It is the dream, the golden ticket for every marketer: a campaign that rapidly spreads across the social landscape, draws traffic to your website and drives a huge spike in awareness (and perhaps sales) of your brand or product.
But the dream turned into a nightmare for some who’ve shared their work on Facebook, Twitter and, in particular, YouTube. Take the case of Rebecca Black, a 13 year old singer who posted her music video for the song Friday to YouTube in early March. Like most of the content on that site, her video received little notice outside of friends and family…until the view count jumped suddenly from about 3,000 to over 18 million in a single week. The catalyst was a blog post by comedian Daniel Tosh (host of the Comedy Central show Tosh.0 called “Songwriting Isn’t For Everyone” that poked fun at the song’s literal lyrics. The video has since been viewed over 67 million times and generated over 1.1 million comments, most of which are critical of Black, some to the point of virulence.
Some might argue there’s no such thing as bad press–and Black certainly has her supporters–but there is no arguing that Black’s personal brand has been defined much more rapidly than she, and her management, might like. No doubt she’s handled the negativity well, especially for someone so young, and there is a lesson in that for iconic brands like Southwest and Kenneth Cole whose gaffes also got social networks buzzing with backlash.
That said, if there is one truth in the yesterday-is-old-news world of social media, it’s that the attention paid to viral phenomena is both overwhelming and fleeting. Will Black become the next Justin Bieber or follow in the footsteps of Antoine Dodson, Elyse Porterfield and Steven Slater as a social media star that quickly flickers out? Only time will tell. Regardless, given the fickle nature of social and viral marketing, be prepared to respond to both supporters and detractors to your campaign. Your brand will thank you for it.