Education in the Facebook Era
Sunday, October 23, 2011Tweet
Someone recently shared this video with me. You'll have to watch it through to the end or this post may not make any sense:
It was created by the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy team, and while I don't necessarily think it's that funny, I started thinking about how this would be a genius approach for anybody wanting to create a real PSA (Public Service Announcement).
If you take just the first 45 seconds of the video, it really is a standard PSA: It imparts some factual information to influence people to behave a certain way. And even after you see the joke at the end, the information itself still has the opportunity to stick with you and make an impression on you. I doubt many people would take seriously (and act on) the ending recommendation to "drive recklessly" because "not every pedestrian is a good person."
The genius part is the recognition that influence is no longer all about money and branding and being a big corporation. This video has been viewed over 2 million times. Why? Because everyone who finds it funny is posting it on their Facebook page, saying, "Watch all the way to the end!" And then it takes just a click or two for those people to share it with their friends, with their own caption.
It's a lot more personal than a TV commercial because it's being shared between friends. And it's being shared because of the unexpected twist at the end, even though the majority of the video is a standard, educational PSA.
I'm not suggesting that every piece of information nowadays needs to be communicated with a "song and dance." As someone who works in education, it rubs me the wrong way when people suggest that everything has to be made an interactive website with video in order to get students to learn anything. I don't think that's true.
But I think that if you're trying to get information to a large number of people, it makes sense to capitalize on the networks of sharing that have already been built. You don't have to have millions of dollars to have a successful ad campaign if you can create something that people want to share with their friends.
As an example: On the White House's official YouTube channel, most of the videos have fewer than 5,000 views. The top two videos of Obama swatting a fly during an interview? Over 1.4 million views combined.
Again, I'm not saying the White House needs to have President Obama doing ninja moves in his weekly addresses to get people to watch the videos, but the notion of "What will people share?" should be in anybody's mind who's trying to create content to spread to a large audience.
Just something to think about.
What are your thoughts?