Texts From Hillary – A Case Study In Viral Webpages.
Hillary Clinton Is Badass – Her Texts Tell Us So!
Texts from Hillary is a Tumblr blog that did not exist 3 days ago. The earliest post on the blog is dated 4th April and this post is being written on the 6th April.
Set up by a couple of Washington DC PR people Stacy Lambe and Adam Smith. They saw a couple of photos of Hillary Clinton apparently looking at her mobile phone for text messages (SMS) and they had the flash of inspiration that links truth, knowledge and understanding and creates something new.
The original pics taken by a Reuters photographer, Kevin Lamarque and Time photographer Diana Walker might have just been ordinary photos covering the life of Hillary Clinton going about her work were it not for Stacy and Adam. They realized that there was something more and so they juxtaposed the pics of the Secretary Of State with other political figures and created an imaginary dialogue between them. Because they speak to truth they are both witty and provide a kind of closeness. I read these and could imagine that these exchanges could take place – perhaps because I might want them to take place. All the exchanges speak to a kind of badassery that I have always imagined Mrs Clinton to embody.
I picked this story up from Yahoo! this morning, still the middle of the night is the US, it will be interesting to see how this new meme progresses.
Here’s just a sampling of the coverage thus far:
- ‘Texts From Hillary’ is Your New Favorite Clinton-Themed Tumblr (mashable.com)
- Texts From Hillary: your new favorite political Tumblr (news.yahoo.com)
- Hillary Clinton Is Badass and Now Has the Tumblr to Prove It [Hillary Clinton] (jezebel.com)
- [TheGloss] I Want To Get A Text Message From Hillary Clinton (thegloss.com)
As marketers using the internet what can we learn from this flash-meme?
Firstly, I think that we can see that this was, on some level, a designed viral campaign, albeit informal. It is often said that viral effects are very rarely intentional – I think this demonstrates otherwise.
Secondly, the initiators of the meme were in a position to influence others to see the page. As communications professionals they are a part of a network that makes it easier to get an interesting or funny message spread through their community and very rapidly out from there. Check out the links above. The Gloss had the story 13 hours ago, Jezebel posted 9 hours ago as did Yahoo! and Mashable went live with it just 7 hours ago. This is very fast indeed. When I saw the timeline I wondered if the writers of those pieces had been introduced to the ‘Texts From Hillary’ directly by Stacy Lambe and Adam Smith.
Thirdly, the story has to appeal to a wider audience than the immediate circle and maybe even the target demographic, the meme must infect lots of people and not be too selective.
While they may have set up Texts From Hillary as a bit of a giggle the project was implemented professionally from end to end.
So, if we as marketers want to get a benefit from a viral story, one that we start ourselves, what can we do?
1) plan ahead
2) make sure the content is funny and appealing to a wider audience than your normal target group
3) put the proto-meme where it can be found (hopefully by forwarding it widely among other communicators and influencers)
4) site back and watch what happens – be excited and ready to cope if things go well, but keep expectations realistic, there are, after all hundreds, if not thousands, of new Tumblr blogs every day and it takes an alignment of many factors to enable something like the ‘Hillary Texts’ Tumblr blog to explode into mass awareness in just a few hours!