Mashable Media Summit: "10 Web Content Urban Legends"

June 16, 2010

Last week as part of Internet Week events in New York City, Mashable presented their very first Mashable Media Summit. The day was full of an excellent array of speakers from organizations such as Starbucks, CNN, Foursquare, The Red Cross, and included a special presentation from Edward Norton to introduce his new philanthropy website, Crowdrise. All the speakers had valuable information to share, yet a few presentations really stood out for highlighting good use of digital in today’s environment.

Here is a brief summary of Ricky Van Veen’s presentation on the “10 Web Content Urban Legends,” which could also be appropriately titled, “Guidelines for Creating Great Web Content.”

Why didn’t my content go viral?

Myth 1 – People will want to watch my branded content

Before placing content on the Web, you should understand the motivating factor for why people will want to watch your video. The most successful videos exist for pure entertainment intent. Where video content faces challenges is when it becomes tied to product/brand promotion or if it takes a journey through layers of public relations and legal company editing, which could dull down its entertainment value.
Myth 2 – People will be patient with my content

Attention span on the Internet is exceptionally short. After 30 seconds approximately 35% of the audience has left. Ensure content is seen in its entirety by keeping it short, and making sure the hook relatively early into the video.
Myth 3 – People Will Find My Content

Anyone can upload content on the Internet and an unfathomable amount is uploaded every day. To help people find your content, some strategies include: 1) Seeding strategy to give initial push, 2) Teaming up with an established brand, or 3) Co-branding ads with creating entity.
Myth 4 – The Internet is a Level Playing Field

Sites such as Drudgereport and Huffington Post offer far greater value than links from low audience blogs. Linking sites offers great value, but recognize that the benefit will not be the same from all sites.
Myth 5 – We have no Idea Why Things Go Viral

People sharing content on the Web are also making an identity statement about themselves by endorsing the material. Determine what passing along this particular content will say about the sharer. Are they funny, up to date on current events, cool, demonstrating industry expertise? If the content makes a positive statement about the person’s identity, they will be more inclined to pass it on to their social networks.

Some content strategies used on College Humor include 1) shooting only for top hits, 2) short video time length (2-3 mins), 3) hitting viewer sweet spots such as content on topical issues or that hit home with a cultural cornerstone.
Myth 6 – Experimentation Leads Documentation

Create experiences for people that are worth “tweeting out” to their social network. Social media users are more inclined to document a moment (video, photo, tweet) over experiencing it passively as the event takes place. Life’s most interesting moments are now being recorded and tweeted. If a particular event will improve their status among their social network, it will make for a great tweet/status update/video recording opportunity.
Myth 7 – Let’s Build Our Own Community and Tools

The fewer barriers you place between the user and the content the better. The web values simplicity, therefore making your audience subscribe or go through a lengthy personal information disclosure before accessing content will be detrimental for obtaining a sizeable audience.
Myth 8 – Lets keep things Professional

Giving customers a peek behind-the-scenes of your corporate brand can be beneficial and add personality to the business. Allowing the personality of company employees to shine through can help to drive the brand.
Myth 9 – Traditional Media is Irrelevant on the Web

The Web is becoming a more relied upon source of information, but content that can be found on TV has a legitimacy that the Web lacks. The audience is still strongly with TVas evidenced by the fact that an average American watches 151 hours of TV a month (nearly a full time job’s worth of time). Content that has had a push from TV mention has proven to perform better.
Myth 10 – People will Create Good Content For Me

It is not recommended to depend on content contests to fill your space with entertaining, viral worthy content. Chances are that it will result in little material of low quality. One excellent example offered by Van Veen concerned the CNN/YouTube presidential debate. Mega brands sought out question submissions for a high-stakes, high profile event, yet the result was a meager 1,100 total submissions. When considering the size of these brands and the assumed interactive appeal of this event, how successful will a smaller brand be at generating greater results?

If the sum up for Ricky’s presentation piqued any additional interest, the entire presentation, as recorded live at the Mashable Media Summit is available for viewing on YouTube.