Join Jonah Berger for an in-depth discussion in this video Reminding people with triggers, part of Jonah Berger on Viral Marketing.
When you think about ads that people want to share, you don't usually think about insurance. Insurance is one of the most boring products out there. Why would anyone share an ad about insurance? But a couple years back, Geico had a really big hit, one of the most shared ads of the year, with one of their ads using a camel. It's a camel walking around an office, in an annoying voice, going, what day is it? Hey, what day is it? What day is today? Everyone sort of ignores the camel, trying to hope that he'll go away. When he gets to the last person, she says oh, it's hump day.
Yeah, says the camel. And the ad closes by saying, how happy are customers using Geico? Happier than a camel on Wednesday. Now the ad is sort of funny. It's not even that funny. But it was one of the most shared ads. Why? Well, if you go look at the traffic, the searches for this particular video, or even the shares of this video, you'll see an interesting pattern. It's pretty flat, then there's a spike and it goes down. Then another spike, then it goes down. Another spike, then it goes down. If you look closer though, those spikes aren't random.
They are every seven days. And if you look even closer, you'll notice that they're every Wednesday. Now that video is equally bad or good, depending on your taste, every day of the week. It's bad on Monday, bad or good on Tuesday, bad or good on Wednesday. But Wednesday provides a ready reminder, what I'll call a trigger to make it top of mind and tip of tongue. Because Wednesday reminds people of Hump Day. That's what people call it around the office. And Hump Day reminds people about this video, and causes them to pass it on and share it. In fact, this video was so popular that it helped Geico come back in the search wars, and beat out Progressive.
So let's talk about triggers, and the science behind this powerful idea. A trigger is any stimulus in the environment it could be a sight, it could be a sound, it could be anything related really at all that reminds you of, of something else. So for example seeing a container of vitamins on your kitchen counter might remind you, wow I'm suppose to take my vitamins. Or having Wednesday roll around, in this case, might remind you of Geico's ad about hump day. In fact, Rebecca Black's famous video Friday saw a similar spike in attention every Friday, because that day reminded people of the song.
And so a trigger is almost like a reminder in the environment that cues you to think about something else. Whether you like something or not, or even if you don't find it interesting, Triggers keep you talking. Why do we talk so often about the weather for example? Or, or what we're doing this weekend. It's not because these things are exciting. It's because the environment reminds us about them, and encourages us to talk. But it's not just online videos. You see the same thing with all sorts of products or ideas. Take two brands you might be quite familiar with, Disney World and Cheerios. Which one do you think gets talked about more? Well, I think most of you, if you thought about it, would say Disney World.
It's a much more exciting, engaging experience. Why would anyone talk about Cheerios? But the problem with Disney World is that people don't go very often. Sure, it's a great experience. People love to talk about it when they come back. But they don't go very frequently. Whereas Cheerios is really boring, but people eat Cheerios once a day, 365 days a year. In fact, if you look at the pattern of discussion of Cheerios, online for example. You look at the mention it gets on Twitter, you see a big spike every morning around 8 or 9 am.
People talk about the brand everyday when they're having breakfast. Its not just products sold, its also with ideas. Think about breast cancer, for example. When people see the color pink, they're more likely to think about breast cancer, based on breast cancer ribbons. Campaign in the Australia a couple of years ago, also got a lot of attention. They wanted people to use more sunscreen. It's tough to get people to remember more sunscreen, how can you get a pro social behavior like that to catch on? Well, they came out with a very simple message. They showed a big picture of a beach towel with the chalk outline along that towel.
Why a chalk outline? Well they wanted to remind people that while you're sitting there tanning yourself in the sun, you're also giving yourself cancer, and you might be killing yourself. But the great thing about that message is it reminds people every time they're about to lie down on their towel. Every time you fluff your towel up, you're ready to lie down on the beach, you think about that campaign, you're much more likely to remember to put on sunscreen. And though the key here again, is to think about what's going to trigger people to think about your product or your idea. What's going to remind them to think about you? Because if they like you, that's great, but if they never think about you, they're never going to go take an action.
- Word-of-mouth marketing
- Harnessing the power of social media
- What makes content go viral
- Why people share some stories more than others
- Telling stories that carry your message