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January 17, 2013

Social Media Marketing – Gangnam Style

Alpha Digital

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By now, I’m sure many are getting tired of Psy his incredibly popular Gangnam Style; I know I am. But just when I thought it had already run its course, after leaving last night I came into work today to see an additional 12 million views. I guess not.

In the three months since the video was uploaded, at the time of writing, there have been over 618 million views. This figure is predicted to keep growing at over 10 million views per day for some time yet. The song has gone to the top of the iTunes charts, and has hit the number 1 spot in weekly music charts all over the world.

GangamPsy (or at least his record label) has been cashing in on the video’s success too. Direct revenue through advertising and sponsorship on Youtube is estimated to be at over $700 000, and will continue to grow as long as the views keep coming in. This is in addition to TV/Public appearances (I know Australia has seen one or two of these… Thanks Channel 7), and incoming sponsorship deals.

As marketers, is there anything we can learn from Psy’s incredible success? Social media marketers all over the world would love to have a video of theirs go viral and generate even a tenth of the views this one has, so what has made it so special?

Despite being a generally amusing song with an equally amusing video (that pokes fun at the rich consumerist culture in parts of South Korea), it was also a very cleverly designed distribution and marketing campaign.

Initially the now iconic dance moves were crowd-sourced from the South Korean dance community. This drummed up interest from the beginning, whilst confining contributions to a knowledgeable user base. Limiting who can contribute allowed for more time to be spent looking at constructive contributions instead of trying to wade through lots of average offerings. Crowd-sourcing can be a powerful tool, but should be used carefully, or Justin Bieber might get sent to North Korea, or Pitbull sent to a remote Walmart in Alaska.

My favourite part of the strategy, though, was how easy the video was made to distribute. This should be an example not only to marketing agencies, but record labels and movie studios everywhere. The song/video apparently intentionally lacked copyright so it could be shared and parodied without any legal repercussions; perhaps something EMI could learn from. This uninhibited social sharing and distribution has no doubt been a substantial contribution to the success of the song. It can probably be argued that many simply ignore issues of copyright when distributing media online anyway. However, examples such as the recent EMI takedown notice served on YouTube show that when pressured, YouTube will remove media that infringes copyright that the owner wishes to enforce.

There are now a huge number of videos on Youtube that parody the song, using both images and music from the original clip (my two favourites are Eaton Style and Without Music). Allowing the easy parody or remake of the original lets viewers make the video/song their own, whilst giving an important second wind to the original. It would be pretty difficult to say these parodies (that may normally be considered a breach of copyright) have damaged Psy in any way. This was an incredible piece of foresight, and should be a lesson to anyone interested in marketing strategy.

So at the end of the day, what does this video leave us with? Well, apart from an impending visit from Cthulu, it should be an eye-opener to those in social media marketing. A great video is obviously at the core of viral success, but there are some strategic elements that can greatly assist in its distribution too.

If you are in need of some social media marketing, contact Alpha Digital today to find out how we can help build your presence across social media.