Flappy Bird Game
Flappy Bird Game

Source: destructoid.com

Two very strange things happened in the past few weeks that may only seem nominally connected. The first is that the game Flappy Bird ever existed. Anyone who has even seen a screenshot of this game can no doubt agree. It’s a strangely simple little game and it’s difficult to logically understand how people have become dangerously addicted to it, and yet they did. The second is that at the end of January there was a small hubbub about Microsoft doing some unsavory things on YouTube, supporting a stealth marketing campaign that appeared to violate FTC guidelines. But they have something very similar in common: nothing was “wrong” until they garnered too much attention.

FACT: Once you create something, you lose control over when it goes viral.
This is the most relevant thing about video marketing, especially if you’re trying to make a video that uses comedy or exposes brand new research. You have no idea when it will get “picked up” in the right manner and then shared at an exponential rate, so always make sure that you’ve ethically crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s, or you’ll find yourself branded a fool or charlatan by millions when previously your audience was only hundreds. The game Flappy Bird was available for sale for at least six months until it achieved viral popularity. Once it became viral, people noticed stunning similarities between it and the game Piou Piou which features an uncannily similar main character trying not to run into tall green objects, and the style of Nintendo who many writers felt could easily sue the game’s creator for copying their art.

FACT: If you make 1,000 great videos, but then give viewers one reason to distrust you, they will distrust you.
Is it perhaps fair? No. But that’s the way that it works, especially in a market filled with individuals all competing for viewers’ eyes.  Microsoft developed a problem when their “stealth” campaign email was leaked by one of the very people they approached to carry it out. The issue is that Microsoft, and Microsoft later reported that it was actually Machinima, a subcontractor, would only pay individuals if they featured Xbox One content in a video and spoke positively or neutrally about it. The first media to report on this agreement, iGameResponsibly, stated, “Some may view this as everyday business, which it is, but some may lose faith in personalities that feature Xbox One content from here on out”. Seeming to follow this statement as a rallying cry that outrage was expected and required, just a few days later the Internet saw the headline, “Microsoft Xbox One prompts outrage after YouTube stealth-marketing stunt”, leading users to reflect negatively on Microsoft, Machinima, and the Xbox One itself which wasn’t previously an issue. In the world of video marketing, if you don’t have the trust and belief of your viewers, then they have no reason to watch your videos. 

It’s unclear what the outcome of these cases will be. The creator of Flappy Bird removed the game from app stores, saying it was too addictive and ruining his simple life, but it will be interesting to see if there are court cases against him. It will also be intriguing to see if the FTC has a case against Microsoft for violating marketing guidelines. From the smallest creator to the largest corporate giant, we’re responsible for every video that we put out there, to make sure we’re presenting something that is morally sound, ethically right, and worth the viewer’s trust.

About Ryan Perry

Ryan Perry has taken his 10+ years of business ownership and hands-on marketing skills and focused them on online marketing. In April of 2009, he started Simple Biz Support with an emphasis on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ryan is propelling local business websites to the top of Google, Yahoo and Bing resulting in increased market exposure and revenue for his clients using a variety of internet marketing tools including blogs, article submissions and video. Additionally, Ryan speaks and vlogs (video blogs) about internet marketing, educating business owners how to effectively use various SEO tools and techniques to promote their business on the internet. Ryan currently resides in Santa Rosa, CA. Connect with Ryan on Google+