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Like it or not, outrageous actions get attention

You may hate him, but you’ve probably thought about Kanye West today

It’s the ultimate challenge: How do I create buzz about my brand? We’ve all read overwhelming usage statistics on social media. Here’s just a brief sampling of the statistics compiled by Adam Singer on The Future Buzz (from January 2009): 

  • 2,600,000,000 – number of minutes global users in aggregate spend on Facebook daily
  •  13 hours – amount of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 3,000,000 – number of Tweets/day(March 2008) (from TechCrunch)
  • 236,000,000 – number of visitors attracted annually by 2008 to Digg.com (according to a Compete survey)

How can a communicator compete with all this conversation and get attention in this content-rich new world of social media?

In Cision’s free social media webinar Twitter 201, we explore case studies of “Twitter epidemics” – brands that have created sudden, yet sticky buzz that catches on like wildfire. We examine a lot of commonalities in these epidemics to identify what works for those success stories. One of the commonalities is uniqueness.

Ideas that are outrageous, unique and/or controversial are frequently buzz-worthy. Now, that’s not the be all and end all of creating buzz. There’s building social capital, creating sticky content, embracing your brand’s key messaging and much, much more.  But without that initial unique and outrageous idea, it may be difficult to get your message noticed.

Take Kanye West at last night’s Video Music Awards for example. He acted outrageously (even though he didn’t even choose a particularly controversial topic) and the social web responded. Take a look at social media mentions of Kanye over the past month that I pulled from the Cision Social Media Dashboard this morning:

Kanye Graph

As of this writing, 4 of Twitter’s top 10 trending topics were related to the Kanye VMAs incident. Regardless of whether you love him or hate him, Kanye has created more buzz in the past 24 hours through one single outrageous action than he’s seen in the rest of the past month combined.

You may not want to align your brand with controversial and outrageous actions that could garner negative press and opinions like Kanye did, but are there other unique actions that you can take to increase the buzz about your brand? Have you had successes creating social media epidemics?

For more ideas that aren’t Taylor Swift-bashing controversies, I encourage you to check out a book by Peter Shankman (of HARO fame): “Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work–And Why Your Company Needs Them.”

Tags : social media

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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