Woody Harrelson Falls Short on Reddit

Woody Harrelson Falls Short on Reddit

Successfully going viral a pretty big deal, especially since it provides free publicity. Viral material on the web creates the opportunity for users to willingly pass your content around the most populated corners of the Internet, à la Old Spice’s “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign. In short, achieving viral status = getting lots of attention, which is usually pretty exciting.

Of course, it’s easy to miss the mark.

Are you familiar with Reddit? The popular social news website offers a feature called Ask Me Anything (AMA), in which people of interest can open up a dialogue with Reddit users by directly answering questions. Generally, these questions range from the mundane to the daringly personal; the most popular AMAs feature celebrities answering off-the-wall questions and offering fascinating bits of information about past projects and experiences.

I’ve talked about comedian Louis C.K. before, who successfully pulled off an AMA while promoting his stand-up special, “Live at the Beacon Theater.” Following in C.K.’s footsteps, actor Woody Harrelson started his own AMA on Friday.  Using the account name “iamwoodyharrelson,” this is how he started the topic:

Hi Reddit, it’s Woody here. I’m in New York today doing interviews for my new film RAMPART, which opens in theaters on February 10th. I’ll be checking in from 3-4EST today and will get to as many of your questions as I can, so start asking now! Be back soon.

Sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately, the Internet smelled a rat. “iamwoodyharrelson” provided painfully vague replies which generally tried to keep the conversation geared towards Harrelson’s crime drama, Rampart. This led many users to speculate that Harrelson wasn’t actually behind the keyboard at all. Instead, Reddit’s general consensus is that the AMA was lead by a PR team in an attempt to drum up more attention for the movie. You can read the full thread and decide for yourself by clicking here.

If Reddit is correct and Harrelson’s AMA was really just a marketing ploy, I can see the appeal:  Reddit’s users are mostly males between the ages of 25 – 35, creating an ideal demographic for Rampart. But even though intentions might have been good, the results were not; users were not happy with Harrelson (or whoever was answering questions for him) and his cookie-cutter responses.

In following with Reddit’s upvote/downvote structure, the AMA was voted down enough to lose its spot on Reddit’s front page.

What can we learn from this?

  • You can’t go viral without providing great content.
  • You can’t lie to the Internet.
  • When the Internet expects Woody Harrelson, you should provide Woody Harrelson.

What are your thoughts?

Scott Kaufmann
[email protected]

Scott is Partner at Lucid Agency and a lover of all things technology, marketing, investing and entrepreneurship. Scott volunteers on the board of the Denver-based Nonprofit Celebrate EDU and as a mentor for SeedSpot (a Phoenix-based social startup incubator).

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