Welcome to the Pity Party

FMLToday, my girlfriend dumped me proclaiming she wanted someone more like her ‘Edward’. I asked her who Edward was. She held up a copy of her ‘Twilight’ book. She was talking about a fictional vampire. FML

It’s just one of thousands of stories on FML (F*** MY LIFE)–one of the most simple and genius concepts since this is why you’re fat. And, we’ve all been there before, even if you haven’t been to the site. You know the feeling–you just had the worst day ever, and either in silent contemplation or audible retelling of your anguish, you cast your head toward the sky with only one remaining thought, “f*** my life.”

It’s certainly relatable, in fact, so relatable that since March 15th their Facebook Fan Page has went from 200,000 up to near 800,000 people (that’s in 6 days!). And, the good news for the brand doesn’t end there; FML has already received and confirmed a book deal.

What makes this brand concept so gravitating that everyone from high school students to their parents are submitting stories? There are four critical reasons:

  1. Schadenfreude. Everyone loves to listen to and laugh at the light-hearted misfortune of others.
  2. Anonymity. People can submit their stories and vote on them without revealing their identity. The vote adds an extra level of engagement saying “I agree, your life is f***ed” or “you deserved that one.”
  3. A place to vent. This a forum where under the safe curtain of anonymity, people can vent their anecdotes about their unfair lives. It is the first outlet dedicated to this specific type of story.
  4. Recession. I know the news has always been depressing, but now you can’t turn on the TV without someone mentioning the end of the world. In fact, some people can turn the TV off and still see bad news around them. Now more than ever, everyone is looking for a good reason to laugh again and this provides that.

This brand concept has tapped directly into a cultural vein at the perfect time. Even better, this vein is an unlimited natural resource (take that, Exxon.) People will never stop experiencing or telling these stories of embarrassment because as long as there are lives to live, there will be lives which are f***ed.

The smartest part? Every submission arrives pre-branded because the submission formula always concludes with the same punch-line, which just so happens to be the brand name, FML. It’s the equivalent of having your logo be the encapsulating spirit of each piece of content your users create–the value and association is 100% direct. This can account for why the brand name is, and will continue to be, so easily memorable and recognizable.

The idea is in the good hands of its creators whom have a full understanding of developing and improving their brand without losing its original value. Since its inception they have included comments and have recently announced plans for API on separate sites, newsletters, and new applications. As long as they continue to remember their users and what makes their brand work, I don’t see any end in sight for the popularity of this concept. 

However, I do offer one word of caution to the creators: You will be tempted to connect people with submitting similar FML stories and go the way of creating a social network. Don’t. This isn’t a support group. The appeal of this site is that you are shouting into the darkness and getting it off your chest. People relate to the stories enough on their own through the over-arching theme. So, please, remember to ask yourself before any addition–“am I innovating or complicating?”

What the EEF!
Okay, what’s the big deal here? The phrase “FML” is not new and is a piece of our vocabulary which has been building over a couple years now. What makes it special now? What is new is the idea of a site which facilitates and archives FML-related stories–the brand saw this opportunity and, with perfect timing, now has the recession acting as the wind to its back. 

This one goes out to all those people who feel late to the punch: “Today, I told my friend I had this great idea for a site where people tell their stories about how much their life sucks. I was so excited about it, I even quit my job to dive right into development. He told me my idea already exists and is called FML. FML.”

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