunity for building awareness and integrating influencer marketing into your marketing mix is to use it as a means to help promote events. 

Below are three stories of how TopRank Marketing helped three companies incorporate content and influencer marketing to create a winning combination for event promotion.

#1 – Collaborating with Influencers on a Blog Post to  Increase Target Conversion Pageviews

A leading genealogy research company wanted to leverage their involvement in the annual RootsTech event that averages around 20,000 attendees. In order to take advantage of a clearly identified and qualified audience, this company worked with TopRank Marketing to develop a content and social amplification plan that included contributions from industry influencers.

Objective: Collaborate with influencers to drive traffic to a specific high priority page on the business website.

Campaign elements included:

  • Content that included tips from influencers on how to best create a genealogy project
  • Thought leader outreach for contribution
  • Social message development to encourage amplification of the content
  • Cross promotion of influencers within social messages to increase reach

Results: Visits to the landing page increased significantly and the social reach exceeded all predictions and expectations. 


#2 – Using Influencers to Create Evergreen Content to Build Credibility

One of the largest healthcare technology companies in the United States participates in an annual event managed by Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS). Healthcare technology is an incredibly competitive field and marketing is heavily regulated. That means that companies in this industry have a unique opportunity to get creative with their approach.

Objective: Partner with influencers to create awareness at the event and develop evergreen content that is still promotable post-event.

Campaign elements included:

  • eBook including contributions from top healthcare experts
  • Gated landing page of the eBook on the company website
  • Optimization of the content for search
  • Paid and organic social amplification
  • Banner advertisement on the company blog
  • Supporting blog content

Results: This co-created campaign generated 22x the typical page views of previous landing pages and 3x as many downloads compared to other recent fulfillment pieces. 



#3 – Increasing Event Awareness with Co-Creation

Content Marketing World is the largest content marketing event in the world. But, competition in the digital marketing industry is becoming increasingly fierce, which means they need to find a creative way to provide valuable content for marketers. Content Marketing World partnered with TopRank Online Marketing to create a series of four eBooks (and supporting content) to provide attendees and potential attendees with tips from some of today’s top content marketers.

Objective: Develop an opportunity for influential speakers to participate in content creation that would promote their presentations, the CMWorld conference and create a useful and infotaining resource for all marketers interested in content marketing.

Campaign elements included:

  • 4 Alice in Wonderland themed eBooks co-created with conference speakers
  • 4 infographics that included tips from the speakers
  • Long form interviews to promote speaker sessions and expertise
  • Tweetable quotes to encourage social sharing
  • Paid and organic social amplification

Results: The campaign eBooks have garnered over 200,000 views on SlideShare and captured more than 1,000 leads.


Ready to Embark on Your Own Influencer Marketing Initiative?

These examples only provide a glimpse into the possibilities you can uncover with an influencer marketing program. Over the next few months, TopRank Marketing’s CEO Lee Odden will be speaking at some of the largest national and virtual conferences in the United States on the topic of influencer marketing and how to incorporate it into your digital marketing mix. 

If you’re interested to learn more about the benefits of adding influencer marketing to your integrated digital marketing strategy, please visit our website and learn more about our influencer marketing programs.

Header image via Shutterstock.

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3 Examples of How Partnering with Influencers to Build Content Creates a Winning Combination |

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