The Internet’s latest craze is perhaps its most simple, and its most meaningless. After watching a recent episode of the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast that featured alien conspiracy theorist Bob Lazar, college student Matty Roberts created a Facebook event as a joke. The group’s name says it all, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” The event went viral, and almost two million people have united behind the common cause of “seeing them aliens.” It’s spawned countless memes and revitalized widespread interest in UFOs, albeit just to make jokes. It’s plausible that you don’t see the humor in “Storm Area 51” and I don’t blame you. What’s important is that 2 million people shared a common interest that, no matter how surreal, is marketable.
Every corporate Twitter account has been cracking alien-themed jokes. Bud Light created an Area 51 limited edition can, and Lego launched an alien-themed ad campaign. 2019’s most popular song was remixed and given an Area 51-themed music video. It goes on and on and on. Nowadays, even the biggest, stuffiest corporations utilize trends via social media, and even work them into nationwide ad campaigns. Marketing based off memes, viral videos, or web trends absolutely works, and it’s a lot easier to pull off than you’d think. Below we’ll look at a few examples and why they’re out of this world.
Marketing tailored to Internet trends can be a great way to promote your product. The easiest and cheapest way to do so is with social media. Tweeting or making a Facebook post that’s playing off an Internet trend can be simple and effective. As you can see above, posts don’t even need to tie into a product or service they provide. Dozens of companies have already joined in on the joke, adding up to tens of thousands of re-tweets and favorites. This all adds up to exposure for your business.
Here’s an example of a small business in Nashville. This sign is more than likely getting a few chuckles from the people who see it. Doing something similar in your storefront may not lead to more people entering your establishment, but it does have value. Humor has been proven to enhance recall, and associating it with your branding is always a good idea. It’s easier than you’d think with viral trends because people already “get” the joke—you only have to aptly reference it.
There’s also going “all in” on an Internet trend and tailoring or introducing a product to profit from it.
In doing so, companies like Budweiser are essentially making a product that markets itself. This demonstrates how important and viable large corporations see piggy-back marketing viral trends. It’s hard to imagine many cases in which a small business could employ this same tactic, but if you can, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Viral trends are usually silly, and “Raid Area 51” might take the cake for silliest. Yet, there is an air of exclusivity that comes with Internet trends, and it’s true that not everyone gets them. Being “in” on the joke is what makes them so marketable, and it’s always important to keep up on trends as a small business owner.
Perhaps most importantly, using memes or referencing viral phenomenon in your advertising needs to be done in a timely manner. Internet trends not only have a short lifespan, but trying to use one long past its shelf life can make your business appear out of touch. It’s probable that by the time you read this, the Area 51 viral trend will have already died. They go that quick.
So with a little imagination and timing, you can use the social momentum that accompanies viral trends in your marketing. It’s a way to make your business stand out, and is especially useful in appealing to younger markets.