Fluffy vs Misfortune

So Thursday was the day we’d decided to get the Christmas decorations out the office loft. Unbeknownst to me, as I’m 6ft 3, I’d automatically been selected to have the honor of going up there to get them out. I dragged the ladder out the cupboard, placed it under the loft entrance and, with the aid of my trusted colleague, got hoisted up into the abyss (I say this because I suppose you could say I’m not the biggest fan of small dark spaces). My colleague then flung me the torch and on went the hunt for the pile of dusty boxes labeled ‘Christmas dec’s’. Whilst I’m up there trying to avoid a head on collision with a wooden beam, I hear giggling coming from below. I proceed to poke my head out the entrance only to see that my source of escape, the ladder, had been taken away from me. Obviously I shouted, ‘’very funny guys’’ but after numerous calls for help I’d concluded they must have all conveniently gone ‘out for lunch’. When I finally made it out unscathed, with decorations in hand, I’m shown a comical picture of me in the loft, which we said would be funny to tweet out, and thinking nothing more we did exactly that.

The following day we checked and realized we’d received over 800 impressions, which is 6 or 7 times more than that of our average tweet. I mean don’t get me wrong, we know these sorts of tweets often resonate with people more than usual business talk, but this one did particularly well, and unexpectedly so. Compare this to a tweet made last week about Hugo the office dog. We thought he was going to perform really well on the analytics front, which he did, but not to the same extent as my gangly legs.

I mean just look at him, how can you not want to squeeze his cheeks and repeatedly shout ‘who’s a good boy!?’. Anyway, trying to source the reasons as to why my misfortune performed better than the oh so lovely Hugo proved rather tricky. After many a Google search I finally found some interesting facts and figures. One article by Bob Cargill talked about giving your audience a ‘peak behind the scenes’, something they wouldn’t see otherwise, which in this case both posts successfully do. Another talked about how, especially on Twitter, a photo can boost retweets by 35%. But again these stats don’t really support either argument.

If I’m being honest there could be a whole host of reasons for the strong performance of the tweet. It could be that our audience doesn’t love dogs as much as we do. It could be us posting at the wrong time. But the truth is you never really know. Half the joy of social media is about experimenting with your posts, seeing what your audience reacts well to and keeping your content fresh. It shouldn’t be a chore, it should be something you enjoy doing, especially for those of you with smaller businesses.

A social media coach once said to me ‘what you think will do well won’t, and what you think won’t, will.’

And its true. But being a marketer, we always want to know why, why something does what it does, or is the way it is. I mean people have been laughing at other people’s misfortune for years, there’s even a term for it called Schadenfreude (and no I’m not making that up). Apparently Schadenfreude can be a sign of low self-esteem, but that doesn’t make it any less funny, right? Look at the TV show You’ve Been Framed, or Youtube channel FailArmy that has over two billion views. Both hugely successful, and both based around people falling off bikes and running into walls.

The fact of the matter is that I could post a picture of that same dog tomorrow and millions of people across the world could view it. It could literally become a global phenomenon. Probably not, but it could be. This must be kept in mind when posting on social media and when marketing in general. No amount of statistics or predictions can account for what an individual will do at a specific moment in time, and that, is half the fun of it.

Thank god Christmas only comes round once a year, I think when they have to be put back I’ll be the one conveniently ‘out for lunch’.

What do you think?