Internet Marketing And The Art Of Authenticity

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The Internet is about being authentic – even if it offends some people or turns them off.  There is power in being real.

I believe that authenticity is the first law of internet marketing.  It doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you are YOU.  By being you, and only you, you can attract, and influence a tribe.  By faking who you are, what you believe, or what you do, you attract, convince, and influence NO ONE. 

The reality is that your product, idea, opinion, ISN’T for everyone.  The Internet is not about “mass marketing”, it is about “tribal marketing”.  It is about creating, and maintaining a base of raving, loyal fans.  You can only attract raving loyal fans if you are real.  Even if your authenticity turns some people off.

A perfect example of the power of authenticity on the Internet is the “Joe Rogan Experience”.  This podcast is currently one of the top iTunes downloaded podcasts, receiving millions of downloads an episode.  It’s created and hosted by former Fear Factor host, current stand-up comedian, and ultimate fighting championship colour commentator Joe Rogan.

Since December 2009, Rogan has hosted a consistent podcast, broadcasted live and archived on his website. Rogan has produced over 400 episodes. The format of his podcast is very unique. It is conversational, with no predetermined show topic or time restraint. His shows will generally last between two and three hours, although he has many shows that are shorter. However, on the average, his shows are very long in comparison to other popular podcasts. Because it is conversational, with no specific time limit, he is able to delve deep into the beliefs of his guests on a wide array of topics.

He consistently produces wide ranging shows, collaborating with a unique variety of sometimes compelling, sometimes humorous, sometimes inspiring, and sometimes very strange, guests, covering an incredibly diverse array of topics.

There isn’t a pre-set format for the show. There is no time limit. He doesn’t use a script, or a pre-rehearsed set of questions. The essence of the podcast is that it is a conversation, unscripted and unrehearsed. No fancy studios, no fake hosts.

It is real, at times hilariously real, at other times poignantly real, and to many people offensively real. Rogan’s format is clearly unique, but what is even more interesting is that Rogan embraces controversial issues. He will use incredibly explicit language, which will automatically turn off a large number of people. He makes his personal positions crystal clear, including his strong opposition to certain government measures and corporate corruption.

He will not shy away from openly endorsing controversial, and even illegal products, or causes that he supports. For example he frequently endorses the use of marijuana, mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs and makes reference to his usage habits. In fact, he will often acknowledge being under the influence of marijuana during his show.

He will openly endorse scientifically controversial products such as nootropics, memory enhancers, and intelligence and cognitive enhancement supplements. Like Rogan, his guests are individualistic, compelling, at times inspiring, always real, sometimes quite humorous, sometimes strange, and at other times very controversial.

He has hosted an incredibly diverse range of personalities such as BALCO founder, and former convict, Victor Conte who was the focus of the U.S. Federal Government professional baseball steroid witch hunts in the early 2000s; “Freeway” Rick Ross (Ricky Donnell Ross), a convicted American drug trafficker who presided over the largest cocaine empire in Los Angeles in the early 1980s; Rock singer, and wine producer Maynard J Keenan; Egyptologist, lecturer and natural science expert John Anthony West; accomplished ultra-distance marathoner and raw food advocate Rich Roll; reporter and media whistleblower Amber Lyon; UFC Champion Georges St. Pierre;  comedian Andrew Dice Clay; American anti-war activist and former Marine Adam Kokesh; and television personality and self-appointed “Sasquatch Expert” James “Bobo” Fay.

Rogan is in the public eye. He is a television personality, yet to a casual listener, he has complete disregard to the potential ramifications of his positions to his public persona. Many people would think that taking such an endorsing position of controversial, even illegal, products would hurt his career prospects. Quite the contrary – his unapologetic individualism, yet very empathetic nature, has made him a much more compelling figure, and it has attracted a very loyal tribe.

His podcast is not just an episode in controversy, a segment of rude and off-colored humor, for the sake of being controversial. His podcast has many moments of genuine and real human caring, where Rogan and his guests embrace topics like anonymous charitable giving, human fulfillment, flow psychology and optimal experience, educational reforms focusing on empowering youth, and the power of positive belief systems.

People who question the nature of his methods have missed the point completely – a point that Rogan obviously understands, and masterfully embraces.

The Internet is the ultimate forum for individuality. The more that we can  embrace our unique individuality, the more that we are able to connect with others in a real way, and the more that we are able to establish a loyal following, the greater our influence will be.

He is popular because he has embraced his individuality, not in spite of it. People can relate to him.  People trust him. He seems real, and not some corporate talking head. People feel his sincerity, and as a result they tune in and share it with their friends.  That is the way to create influence on the internet:

No fake ads, no spin, no tricks.  Just real. 

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