Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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March 2, 2013

Harlem Shake Viral Trend among Brands & Universities: Engaging audiences w/ memorable & unique visual content to build communities

Everyone seems to have a view when it comes to the viral sensation sweeping the digital sphere.  Everyone seems to have a remix of the popular song ranging from NBA teams like the Miami Heat to even doing it on a flight (even though there are some investigations happening regarding this from the FAA). Brands like Jeff Gordon & Pepsi among others, but of course – Red Bull I think has one of the best and is at the top of the list in my opinion. I think their motto is go big or go home!

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Is this viral sensation a way for brands to showcase their own remix, or is it considered to be “stupid” or even the real Harlem Shake?  I would say that at first, brands and universities alike were all about getting their name out first with this particular viral remix sensation to distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd. However, what you see now with some of these remixes is a window into seeing a group of people having fun. With this in mind, this brings up my next example from the University of Louisville.

While the UofL Men’s Basketball team already did their version of the Harlem Shake, it was the football team’s turn.  However, they not only did a version of the Harlem Shake with the team, but with children from Kosiar Children’s Hospital.  You can also see the full video along with other additional behind the scenes footage off of the UofL Football FB page.

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What are the social media lessons from this?  There are several ways that UofL really did distinguish themselves from other types of viral videos from a strategic communication point of view.

  • Inviting people to be part of the story and experience: What you see with some of these other brands who have done this trend is the fact it is really internal audiences like employees and staff, but you do have external audiences participating in this trend if you are looking at the craze happening at various athletic events.  However, this was the chance for other audiences to experience and be part of these shared experience creating this video with some of their favorite team members at UofL.
  • Showcasing personality with community: What better way to be able to show others in a face to face atmosphere? The voice for the UofL football team is of course Coach Strong, and he has done a very good job with engaging not only the fans, but the community of Louisville.
  • Positioning team ahead of 2013 football season: UofL came off a great Sugar Bowl win a few months ago – with this in mind, the football season is still far away.  However, with videos like this, they are still engaging and providing memorable content for their audiences to still feel connected.
  • Having fun: One of the things I think UofL Athletics does a great job in is really connecting with the community and bringing in fans of all ages to be part of the experience. You can really see with this video along with other content presented on social media the authenticity and fun everyone is having.

Overall, I think when you are looking at viral memes and campaigns, they are about being cutting edge and ahead of the curve.  However, it is also about building community, engaging audiences with memorable content, and having fun.  Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

Karen

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