There are two kinds of people in this world: those who take online quizzes and those who scoff at the very idea. Admittedly, I am one of the former. I enjoy knowing what Hogwarts house I would be sorted into (Gryffindor, duh!), which hunky celebrity is my soul mate, and which Disney princess I most resemble. I know I’m not alone.
But these harmless little tests have gotten out of hand. I recently saw a link to “Can We Guess Your Taste in Men Based on Your Taste in Potatoes?”
No, Buzzfeed. No you can’t.
Of course, we all know these quizzes are silly, fun ways to pass time. Sometimes we feel absolutely childish when we click that tempting link and discover what Beatle we should have married. And yet, we continue to take click. What is happening?
Whatever the secret is, magazines have had it for years and years. They have lured readers, often young women, in by promising them insight into their own personalities. As almost all printed material did, these quizzes moved online.
The recent spike in quiz popularity is largely attributed to two quizzes: BuzzFeed’s “What city should you actually live in?” and the New York Times’ “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk.” If you remember taking these two, you are far from alone.
The BuzzFeed quiz was viewed over 20 million times, and the New York Times quiz became the paper’s most-viewed story of the year, despite the fact that it was posted on December 21st.
What made these two quizzes take off like rockets was their sharing power. 75% of those 20 million views that the BuzzFeed quiz enjoyed were referred from social networks. There’s always one question that will sustain or kill a quiz: “Is this good enough to share with my friends?”
If enough people answer “yes,” the thing takes off. Jonah Berger, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania told Mashable, “These quizzes live and die by sharing. The successful ones are successful because people share them.”
Intuitively, this makes sense. Everything that goes viral does so because people share it. Sure, but what is making people share these things? There has to be something compelling people to share this type of entertainment.
The answer could be in our psychology.
Robert Simmermon, PhD., told Huffington Post that narrative psychology is probably at play here. “I think it’s fun, but I think it also does touch something about our own sense of our unfolding story,” he said.
Narrative psychology is the theory that people make themselves the center of their own story. We organize our lives into narratives that form a complete story that tells the world who we are. And in these stories, we make ourselves out to be heroes, never villains or sidekicks. Simmermon said this is why “you never see these quizzes, ‘Were you more like Hitler or Mussolini?'”
To add to the psychological reasons, Steven Meyers, PhD., asserts that these quizzes help us become more self-aware, whether there is any legitimacy to the quiz or not.
“You could introspect and think about yourself, however that has its limits,” Meyer said. “When we take these self-assessments it gives us another mirror inward.”
They allow us not only to ask who we are, but also to ponder on what others think of us and who we want to become. Those are deep questions, no doubt, and that level of introspection can be intimidating. Online quizzes give us a silly way to examine the questions.
Of course, there may be a simpler answer. Perhaps these quizzes are just fun. Perhaps they are nothing more than an entertaining way to pass the time. After all, who doesn’t want to know if BuzzFeed knows what type of significant other you desire, based solely on potato preference?
What do you think? Does the popularity of online quizzes give us a look into our souls? Or is everyone just goofing off?
What would you do with an extra $100 or more in your pocket every month? You could go on a nice date, buy some great shoes, or beef up your savings account. Well, 7.6 million people in the United States have found a way to do exactly this.
They are called “cord cutters,” and they have the power to scare big companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Why? Because they have left traditional television subscription behind and they are never turning back.
Cord cutters – for lack of a better term – are people who have ditched cable all together. Instead, they rely on lower-cost services like Netflix, Hulu and Redbox for their entertainment needs. Some young, independent adults have never paid for cable and never plan to. What’s driving this trend?
1. It’s All About the Money
This is the most obvious advantage and the one that gets most people interested in cutting the cord. It’s hard not to feel a little cheated when you flip through all 900 channels, find nothing, and turn on Netflix. Enough rounds of this and you’ll find yourself wondering why you’re spending over $1,200/year on cable.
2. Bad Blood with Cable Companies
At least 90% of people who have dealt with a cable company have made the face in the gif above. Ok, that’s a made-up statistic, but cable companies do have a bad rap for a reason. Instead of lowering prices for loyal customers, they often raise them. What’s worse, there is often only one or two options to choose from in a given area. It’s easy to see why some people want to give up on these companies all together.
3. The Alternatives are Great
Netflix is the perfect rebound after a bad breakup with your cable company. It’s always there, streaming exactly what you want to watch when you want to watch it. Netflix understands you; it recommends shows and movies based on what you like. What’s more, it’s only about $10/month.
