TheDress HeaderBlack and blue or white and gold, there’s no denying #TheDress – whatever color it may be – interjected some fresh (and annoying?) air into our social networks for a few brief days this March. With the debate fading, many are asking, was #TheDress just a social media stunt?

As brilliant as it would have been from the social media marketing perspective… nope. It’s no marketing stunt. But #TheDress has taught us a little bit more about what makes for good, share-worthy, viral content.

#TheDress By the Numbers

  • #TheDress reached #1 rank for Trending Topics on Twitter.
  • The Roman Originals’ Facebook post (the dress’s purported maker) offered a chance to win the dress; the post was shared 752 times.
  • Roman Originals saw a 347% increase in sales since #TheDress.
  • Roman Originals saw a 2,000% increase in traffic since #TheDress.
  • An eBay user sold a used version of the dress for $2,900.

Numbers via Melanie Curtin (OpiaTalk).

  • Four million conversations about the dress.
  • The top three related hashtags were used over 5 million times in more than 100 countries.

Numbers via John McCarthy (The Drum).

…and this all happened – start to finish – in fewer than seven days. #TheDress first became a viral social media phenomenon when a Tumblr article was posted on Feb. 26. The infographic and facts above were published on March 5.

Can Success of #TheDress Be Replicated?
That’s the million-dollar question every marketer would love to know the answer to. Generating this level of social media buzz around anything – whether that’s a product, brand, or movement – can never be guaranteed. But, of course, there are proven strategies and techniques, all of which are rooted in what we call “The Social Age.”

#TheDress social media phenomenon especially highlights the significance of one of those Social Age’s values: responsiveness. At the beginning of 2014, I wrote that responsiveness is the one budget you absolutely can’t cut. That’s even more true today.

#TheDress, Responsiveness & Social Media Marketing
In the Social Age, unresponsive brands (which includes slow brands) are no longer relevant. Roman Originals perfectly nailed “responsiveness” with how they jumped on #TheDress phenomenon. They did this by…

  1. Being Attentive. First, the company was listening to the social media conversation. Before anything else, you simply have to show up.
  2. Keeping it simple and real. Secondly, they didn’t try to take credit for the craze. They didn’t create elaborate backstories. They genuinely seemed as surprised as the rest of us that #TheDress had blown up. People can automatically identify with that standpoint.
  3. Showing no negativity. Thirdly, Roman Originals didn’t respond to trolls or haters. Nothing good comes out of this group; avoid them.

Is Your Brand Ready to Respond On Social Media?
How do you keep your brand on its toes? What are your tactics for being ready to respond quickly and deftly to viral content?

–oh, and… what color is that dress?