Psy became a household name in the remotest parts of the world with his kick-ass and super-catchy ‘Gangnam Style’. One of the most striking things about this viral phenomenon of epic proportions was that it was unexpected in many ways. For one, Psy isn’t your usual pop star – if you were to spot him on the streets, you wouldn’t even remotely suspect him of being a pop musician. Not only are his looks deceptive, but also his video is a complete anti-thesis of what you would expect to see. Keep all these thoughts aside for a moment, and you realize that ‘Gangnam Style’ is a brilliant example of smart viral and content marketing. And there are important lessons to be learnt:
1. Don’t hold your content or brand too dear – share and let it grow
The key factor in the success of Gangnam Style’s viral campaign was the song’s share-ability. As the song did not intentionally carry a copyright, once it became popular, numerous parodies sprung up and the audience continued to multiply. In today’s world where information is easy to access and in many cases free, being restrictive and uptight about your content may not be the smartest move as a content marketer. Using licenses like creative commons and opening your content to interpretation and modification, can often take the content much further and allow it to be distributed more freely. Content marketing is to a large extent gathering of goodwill and brand building through great content – being restrictive will only limit the content’s reach.
2. Stand out and provoke!
Attention spans are small these days – the usual pitches and regular stuff doesn’t work half as well. People are constantly on a look out for something that makes them jump out of their seats. Gangnam Style did just that – the funky, provocative tune and moves from the ‘guy-next-door’ were too much to turn your eyes away from and ignore. It was in your face, hilarious and completely chilled out. As a content marketer, if you wish to catch your audience’s imagination, give them something unexpected.
3. Forge the connection with the audience
What made the song so sensational was the fact that anyone could get in its groove, and have fun. Nothing made it belong to a world region, a certain segment of people or a particular line of thought – it was transcending. The way Psy achieved it was through a brilliant combination of humor, the free human spirit and very ‘next-doorly’ feel. It was an instant connection – the whole ‘take nothing too seriously and have fun’ connected easily with everyone. For a successful content strategy, you also need to do the same. Find the smaller, simpler things that will connect you to your audience, and pull those strings in the content you create. You’ll find that whatever you are selling – be it an idea, product, advice or a service – it’ll be much easier to do so with this intent.
4. Collaborate socially for innovation beyond your thoughts
Another lesson to learn from the rise and rise of Gangnam Style is that the most fun ideas may not just be there in your head yet. It’s ok to involve a larger community to help develop these ideas. The ‘invisible-horse-dance’ in case of Psy’s song was a product of crowdsourcing from the Korean dance community. In your case, the idea contributors could be your customers, your readers or simply your extended professional network. Not everything that’ll come out will be gold, but then that’s the case with all other ways of ideating too. Polls on social platforms, community discussions and feedback are all good ways to find out pre-emptively as to what may work and what may not. Content sharing should not be a monologue, but a dialogue that takes the thought further.
5. Your audience can be much bigger than you believe
The online world gives you access to a global audience, and in many unexpected cases, several online ventures found out that their offering had a larger or a different audience. Adaptability is crucial when it comes to online ventures and marketing – if you are too rigid, you can run the risk of missing out on audiences and opportunities that existed beyond your imagination. For Gangnam Style, the audience turned out to be much bigger outside Korea despite the fact that the primary language of the song was not English. The nature of content for marketing should have a global appeal – it should open doors, not close some!