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Companies should have taken advantage of “Sharknado”

A hilariously awful disaster movie from the Syfy channel went viral on Twitter last night, something brands could capitalize on.

If you happened to be anywhere near Twitter last night, you probably noted a tweet or two about “Sharknado,” or a 1000 if you follow pop-culture aficionados. Put simply, the internet went nuts last night over the premiere of SyFy’ channel’s latest disaster movie, about a raging tornado…with sharks in it.

The premise is that a giant tornado sweeps up all the sharks in the Pacific Ocean and then heads towards Los Angeles, wrecking havoc on the city as sharks, (much like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, except homicidal) ride the tornado trek to rain down and kill everyone in L.A.

This movie definitely falls squarely into the “so insanely bad, it’s awesome” category, much like other giant animal disaster movies “Piranha 3D” and of course Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. But what’s noticeable about Sharknado is how quickly it went viral, marketers should take notice of how such a viral phenomenon brings together different demographics. Everyone from writer Phillip Roth to actress Mia Farrow tweeted about Sharknado, and how so many people across different demographics jumped on the bandwagon till it just became a pop-culture phenomenon. How does that even happen? 

For one, #Sharknado is eternally tweetable, the perfect hashtag to accompany a joke or an ironic statement, as can be seen from these gems:

“If your house is hit by a #SharkNado it is classified as an act of cod.” (@emilybell)

“Al Gore warned us about the #sharknado but you laughed at him.” (@ravenb)

Ways to kill an airborne shark. Shotgun, revolver, chainsaw, knife, big stick, bomb, Car, fire, pickax, sudden stop,” @MikeISevere 

It basically reached a point where the Twitter commentary was more entertaining than the film itself.

But just because something else is going viral, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of it. It would be easy for a savvy brand to jumped on the #Sharknado bandwagon with its own related tweets, joining in the fun and promoting their business too. For example:

“#SharkNado: Better with or without beer? Discuss. (Still trying to form an opinion here.),” a tweet from Draft Magazine, an online publication for beer enthusiasts.

And the Red Cross was opportunistic as well, tweeting  “We survived the #Sharknado!” and “Be prepared for real situations, though. Download #RedCross Tornado & First Aid apps.”

However there seemed to be very few tweets like these coming from companies, quite possibly they’ve missed a trick here. Things like these are easy gets.

 If you can somehow make people feel like they’re all in on a joke or a shared experience, you’ve hit gold. It isn’t easy to generate viral hits on your own, but a tuned-in brand will recognize a viral trend and capitalize early on it so it can still maintain some street credibility, rather than the next day (as I’m sure we’ll see today) with a “me too” mentality.  Having said that, maybe the #hashtag will be as entertaining today, so there’s still time for brands to take advantage of it in a creative way.

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