So, you know how my hobby is to deconstruct people who go viral and try to help them with unsolicited advice? This is a follow up to one of those interventions from last year.
This is actually a rewrite/ update of a piece I did last summer, when I was studying people who went viral to see if they were set up correctly (kind of like I did with this musician, who was not, and is still not, and who I want to give a swift kick right in the ass for being so disorganized). The person I discuss below, I concluded, was not, and I posted a whole article about him with ways I thought he could improve. Interestingly, he eventually must have heard about this in his Google Alerts, because he emailed me to tell me that he had made some of my changes, but that other things I pointed out were wrong wrong wrong, and that I am a mean marketer who is probably just jealous of him.
Here is the original article, in case you're curious:
I finally got around to watching this clever video which, if you haven’t been on the internet lately, is where a filmmaker digs up footage he shot when he was twelve, then has a dialog with himself twenty years later. Super clever!
Brilliant concept, well executed. Went viral in July, and immediately got 2.5 million YouTube hits (it now has over 9 million). Good for him! The one issue I have with this guy is that he's actually not very organized, so I feel like he might be missing out on some opportunities that can come with a success like this. With this in mind, here is my breakdown of Jeremiah McDonald’s digital media network. Please use this example to make changes to your own digital inventory so that when YOUR film goes viral, you can leverage all of those eyeballs to get you to the next level in your career. OK, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a filmmaker who has been sent this amazing video and wants to hire Jeremiah McDonald to work with him, or maybe a reporter who wants to cover this story, shall we? Let’s see how difficult it is to actually find our way to Jeremiah McDonald, the person, to give him work and shower him with compliments and opportunities. Remember, the whole reason you want a video to go viral like this is so more people will know about your awesomeness and give you these opportunities.
- The original YouTube video that is being passed around has a link underneath it, and that link is this: https://tellmetodrawsomething.tumblr.com/
I like this film, so I click this link because I want to know more about this clever person. This is a Tumblr blog where I guess he posts something that he draws every day . There is an email at the top of this blog, (tellmetodrawsomething @ gmail . com), but it’s not that visible and I’m not sure it even goes to him. I want him to make a film for me (not a drawing), so instead I will Google him to see if he has a website. To me, this is a HUGE missed opportunity-- the link in that now-viral video should go STRAIGHT TO HIS WEBSITE, where the social media icons should be on display. It should take potential employers five seconds to find this guy, and instead he is making it hard.
Moving on, I Google “Jeremiah McDonald” and find that he has a website. Great!
2. I visit the website, https://www.jeremiahmcdonald.com/, where frankly I am a little shocked to not his HUGE HIT VIRAL VIDEO on the homepage. Jeremiah McDonald—put your video on your homepage! Connect that branding, man!
3. I am starting to doubt this is even the same guy. I go over to the “About” section, where there is a mention of some French filmmaking and his association with a French company. In fact, there is so much talk of France, I would have given up on this page were it not for the picture of him, which looks like the guy in the video. I move on to the “My Work” tab and click on “Weeping Prophet,” which is the username for the YouTube video that went viral (but again, this is more work than an entertainment industry person would EVER do, I am just doing it to illustrate a point). Still, NO MENTION OF THE VIRAL VIDEO.
4. I go over to the Press section. This is the section I’m supposed to go to if I’m a member of the press and I want to give this guy some press, right? Nope. It’s press about him, and it takes you off of the site. Another dead end.
5. I go to the Contact page, where I am presented with the following options: Email (this goes to someone’s Yahoo account and forces my email to open, which annoys me). Still can’t tell if it’s him. I count this as a dead end.
Blog: an abandoned Blogspot blog that hasn't been updated since last year. Another dead end.
Twitter: FINALLY! I click on Twitter to find that THIS is where the esteemed filmmaker Jeremiah McDonald has been hiding himself. He seems to be responding to tweets, which is great. Hopefully his following on Twitter knows about the video because the link in his profile goes to….. A totally random Vimeo page that also DOES NOT CONTAIN THE VIRAL VIDEO.
So, in summary: I see a great video. I want to hire the guy that made it. It takes me at least twelve actions to find him on a Twitter feed.
Here is my advice for Jeremiah McDonald: PULL THIS NETWORK TOGETHER RIGHT NOW BEFORE YOU LOSE MORE PEOPLE.
--Change the link in that YouTube video to https://jeremiahmcdonald.com
-- Add social media to a permanent sidebar on the main site as well as to the Tumblr blog, making it 1000% easier to get in contact with you. I promise you, your Twitter following is going to increase exponentially.
--Put a “Contact Me” form on the website that goes straight to you (instead of opening a random email) --Make a Facebook Fan Page for yourself so you can capitalize on all the social sharing that’s going on. -- Change the link in your Twitter profile to point back to the main site.
-- Update all references on your site to affirm that, in fact, you are the guy who created that AWESOME VIRAL VIDEO.
-- Put a statement on your site that indicates what, exactly, you are trying to do in life, because right now is the time when you have everyone’s attention and someone might give it to you. Do you want to make movies in Hollywood? Are you a screenwriter? Do you want to work in animation? Tell everyone what you want, and then make it crystal clear how they can get in touch with you to help you get those things.
The point of this post is not even to get on Jeremiah McDonald’s case—in fact, I honestly hope that he sees this and makes these changes, because I think his network being disorganized is losing him people and opportunities, and I want to see him succeed because he’s clearly talented and has been at this a long time. This is his big moment!
The lesson, though, that we can take from this is: please put at least as much time into making sure your digital foundation is strong before you make anything that has the possibility of going viral. What you want is for the world to notice your work and think it’s awesome, then for people to be able to actually find you to give you the opportunities you so richly deserve. We’ll see if Jeremiah McDonald actually reads my post and takes my advice (fingers crossed), but in the meantime, use this opportunity to clean up your own network. Look at your own website/ social media like you were the person who you’d ideally like to be giving you your “big break.” Can you easily find a way to contact yourself? Does your network give the impression “this person has their shit together and would meet a deadline if I hired them?”
I’m all for making awesome stuff that goes viral. I just think we all should remember that ART IS BUSINESS, and act accordingly. YouTube is certainly not giving back that bazillion dollars they just made from advertising on that viral success, after all. They are set up as a business that wants to make money, and that is what you should be as well.
Tomorrow I will share with you the delightfully snarky series of follow-up comments in response to this piece, but we'll go step by step back through my list. I think you will be surprised at how much he has changed!