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and iTunes stream favorite shows and movies directly to a user’s tablet, phone, computer or television. With just one or two of these subscriptions, you won’t miss a thing. It’s easy to see how that much lower price tag starts to look appealing, especially when there seems to be no sacrifice.
4. A la Carte is Coming
Every penny pincher’s dream is to only pay for what you use, and that’s exactly what a la carte entertainment is. In this ideal world, people would only pay for the 5 or 6 channels they actually watch. Now that HBO and Showtime offer their content without a cable subscription, this dream is becoming a reality. If people can subscribe to their favorite channels separately and save money, why wouldn’t they?
Sports and other live events are keeping some people from making this big switch. However, that might change soon. Some people simply go to bars to watch the big game; others have subscribed to sport-specific services, which allow some games to be watched.
What do you think? Will you be cutting the cord soon? Does this change your advertising decisions? Let us know! You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
If sites like BuzzFeed and WatchMojo are any indication, the Internet loves two things: mashing two words together with a capital letter in the middle and lists.
You’ve seen the lists taking over your Facebook feed. 28 Things Only 90s Kids Remember. Top 10 Disney Princesses. 10 Reasons We Love Emma Watson. It goes on an on. So, what makes these lists so popular? Why do you keep clicking on them?
Well, I’m feeling especially meta today, so let’s make a list!
Here are the top 10 reasons people love top 10 lists:
1. There’s Plenty of Room for Controversy
Do you know what people on the Internet love more than cats? Disagreeing with each other. Everyone has an opinion about everything, and lists take advantage of that.
Don’t believe me? Try making a list of something innocuous like boy bands. I promise you’ll get at least one person demanding that *NSYNC be rated higher than Backstreet Boys. (That person might be me, just saying.)
2. So Much Nostalgia
Lists often have a way of making people feel nostalgic. Even if it’s not as far back as Top 10 Cartoons of the 80s, the feelings can be powerful. Ever notice how many lists pop up around the end of the year? They are meant to make us look back at the past year and look forward to the next one. You can learn more about the power of nostalgia on our blog about it here.
3. They Help Keep Our Small Talk Game on Point
Ok, small talk is awkward sometimes. But it’s easier if you are informed about the world around you.
It takes hardly any time at all to read through a list (more on that in the next point), and yet, it leaves us with enough information to get through some pop culture small talk. Not a fan of horror movies? No problem. Just check out a few lists of the best horror movies, and you’ll be in the loop. Bonus: no jump scares!
4. Easy to Read or Skim
Want to know about all of the cool new movies, what retro trends are coming back, and what news stories you need to be aware of? Don’t have time to read three different magazines? Top 10 lists are for you.
If you’re really crunched for time, you can just skim the header of each number and get the gist. Of course, you shouldn’t do that for the rest of this list.
5. Lists Can Help You Make Decisions
In the era of Google, we often search for reviews before we make big purchases or decisions. Safest SUVs, Most Exciting Cities to Live In, and Best Fitness Apps are just a few examples of popular searches that will turn up a lot of helpful lists.
6. They Can Evoke a Lot of Emotion
We’ve already talked about the nostalgia and outrage some people can feel as a result of reading a little list. But lists can be so much more. They can make us sad, like Harry Potter Deaths Ranked by Sadness. Or they can be funny like Top 10 Monty Python Moments. No matter what emotion the author is going for, a good list can help.
7. They Connect Us Through Shared Experiences
This is especially true for the nostalgic-type lists. It’s the online equivalent of a friend saying, “Remember that time when we…” and recalling a fun story. When we read a list and the comments about a list, we connect with others who share similar feelings and experiences.
8. They Feed Our Need for Organization
Maybe it’s just the control freaks among us, but some people crave organization in a chaotic world. And for those of us who fit that description, nothing is better than a good list. Not just a top 10 list either. We love grocery lists, to-do lists, and pro/con lists. But, those don’t make very engaging content.
9. A Mix of Fact and Opinion
You get just enough opinion to get you interested and just enough fact to keep you informed. What’s not to love?
10. Sometimes Complete with GIFs, Memes and/or Video
And the Internet loves those things. Is that enough List-ception for one day?
Do you like top 10 lists? More importantly, does your audience love them? For most brands, a good list can mean successful content. Tell us what you think! We would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Since it’s founding in 1994, Amazon has completely changed the retail world. The online store is almost single-handedly responsible for popularizing internet shopping in recent years, and there’s no doubt every other retailer in the world has taken notice. Amazon is truly a powerhouse.
