What Content Marketing Can Learn From the Harlem Shake

University of Georgia men's swim team underwater Harlem Shake.

University of Georgia’s swim team gets my vote for the best Harlem Shake. I can barely doggie paddle, bros. Credit: USA Today

If you haven’t heard of the viral YouTube sensation called the Harlem Shake, then I ask that you please crawl out from under your metaphorical rock and waste a lot of time this Friday with this genius Harlem Shake Roulette. After your brain melts a little bit from the same 30-second loop of Baauer’s track, let’s see what these ridiculous videos can teach us about content marketing.

Do the Content Shake: Version Infinity

Today’s content consumers are no longer satisfied with a simple article spelling out the information they’re looking for; today’s content consumers crave interaction! According to YouTube Trends Manager Kevin Allocca, participation is 1 of 3 ways in which the success of a YouTube video can be defined. Since the Harlem Shake videos encourage, even if unintentionally, remixes and other interpretations of its wackiness, this interaction sparks interest, sharing, and content creation from consumers themselves. Our first lesson suggests that creating content in any medium that encourages participation will spark interest, sharing, and content creation from the consumers themselves.

Tastemakers & Unexpectedness – Drop Your Bass

Besides participation, Allocca cites tastemakers and unexpectedness as the two other reasons videos become a hit on YouTube. My initial reaction to the title tastemakers is that it means celebrities. While a celebrity sharing one of your tweets or articles will certainly help your content spread like wildfire, there are many other consumers in your brand’s industry that could be considered a tastemaker.

Listen to and study your greatest asset, your audience, to see who is influencing others to interact. For our second lesson, take a page out of an influencer’s book and find smarter ways to engage tastemakers and incite your broader audience to listen to what you have to say.

Lastly, unexpectedness is the third focus behind viral videos and our final takeaway from this nonsense. The Harlem Shake sensation could be listed under this success point as well, since the hard cut to the bass drop and whatever creative pandemonium ensues could be why people keep the play button going throughout thousands of these 30-second videos.

Applying unexpectedness to your next content strategy doesn’t have to be considered rocket science—dive into a new social media channel you aren’t using yet, create fun Vine videos or bring a fresh, expert voice to your content. If there’s something out there that your competition isn’t doing, great! Be the trailblazer in your industry and let your audience know you have a pulse.

Content Marketing – the Never-ending Harlem Shake

The more I thought about it, the more I realized the entire buzz surrounding content marketing runs in a similar fashion to a Harlem Shake video. It starts out with an industry full of people going about their usual business while a few helmet wearing crusaders began shaking around trying to draw attention to something new and important. No one seems to notice at first . .

Now cut to the bass drop—look! There’s Instagram shaking it with Facebook, Twitter’s letting their hashtag hang out, YouTube is in a chicken costume, and Vine . . whoa Vine, getting a little suggestive with those 6 second moves don’tcha think?

The rest of the room is filled with us—web strategists wiggling about in a zipped up sleeping bag trying to find our way out to invent new, interesting moves to draw attention to our methods, our brand, and our clients.

I do know one thing to be absolutely true from days of taking in these hilarious and ridiculous 30-second dance clips—I will be feeling great about taking my dance moves to downtown Syracuse this weekend.

About the Author

Meghan Milewski

Senior Content Coordinator

What should brands be doing more of online?
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