“What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet” is generally interpreted as a warning about the dangers of social media. Social media can spread information like wildfire, irrespective of whether it’s beneficial or harmful. Social media can keep passing on information forever, irrespective of whether it’s become obsolete or not. You better be careful about what you share after a few too many drinks at the company party.
So much for the dark side. But the persistence of content on the Internet and its ability to continue to propagate through social media also have a positive flipside.
Persistent social content can be the gift that keeps on giving – a positive content evergreen.
Brands are now successfully emulating the famous examples of content evergreen… such as the “Charlie Bit My Finger – Again” video.
Using historical data from articles cited by the Wikipedia entry dedicated to it, I have plotted above the continuing progress of the Charlie Bit My Finger – Again! video since it was posted on YouTube in 2007. The chart shows the video’s almost perfectly linear progress towards the current more than 465 million views* at an amazing 50% annual compound average growth rate. Since the last figure in the chart (May 2012), the video has added another 15 million views!
In 2012, brands won’t create evergreen content by chance, as Harry and Charlie’s dad did in 2007. It takes a lot of inspiration, a lot of perspiration, and often quite a lot of money, to achieve the snowballing success of this video.
But it is feasible and it does work. Aside of music and film for which the product itself is content, the best current examples content that keeps on giving come from luxury brands.
Luxury brands are currently trying to outbid each other with high grade videos. Jeweler Cartier started the ball rolling in March 2012 by publishing a stunning 4 million euro 3.31′ video “L’Odysée de Cartier” on YouTube. It garnered 16 million views in 4 months. The move to release the commercial ad footage on YouTube was quite unexpected from the Cartier brand. It was a welcome refresher for its brand image as – IMHO – it was lacking international luster and had become a bit stale even in his own country, France.
Dior soon retaliated with a “Secret Gardens of Versailles” video that earned 23 million view in two months (17 million views for the short 1′ version and 6 million for the 3.36′ longform)! In total, Dior’s YouTube channel reports 51 million views, 80% of which for less than 10 months old videos.
Luxury brands are not alone in trying to create evergreen social content. Other brands do it as well, with less fanfare and at a much lower cost. A great example is Google Chrome’s Dear Sophie video (7 million views within 1 year).
These apparently disparate videos have features in common that make them timeless.
- a compelling story, a voyage, a narrative plot authored by creative artists,
- personable characters: the panther/the model, Daria Strokus/the Castle of Versailles, Sophie/her dad — real or imaginary,
- deeply rooted emotions: the passion, awe and pride inspired by works of art and craft; the touching devotion of fatherly love.
- high quality image and sound — little (spoken) text
- understatement: none of these videos forthrightly promotes the brand, but they weave it and its products into the story. Quite often the brand/product name only appears at the end of the video.
* I must admit that a dozen views of Charlie Bit My Finger – Again! are from me because — however cheesy — it still is one of my favorite YouTube videos.