I don’t consider myself to be that old – I just turned 30 years young, after all – but just spending a weekend with my 16 year old cousin makes me realize just how fast social media is evolving and how easy it is for us busy adults to become out of touch. It seems as though a new crop of social media outlets are popping up every day…but are you capitalizing on these opportunities or has the ease of which people can access and share information via social media actually damaged your brand? Nowadays the power of social media = viral. And when you think about it, going viral – good or bad – really isn’t that hard.
Take this recent example: “When comic book and Marvel movie fan Stratford Caldecott, 60, was too ill to go to the theater to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier due to his advanced prostate cancer, Sophie turned to Twitter to champion an online campaign to get her father a DVD of the film before its regular release date in August. Armed with the hashtag #CapForStrat, other fans started posting pictures of themselves (either in or out of cosplay) in order to grab the attention of the stars of The Avengers and ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ to convince them to join in the campaign and put a smile on her father’s face.
And guess what? It worked.”
According to Google, nearly 60% of people talk more online than they do in real life. When used the right way, social media can be a great tool for growing your business. But in the wrong hands, social media could actually start a negative firestorm of epic proportions and be your worst enemy.
So how has this translated to the big brands of the world?
Take this video of a FedEx delivery man “delivering” a computer monitor. In this 21 second YouTube video, a FedEx driver was caught nonchalantly throwing a computer monitor over a fence:
In 2011 this video was ranked as one of the top viral videos of the year and had garnered over 7.5 million views and more than 20 thousand comments. While FedEx promptly responded to the video, its YouTube response has only 440,000 views – less than 6% of the total of the damaging viral video.
But done in the right way, a social media campaign can start an entire movement and have an impact for years to come. Take Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign:
When Dove decided to challenge the perceptions of what society considers to be “real beauty,” they weren’t promoting or pushing a specific product, they were making a powerful statement. What happened went beyond increasing brand awareness to increasing brand passion and brand advocates. People were talking about the brand in a positive way and brand passion increased over 1000%. Instead of doing damage control, like FedEx, Dove created a viral campaign that has grown and spanned over the last 10 years.
…And those are just two brief examples. Just search for “viral campaigns” online and the list goes on and on. While social media has revolutionized both our personal and professional lives, let this be a lesson to take care in what you put out into the stratosphere because you never know what could happen, good or bad.