5 Lessons on Sharable Content I Learned from OK Go
Back in college, a friend of mine (of the very-tuned-into-burgeoning-bands type) introduced me to a band that he’d just started listening to called OK Go. A quirky quartet with a catchy sound, I really got into their first major album, but at that time, they weren’t exactly one of those bands that all the gals and guys were talking about in the dining hall.
Fast forward about 12 years, and OK Go has gone on to win a Grammy, play in front of millions of fans, and release several major hits. But what really got them noticed wasn’t just their sound; it was their slightly oddball, completely mesmerizing music videos. It’s from these videos and the path of the band over the last decade+ that I’ve drawn the tips that I want to share today.
5 Lessons on Creating Share-Worthy Content
1. Don’t be afraid to be quirky.
What really put OK Go in the limelight was the viral phenomenon of their video for the single, “A Million Ways”. In 2005, the guys recorded in a video of the dance routine they were planning on incorporating into their stage show. It wasn’t meant for public consumption—it was just the guys being their idiosyncratic selves—but after positive reactions from their friends and crew, they decided to release it online. The video blew up, with hundreds of fans making their own versions—the most popular of which racked up hundreds of thousands of views on their own.
According to one interview with the band, a record label exec had said that they’d be “sunk” if the video got out, but the guys of OK Go weren’t afraid of being a little wacky and decided to release it anyway. Bet that record exec changed his tune after the video turned into a huge success. The lesson here: embrace the unusual elements of your brand that make you unique and use them to your favor.
2. Keep pushing the envelope.
After the popularity of the video for “A Million Ways,” the band didn’t sit on their laurels and just release another regular-old dance video. They upped their game and their follow up was the even-more-popular, “Here It Goes Again” music video. Once again choreographed by Trish Sie (lead singer Damian Kulash’s sister), this one featured the band doing a highly-synchronized routine on treadmills. And if that doesn’t sound all that impressive, watch the video:
This music video (with over 50 million views) was such a hit, the band was invited to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards. But the band didn’t stop there: they’ve gone on to make videos featuring incredible Rube Goldberg devices, instruments played by driving cars through them, and more.
What can we learn? Don’t forget to keep improving on your biggest hits and not just to try repeating them. (Tweet it.)
3. Embrace like-minded people.
If you haven’t already noticed, OK Go has some serious DIY mentality. Because of this, it made sense that Maker Faire (the huge DIY festival put on by O’Reilly Media) and the band connected and that the band performed at the festival in 2010. I was actually at this performance, and let me just say that you haven’t seen live music until you’ve seen it performed from inside a water suit with fish swimming around the singer’s head:
The point here is that OK GO connected with people who would appreciate the kind of projects they were undertaking, even if it was outside of the music sphere. Because of this, they were able to get exposure to new demographics (with many of their projects profiled in Make Magazine from O’Reilly).
Think about your own company. Are you a pet-friendly PR company filled with animal lovers? Why not have “Pet Tip Tuesdays” on your Facebook or Twitter page? Showcase your passion— it not only humanizes your brand but also allows like-minded fans to connect on a deeper level. (Tweet it.)
4. Don’t back away from the tough stuff.
When the first two videos from the band’s latest album were released, they weren’t embeddable due to rights issues with its record label. Instead of dancing around the issue, the band confronted the complaints head-on with an open letter that was then reprinted on Gizmodo and other sites. Fans responded positively to the band taking a genuine stance on the realities of record-label obligations and of being artists in today’s climate—and the letter was widely shared.
Eventually, the band went on to cut its ties with its record label and create its own label, taking its stance to the next level.
What we can learn as marketers is the idea that transparency, responsibility, and sticking to your guns is now, more than ever, important to your audience.
5. Reward your true fans.
During 2013, the band has been releasing MP3 covers and singles to those fans who signed up for their newsletter via their website. Not only does this reward loyal listeners, but it also creates a cachet and exclusivity around this content that works in the band’s favor. Devoted OK Go fans wouldn’t be able to help sharing their thoughts and opinions on this special content with their social networks, and, I’ll bet you that if they’re anything like me, they’d also continue to follow the band with devotion.
If you have additional tips on creating share-worthy content, please leave them in the comments!
*This is a guest post by Zontee Hou. The author’s posts are entirely her own views (excluding the event of being possessed by an alien parasite that controls her mind) and may not always reflect the views of InNetwork.*