A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

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What TV Producer Mark Burnett Taught Me

October 17th, 2010

Friday evening at the 2010 Blog World Expo included an interesting interview with the famous Brittish television producer Mark Burnett.  Mark is known for creating and/or producing several popular shows such as Survivor, The Apprentice, and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.

Mark talked about some interesting stuff.  He explained why he feels Survivor has been such a huge hit since it began in 2000.  He detailed how the basic concept of death and rebirth is renewed in each and every show.  Interestingly, he also talked about the use of the color of fire and how it (along with cobalt blue) is used in the show to represent death and life.

Also, the constant unknown of if your favorite character may be asked to leave is a huge draw for audiences.  This style is used in his shows (such as Survivor and Apprentice), but also in shows such as American Idol and Dancing With the Stars.  Previously, a main character would be in every show of a season.  But with shows such as these, the viewer needs to keep watching to see if they will be in the next one or not.


But the one thing that struck me from the interview was something he did not say (at least not directly).

With such incredible success over the past ten years or so, Mark still seems to have a real humble side to him.  Several times in the conversation, he admited that he does not really understand social media and new media.

At one point, he stated that “I am a mental midget of social media”.  He also stated “social media makes me feel stupid”.  He says that he finds it both exciting and terrifying.

Think about that.  Here is a modern genius of story-telling.  He has been at the very top level of content creation.  Content that gets incredible discussions on a weekly basis on blogs, tweets, forums, facebook posts, etc. 

He CREATES the content that others talk about on social media and elsewhere.  Yet, he readily admits that he does not really know that type of media.

He drives social media.  Yet, he barely uses it.

My big takeaway?  Be the story teller.  Be creative.  Social media will take care of itself.  Be aware that it exists and do what’s appropriate.  But don’t obsess over it.

Thanks Mr. Burnett.  It was a great interview.