Early in 2013, a popular hashtag was trending on twitter, #firstworld problems. This was used to jokingly exaggerate the extent to which minor inconveniences affect us from day to day. Many were offended as the trend undermined the legitimacy and the true nature of problems faced by third-world countries. The trend quickly became viral and turned into a meme. A large fanbase was built around it and people were using the hashtag everyday. One organization that decided to take action against these issues was WATERisLIFE. WATERisLIFE is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring clean water to areas that need it most. WATERisLIFE had been struggling with gathering mainstream support from people. They decided to capitalize on the #firstworld problems trend and attempted to gain awareness and support. Their plan was to put to rest the trend instead of starting a new one from scratch. This was a daring move but ultimately achieved huge success.
The problem was clear: WATERisLIFE was in critical need of awareness and support. They saw an opportunity in a popular trend that arose on the internet and capitalized on it. Their next step was to develop tactics in order to implement their strategic communications plan. They decided to develop a web documentary that showed victims on poor living conditions reading different jokes with the hashtag, “first world problems”.
The video was an instant success and gained over a million views. The video ended with a simple and powerful message that was used in hopes to end the “first world problems trend”. The message read, “First world problems… Aren’t problems.” As of now, the video has almost 5 million views on YouTube. The success of the campaign did not end with the amount of views. WATERisLIFE received the mainstream awareness it had hoped for. In addition to this, they received over 1 million days worth of clean water for poor communities.
The non-profit organization reached its goal and then some. While it is difficult to completely end an online trend, they did a great job building a force of supporters to combat it. The mass amount of views allowed them to convert many viewers into more active supporters. I think this is a fantastic example of a social media strategic plan. What WATERisLIFE did was truly revolutionary and inspiring. While many organizations attempt to create trends in order to promote themselves or their products, WATERisLIFE attempted to end an offensive one. This was an extremely risky move that posed a huge threat of backlash from internet users. We all know how the internet is lurking with many users who aim to target organizations with negative movements. Despite this, the campaign was met with a large positive response. This clearly paves the way for many campaigns such as this in the future. I am vey eager to see ways in which organizations take advantage of opportunities like this in the future. It is one thing to capitalize on a popular trend in a supportive fashion, but to completely contradict something that has such a huge following is truly admirable.
The vast number of social media platforms has made it extremely easy for online content to become viral. Obviously, information can be shared faster and easier than ever before. The online community has quickly adopted this ability to exchange funny, inspirational, or even useful, content. Taking advantage of social media sharing can be a huge help in promoting content of your own. Through likes, shares, and retweets almost any piece of internet content has the potential to become the next online sensation.
It has become normal to see a video reach a million views in a matter of days. Video sharing can reach very large audiences very quickly, and most of the time it is free. Think of the last viral video you saw. Where did you hear about it? Chances are you didn’t stumble on it accidentally. That video is being shared by people on their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, etc. Most sites make sharing their content as easy as possible. YouTube lets you share videos to your connections with the click of a link. Let’s say you share that video to your Twitter followers. The potential audience of that video just grew to your amount of followers. Now what if they retweet that link? In a matter of minutes, that video can be seen by thousands of unique people.
Remember that video?
That video became viral a few years ago. It was shared widely across several social media platforms and even news programs. In a matter of days, the view count exploded. Here’s the best part. The video was staged. As a part of his Comedy Central show, “Nathan For You”, Nathan Fielder crafted this fake viral video to promote a local petting zoo. Web content hardly needs any credibility to become viral. If you create content that people want to see, the potential reach is phenomenal.
Viral buzz can do its part to launch your brand into internet stardom. However, it can also make you a villain. Knowing what content to create and share to appeal to your audience is key to optimizing the power of viral. Since most business “memes” are created by outside sources, it is almost impossible to avoid satirical content about your brand if you are well known. Many brands know how to create their own viral content that helps to build great relationships with their targets and peers in the industry.
This infographic does a great job in showing what components of viral content are necessary to get to the point of vast internet popularity. What you want to do, as a brand, is to get your content out to your audience efficiently. Content of this sort should be free of promotions. You aren’t trying to sell a product, you are selling your brand. You want your content to be seen and you want it to shine bright. If you don’t underestimate the power of viral and can successfully utilize it, you’ll soon find a whole fleet of advocators who will gladly share your content and stand for your brand.