This site is no longer updated. Please visit PBH2 directly or other PBH Network sites like All That Is Interesting, ProseBeforeHos, Runt of the Web, PBH2 Video Before It's Viral, or Alligator Sunglasses.

Confessions of a Social Media Hit Man

A “friend” is a wanted man by the KFC. And it’s all because of this commercial:

It smacks more of Dave Chappelle than the Colonel, but it is an actual KFC ad that ran in Australia. The “friend” thought the ad would ruffle feathers with more politically-correct American circles. He posted it on Facebook and Twitter and went to bed.

The Huffington Post picked it up first, then the New York press, then the world. By the time he woke up, some 300,000 people (roughly the population of Pittsburgh) had watched it. And they were none too pleased with KFC. KFC responded with a written statement the next day:

“We excuse for some interpretation of the ad as it was not meant to breach anyone. It is a light-hearted meaning to the West Amerindic cricket group … The ad was reproduced online in the US … where we are told a culturally-based classify exists, directive to the inaccurate declaration of racism.” [via DailyWorldBuzz]

The statement did little to pacify outrage American audiences. It just made them angrier. So KFC pulled the ad—two days later, and a half million dollars in PR damage control costs poorer.


Media is broken. Sliced up, TiVo’d beyond repair. And the tragedy is media companies did it to themselves. The problem is they gave us consumers content whenever we wanted, wherever we wanted. And it was a crossing of the pixilated Rubicon. We’re never going back.

We buy 99 cent singles on iTunes rather than CDs with 15 songs we don’t want. (If we buy songs at all…) Weekly album sales are at their lowest levels since Nixon. We tell “30 Rock” or “Family Guy” when we want to watch them, not vice versa.

Let’s face it, us Generation Y’ers, Echo Baby Boomers, Millenials, whatever you want to call us, you can call us cheap. We don’t do paid online content. And those annoying banner ads drive us away faster than you can say University of Phoenix. The $31+ billion dollar question is: how do you monetize online videos? The answer is: no one knows yet, but Hulu comes the closest.

We are OK with video ads, not for bulldogs riding skateboards, but polished 23 minute episodes of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” or “Glee”. No one really watches more than a grainy clip or two of user generated content. We eat up our field-reporter fails though—from grape-stomping to going ghetto:



The Internet is a digital Athenian democracy, vaulting billions across the globe into the same digital Agora. It is a streaming marketplace of ideas that levels the playing field between the haves and have-nots. Nearly everyone can tap into the globe’s digital pulse of news, opinions, and viral videos. The Internet does not discriminate against class, race, sex, and faith. All you need is a modem connection for all human knowledge at your fingertips.

Except the Internet isn’t really a democracy at all. It’s an oligarchy chaired by Internet “Power Users”. They are the trusted social-media chieftains of Facebook, Twitter, Digg and lesser social media tribes, whose word and links are law to their millions of followers. They are the select few who dictate what goes viral and what falls flat. They vote early and often, pushing their stories to the top.

In the age of incredibly shrinking media, Internet traffic is as good as gold. So rather than fight these social media warriors, companies quietly hire them. Firms lavish these mercenaries with cushy “Director of Online Marketing” or “Social Media Advisors” independent contracts. The salaries aren’t there yet, but the perks that are legendary. Free trips to Europe, weekends in Vegas and everything is comped in the rarefied air of Pantheon “Power Users”.

So who are these “Power Users” exactly? In the US, they tend to be 20- or 30-something dudes, liberal, and hilarious drinking buddies. (You would be too if you spent all day, every day, sifting through the funniest the Interwebs has to offer.) They work from their apartments, love that they don’t have to get dressed in the morning, and reach at least 50k people by lunch. “Power Users” spend most of the day pushing their clients’ stories on gchat in between torrented “Planet Earth” or “Dexter” episodes. Armed with a Slingbox or some other free video software, they are ever-ready to rip off the “next Susan Boyle” video for millions of views and Internet immortality:


Post a Comment