Pharrell Williams Happy 2013 1200x1200 300x300 5 Tips on Using Video Memes to Make Your Customers HappyEvery once in awhile a song comes along that is just so catchy (in a good or bad way) that you just can’t help but sing along. And every once in awhile a meme or video of that song goes viral, and suddenly everyone is sharing them, and many are making their own versions. In recent years, videos like the Harlem Shake, Gangnam Style, Call Me Maybe, and Let it Go. have all inspired a variety of copycat versions, some really good, and some really dreadful. The copycat videos have been done by celebrities and athletes, as well as just regular old people and businesses.

The latest craze has been the song, “Happy” from Pharrell Williams. In addition to the regular video, which has more than 120-million views, Williams also created a 24-hour version of the video featuring a variety of people and celebrities, which has more than 8-million views. But beyond that, various organizations, individuals, and businesses have shot videos of their own versions, to varying degrees of success. Folks from all over the world have danced to this most catchy tune.

Of course it’s important to remember that the concept of “viral” needs to be defined differently in different situations. Something can go viral on a local level and be just as effective, or more so, than something with millions of views. A local incarnation of the song and video was created by the folks at the Lancaster County Community Foundation, and in just over a week, has about 34,000 views. That’s pretty darn good for a small organization in a small city. The video features a number of local business people, the mayor, folks from Lancaster Central Market, and students from Franklin & Marshall College. In fact, a number of my friends are featured. The video got a lot of press and certainly a lot of social shares.

Recording these types of videos and sharing them online can be quite the attention catcher, if you do it right. Here are a few tips on how to jump on the latest video craze and gain some positive attention for your business or organization:

Choose carefully

Whatever song or meme you choose to jump on, make sure you choose the right one for you. The song “Happy” is a bit of a no-brainer for most in that it’s not just popular, its incredibly catchy. It lends itself to some great dancing and lip-synching. But not every video will work for every situation. Make sure that if you’re going to do your own version of a video, it makes sense. It has to mesh with your personality and brand in a way that will entertain your audience, not alienate them.

Timing is everything

While “Happy” still seems to be making the rounds, other songs have fallen off the collective trending charts for online usage. If you were to go out and do a version of “Call Me Maybe” right now, everyone would wonder what rock you’ve been hiding under. When a trend starts, you need to act fast. That means that you might be limited in the amount of preparation time you have, but you don’t always need a lot of time. The Lancaster version of Happy was put together rather quickly as a spur of the moment idea. Others might take more planning. But if you require too much planning to pull something like this off, there’s a good chance you’ll miss the boat. Be ready to react quickly.

Have fun

Doing something like this is a chance for you to let your hair down. It’s a chance to show your audience that you’re willing to have fun. And the subject matter of the video doesn’t even have to necessarily mesh with what you do as a business, though it can help if there is a connection. But, sometimes just having fun is enough to lighten up a dreary day and get people to take notice. In the the Lancaster version of the “Happy” video, our city’s mayor and a number of business people can be seen just having a good time. Some might disagree, but I see no real downside in this. After all, we all like to have fun.

Include everyone

When you record a video like this, feel free to include all sorts of people, from your CEO on down to cashiers and janitors. In fact, feel free to mix it up and pair those sorts of people together. If you’re doing this for your business, you might even consider including your customers, if they’re up for it. It can even be a nice reward for some of your most loyal customers. Choosing familiar faces is also a good idea, as viewers will enjoy seeing people they recognize. Who can you include in your video?

Go for quality

This can be a tough one in an age when iPhone videos have become the standard for online videos. If you have the right apps, this can be a great and inexpensive way of putting this sort of video together. But you also don’t want it to look like something a five year old threw together. If possible, bring in a professional, or even a talented amateur, to help you shoot your video. Most area’s have a slew of video professionals, and with the right partnership, you might even get them to do it inexpensively, or even free, in exchange for the publicity. But the quality of the video is important in order to aid in the virality of the end product. A poorly shot video can actually do more harm and might set you up for ridicule. Understand what your audience expects, and go for a quality level that you think they would want.

And now it’s your turn. Start thinking about how you would pull something like this off, even before you know what song or video meme you’re going to be a part of. That way, when the next big hit comes down the pike, you’ll be ready.

What are some of your favorite music video memes?