Negative Political Videos and YouTube: Video with Greg Jarboe

Eric Enge: Hi, I’m Eric Enge, CEO and founder of Stone Temple Consulting. I’m here today with Greg Jarboe, co-founder and president of SEO-PR, and also author of “YouTube and Video Marketing an Hour a Day.”

Greg Jarboe: Good to be here, Eric.

Eric Enge: Glad to have you, as always. So we’re going to get down and dirty now, right?

Greg Jarboe: Oh, good.

Eric Enge: We’re really going to get into, well, into negative political ads.

Greg Jarboe: Negative political ads? Wow.

Eric Enge: Yes, exactly. Have you seen any of those?

Greg Jarboe: Quite a few. Although, I understand the people in places like Ohio and Florida actually are seeing more of them, but yes.

Eric Enge: Ah, I wonder why that would be?

Greg Jarboe: Partly because New Hampshire is in play, we see our fair share here, even in Boston.

Eric Enge: So that’s awesome. This stuff must be working for them if they continue to do it in the TV environment. So why is that, do you think?

Greg Jarboe: Well, the simple but bad truth is that negative commercials on television probably still work. I hate to say this because I’m not a big fan of them, but particularly after the Citizens United decision, where anonymous Super Pacs can run any amount of negative advertising, and there’s no blow-back on the candidate who may end up benefiting from them? Negative ads are going to be here as long as Citizens United is the law of the land. So that’s the bad news. The good news is that while negative TV ads may still work, negative ads on YouTube don’t.

Eric Enge: Wow, that’s interesting. So there must be something different about the YouTube environment…

Greg Jarboe: There is.

Eric Enge: …and the way people respond to it than there is in the TV environment.

Greg Jarboe: Television is really a push medium. So the message goes out, it leaves an impression. If that impression is negative about some political candidate, it’s achieved its objective.

Eric Enge: Now do you think there’s an aspect in that of when you’re in the TV environment and that ad comes on, there’s this aspect of the person not really paying attention to it?

Greg Jarboe: That may be true, but that may be the human response to the fact that I’m being pushed content that I don’t want to see, but if the clicker isn’t within reaching distance and you can’t change the channel fast enough, you’re pretty much going to have to sit through it.

Now, in YouTube, some weird thing happens. If I don’t like content, I’ve got lots of options. I can click around to watch something else. But YouTube is actually a social medium. It’s a video sharing site. So when someone is finished watching – let’s say a negative political video – they have the option of sharing it. They can share it on Facebook, they can tweet about it, they can share it in Google Plus. They have lots of different options. They can embed it in a blog post.

Eric Enge: Right.

Greg Jarboe: But if they do, people have figured out that there could be blow-back on them. Maybe not the negative person who created the ad in the first place, but if I’m going to share it with my circle of friends, my circle of friends are going to say, “He sent that to me?”

Eric Enge: Right. So that can impact your relationships.

Greg Jarboe: Absolutely. People understand this. And as a result, negative videos don’t go viral as often as ones that are inspirational, ones that are funny, ones that tap into other emotions other than hate or fear. The negative ones just don’t seem to work as well as the positive ones do. So when you share a video, it is a reflection on you. This is your judgment and you don’t want your judgment questioned, so as it turns out, you’re much more likely to share positive or funny kinds of things than negative ones.

Eric Enge: So just to draw that out a little bit, it really seems to say that, well people
don’t like to talk about politics. I mean, they do, but there are certain circles in which you don’t talk about politics, right? And chances are that through your social channels, you probably have some Democratic friends, and some Republican friends, and if you push a YouTube video that you thought was interesting through that, you’re really taking a strong political stance and identifying with this negative ad.

Greg Jarboe: Yeah.

Eric Enge: And that seems to me like that’s over the line of the nature of those relationships.

Greg Jarboe: Exactly. So suddenly, people recognize that their status within their circle of friends gets put at risk because they’ve decided to endorse this message. So there are implications here for marketers, because by and large we’re trying to deal with the commercial world. The takeaway I have is that there may be times that you will be tempted to, let’s say, knock a competitor and go negative. And the answer is, don’t go there because it doesn’t work, not in video. What you really want to do is sell the merits of your product. What you want to do is entertain or engage, or inform or persuade, and by the way, the best ways to do that is to make a compelling video that isn’t on the dark side.

Eric Enge: Right. Awesome! Well, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the great tip, Greg.

Greg Jarboe: Thank you, Eric.

About Greg

Greg Jarboe is the president and co-founder of SEO-PR and author of YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day. He is also one of the 25 most successful online marketing gurus profiled in Michael Miller’s “Online Marketing Heroes: Interviews with 25 Successful Online Marketing Gurus”, published by Wiley in 2008.

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