Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media

Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media

There are a lot of web 2.0 consultants
who make a lot of money. In fact, they make
their living on this stuff. I’m going to try to save you
all the time and money and go through it in the next
three minutes, so bear with me. Started a website in 2005
with a few friends, called It’s what you’d call
a social news website; basically, the democratic front page
of the best stuff on the web. You find some interesting content —
say, a TED Talk — submit it to Reddit, and a community of your peers votes up
if they like it, down if they don’t. That creates the front page. It’s always rising, falling;
a half million people visit every day. But this isn’t about Reddit. It’s about discovering new things
that pop up on the web. In the last four years,
we’ve seen all kinds of memes, all kinds of trends get born
right on our front page. This isn’t about Reddit itself,
it’s actually about humpback whales. Well, technically, it’s about Greenpeace,
an environmental organization that wanted to stop the Japanese
government’s whaling campaign. The whales were getting killed;
they wanted to put an end to it. One of the ways they wanted to do it was to put a tracking chip
inside one of the whales. But to personify the movement,
they wanted to name it. So in true web fashion,
they put together a poll, where they had a bunch of very erudite,
very thoughtful, cultured names. I believe this is the Farsi word
for “immortal.” I think this means “divine power
of the ocean” in a Polynesian language. And then there was this:
“Mister Splashy Pants.” (Laughter) And this was a special name. Mister Pants, or “Splashy” to his friends,
was very popular on the Internet. In fact, someone on Reddit thought, “What a great thing,
we should all vote this up.” And Redditors responded and all agreed. So the voting started. We got behind it ourselves;
we changed our logo for the day, from the alien to Splashy,
to help the cause. And it wasn’t long before other sites
like Fark and Boing Boing and the rest of the Internet started
saying, “We love Splashy Pants!” So it went from about five percent,
which was when this meme started, to 70 percent at the end of voting. Pretty impressive, right?
We won! Mister Splashy Pants was chosen. Just kidding — Greenpeace
actually wasn’t that crazy about it, because they wanted one
of the more thoughtful names to win. They said, “No, just kidding.
We’ll give it another week of voting.” Well, that got us a little angry,
so we changed it to Fightin’ Splashy. (Laughter) And the Reddit community —
really, the rest of the Internet, really got behind this. Facebook groups were created. Facebook applications were created. The idea was, “Vote your conscience,
vote for Mister Splashy Pants.” People were putting up signs
in the real world about this whale. (Laughter) This was the final vote:
78 percent of the votes. To give you an idea of the landslide,
the next highest name pulled in three. There was a clear lesson:
the Internet loves Mister Splashy Pants. Which is obvious. It’s a great name. Everyone wants to hear their news
anchor say, “Mister Splashy Pants.” (Laughter) I think that’s what helped drive this. What was cool were the repercussions. Greenpeace created an entire
marketing campaign around it — Mister Splashy Pants shirts and pins, an e-card so you could send
your friend a dancing Splashy. But even more important
was that they accomplished their mission. The Japanese government
called off their whaling expedition. Mission accomplished:
Greenpeace was thrilled, the whales were happy — that’s a quote. (Laughter) And actually, Redditors
in the Internet community were happy to participate,
but they weren’t whale lovers. A few, certainly, but we’re talking
about a lot of people, really interested
and caught up in this meme. Greenpeace came back to the site
and thanked Reddit for its participation. But this wasn’t really altruism;
just interest in doing something cool. This is how the Internet works.
This is that great big secret. The Internet provides
a level playing field. Your link is as good as your link,
which is as good as my link. With a browser, anyone can get
to any website no matter your budget. That is, as long as you can
keep net neutrality in place. Another important thing is it costs
nothing to get content online. There are so many
publishing tools available, it only takes a few minutes
to produce something. and the cost of iteration
is so cheap, you might as well. If you do, be genuine.
Be honest, up-front. One of the great lessons
Greenpeace learned is that it’s OK to lose control, OK to take yourself
a little less seriously, given that, even though
it’s a very serious cause, you could ultimately achieve your goal. That’s the final message I want to share:
you can do well online. But no longer is the message
coming from just the top down. If you want to succeed you’ve got
to be OK to lose control. Thank you. (Applause)


82 thoughts on “Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media”

  • Reddit . com promotes child porn/jailbait shit. There is a whole area on Reddit featuring thai stuff. The guy in this video knows about it and does nothing. Alexis Ohanian is a criminal.

  • It never would have occured to me that Greenpeace takes itself seriously; they seem to have become a farcical charicature of themselves.

  • Why does everybody hate Greenpeace? Here they are saving the whales and people still have this patronizing '50s attitude of anyone who is for peace and the environment is a crazy hippy.

  • as i get it, there is a series of talks on one day. Some last a couple minutes, some longer.
    They just upload them one at a time.
    Guess that's how they fill the gaps between talks ;-D

    So it's kind of interesting to have a day where you can listen to a lot of totally different talks and get totally different impressions. I imagine it to be very interesting.

  • I thought so yes, a whole day of different talks.
    And yes, I think it would be interesting to see all the different topics and people and their experiences.

    It's just that there is quite a few less interestnig Ted talks, sometimes they are just shows, performances..

  • i guess they publish the most interesting ones first, so when there is a long time without a ted-talk, the amount of less-interesting talks and shows increases.

