I'm Filming Man-On-The-Street Videos
Tactics for talking to strangers + why do these videos blow up?
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This Tuesday, I spent my afternoon talking to strangers in the park.
It was my second time filming man-on-the-street videos.
I've seen these style of videos for years online, and now that I live in NYC and have a videographer, I've decided to start filming my own.
So far, I’ve seen solid results, getting 10k views on multiple vids and growing on TikTok from 500 followers to 1500 in 2 weeks.
Give me 5 minutes to show you:
Why I think man-on-the-street videos are so successful online
This week’s video: Making Friends on the Street
5 Tactics to nail man-on-the-street style videos
Why I think man-on-the-street videos are so successful online:
IT’S HARD TO DO.
Going up and talking to strangers in the street is scary for 99% of people.
When you think about it, most YouTube/TikTok videos are filmed in the comfort of a bedroom—so it’s easy for man-on-the-street videos stand out.
If you're willing to face the fear and go up to random strangers, you can arbitrage on that fear gap and stand out online. It's the same idea I wrote about in Cringe is the New Cool—you're arbitraging on the fact everyone else is too afraid of what others will think. Become a fear arbitrageur.
Additionally, making man-on-the-street-videos also requires a cameraman, microphones, and a good location. You need to be somewhere high traffic like a major city or college campus. Again, the amount of effort, location, and logistics makes these style of videos rare and unique.
THE STORY HOOKS YOU
Starting with a question hooks in readers.
People NEED to find out the answer. It's the same reason I use questions as the first line in a lot of Twitter threads.
It's like when you have something on the tip of your tongue and you NEED to figure it out. "What will this person say aghhhh I need to know???"
Another view, another favorite.
You have no idea what the interviewee is going to say.
Watching man-on-the-street videos is like buying a lottery ticket—except every video is a winning ticket to a varying degree because creators only post the best vids (ie. some are $10,000 winners, some are $300 winners).
It’s a dopamine lottery like filming prank videos or reality TV. You’re watching real people react, no script, completely unpredictable.
Ok now to spike your dopamine, here's some vids from this week. Then we’ll jump into tactics to film man-on-the-street videos.
5 tactics to film man-on-the-street videos:
I mean this in a couple ways.
Choose a winning location.
Choose winning interviewees.
LOCATION: I went to Washington Square Park because it's right next to NYU so it's full of young people who get the man-on-the-street thing. But, it's a park so it's still quiet enough to capture sound.
INTERVIEWEES: It's impossible to bat 100% on this (remember even the best baseball players hit .300). You will get rejected and you will end up throwing out some boring videos, but that's part of the job. I try to ask charismatic, extraverted young people OR any weirdo I see in the park (you'll see in the video below hahah).
NAIL THE APPROACH.
The approach is the hardest part.
If you walk up acting weird or nervous, people can feel that.
Even if you haven't done it before, you've gotta act like you have.
Man this sounds like dating advice but I promise it isn't.
I've tried a few opening lines—Ok fuck this really sounds like dating advice.
Walking up happy and confident and simply saying "Yo want to be in a TikTok interview?" seems to work best thus far.
People will typically respond "What's the interview about?". Then I tell them the question beforehand so they can see if they're interested and think about if they have a good response. Then they'll say yes or no. Then we press film.
A few things to think about here.
Don't look at making man-on-the-street videos like you're extracting value. People can feel that. Go in with the right perspective: you're giving people a fun few minutes and a funny story to tell their friends.
I don't like people who walk up with a camera in your face without permission. That's fucked up. It’s slimy. Treat people how you'd want to be treated. Don't do that shit.
No one has ever asked "How many followers do you have?" or anything. People will sometimes ask "What's this for?" and I'll say it's for promoting my book Memes Make Millions.
CHOOSE A GRIPPING QUESTION.
I experimented with 2 questions:
What's your favorite meme?
Have you ever made a friend on the internet?
The responses for #1 were primarily the same: 3 seconds of thinking and then the interviwee would name a random meme.
Question #2 was a HIT. People either lit up as they told a story or about the internet friend they made. Or people said "no way, making internet friends is weird." But either way, people had thoughts they NEEDED to share.
TLDR: Choose a polarizing question.
Filming 1 question and answer usually isn’t enough for a video.
You need to learn how to banter and ask questions on the spot. My work as a journalist and occasional podcaster helped me prep a lot with this.
It requires a lot of thinking on your feet and rolling with it.
Few main things for interviewing:
Smile, make eye contact, laugh a lot. Make jokes, have fun. Give people a fun couple minutes and make them feel like the star.
Ask questions and then shut up. Let the interviewee do the talking. People hate silence, don’t fill up the silence with awkward blabbing.
The goodbye is just as important as the approach.
I was super awkward with this at first. Do I ask them to follow me? Do I pull TikTok up on my phone or do they do it on theirs? Etc. lot of overthinking.
To make the goodbye easier, I printed out funny business cards with a QR code for my TikTok. So after the interview, I just hand them the business card and say “Thank you! It’ll go up on my TikTok in the next couple weeks!”
POV: you just got interviewed in NYC about your favorite meme and I hand you this
— Jason Levin (@iamjasonlevin)
Aug 26, 2023
COOL SHIT CORNER
Some cool creative shit for you this week:
🤑 I went through YouTuber Ali Abdaal’s blog this week and found How I make $27,000 in passive income every week. A must-read for creative nerds.
🎙 I loved listening to Not Investment Advice featuring George Mack, a brilliant writer and marketer.
📘 I’m currently re-reading 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. If you’re looking to build power online, it’s a must-read.
NERD OF THE WEEK
I’m starting this section to highlight my internet friends’ work!
Tom Alder is a growth hacker who publishes weekly strategy playbooks. He is the king of LinkedIn and has given me really helpful advice for growing there.
Hit Tom with a subscribe, you won’t regret it.
MEMES OF THE WEEK
Get yourself a conspiracy theorist friend. You're going to need one to understand what's about to happen.
— illuminatibot (@iluminatibot)
Sep 15, 2023
Trump was first and foremost a content creator
— Riley Read-Only (@HotForMoot)
Sep 14, 2023
POV: HR and your supervisor are about to lay you off on a Zoom meeting
— Ramp Capital (@RampCapitalLLC)
Sep 11, 2023
Babe what's wrong? you haven't touched your store brand 9/11 memorial cookie cakes 😕
— emily cohen (@emilyagain)
Sep 10, 2023
getting a man to do something that im perfectly capable of doing.
— Invis🍒 (@invis4yo)
Sep 9, 2023
Thanks for reading nerds.
Create some cool shit this week.
P.S. Want to really upgrade your content strategy?
📞 If you want 1:1 advice on your content strategy, book a call with me.
📘 Check out my book on meme marketing Memes Make Millions
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