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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
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Also available in audiobook
I know, you already thought how your life would be different if you appeared in the main news shows. If you have a company, then you can imagine the requests coming soon after that appearing on cable news channels. Yes, this book explains how to achieve feats like this. The bad news is that you will have to cross some not-so-conventional territories. In "Trust Me, I'm Lying," Ryan Holiday helps you understand how to hack mass media in your favor. The book is divided into two sessions, telling how Ryan exploits digital media, especially blogs, to generate press coverage; in the second part, he shows more details of how these activities have helped him achieve great results.
According to Ryan, it's not as difficult as it sounds to start a gossip on a small blog and then blow it up to an online news portal or TV. In a society dominated by the internet, most of us consume more content online, and blogs are the newspaper of the 21st century. Today, more than traditional papers, blogs are always looking for fresh news. These days, it means they observe what spreads through social networks and what is being posted on smaller blogs to extract their guidelines. If a news item generates enough buzz through these media, there is a good chance that mid-size blogs will pick it and the story will be passed on to an even larger audience. If the buzz continues from there, the story can be directed to the world's top news agencies such as CNN or Reuters, as they also keep their eyes on blogs that feature promising stories. The death of Osama bin Laden, for example, was first reported by a Twitter user, before major news agencies, blogs or even President Obama's speech. Blogs get content from other blogs and social networks, and this means that even the most trivial stories can scale to the most respected news sites and even television.
An example of this behavior occurred when Ryan was promoting a movie for Tucker Max. Ryan left early in the morning and vandalized an outdoor billboard (for which Tucker had paid) to look like someone was bothered by the movie's release. Ryan took photos of his vandalism and sent them to a blogger in the area using a fake email. This blogger posted the news and quickly appeared on a major TV channel in the US. This type of premeditated action works with almost any subject. This kind of hack is used to sell books, get donations for charity and even launch big music hits. In Tucker's case, he first went on a local blog, then the Huffington Post (one of the largest US portals) and ended up on CBS.
Blogs are business, and their primary goal is to make money through ads sale. Each blog sells advertising space in different ways, but the most common among them is the price per impression - a rate that the advertiser pays to the blog owner each time someone opens a blog page that contains your ad. That is, blogs make money every time you visit them. But while advertising maintains the blog, most bloggers dream of selling to a large media company. AOL bought TechCrunch and the Huffington Post, some of the biggest blogs in the United States, for example. For large groups, each blog attracts a new audience, and that means more advertising space to market to new audiences. Typically, these companies target high traffic blogs with hundreds of thousands of visitors a day and the more traffic a blog gets, the more they sell. The Huffington Post news aggregator sold to AOL for more than $ 300 million and TechCrunch, a technology blog, sold for $ 50 million.
How many bloggers make real money? Not too many. Bloggers, especially beginners, aren't wealthy. The easiest way to make a career as a blogger is to create a well-known name, a reputation and live up to it. When a blogger creates a brand, producing viral content and discovering fresh news, they can start getting countless messages from companies and startups, desperate for coverage. Ryan cites several examples of first-time bloggers who have become great journalists or influential editors. He suggests that if you want to be covered in the press and on blogs, you have to approach them before they become famous and explode. If you want coverage, you have to help them become famous. Ryan cites the example of a vlogger with whom he started a relationship when he still had only a few thousand views. Ryan was only supplying designer clothes to the vlogger, which he published. Today this blogger has millions of views and a TV show and still remembers Ryan. If you invest early, you can buy your influence without spending much.
Yes, in the blogosphere, leaking information is a communication strategy that works if you want to get noticed. Ryan cites a story in which, during a legal process, he needed to put some information in the press, and for that he created a fake confidential memo, printed it, and sent it to a series of blogs as if he were a disgruntled employee, leaking information which he received from his boss. The same bloggers who previously were not interested in the subject, published with headlines like "EXCLUSIVE" and "LEAKED." They told Ryan's side of the news, but he had to get their attention unusually. The gains were even greater, because, after the publication, the same bloggers still wanted interviews with him to tell his "side" of the story. Everyone was waiting for an official statement. Holiday also claims that Press Releases can, if created under the right angle, be cited word for word in blog posts. Another common tactic is to make changes to the Wikipedia entry content to exaggerate a truth or plant a fact. Then, since blogs write about the subject by researching Wikipedia, the planted become real in the digital world.
Blogs engage in iterative journalism: the act of publishing first, then checking the facts and updating later if necessary. In the first phase of iterative journalism, the blogger publishes an article based on repercussions of social networks that are not necessarily true - without doing any verification of any fact whatsoever. This mechanism, while allowing blogs to generate content quickly, also allows lies to be told as "news" and this can have disastrous consequences.
