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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Influencer Marketing 101. All Hail Her Majesty the Content. Rule 1. Be Careful with Sarcasm!

Dear reader,

Good day! In this installment of our IM 101 Guide for Rookies, the Metatag Hag and I will be sharing some advice and warnings regarding humor in the context of influencer marketing, in particular, humorous content you are uploading to your network of influencers.

We will be studying a particular case study involving myself, the Pitch Wars community, a badly made and badly uttered joke. We will also see how unwelcome is the need to do reputational damage control after a day on the beach.

Metatag Hag: I personally wanted to name this article "The Joke Who Shagged Me", but Anastasia was all against it. After all, I make the jokes, and sometimes they are bad, and then Anastasia has to mitigate the harmful effects of particularly misguiding crack-ups. If you are a student of comedy and humor yourself, you have probably been there, too.

The rule about knowing your audience is particularly strict for comedians. When you are dealing with top influencers, it is even stricter. The sense of humor is even more particular than fingerprints. What if you make a shaggadelic joke, and your potential influencer contact hates Austin Powers? You wouldn't consider telling jokes about Jesus and drugs in the company of churchgoers, would you?

So beware jokes! A crack-up can lead to cracks in your reputation. Yes, things blow over quickly in the social media. But do not underestimate people's intellect and the selectivity of their memory. They may forget the joke, the context, the whole snafu, but if they read your lame-o joke and thought you were an idiot, trust me, this is the first thing they will remember when coming across your name again.

First, let me explain what the Pitch Wars are. This is an initiative for writers aspiring to become published authors and struggling to find a lit agent to represent them. Brenda Drake, a published author, conceived the Pitch Wars as a helpful service for to the writing community. It gives both exposure and outreach not only to writers, but also to mentors, agents, readers, and all participants in general.

I personally did not participate this year, because the contest does not accept self-published works, but I will definitely participate next year with a new manuscript out of my abundant pipeline of projects. For now, I am in the Pitch Wars Support Group... even though it was the PW crowd who were the target audience of that lame-o joke the Hag mentioned above.

How it works: within a specific period of time, the writers select four mentors from a list of more seasoned and experienced authors. Before a specific deadline, they must pitch their manuscripts to their selected mentors. Mentors, for their turn, select their mentee and a couple of alternative mentees just in case, then help the writer polish the manuscript and the query letter. This phase takes a couple of months, usually from August to November. Then the lit agents join the fun.

I did not research in more detail what happens next, because my book was not eligible for the contest, but you get the gist. Anyway, #PitchWars is normally a big trend in the first decade of August, and I thought I'd join the party...

Metatag Hag: After a night of explaining why a person who made a lame joke is not necessarily an idiot, I actually ended up having a lot of fun talking to the same people who rolled eyes and threw flak at me, so I decided to make it a case study. It is especially relevant because it is a true story involving Twitter and a crowd of "somebodies" i.e. level 2 influencers.

So, I come across a rookie (i.e. bottom-level influencer - again, never forget that EVERYONE is an influencer, and never underestimate that fact!) who asks what is the difference between Young Adult and New Adult fiction. I've just read an opinion that even the sharkstars of the lit ocean are sometimes confused about it. This last fact didn't help.

I personally am against sex, violence, and strong language in literature for young adults i.e. people aged 12-18. I think these factors should play a more important role in age categorization, but after having tried to read certain books where teens smoke, swear, and drink stolen whisky, I appreciate the realism and similarities to real life, but not the educational value of such literature. I think these three bugaboos - sex, violence, and bad language - belong in the New Adult category (18-25), even though the genres in this category deal with different tropes, leitmotifs, and golden threads.

Wiki note:

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen.

New Adult (NA) fiction is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18-25 age bracket. The term was first coined by St. Martin's Press in 2009 when they held a special call for "...fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an 'older YA' or 'new adult'."[1] New Adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.[2] 
The genre was originally met with some criticism, as some viewed it as a marketing scheme,[5] while others claimed the readership was not there to publish the material.[6] In contrast, others claimed that the term was necessary, with a publicist for HarperCollins saying that it "is a convenient label because it allows parents and bookstores and interested readers to know what is inside".[7]

Metatag Hag: So, if you are a parent monitoring your children's reading, wouldn't you agree with that publicist from HarperCollins? If I had children, I personally would keep an eye on the quantity of F-bombs my kids drag into the house from the street, not to mention S-words they find in books about fairies. I'd also make a point of explaining that "bitch" is a female dog, not Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter, even if  it triggers a long "But Mrs. Weasley called her that, Mommy!" discussion.

Anyway, back to our lame-o joke and reputational damage control. Mitigating the damage after making an idiot of yourself is a total "Bellatrix Lestrange". So do not repeat my mistakes and do not say, even in joking response to rookies' questions who do not know the difference between YA and NA, that "New Adult is like Young Adult with sex, drugs, and F-words." NEVER.

Even if you know that in Western cultures, people age slowly and their transition to real adulthood does not happen quickly and easily... not even at 25, but much later.

In Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and some Asian cultures, women think like adults, have adult responsibilities, have children and jobs at 18-20. So do men. Their lives, their cultural preconditioning, their priorities are absolutely different from those of 18-year-old Americans or Canadians, for example.

These latter learn about the full palette of sex, violence, and swear words at this age, true, but from books and at rowdy parties. Do they really experience it like a married father of two kids who works for the road police patrol in Albania at age 22?

Metatag Hag: I did not get to utter that last piece of behaviorist wisdom. I merely wondered why one must use the #joke hashtag in writers' company? Well, that was a rhetorical question. The truth is, I was stupid not to use that particular hashtag. So, what I got in response was a storm of snorts, derisive comments, and patronizing explanations of what NA and YA really were.

 "New Adult is like Young Adult with sex, drugs, and F-words."

First of all, this is not true, and even the lamest jokes must have a grain of truth in them. See the wiki note to analyze the difference.

Second, this will prove you do not know how to Google stuff.

Third, it will require a lot of Nietzsche-themed puns to prove you are actually qualified to correct mistakes in the Wikipedia.

Metatag Hag: I personally trust Wikipedia to a certain degree. It never happened to me, but I've known people who quoted stupidities from the Free Encyclopedia and enriched the urban slang with the word "wikiot". Well, it is not their fault - it is a trustworthy resource in general. Never forget to take Wikistuff with a little salt... and also remember that to err is human, to forgive - divine. After all, it is People's Encyclopedia, isn't it? And people make mistakes, so let this be the cue to returning to Anastasia's story.

Anyway, I got back home in a glorious mood after a glorious day of hobnobbing with frogs, deer, and groundhogs at the Ile Saint-Bernard National Park. I was planning a couple of jocular pre-bedtime Tweets when I opened my account and found... this:

Fantasy Vortex ‏ Aug 15

Many r unsure what NA means. It's like YA, only w/ sex, violence&f-words #askagent #amwriting #askmentor #PitchWars #PitchWarsSupportGroup

Flak:

Rebecca Yarros: It's really not, though. NA is reaching adulthood, grappling with how you fit in the world, & what you're doing with life.

Julie Decker: AGREE WITH REBECCA good lord yes.