As millions of followers can attest to, for a short period this spring a giraffe in upstate New York took the online world by storm. Lasting a little longer than most online trends, the weeks turned into months until alas on April 15 the baby giraffe was born.
We’ve seen falcon cams and panda cams, eagle cams and cheetah cams, but for once this one seemed to even absorb the King household in the daily drama. Would today be the day?
As my friends and colleagues accuse me regularly, I couldn’t help but think of the marketing and business impact of this particular situation. There were all of the standard news articles and visits from Good Morning America, Today Show, et al, as well as the print and online news that kept feeding the story. But it was the authenticity of the journey that seemed to make the deepest connection among the April viewing club. Millions from around the globe were engaged.
Working in the nonprofit world for many years, you can only be happy for the folks at the small animal sanctuary that reaped the rewards of a single camera with little or no narration or story telling apparatus. Rather the growth was the definition of organic on so many different levels, which doesn’t just happen every day any more.
The sanctuary seemed to have their fundraising plans in order to leverage not only texting but social media to capture information of the segment of the millions of followers who wanted to keep in touch. Yet, I still wonder if more could be done to tap into such passion, without selling out?
I was actually conducting a workshop for friends in Indiana at the moment of the miracle of birth. Nearly the entire room knew exactly what was happening, and it came as a relief to many that the wait was finally over just as we broke our session.
Over lunch, my wife texted me with a simple screen shot that she knew I would enjoy. The Toys-R-Us logo that had been a permanent (paid) fixture on the bottom of the screen for weeks, had been replaced with a Babies-R-Us logo. Genius. Pure genius.
Just as I’ve wondered aloud in the past several years of the impact of the Ice Bucket Challenge and the fight against ALS, I also think of the future of the animal sanctuary and what will come of their short term success and can it be leveraged into long term positive impacts for the zoo (and April and the soon to be named baby giraffe.)
I did wonder why they decided to take down the full time camera the day before Earth Day. It seems to me, they may have been able to play a bigger role in conservation and the needs of the giraffe population worldwide from such a unique platform – but there’s far too much I do not know about the specifics.
There are a good deal of takeaways for my friends in the arts and events space to learn from this online phenomena. Using best practices in the media in order to tap into the passion is my main advice. Collecting names via text – which we know has open rates near 90% versus what we see in email is a great start to the conversation the owners want to engage in over time. Staying true to one sponsor, without opening up the visual space to look like a hockey rink with logos is another smart step.
In the end, it was a few weeks of good news when there has been a lot of negativity and insecurity in the world. A calming influence of an event that wasn’t trite or concocted.
For now, we’re packing up the car in a few weeks and making the two hour and eighteen minute trip to see April, Oliver, the baby and the cast of characters at the sanctuary. Ahh, the power of the internet when it is used for good and not evil.