In a matter of hours, a Dallas area mom became an Internet sensation. Wearing a Chewbacca Mask that she had just purchased at Kohl’s, Candace Payne laughed her way to nearly 150 million views of a video she recorded on Facebook Live.
In a span of less than a week following, she appeared on a number of major television shows, got to visit Facebook headquarters and ride bikes with Chewbacca, and even had herself parodied by Chewbacca in a video racking up millions of views itself.
So what are the lessons to be learned from Candace’s viral success?
1. “Going Viral” cannot be forced. Candace indicated that she did not make video with the intention of a gazillion people seeing it. She made the video to explain to family and friends that this was her Chewbacca Mask, not her kiddos, even though she knew they would be clamoring for it.
She was simply sharing her joy at the discovery of this fun toy. The video was truly her being herself. No scripting. No grand intentions.
2. Mass viral appeal requires relate-ability. The Chewbacca Mom was conveying her joy at a fun discovery. I dare say that the vast majority of us can relate to that thrill of finding something that “tickles us pink”. An equivalent that comes to mind for me is the rediscovery of the candy dots on strips of waxed paper. Remember those?
I loved going with my grandmother to the five and dime and getting them when I was a kid. When I found them again as an adult I sure wanted to do the happy dance. I could relate to Candace’s ecstatic laughter about her purchase.
3. Being a pioneer on a social medium that is growing leaps and bounds sure seems to help your viral chances. Facebook Live has only been really offering some of its most interactive features for a matter of months.
At this point, judging by observing other social media outlets’ features in start up, there are probably more people joining up to watch videos than content creators. Now is the golden window of opportunity for content creators to get discovered more easily and rack up followers quickly before the field gets crowded.
Look no further than Pinterest to see how that very thing has played out. The Pinners with the million plus follower numbers are most often the early adopter content creators of Pinterest’s early days. They started pinning useful content from the get go, when they did not have lots of competition.
4. When people are the stars of the viral content, it is because it naturally plays on their strengths. One of the most striking things about Candace Payne is that she is an absolute natural on camera. Watching her interviews on major television programs, you feel like she is sitting in her living room talking to friends she has known forever.
No apparent nerves or uptightness. Having worked in media relations for a long time, I can tell you that most people have to have significant coaching and on air experience before they will be (or appear) that comfortable on camera. She is truly gifted in this arena.
As you can see, the Chewbacca Mom video is a great illustration of why we should (speaking to myself as much as anybody here) stop trying so hard to make our content go viral. We should simply work hard to use our God-given strengths to share the content we feel led to in the ways that are most comfortable as they emerge.
And let the chips fall where they may. They just may fall on a shooting star one of these days.
For More Tips: