Okay y’all. Last week I declared that I’m starting to feel it’s more effective to withhold comment on viral video yoga “controversies” than to get sucked into a predictable and cyclical conversation which ultimately results in increased brand recognition. Even though I want to advocate silence – for myself at least, as I find the cycle too frustrating and energy-draining – I also have to admit that I find the idea of silence a little unnerving. I value dialogue and believe in the power of conversation.
Luckily, YogaDawg came up with a pointed, yet typically light response with the above graphic. It’s interesting to think of the community as being exploited, rather than the women featured in sexualized yoga advertising – that puts a different spin on things, for me.
Is there a way to stimulate healthy discussion without fueling the fire? I decided to come up with some guidelines for how to contribute to the conversation without participating in it. Check ’em out:
1) Resist the urge to comment on the video page itself, or watch it repeatedly to “analyze” the content. These show up as pageviews and comments numbers, which reinforce the effectiveness of the ad.
2) When blogging about the latest controversy, link to other blog posts or news articles about the video, rather than embedding the video in your post and driving more traffic towards it. Rather than posting images or screenshots of the video, post positive alternatives (or pictures of kittens! tag them with “nude yoga” and confuse the several thousand people who search that term daily). I learned the hard way that a powerful image can actually detract from the conversation at hand.
3) When commenting on other blog posts, refrain from making assumptions about the models – they’re human and they actually have very little creative control over the final product (which is determined by ad agencies and marketing departments). Instead, comment on the branding and apparent strategy of the advertisement.
4) Email marketing directors and CEOs (or send a letter! on paper!). It’s convenient and easy to tweet/post a comment on a fanpage (that’s why it’s called slacktivism, yo), but these kinds of public displays are having less clout as brands are have more social media savvy (and less fear): they see this as “conversation,” not criticism. If you really want to show you’re passionate and concerned, take the time to write a thoughtful letter. As well, many social media accounts are handled by interns or outsources to agencies and feedback often doesn’t reach the upper ranks.
5) Before you hit the submit button: pause, take a deep breath and read over what you’ve written. Does your comment contribute to the conversation, or are you just saying something for the sake of saying something? Are your emotions overriding your discernment? Will others be harmed by what you have to say?
I’m sure there are more ways to subvert viral marketing. Do you have anything to add?