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Ten things the JK Wedding taught us about social media

August 6, 2009 Comments

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Now that the confetti has settled, and that wedding video has been consigned to the ‘one hit wonder’ file of Internet history (complete with its own parody below), it seems appropriate to consider what might be learned from such a startling sensation.

Content that resonates so loudly across culture and the internet (12 million views in 10 days) inevitably possesses certain qualities we can learm from. Those qualities apply to the fundamentals of effective communication (as in marketing) and the dynamics of social media.

Some of the points on the following list appear obvious and they are. What is not obvious is to how to apply those same principles to your brand or product marketing in order to benefit from the same social media appeal. Periodically the best brands and marketers manage to do it. No brand does it all the time. At the very least it is something we should always aim for.

1. BE LIKE US: We all know what a wedding is. We’ve all probably been to one (or had several of our own!). The circumstances were instantly relatable and allowed the viewer (customer) to easily project themselves into those circumstances.

2. THINK AGAIN: If you told me that the idea of a wedding ceremony could be so completely redefined in a single video, I would have been skeptical. Yet now that it’s been done, it seems so obvious. So take whatever your “known” quantity is into the unknown. If JK can do it with something as familiar as a wedding, everything is fair game.

3. SELL EMOTION: Brands do not sell cars, shoes or widgets. They sell love, fear, pride and every other human emotion that can be experienced through a product. People buy emotion shaped like products. The joy of the JK wedding was palpable, contagious and addictive. It sold like hot cakes. Brands should do the same.

4. GET SOCIAL: A wedding is by definition a social affair. It’s everybody’s business. That instantly gives people the license to discuss and share what they’ve seen. So position your brand or product in the context of something we can readily share even if it’s something we personally own.

5. GIVE IT AWAY: If you do 3. and 4. correctly, viewers (customers) will have something they can share for free – emotion. When people talk, it’s not the product they share but the reason they bought that product. In short, the emotion people invest in the product. So use marketing to invest products with emotion that people can then give away for free.

6. PUBLIC PRIVACY: The JK Wedding ceremony was as unique and authentic as every dance move made by the wedding party. This was not “made for television”. It was made for JK. Once that authenticity went public, what was personal proved equally universal. People love to be given permission to be themselves. That’s what every brand should do.

7. JUST BECAUSE: At some point JK stopped (over)thinking and just went ahead with their idea. Probably because it seemed like fun. Too many brands, products and marketing campaigns die the death of a thousand well-intended lashes. All viewers (customers) want is a reason to like you. After seeing that video I like JK even though I’ve never met them. They just seem like fun people. It should be the same with brands.

8. BE HUMBLE: Judging by the new website for their video, JK are fun and humble in equal measure. The income generated by the ad revenue from their video is being given to charity and their message is one of gratitude and humility. The same attitudes go a long way in social media and is something more brands could adopt.

9. GO BIG: When JK had the idea to do a “dance number” at their wedding, they pulled out all stops. No doubt some of the wedding party took some convincing (the older generation still seemed reluctant to leave to relative safely of the alcove for the full exposure of the aisle). But once committed, everyone fed off each other. Surety emboldens others and breeds enthusiasm. Brands can benefit from these dynamics every day but they need to take the lead.

10. BE UN-SERIOUS: At the opening of the video you saw a typical wedding scene. A polite, respectful gathering of well-dressed individuals sharing the joy of a special occasion. By the end, the church was a raucous scene of stunned, clapping, and laughing people giddy with the experience they were having. That same transformation is possible for a brand. We all know the loyalty that brands like Nike, Apple and Google generate. When brands reach out with the same authenticity, commitment and spirit as JK did, they can expect the same passion and loyalty from their customers.

There are probably many more lessons to be learned from the video. But as marketers its worth considering how many of these ten points your existing advertising campaign satisfies. That may sound absurd. It’s just a silly wedding video, right?

But let’s consider the logic from the other end. Rather than taking lessons from the video, let’s start with social media in mind. Social networks are preciditaed on the dynamics that motivate people to share. This one piece of content was shared more than almost any other in Internet history. So if you want your brand to be inherently ‘shareable’, it’s worth considering what was special about this video.

Few brands satisfy all ten criteria but when they do they often enjoy a runaway success. Sadly, most brands spend their time explaining why they never could. It’s no accident that the most “successful” campaigns are often the most “creative” because that creativity means the brand took the risk to either be itself, say something bold or venture into the unknown. It’s just like getting married.

And here’s that parody featuring – you guessed it – divorce…

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6 responses to “Ten things the JK Wedding taught us about social media”

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  3. A very thoughtful summary of why that video went viral, and I'm sure there were many marketers wringing their hands, lamenting why they hadn't thought of it first. You have identified all the major characteristics of what made this video a winner, and I have to say I am one of the viewers who not only watched it many times, I shared it and even fell in love with Chris Brown's song..his atrocious behavior w/ Rhianna notwithstanding. It won't be easy for marketers to capture that naive and genuine emotion– no matter how many fantastic creatives work to leverage those same themes. However, I do think Office Max comes very close with Elf Yourself, as that campaign seems to embody almost all, if not all, of the points you mention above. Yet I keep reading how it has not had much of an impact on sales despite its continued popularity…this is it's fourth year! Here's an article from Nov. 11 stating this http://bit.ly/4uIWjq, What are your thoughts?
    thanks
    heather

  4. Thanks so much Heather for your insights. I actually agree that Elf Yourself is a tough one to call. Hugely popular and viral yet unclear in its objectives. I think as marketers we look to tools to achieve certain measurable goals and while you have results here they can't really be measured against pre-exsiting goals. So I just think of it as branded entertainment. And without an impact on sales, its hard to claim tangible success. I see it as a good example of the viral dynamic but not a viral campaign. Thanks so much and great to be in contact. Simon

  5. A very thoughtful summary of why that video went viral, and I'm sure there were many marketers wringing their hands, lamenting why they hadn't thought of it first. You have identified all the major characteristics of what made this video a winner, and I have to say I am one of the viewers who not only watched it many times, I shared it and even fell in love with Chris Brown's song..his atrocious behavior w/ Rhianna notwithstanding. It won't be easy for marketers to capture that naive and genuine emotion– no matter how many fantastic creatives work to leverage those same themes. However, I do think Office Max comes very close with Elf Yourself, as that campaign seems to embody almost all, if not all, of the points you mention above. Yet I keep reading how it has not had much of an impact on sales despite its continued popularity…this is it's fourth year! Here's an article from Nov. 11 stating this http://bit.ly/4uIWjq, What are your thoughts?
    thanks
    heather

  6. Thanks so much Heather for your insights. I actually agree that Elf Yourself is a tough one to call. Hugely popular and viral yet unclear in its objectives. I think as marketers we look to tools to achieve certain measurable goals and while you have results here they can't really be measured against pre-exsiting goals. So I just think of it as branded entertainment. And without an impact on sales, its hard to claim tangible success. I see it as a good example of the viral dynamic but not a viral campaign. Thanks so much and great to be in contact. Simon

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