The Hurricane Sandy, Horsehead Man Approach to Content Virality.

November 2, 20122 Comments
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Hurricane Sandy – the natural disaster in everyone’s thoughts at the minute, and not the sort of topic you’d typically expect me to talk about here. But then, this guy came along:

For those of you unaware what the hell you are actually looking at – this is a topless man, dancing in the hurricane force winds with a wearing a fake horses head mask . He pranced happily in the storm in front of Weather cameras, who frankly – couldn’t do anything but laugh and shoot footage of this apparent act of indignance against the storm.

Then the Internet exploded.

Front page of Reddit.

Washington Post.

Numerous other outlets all grabbed a hold of the story, and it ran and ran and ran. Twitter went ape. Thousands of blog posts and articles were written in the small space of time that something so simple happened. Some (including this one) are still being written.

For any of you involved in content marketing, there are a couple of take home points that we can draw from this, from a viral marketing point of view. Why did this take off like it did around the web?

1) Offer Wreckless Abandon

This guy did not care what the world thought, and went and did it anyway. He caused a stir when the world was watching, and waiting for the worst, because  everything was doom and gloom – and he brought humour to the party.

Your content should do the same. Break a few taboos, go against the grain, address things that have never been addressed. Speak the unspeakable, Seek the unseekable. If you can, throw some humour into the mix as well, as this is a great way to make people care about your content. 

2) Stick it to the man

Every media outlet was telling people to batten down the hatches, and get yourself safe. This guy was an anti-establishment hero, who ignored that in pursuit of fun. Everyone loves the joker in the classroom who bends the rules in the name of fun every now and then.

Content that goes against the conservative view, doesn’t state the obvious and offers an alternative viewpoint to societies status quo always does well. Question everything, as people appreciate when others challenge traditional schools of thought.

3) Use the Odd and Random factor

If you seen this live on the T.V. when it was released, you know that you’ll never see anything like it again. Ever. It was so random and odd and crazy, the people could hardly believe what they were seeing. That fact alone makes people instinctively want to share it with others. ‘Hey, did you see that crazy guy on the Weather Channel defying the storm WEARING A HORSES HEAD MASK?’ makes for a great story

All great marketers are great story tellers, but to make your content stand out, you have to be prepared to do stuff that seems a bit mad. Research things that seem unresearchable, write content that has never been written. Be as unique as humanly possible in your content creation. When people find a gem, they want to share it with other people, because they know there’s a pretty good chance they’ll either not have seen it, or will appreciate something original being offered to them.

We live in a world of content knockoffs with duplicate articles circling the web. Do something original with your content, and see the results.

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About the Author ()

Paul is a regular 30 year old web bloke / programmer with a penchant for online marketing. This blog is a personal outlet, with an eclectic mix of articles.

Comments (2)

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  1. Keith Davis says:

    Hi Paul
    Saw that on TV in the UK – loved it.

    Good to see it broken down in to the elements that made it so popular.

    Nice analysis and useful info to try and put in to practice.

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