Say it First and Make it Wicked

It’s those people, and brands, willing to be the first to say today, what we’re all thinking, that will win tomorrow. 

Have you experienced live-tweeting? You know, the digital version of note-passing in class. The act of telling ‘Yo Mama” jokes to strangers watching the same show. A cultural phenomenon which involves being the first to troll the entertainment you choose to watch.

The concept is unique. Unlike anything we’ve seen throughout communication history. Real-time discussions about the topics we care about. No other medium allows people to share their thoughts, opinions or jokes to mass audiences, instantly. Unfiltered. It’s theoretically and technically revolutionary.

So of course businesses see dollar signs. Wherever people go, and whatever they see or hear, will attract advertising. Live-tweeting is today’s untapped advertising resource. Brands are joining the discussions; getting involved and trying to attract and engage. But just because brands are learning to show up to the party, doesn’t mean their invited inside.

The 2014 Billboard Music Awards aired this past weekend. ABC was smart enough to know they need to be part of the discussion. #Billboards2014 and #BillboardAwards were trending hashtags all night. And ABC made sure to stamp the entire broadcast with their hashtag of choice; encouraging viewers to join the conversation and live-tweet. Viewers listened. Topics, thoughts and jokes streamed throughout the Twitterverse. On paper, it worked.

But what ABC missed, or more specifically, couldn’t have predicted, was an even bigger trend.

Lorde-Performing-at-Billboard-Music-Awards-2014

When Lorde performed, Twitter went crazy.

 

Was everyone making the same exact correlation simultaneously? Was Lorde so obviously a Wicked Witch of the West clone that the analogy created itself? Or did one person make the joke and everyone followed? Probably a bit of both.

Neither ABC nor the Billboard Music Awards could have predicted this trend. No marketer could. It was fluid. Organic. Original. Memorable. Obvious. People saw the joke and understood, immediately, there was truth behind the punchline.

Live-tweeting, and social media as a whole, is filled with these examples. Brands spend money trying to get people talking. And then some random person, with no real influence one-ups the pros and finds success.

For the digital marketing and advertising industry to find success on social media, pre-packaged and planned messages will never work. They’re too safe. Too scripted. Too perfect. And in business, the safe way almost always gets chosen.

Which works out for the few people and brands willing to cross the line. To make the insight, joke or observation we’re all thinking, but not quick enough (or brave enough) to post.

Let’s hypothetical:

If the first person to post the “Wicked Witch of the West,” comment was secretly a marketing advocate for the release of a new, re-mastered version of the Wizard of Oz, how many extra DVDs would they have helped sell?

Or, what if this person was actually the social media marketer in charge of promoting WICKED the musical? And the day after starting the “Wicked Witch of the West” trend, you saw a commercial for the musical. Would you be more inclined to buy because it was fresh in your mind?

Business and brands can’t plan for these unscripted life moments. But when they happen, and people are willing to listen, an unrivaled marketing channel opens. It’s those people, and brands, willing to be the first to say today, what we’re all thinking, that will win tomorrow.

 

 

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