Blue and black or white and gold. If you have any reaction to these particular color combinations, there’s a good chance you were one of the estimated 670,000 people who got sucked into #theDress debate. If so, you’re not alone. In fact, the photo of the $77 dress posted on Tumblr caused more than a few online conversations to become downright combative.
The viral conversation, which eventually gained momentum with its own hashtag, garnered an incredible 16 million hits in six hours, eventually breaking Buzzfeed. While hundreds of thousands weighed in on their personal color perception, a number of brands also jumped on the opportunity to take advantage of the viral activity with some pointed promotion of their own.
When Viral Conversations Become Newsworthy
Considering the swift reaction to what seemed like a simple question about color, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will become the next viral item. More than a few, such as the financial analysts on CNBC’s Squawk Box, were left scratching their head regarding the collective fascination of a blue and black (or white and gold) dress. Despite the outward lack of newsworthiness of the subject, the topic of #thedress became news anyway. As with all newsworthy items, time is of the essence. Across the Twittersphere brands as diverse as Duracell batteries, Auntie Ann’s pretzels, M&M candies and Lego all jumped on bandwagon to capitalize on #thedress sensation.
In the end, one of the most impactful took the perception of black and blue to a new level. The campaign from the South African branch of the Salvation Army asked the question so many on Twitter were already asking in an entirely different context. Posing the question “Why is it so hard to see black and blue?” the Salvation Army campaign showcased a female in a white and gold dress with a variety of bruises, highlighting that unlike the color of a dress, domestic violence is never a choice. The ad included logos for the Salvation Army along with a logo for CareHaven, a home for abused women and children run by the Salvation Army in South Africa.
Speaking to the Other Half/Hijacking a Hashtag
In a single tweet, this subtle but effective campaign shifted the conversation from one of color perception to awareness of domestic abuse. In addition to sharing a critical message, the play on words also encouraged an entirely different audience to join in the discussion, catalyzing those who thought the original #thedress conversation was less than newsworthy.
The move was bold and also somewhat risky. While not everyone agreed with the campaign’s effectiveness, it was ultimately successful because the Salvation Army took a trending topic and added an important measure of social awareness and relevancy to the discussion.
Tips for Joining an Online Conversation in Progress
- Research the trending topic and related hashtags
- Define the context
- Address the relevant audience
- Provide a specific and dedicated hashtag
- Make the campaign approachable
- Proceed with caution
Online change happens fast, but there’s no need to let frequent search engine optimization changes bog you down. Talk to the search engine marketing specialists at Rank Fuse Interactive about creating an optimized marketing plan.