    I wouldn't mawn about be lesser shows beeing just good or OK. I would be happy, that the worst TED publishes, is still something worth watching and that the best will blow your mind.

  • They've done some crazy things, but I guess the clearer point I was trying to make is its more productive to support the root causes they're getting at. In the past they have stood alone on some issues that nobody else brought into light, and if people listened to whats going on, maybe they wouldn't feel and behave like cornered rats, desperate for change… You can argue that getting in the way of poachers is fiscal terrorism, but what right do we have to be whaling these days?

  • not that I've heard of but every year they apply to the whaling coalition to kill more whales every year the whaling coalition says no and then japan only kills a few whales supposedly for science but since they're already dead they might as well eat them…

  • It's a commercial. A really crap comercial that most people just skip. Funny that it's at the end of a lecture on a supposedly really good ad campaign.

  • it's a "brand growing" advertisement. The purpose is to get you used to seeing their "balls" logo first. Without the negative feeling of forcing any product on you.

    Only once they have sufficiently built up the "balls" brand in your head will they introduce you to the product/company. By this time you will be so used to the balls, it will be like a fast-track highway into your mind that the company/product itself will travel on.
    You WILL remember.

    Like a trojan horse.

  • He refers to the loss of dictatorial control, it doesn't necessarily mean anarchy.

    He seems to be talking mostly about "crowd sourcing", a kindof natural democracy. Perhaps you could call it anarchy, i'm not entirely sure.

  • Great presentation. But in the back of my head I hear an echo from the 20th century about "the medium is the message." Losing control sounds alright for an organization, or for a government (everyone likes the everyman (I mean person of course). But the internet can't then be limited to harmless (but constructive)choices of names like Mr. Splashy Plants. Who knows what the future holds? Who knows, a little control might be a good thing?

  • @theseanze It's not that people hate greenpeace it's that they get annoyed by it. GreanPeace are like Jews and bitch loudly on every occasion they have about everything. Generally I support their cause but their approach is terrible to people. We live in a world where it's not possible not to sacrifice smth for greater good of society, however it seems greenpeace are too narrow minded on some things.

  • i'm not quite sure what i watched during the last minute of this video, but it was mesmerizing and i couldn't stop. also, my cat did not like the audio track. at all.

  • Rob Hinojosa says:

    Yeah, I know right? Who do these guys think they are? Kind of reminds me of the guy who invented email which let pedifiles share pics more easily…and the idiots who invented cameras and video. What the heck were these fools thinking? Didn't they know there were people out there who would do bad and illegal things with their inventions.

  • WatchaGonnaDoBrah says:

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  • Excellent video. I found myself so confounded looking at my friend change from being lame to a ladies man. He went from a nobody into being superb. He pretended he failed to realize. Then he smiled and told me when he was drunk. He said he learned from the Jake Ayres Master Attraction Formula. Google it if you wish to learn about it… He's on a date right now with a stunning girl… Where are the best movies online?

  • I get what you are trying to convey here but there's more room for improvement, particularly the tone and pace of your voice so that everyone can understand more what you are saying, especially that what you have here can be really useful to some people. Lastly, I don't get what the music is at the end? I believe most of us prefer music that are livelier. 😉

  • I want to discover how to attract women. My good friend has started going out with a 10 basically because 8 weeks back he registered to an internet site named Master Attraction (Google it if you'd like to learn how.) I'm jealous because I wish to fall in love as well. How come it's so hard? I'm gonna check out this Jake Ayres man's stuff. Bizarre point is, my friend once had Zero results with females. How do you transform so fast? His lady's a banging model…

  • I'm going to figure out how to seduce women. My buddy has begun dating a stunning young woman simply because 60 days ago he joined a website called Master Attraction (Google it if you wish to learn how.) I'm so envious since I would like to fall madly in love too. I'm gonna look at this Jake Ayres man's stuff. Strange point is, he previously had Zero results with women. How do you improve so swiftly? His girl's a fucking model.

  • My midget nephew managed to make the most incredible pole dancer I’ve seen in my life fall in love with him because he used the Cupid Love System (Google it). It’s bad but I wish I’d been pleased for him but I dream a good looking person would fall for me. I’m really jealous. Does that make me a lousy person?

  • Joshua Roberson says:

    Originality and creativity can get you on top of the business. The talk also expresses that once you become successful, you also get to do meaningful things for the world

  • We actually remember Mr. Splashy Pants! Incredible example of how quickly things can snowball thanks to social media – thanks for sharing TED!

  • `˗ˏ Its Becky Boop ˎ-ˊ says:

    The part about Reddit getting angry about not having their way with Mr Splashy Pants had me rollllling. Never change Reddit, never change

  • Fulfillment Challenges says:

    What a cool story about getting people to interact! And Alexis Ohanian – I absolutely like the way you give a talk!!

  • Had to laugh… reminded of Boaty McBoat Face… in the UK to name a new scientific research vessel… It won, but the UK govt didn't like it so they name the ship Sir David Attenbourgh… Boaty is the submersible's name though!

  • the name only shows how foolish, childish and flippant most people in this world are. Greenpeace was right to feel that the name was silly. Ohanian seems like a good guy, but talent or capability at something is one thing and mature thinking is another. Like he went and supported that female to go and get a hijab emoji! There is such a thing as being too sweet to EVERYONE without discernment!

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