No I didn’t swipe that headline from The Onion: The subtle genius of this video is that it’s the perfect “man bites dog story” and speaks volumes about social media — if you’re willing to look under the surface. I’m a big believer that humor actually can sometimes tell us more about what’s going on than a straight news story: And this is why I always make it a point to never ignore what Loren Feldman has to say about the tech scene.
From my point of view Loren first entered my mindset with his vicious mocking of nebbish tech writer Shel Israel with a puppet that imitated Shel Israel. Although Shel is a nice guy the genius of the puppet videos (which are still ongoing) is that in a “The Emperor Has No Clothes” moment that a self proclaimed social media expert really didn’t understand social media. For starters Shel Israel didn’t even own or blog on shelisrael.com, next he didn’t respect that video was a medium that you had to learn something about and lastly the effectiveness of Loren’s sarcastic video was in itself a brilliant how-to lesson in the effectiveness of using social media.
But getting back to our apathetic cat: We live in a media saturated world where anything that can break through the clutter has an immense value to those who work in marketing. Second rate marketers who play follow-the-leader sell their clients on the concept that for little money (or professionalism) they too can create a viral video. But what they’re missing is that these memes often happen by accident and can’t be planned.
Demotivational poster above found via sloshspot.com.
And I suspect that the take home lesson that Feldman is tapping into is that what’s required is good old fashioned professionalism. Feldman would claim that when he was mocking poor Shel that if he spent just a day with him, Feldman could make him look good. Feldman’s elixir? He would sit Shel down and give him some basic acting lessons and show him some film school 101 techniques on how to use a camera and lights. I also suspect that Feldman would offer un-hip advice about having a script or even just thinking about what you’re going to say before you hit the on button on the camera.
Above: Shel with a copy of Twitterville. Photo by Jeremiah Owyang.
Of course Shel had ego and couldn’t follow this advice. And cashing in on the hype over social media he recently published a book titled Twitterville which did score a few headlines in the national non-tech media (I think I recall seeing a Newsweek review). But I contend that had Shel taken up Loren on his offer that he would have gotten much further with his book. Had Shel honed his on-camera skills he might have been hawking his Twitterville on national television.
This upcoming week in New York City Feldman will be launching his own branded social media foray — a conference titled Audience. Zigging while everyone is zagging Feldman is boldly rejecting the notion of community which has been the gospel of social media experts ever since The Cluetrain Manifesto came out in 2000. To the self anointed experts the concept of having an audience is ironically just too top-to-bottom heavy as opposed to the neo-con approach to having a community, which to markets is a a fake democracy that can be controlled.
And like Loren’s apathetic kitty there’s something more honest about the old fashioned idea of having an audience when thinking of social media. Loren is eschewing the hype of the moment and getting back-to-basics by doing this. I happen to think he’s very on target given the economy, while I don’t think we’re in a 30s style Great Depression I do think we’re in a mid-70s style recession so the moment is right for a punk rock approach to marketing.