A Word To The Wise From This Week’s Viral Phenomenon
By now most of you will have seen Marina Shifrin’s contribution to the viral canon; a video of herself indulging in a little freestyle dancing around the office of Next Animation Media at 4.30am, set to “Gone” by Kanye West. The video doubly serves as Shifrin’s resignation letter to the Taiwanese news video company, and it is this gut punch of a sign-off that has no doubt helped its number of views.
On Tuesday, a number of Shifrin’s co-workers at Next Animation Media posted their own “interpretive dance” video to YouTube, wishing Shifrin the best and taking the opportunity to announce that they now have a job opening. The video highlighted a number of company perks, such as a rooftop pool, perhaps in an attempt to limit the damage Shifrin had done to their reputation among prospective applicants.
There is a lesson to be learned here, although oddly enough, it is not a lesson about how to appropriately deliver a resignation or manage your professional brand. Shifrin’s video, while tongue-in-cheek, does raise an issue that is often skirted in the fast-paced, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it world of digital content.
In the video description, Shifrin writes about her growing dissatisfaction with the ‘quantity vs. quality’ attitude of the company:
“I have put my entire life into this job, but my boss only cares about quantity, how fast we write, and how many views each video gets.”
It is easy to appreciate both sides of this argument. On the one hand, consumers crave fast content and marketers are keen to feed that appetite. But on the other, is something rattled off quickly, without much thought, as likely to gain traction with consumers as something that has been designed and created with a keen strategy or understanding of reader behaviour?
BuzzFeed is a prime example of this tug of war. A large proportion of their news-based articles, which hit the web in as close to real time as currently possible, secure high volumes of traffic due to their topical nature. But other, less time-sensitive articles from the same site can often feel rushed or cobbled together; you often get the sense that BuzzFeed’s writers are under such pressure to produce content that they adopt a “that’ll do” attitude.
Of course, not every article can go viral – it’s a numbers game, and trendy content farms like BuzzFeed and Gawker win more times than they lose, thanks to the sheer volume of their output. But surely it is better to know what kind of stories are worth your time than it is to be a busy fool.
“I believe it’s more important to focus on the quality of the content,” says Shifrin. “When you learn to improve this, the views will come.”