You've probably read an article on a blog with words like "updated" or "errata" in the headline. They most likely updated the post because the first blogger responsible for publishing the story did something wrong or posted before finalizing checks, in a hurry to be the first to publish. But even with fixes made, you still caused a problem for the people who read the previous version of the article. They can, for example, tell the wrong news to friends or make a decision based on inaccurate information. The tendency of blogs to alter their content iteratively means that they can be merchants of misinformation.
Just as any business needs customers, blogs need web traffic: from people who browse and consume their content. Their goal is to attract as many visitors as possible, and for that to happen, they rely on a variety of methods to grab attention. When thinking about suggesting a topic or making a deliberate leak, think first about what the headline, article title or tweet the blogger will share. Often they do not need to state what the article says, just call in curious clicks to read the content. If the magazine cover is what sells, on Google and social networks, the title is its cover.
If you want to make sure your business is covered on blogs, you need to prove them that you can deliver traffic. Yes, that you can take many readers over to their blog. If your news came out in the press, one of the best ways to become a recurring subject in a blog is to make it clear to the blogger that people want to read about you. So to ensure your continued success, you need to be creative and promote content about yourself. It's important to share the news on your company's Facebook page, your Twitter, your blog, and others. If you do not have too many hits on your channels, you can leave controversial comments in the post and create honest debates around the subject. It's also worth sending fake emails to the reporter, both positive and negative, so the blogger feels that this article has been noticed. Finally, if none of this works, you can promote the article with paid traffic on networks like Outbrain or Taboola. These networks promote content on sponsored links on large portals and with small investments, it is possible to reach large audiences, and the blogger often does not realize that the traffic of your article has been "bought."
Have you read any stories online that made you angry? This reaction was probably not a coincidence. Blogs often try to arouse our emotions to engage us. For example, they know that when we read a story that refers to injustice like a child kidnap. , we get angry. This anger then encourages us to interact with the story, either by sharing it with other people or by posting our thoughts in their comments section. This buzz around the story generates more ad revenue for the blog. Anger is one of the primary emotions blogs are interested. Other potent emotions include fear (for example, notices of terrorist attacks), excitement (for example, the launch date of the new iPhone) and laughs (for instance, a video of cats having fun).
One piece of news can affect anything from stock market prices to presidential elections. So it's no surprise that blogs exert tremendous power in shaping society. Blogs are not powerful just because of their readership but because of the type of readers they have. Blogs are mostly read by professionals in the digital content market - people who own blogs or work for top news agencies like Reuters and CNN. This audience means that although blogs may not have a mass following them directly, anything they publish can be linked by a path that reaches large portals and TV stations.
Society likes to watch people being punished publicly. To express anger about current affairs, readers post angry comments, blog posts, or spread it through social media. Yes, blogs stir up emotions and often call for public executions of those tried. For example, Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks website, became a victim of witch hunters and was crucified on the internet. After Assange became a well-known public figure in 2010, Gawker's blog posted funny and silly articles like, "What happened to Julian Assange's hair?" Two weeks later, Assange was charged with sexual assault, and Gawker began to publish headlines such as "Is the Wikileaks Activists realizing that their founder is a Megalomaniac?" Despite not existing the slightest foundation that Assange was a sex offender, his supporters turned against him, and blogs like Gawker have used this momentum by publishing more and more articles on the subject and generating more traffic and profits. Our love of public witch hunt means that blogs are too willing to demonize someone we find unpleasant.
Yes, that's right. Today the blogosphere is being increasingly manipulated and they end up writing about just about anything if you sway bloggers with mastery. One of the most common tactics is to use "first-hand content" or "I'll give you exclusive access to 30 minutes before sending to other blogs." For Ryan, the agenda need not be important, relevant or true to be published. If you know how to create a false urgency, bloggers will post anything.
The world is increasingly informing itself online, and journalism is becoming increasingly fast and desperate for clicks and pageviews. Large portals search for leaks in smaller portals, which search blogs and social networks. But blogs are business and need revenue to survive. If you understand how the blogosphere game works, you'll be able to "plant" fantastic stories in the press. And if you are a blog reader, beware, you may be manipulated!
12min tip: How about checking out our microbook "Influence", by Robert Cialdini?
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author behind “The Obstacle Is the Way,” “Stillness Is The Key,” and “Ego Is the Enemy” and is mostly in topics covering culture, the human condition, and market... (Read more)
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