There was an idiom that one of my friends in highschool loved.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”
For all those playing along, he’s pretty much espousing that he has fantastic contacts and therefore doesn’t need to work hard to create or learn to make his way forward in life.
Yeah, I know…
But in terms of viral marketing, could this actually hold true?
Content needs three things to become viral: communities of participation, unexpectedness, and tastemakers.
Communities of participation can be born out of the actual content that is going viral – it is the nature of an audience that they want to respond to the media that they are surrounded by and the internet offers a method for that to occur. Before the internet was so widely used, people used to pay to be part of fan clubs to engage in this participation.
Unexpectedness is just another word for creativity and is nothing really new. We’ve been demanding the unexpected in all forms of art and it is this cycle of the constant requirement to be surprised followed by being used to what once surprised us which is what changes culture.
But the sheer amount of unexpected content that can encourage an audience of participation is outstanding. Audiences are time-poor and cannot rake through the 48hours of content that is uploaded every minute to determine what they want to share with their friends. It is here there the reliance on tastemakers brings us back to my friend and he’s “it’s who you know” statement.
Tastemakers, more so than the audience that follows them are time-poor. Jimmy Kimmel and Taylor Swift don’t have time to figure out what they should share. What they do have, are friends who ask them to promote or friends of their managers/social media directors/agents. It’s who you freaking know.
But fear not my aspirational content-makers; for there are others.
When it comes to taste-makers, you have different levels you can target. We can’t all reach international sensation status for flipping a bottle. In addition to the top-of-mind celebrity tastemakers, we have your average joe taste maker and brand ambassadors.
Average Joe tastemakers are those influential people in your circle of friends – when they share something, generally you click on it. You know it is actually going to be new and interesting, and not a 18-month old meme (mum). The hope with these are that they will share it to fellow average joe tastemakers and the circle will just get bigger and bigger until Kimmel’s manager’s niece shares it and the rest is viral history.
Brand ambassadors are the tastemakers that companies should be focusing on. These ambassadors directly affect those who follow them in relation to the brand – whether it be for outfit ideas or recipe inspiration. Brands need to make sure that their content resinates with their brand ambassadors to allow the viral reaction among their customers online.
Which tastemakers do you think you pay the most attention to – celebrity or the average joe? And now that you’re aware of the tastemakers you can target, what methods do you use to get your content viral?