What started off as a normal Thursday quickly spiraled into one of the oddest days on social media that I've ever seen. Two separate events rocked Twitter and suddenly took off to become featured stories on national news channels and top business publications. What happened? Why does it matter? How can we, as marketers, take advantage?
The Run Down
Unless you forgot to turn on your TV for the past 24 hours or still own a Motorola flip phone, then you have probably heard of these two digitally-historic events. First, two llamas in Arizona escaped from their pen and spent a good twenty minutes dodging traffic, police, lassos, and more. (So what, right? Just wait for it...)
The second event, the one that personally and completely befuddled me, was a nationwide Twitter debate over the color of a dress. Yep, you heard me. A Tumblr user posted a picture of a dress asking readers to state what color combination they saw: black and blue or white and gold. Cue the Internet exploding, as no one could come to an agreement.
10 Shocking Statistics
I acknowledge that these are really absurd events that we probably shouldn't be talking about, but it is people's reaction to them that is truly outrageous. These events that started out as simple posts on Twitter and Tumblr ended up on NBC news, CNN, Business Insider, even the New York Times. Let's take a look at some of the sharing statistics* surrounding these two trending topics.
- While the Great Llama Chase of 2015 was unfolding, 220,000 tweets were sent with the hashtag #llamasontheloose
- The Llama Chase was mentioned at a rate of 4.4K tweets per minute (TPM)
- If you thought people talking about llamas was weird, wait until you hear this: #TheDress was mentioned 11 million times on Twitter
- The Dress Debate was mentioned at a rate of 5.7K TPM, with celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Anna Kendrick chiming in; garnering up to 192K retweets in total
- 28 MILLION (and rapidly increasing at each refresh) people have viewed BuzzFeed's article on The Dress
- A record-breaking 670,000 web visitors were on BuzzFeed's website at the same time
- 500,000 of these web visitors were on mobile devices (quick reminder to make your website responsive!)
- 16 million people shared The Dress article in the first five hours, which is 10 million more than the article that previously held the "most shares in least time" spot
- Three-fourths of all countries have smaller populations than the amount of people who tweeted about The Dress. COUNTRIES.
- #WhiteAndGold received more votes than the Governor of Iowa in the most recent election. More people voted in a "What color is this dress?" poll than in an actual election...
Who wouldn't want in on all that social media action? Brands reacted as only brands can with some classic topic-jacking strategies.
My personal favorite was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who turned their Twitcon from Dodger Blue to gold and white - but denied the whole thing.
Adobe proved the power of their product with this extremely helpful tweet:
And sports teams fought for the drafting rights to both the escaped llamas .. and engaged in quite the conversation about it.
How to Properly Topic-Jack for Your Own Social Media Fame
All in all, this is just another crazy example of the power of social media and how brands should capitalize on real-time events in order to gather attention around them. DiGiorno has done it best in the past, but here are some quick tips on how to newsjack the next viral event.
- Newsjack at the proper time. You want to push out content at exactly the right moment. Ideally, that would be after the story initially broke and before the public excitement has taken off. BuzzFeed wasn't the original publisher of The Dress article, but because they syndicated it at the right time, it was the most shared piece of content for the night.
- Don't regurgitate information. You are going to have to put your own special spin on the story. Otherwise, no one will feel the need to share it. BuzzFeed's article did something so simple as to put a poll at the end of their article. I cannot tell you how many times I pulled up that specific article to refresh the poll because I couldn't believe that 75% of readers were reporting seeing black and blue (#TeamWhiteandGold all day). Gawker, Slate, Cosmo, NYT, everyone had an article on The Dress, but the poll made me keep going back to BuzzFeed's site.
- Be simple. Simplicity is key here. The Internet moves faster than the speed of light so the content you publish should be something that captures attention quickly. Think, people are looking everywhere they can for information on this event and no matter how detailed your long, helpful article may be, readers will avoid anything that doesn't give them an immediate answer. Pictures are ideal here, especially previously-famous images that you can turn into a meme. Memes became viral for both The Dress and the Llama Escape as they kept readers entertained for hours.
These two events made Thursday one of the most social days of the year and it will be difficult to top in the future. But, the next time a digital event takes place, make sure your brand is ready - just think of all the new traffic, followers, favorites, and retweets that could be waiting for you.
P.S. If you are looking for an explanation to the whole Dress Debacle - here you go.
* Statistic sources