So, what does a company do with all that power? Well, create a brand new shopping frenzy day, of course. And so Amazon Prime Day was born. It was set for July 15 and billed to have “more deals than Black Friday.” With marketing like that, the hype train was hard to avoid.
This was me waiting for Prime Day
Other major retailers took note and launched their own competing sales. Massive retailers like Target and Wal-Mart joined in. The hype began to build and mainstream media took notice.
It seemed like the whole country was ready to buy a lot of stuff at low prices. People were speculating what would be on sale and if certain Smart TVs would reach the lowest prices ever. We were ready for Black Friday in July.
But Prime Day was a complete bust.
Instead of historic deals on electronics and other fun items, customers were greeted with savings on less exciting items like Tupperware, cleaning supplies and socks. Of course, there is nothing wrong with saving money on household items, but it’s not exactly on the same level as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
To make matters worse, customers had a horrible user experience. When they did decide to make purchases, people faced long waitlists and technical difficulties. Overall, Amazon’s Prime Day was anything but successful.
To say fans were disappointed would be an understatement. Naturally, people took to Twitter to voice their frustrations. Here are just a few of the Tweets:
That last Tweet really gets at the heart of the matter. Amazon’s biggest problem wasn’t that they had sales on more boring items or even that they had technical issues. The biggest sin the company committed was failing to live up to the promises and hype.
In marketing, it’s important to create buzz and generate interest in your brand. Amazon definitely did that. However, it’s even more important to live up to the expectations you set for the brand. Even a brand as widely known and universally loved as Amazon has to abide by this rule.
Did you try out Amazon Prime Day? Did you think it was a failure? Let us know! You can connect with Duncan/Day on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. If you need any help with your branding efforts, feel free to contact us.
One of my favorite shows of all time is the forever-clever 30 Rock. Between the Tina Fey’s brilliant writing and the cast’s pitch-perfect acting, it keeps me literally laughing out loud. One of the lines that has always stuck with me was Tracy Morgan advising Kenneth to “live every week like it’s Shark Week.”
The fact that this seemingly insignificant line has become an iconic moment in the show’s history speaks volumes. First, it shows the genius of Fey. More pertinent to our discussion today, it underlines what a cultural phenomenon Shark Week has become.
For the uninitiated, Shark Week is an annual event held on the Discovery Channel that began in 1987. For the entire week, Discovery showcases scripted shows and documentaries all about sharks. For a few reasons, this event is observed almost like national holidays, with millions of people watching and posting about it. And it just gets bigger every year.
So what makes this week more successful than any other marathon on television? It’s all in the marketing. Here are four ways Shark Week has stayed on top for many years:
1. Social Media Hype
We’ve discussed it many times on this blog, but it’s worth repeating: these days, successful brands must be on social media. Furthermore, they must be smart with their social media. Discovery is no stranger to this idea.
Of course, they use #sharkweek to promote the event and encourage discussion. This is quite successful; the hashtag will be trending on and off for the entire week.
What’s more is that Discovery makes a point to listen to their fans on social media. And really, this is what sets social media marketing apart from other forms of marketing. It’s a two-way conversation, and Discovery gets it.
2. Make a Theme for All Brands
Shark Week provides a perfect bandwagon for many brands to jump on. Everyone from Wendy’s to Clorox to Duncan/Day has been known to use Shark Week for their own branding. And why shouldn’t we? It’s a trending topic that genuinely interests people.
Discovery could try to protect their event by making it more and more exclusive. But they know that would be counter-productive to their cause. After all, if someone doesn’t follow Discovery on social media, they may not know when Shark Week is. However, if all that person’s favorite brands start posting about it, they are more likely to tune in.
3. Nostalgia with a Hint of Fear
Recently, we talked about the power of nostalgia in marketing. It’s a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by BuzzFeed’s many posts for ‘90s kids. It’s no less powerful for Shark Week.
Do you remember the first time you watched Jaws? Of course you do; that movie was revolutionary. You were probably pretty scared and almost certainly in awe.
Shark Week capitalizes on that nostalgia by reminding you of those feelings. With the perfect mix of terror and amazement, it takes you back to a simpler time. And who doesn’t want to go back?
4. Darn Good Content
All of this would be for nothing if the content were boring. Luckily for us, sharks are anything but dull. They are inherently fascinating, and Discovery is smart to capitalize on that. By bringing us fresh content that is both entertaining and informative, Shark Week wins over hearts and minds.
When it comes to marketing, live every week like it’s Shark Week. If you have any questions about how to successfully grow your brand, give Duncan/Day a call. We’ll be happy to help.