by Jeff Ihaza
If you want to get some of the best stories of your life, all you need to do is take a little vacation to the magical land of Thailand. It’s like a Las Vegas playground in a tropical jungle, but less cops and rules and about the same amount of drugs and debauchery. You can get anything you want on the streets of Bangkok, and that even includes the infamous ladyboys of Thailand.
I don’t know how I ended up reading a post called “WAKING UP NEXT TO A TAIWANESE LADY BOY IS THE WORST WAY TO START YOUR VACATION!” It doesn’t matter: The only interesting thing about the post was that it was featured on Wakavision, a new media (that is, a new, media) destination courtesy of rap-chant auteur Waka Flocka Flame, a one-man brand capable of cross-promotional feats (see: cough drops and blunt rolling) as well as booking sold out shows at frat houses across the country (except racist ones). Waka’s venture into content farming only solidifies his status as a member of hip-hop’s lineage of entrepreneurs so aware of the current cultural “moment” that they transcend the notion of a good idea. “Waka Flocka is a product, a franchise, a brand, a label… And a good guy!” he once told Interview magazine.
Wakavision is proof that Waka — who has a new album out in October — knows what the people want: WOW, OMG, and WTF, the holy trinity of #content. And Waka. Though it follows in the footsteps of Ashton Kutcher’s Aplus.com, Wakavision makes no claims at a higher purpose like “mak[ing] a difference and creat[ing] positive change,” instead taking pride in its stranglehold over the low-hanging fruit of all-caps attention-holders like “GRANDMOTHER GETS WORKED OVER BY A VICIOUS PIT BULL AFTER HER ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE” and “DO YOU SEE JUST A REGULAR GARAGE DOOR? LOOK AGAIN, WHAT’S INSIDE IS AMAZING!!” The homepage is optimized in the way that all homepages are now — a full-on ocular assault, with little boxes of content stacked endlessly on top of each other, boxes and boxes and boxes, a Matryoshka of sharable nonsense with the ability to distract audiences from the fact that they are indeed still alive.
Wakavision.com was registered on January 26th, and in less than two months, it has catapulted to 9,798 in U.S. Alexa rankings. (For perspective, Jay-Z’s boutique content site, Life + Times, is ranked 53,862.) Waka Flocka’s official Facebook page, which acts as the primary distribution portal for Wakavision — though it is perhaps more accurate to consider Wakavision the primary content provider for Waka’s Facebook presence — has over nine million likes. This seems paltry in comparison to Taylor Swift’s seventy-seven million likes, but BuzzFeed’s page only has four and a half million. So by at least one measure, Waka Flocka is a content powerhouse.
If you tack “/admin” on to Wakavision’s URL, you’re taken to a page that belongs to Digital Mavericks, a wonderfully named digital marketing company whose specialty is turning any brand (human or corporation) with a shitload of online fans into a full-fledged content center capable of making — to borrow a phrase from Gucci Mane — GUWOP. Digital Maverick’s mission statement:
By regularly engaging with your audience and fans across multiple high volume channels, our strategic approach not only increases your fanbase and followers but also builds brand awareness through consistently published content that holds your audience’s attention.
As a result of our skilled marketing team combined with our proprietary software and precise algorithms, on average we generate $18 per 1000 fans for you on a consistent monthly basis compared to the average marketer who struggles to earn $0.30 per 1000 at best. With just 6 million likes or fans on Facebook at $18 per 1000, it’s at an additional $108,000 per month of new found income just letting our team go to work for you. Now imagine if you’re like many of our clients who have fans reaching 10–20 million, it’s a steady $250,000 — $500,000 per month in additional income.
There’s plenty to find that’s objectionable about pretty much every post on Wakavision, but pointing out the lack of journalistic integrity on Wakavision is like criticizing Crunk Juice for being unhealthy. It’s not the point: This is business. SQUUUUAAAAAAAAAADDDD!!!