Vice Media Blog

Vice Media as a key influencer

About

In 1994 Vice Media was founded by Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi. Originally set up as a 16 page punk magazine, it has since developed into a global distributor of ‘high impact’ news content (Begum, 2016). It now boasts over 1.8 billion views on its youtube channel, 19 Emmy nominations in 2019, a global audience of 380 million people and over 1700 pieces of content produced every day (Vice, 2020).

Figure 1: Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi (Source: Vice, 2020:online)

Vice exists to present content on controversial, fascinating and underrepresented topics: from drug documentaries to peoples experiences with COVID-19. They aim to expose the humanity in taboo and idiosyncratic concepts, helping to challenge preconceived notions about society.

What makes Vice a key influencer?

Vice media have five direct lines of business: Vice news, Vice on tv, Vice studios, Virtue and Vice digital (Vice, 2020). Each of these platforms presents a different way in which Vice can exert their influence over their audience. Freberg et al. (2011) describes an influencer as someone who shapes audience attitudes through content posted and shared on social media. It can clearly be stated that Vice is a social media influencer: with a monthly viewership of over 52 million (Socialblade, 2020) and content that calls viewers to action, vice has achieved success in engaging influence over their viewers.

Why examine this Key Influencer?

The reason people view Vice media’s content, primarily on YouTube, and the reason for constructing this blog is because Vice presents compelling news content that differs from the mainstream media. It allows viewers to gain a deeper understanding of the world, by presenting global content, exposing different cultures to those that might otherwise not be aware. Viewers gain different perceptions on an array of topics, with the help of Vice’s ‘on the ground’ (Begum, 2016) content. Vice adopts an objective point of view in their videos (Vice, 2020), allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions, this is primarily the reason people watch Vice media: without an agenda in their videos it allows the audience to uncover more about the topic and make their own assumptions.

Vice’s audience

Since its founding in 1994, Vice has always catered towards a younger generation of viewers, this is evident since it was originally a punk magazine. Speaking in a conference session (Global Business Gamechangers), Vice media’s chief revenue officer, Dominique Delport, explained that Vice targets 18 to 35 year olds, the reason for this being that this generation wants to act and to ‘fix a world that is broken’ (Wood, 2019), this correlates to the kind of content they produce.

Recently, Vice has been challenging the view that their audience are mainly millennials. On their website they explain that it isn’t their audience that is young, however it is the world around them, in the digital age, which is young. Furthermore they suggest that they are moving away from championing the young, to channelling the thoughts and philosophy of the younger generation (Vice, 2020). This is evident as their audience demographic is expanding: only 26% of Vice’s audience are under 24 years old (Vice, 2020).

Vice on YouTube

Created in 2005, and now with over 13 million subscribers and 3 billion video views, Vice’s YouTube channel has become profoundly influential in the digital era and is the ‘go to’ place for young adults on niche news and stories. Vice has now produced and uploaded over three thousand videos onto this platform (socialblade, 2020), which encompasses stories on just about anything: COVID-19, the slave trade, the war on drugs, mullets, snail racing, just to name a few. Vice’s ever-expanding YouTube channel presents a great case study in which to investigate: their interactions on social media, finding out how they have gained such a key following, how they interact with their users, who they are influencing, how they are exerting their influence and also why people choose to look at their content.

This blog will focus on how Vice has gained influence, and continue to influence society via their YouTube channel. The reason for constructing this research task as a blog is because it will allow continuous editing of any findings, the site enables for the implementation of images and the data can be presented to an audience that may find it useful.

Vice’s social media following

YouTube — 13.5 million subscribers

Instagram- 3.7 million followers

Twitter- 2 million followers

(Socialblade, 2020)

Reference list

Begum, H. (2016) Vice Media Product Model. Business Model Zoo. [Online][Accessed on 20/11/20] http://www.businessmodelzoo.com/exemplars/Vice-Media

Freberg, K., Graham, K., McGaughey, K. and Freberg, L. (2011) ‘Who are the social media influencers? A study of public perceptions of personality’. Public Relations Review, 37(1) pp 90–92.

Socialblade. (2020) Vice. [Online][Accessed on 21/11/20] https://socialblade.com/youtube/user/vice

Vice. (2020) The Vice Guide To Vice. [Online][Accessed on 20/11/20] https://viceguideto.vice.com/

Vice. (2020) The Definitive Guide To An Uncertain World. [Online][Accessed on 20/11/20]

https://company.vice.com/about/

Wood, D. (2019) The Keys To Success In A Digital Age. IBC. [Online][Accessed on 21/11/20]

https://www.ibc.org/the-keys-to-success-in-a-digital-age/4634.article

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