Are You Ready For Your First Time?
by Jake Schoenberg
There once was a time in this joyous little life of ours when if we had that curious little itch the only remedy was to go out into the world and go to town on that scratch. From our adolescence, pondering if the pain of getting a tattoo was worth the permanent ink, to our later years, wondering if it was now too late to become a spy like James Bond and to shoot the bad guys, we’ve all had these fantasies in one way or another. Yes I can say for one, I’ve day dreamt about a few of these things during my finance classes; curious for what my first time with any of these experiences would be like.
Thankfully in this age of information and cat videos these life changing experiences can be brought to you for less than what you pay for Netflix, but who are we kidding you probably still share the account with your parents. Today we have internet media news companies like BuzzFeed to walk us through our first time. If you were to simply go on YouTube and type “BuzzFeed First Time” you would be greeted with over 100 different videos all made within the past 6 months on almost anything you’ve been curious to try, but never had. Always wanted to know what vegan cheese tastes like? Got it. How about an afternoon of yoga? A particular brand of makeup? They have it. Click on any of these and you will be shown a two to three minute video of five twentysomething’s who will share with you their first hand experience with these products and services.
What makes this formula so successful is based on the two ideas of curiosity and social vicariousness. Right from the get go there is this great sense of relatability in these participants because you, like them, will be going through what they’re experiencing for the very first time. You can’t help but place yourself in their shoes and live through the experience as though you were there in person. These videos have proven to be so successful amongst the curious viewers of the Internet that on BuzzFeed alone this particular content has generated over 150 million views. So simple in their concept, many other channels have emulated this formula on popular channels like Cut.com, Complex, and The Fine Bros.
Now of course this has caught the attention of many major corporations eager for new platforms to target potential customers. I would be naïve to say that a global media organization like BuzzFeed has never teamed up with corporate level sponsorship, but this has not always been in the way you might think. BuzzFeed was one of the world’s first organizations to engage in native advertising; a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. In this case BuzzFeed has allowed companies like L’Oreal to use their website to promote their products all under the guise that it was written by BuzzFeed. Sneaky? Perhaps, but this is where the first time videos have come in to play.
Recently BuzzFeed has made these try videos in conjunction with major brands. Only a few months ago amongst the craze of the first Dunkin’ Donuts opening up in California our favorite channel came out with “Californians Try Dunkin’ Donuts For the First Time”. On top of that there have been other big brand videos like “Americans Try McDonald’s For the First Time”. Ultimately it is still up to the viewer whether they take these first hand accounts in stride, but needless to say it sure gets the brand right out front on your YouTube home page.
Naysayers of the Internet may spout this all coincides with the modern age of our continual detachment from reality. This idea that those of us millennials don’t need to go out to experience the real world in person but rather we can have these experiences through our computer screen, tablet, or smartphone. Perhaps there truly will come a time when there will be no need to try vaporized alcohol, Thai food, or Kim Kardashian makeup because the major players will be there with a panel of likable twentysomething’s to take care of that curious scratch for us.