Today I have experienced first hand the power of contrarian point of view, how fast and how far the message can spread only because it doesn’t appeal to the masses. We all know that some celebrities thrive on negative publicity, because they believe that negative publicity is still better than no publicity. Although I personally don’t share that sentiment, as marketeer and an engineer, I cannot deny the power of negative publicity when I see the raw data. In only fifteen minutes, my Twitter message went viral.
I am using Twitter for my consulting business, rarely post messages of personal nature, I am pretty consistent with my messaging frequency as it’s reflected in steady, flatline trend of my daily tweet impressions. Then, this one tweet received 60-times more impressions, clicks and profile views than my average! Is there any marketing manager that wouldn’t be overjoyed with achieving 6,000% increase in traffic? No.
Background: winter storm and school closing
Actually, my viral Tweet was personal in nature, written as a parent and small business owner frustrated with Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) decision to stall the announcement whether schools will be open or closed the next day, all the way to 10PM at night. The announcement came at 10PM to cancel all school classes for the third day in the row due to weather conditions! Most parents have jobs, business meetings and clients to tend to and they cannot rearrange their lives in a second in order to stay home with their school children. Today, Thursday 02/19/2015, I left the house with my elementary school son to do all kinds of business errands; the most important one for me was to pick up checks from the office, deposit them to a bank account, so I can pay my vendor bills. That’s what a lot of other responsible small business owners do every day. As I was driving around town, I didn’t see a single patch of ice on the road, not main roads, secondary roads, numerous parking lots I parked at or any suburban neighborhoods around my home. I was fully expecting that school would be open, or at least delayed the next day, on Friday. But, just to be sure, I asked the local TV station, and WCPSS for confirmation hoping to avoid Twitter obsession from last night.
Just minutes later, my iPhone started buzzing from all hate mail from teenagers lobbying WCPSS to cancel all classes for the fourth day in the row. Well, I did get the attention, just not the one I wanted; negative publicity.
Take a look at excellent news coverage from local WRAL TV station about the way WCPSS handled communication with parents and students: Wake takes heat for handling of school closure decision :: WRAL.com
Tomorrow, I’m taking my son with me to work because WCPSS decided to cancel classes for the fourth day in a row claiming patches of ice on the roads, even though I have seen none. And, he can play with his iPad while I’m in a meeting.
Small Business Marketing Lessons from a Viral Tweet
There are several lessons to be learned from this tweet that went viral.
- If you really care to get publicity, find the local trending topic on social media, and go against the grain. You will receive “hate mail” in no time with an avalanche effect.
- Unfortunately, the publicity will mostly come from a market segment that you do not target for your business; in my case, teenagers. My target market segment are parents, small business owners.
- All marketing campaigns take time, results start to be visible after several months. I will be patient to see if this negative publicity will attract any people that belong to my target market segment; or not. In either case, lesson will be learned.
Stay warm America! This winter is really long and cold for everyone.