Is social popularity relevant?

Creating viral content is a near-impossible dream for most brands due to its organic nature, and as such many decide that jumping on the latest craze will bring greater relevance and popularity to their account. However, is this in line with social media best practice or a desperate attempt to seem pertinent?

A recent social sensation provides a useful case study.

business-stand-out-in-crowd1Fashionable to be part of the crowd?

Last week we witnessed a social media phenomenon as Twitter exploded with rampant debate about the colour of a dress raised by a 21-year-old Tumblr user. Quickly picked up by Buzzfeed, their story alone generated over 30 million visits in 24 hours – with half of the site’s traffic generated by the post.

In less than a day, #TheDress generated more than 1.4 million tweets – that’s more than four times the number of mentions when Kim Kardashian’s bottom #BrokeTheInternet – with everyone from celebrities to fashionistas feeling the need to join the debate.

Then came the brands.

urlJumping on the bandwagon

A record number of brands were compelled to join the discussion in an attempt to raise the popularity of their products – whether they were relevant to the #TheDress discussion or not.

This prompted widespread criticism from Twitter users, who saw it as a clear attempt to jump on the bandwagon. Some users even called for the brands to close their account and to stop killing the popularity of the debate – it’s your parents trying to be ‘down with the kids’.


Here’s an overview of just some of the tweets shared by brands looking to capitalise on the social phenomenon of #TheDress

Uncool or essential

Do you notice what they have in common? They all drove engagement. Whether they resulted in metrics that led to actual business benefits, such as sales, is another question but we can conclude that despite all expectations, jumping on the popularity bandwagon can have exposure benefits.

There was, however, one real winner from this social singularity – the makers of the dress, who have reportedly seen an 850% increase in sales on that design.

So what’s the moral? Yes, you can do anything you want on social, but it doesn’t mean you have to. Creating a well-structured and relevant social media plan that appeals to your target audience and promotes calls to action will have considerably greater tangible benefits than trying to be one of the cool kids.


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