It is common for artists to draw inspiration from pop culture in design. I recently re-designed my Facebook Fan Page; can anyone pinpoint the inspiration for that one?
Besides aesthetics, social media campaigns will often try and parody pop culture to syphon off a little virulence for themselves. Last week I was tagged in a tweet reply for a friend. In response to his tweet “Are You Pinterested in More Social Media?” the Golden Union fish and chips stand replied “no, we’re more interested in this viral for national chip week”. In that, they broke one of the first rules of creating viral content: never call it viral content.
When people know you are trying to generate viral marketing, it never gets shared by the right people in the right places. There are thousands of failed memes that failed mostly because they were formatted like other memes; meaning that the author had viral ambitions. You don’t even have to say it, the people of the Internet know.
I responded to the tweet and told Golden Union “The best way to make sure something doesn’t go viral is to call it viral”. They thanked me for the advice, and since they were nice I decided to re-tweet them and check out the ad. It was kind of terrible to begin with. In trying to spoof the David Beckham H&M body wear Super bowl commercial (the one where he is spinning around in his underwear) they cut in a few scenes of the original commercial with a few scenes of their own actor eating French fries and holding it near his groin.
It Has to Trend Organically
I get what they were trying to do. It’s a little funny because fish and chips aren’t sexy, but that is mostly lost in the cultural exchange. Aside from the commercial that I didn’t like, the Golden Union social media team did a horrendous job framing their content. In the YouTube description they tried to explain their thoughts and reasoning behind producing the commercial. This included everything from “It’s London Fashion Week, and we want to compete with National Chip Week” to “Beckham supporters tweeted their support with the hash tag #BeckhamForHM so we’d like you to support us with the tag #BeckhamForGU”. Did you catch that? A tried and true method for getting support from celebrities is to trend their name, or blow up their connect panel on Twitter with tweets relating to your website. Of course, you need to get the massive response required to do one of those first.
One of the primary tenants of Social Media Marketing is that networkers don’t want to be coaxed into anything. Spelling it out is a good way to get your best friends to follow through, but it’s a way to guarantee that the masses won’t feel the control it takes to get exponential growth. People want to feel like they discovered something great, that they decided their own reaction, and that they’re part of an inside joke.
Looking at the Big Picture with the Golden Union Advertisement
I can’t access their Facebook page (probably a regional block) and their Twitter follower count is relatively small. The 11,000 views that the video has now are likely from appearing in the related videos for the David Beckham video. On most accounts I’ve saw, the fish and chips are good. There are some other facets of this campaign that I don’t get, like Oxford Street (where the chippy is located). It is mentioned in several reviews, and is obviously a crowded thoroughfare for some reason or another. Still, I can’t imagine people who are about to eat fish want to see a half-naked man gobbling down English French fries and spinning around like a fairy in briefs.
That’s neither here nor there however, the campaign itself is all I’m qualified to speak on. It is also unclear whether the shop outsourced the production, but that is likely the case. It appears to be the case of a hack social media manager with an idea that everyone thought was brilliant, decent video production skills, but terrible acumen when it comes to Social Media itself. There were so many small mistakes that this campaign was destined to fail before the video was even posted, and would have failed even if the video was amazing.
What Would I Do Differently?
I have successfully produced some viral content. It is completely possible given the right budget (although still reliant on luck). I don’t want to make you think I’m behind the scumbag Steve meme, because I’m not, but the success I’ve had with viral content has been higher than related content, and much higher than the success of my peers. As a testament to the luck involved, I’ve also had general content that has landed more conversions, and even page views, than content that I have engineered viral campaigns behind. Success is in the eye of the beholder as well, but in the case of a video spoof of a Superbowl commercial for a metropolitan eatery, I would expect to draw 10 percent of the original content’s views if the parody was produced within a month of the original. Here are some tricks and tips I have successfully used to spark interest in a piece of content.
- Always remove all ties to the production company, actors (unless more famous than the brand), and the targeted company itself except the bare minimum for conversion. If you want credit, create a meme that gets 100 million views and people will research you.
- Use your Social Channels to spread the word, but you’re looking for a spark, not to burn the fire yourself.
- To get a video viral on YouTube, you need to get into the popular video stream. If you manage to make it, the inherent humor or quality of your content will do the rest.
- Memes are made at Reddit and 4chan. Pay a popular member to submit your content. They have a much better shot at getting past the gate (the unwritten rules that keep outsiders from getting shared).
- Stumbleupon is an alternative to Reddit, but you’ll need an ambassador if your Stumbleupon account isn’t popular itself.
- If your first attempts fail, re-purpose the content and try again with the new content referring back to your original.
- Monitor Google trends. I would say a Beckham spoof was a week too late, however if Beckham was scheduled to do an interview for GQ this week, search results would rise, and a lot more people would be looking for the original video.
In the end, you need to ask yourself “Is this the best thing I’ve saw on the Internet this year?” If it isn’t, go back to the drawing board. If it is, don’t ruin your viral campaign by committing obvious faux-pas and overly directing the masses. You must rely on organic conductivity, and there’s only so much you can do before you’re interfering with the process itself. Then again, on a world stage, do you really want English food? This joke sums up a problem with going viral with English fish and chips.
Heaven: where the police are British, the cooks French, the mechanics
German, the lovers Italian, and it is all organized and run by the Swiss.
Hell: where the police are German, the cooks British, the mechanics
French, the lovers Swiss, and it is all organized and run by the Italians