Small Business Marketing Lessons From The Harlem Shake Viral Videos

Harlem Shake Screenshot resized 600On 3rd February 2013, the Harlem Shake dance video, based from a song by ‘Baauer’, started a frenzy of spin-off videos. 

Within a few days, the Harlem Shake officially took over social media feeds and computers everywhere as the greatest viral web sensation since Psy’s 2012 hit ‘Gangam Style’.

In case you haven't seen it, here are a selection of some of the best:

How popular is this video craze?

  • On February 10, the upload rate of Harlem Shake videos reached 4,000 per day.
  • As of February 11, about 12,000 versions of the popular Internet meme had been uploaded to YouTube, gathering over 44 million unique views.
  • Harlem Shake hit the 1 billion view mark on March 24, 2013, just 40 days after its first upload.
  • From the day when the first video was uploaded until it hit 1 billion views, the videos were accumulating an average of more than 20 million views a day.
  • The time it took for Harlem Shake to hit 1 billion views is half the time Gangnam Style took hit 1 billion views and on April 4, Harlem Shake had 1.21 billion views.

So what can small businesses learn about video marketing from the Harlem Shake videos?

Well perhaps the biggest reason for these videos going viral is humour - humour sells.

Many businesses use humour in TV advertising, print and other forms of advertising because humour is memorable – a joyful experience is remembered more because people relate to it as a happy moment therefore advertising with these ‘happy moments’ is usually the most successful. An interesting stat is that 60% of the most successful viral videos have been produced by smaller companies because they tend to not take themselves as seriously as the larger organisations and therefore often provide the most humour and enjoyment to the viewer.

So how can you use humour in your videos?

Here are some examples from some major online brands:

1) Webuyanycar

2) Go Compare



This type of responsive advertising is great for planting brands in our brains, most of the time without us even knowing, so that when we need a product or service linked with the company we remember them subconsciously and go to them first.

Just think, how many annoying advertisements can you remember and how many of them contain jingles and humorous images which stay in your head?

Want to create your own video? Here are 5 tips to remember when creating a viral video for your company:

1) Measurement

How do you plan to measure the success of the video, are going to do this simply by hits, comments, by the enquiry rate or how many people speak about it in your store or on your social media. Whichever way, you need to have a set plan about measuring the success – every marketer knows that measurement is key, after all what use is advertising and marketing if it doesn’t work and worst tarnishes your company image!

2) Call to action

Why are you creating the video? Is it simply to advertise your brand or are you promoting a particular product or service or offer? Either way you need to give the viewer a way in which they can contact you or at a bare minimum have some business information. I would recommend using an offer to get the viewers at the end of the clip to persuade the viewer to take an extra step and get in touch with you or go to your website.

3) Use great copy in the headline and description

The video below is a prime example of how to write perfect copy to accompany your clip. You have to make it personal to your viewers and not just a piece of text telling them about your business and what you can do for them. The video is made by an online personal trainer called Mike Chang who has achieved massive success by posting workout videos on his own YouTube channel and providing his fans with a system to getting fit, fast!



As you can see from his description he gives links to his other videos and to his website. The video itself has had nearly one million views meaning that if only 1% of viewers click his call to action that means 1000 potential clients have visited his site – a great example of how viral videos can bring revenue!

4) Think of the clip as a marketing tool

The Harlem Shake craze is all about fun; the videos are all about going wild and creating humour. However, as a business it has to have a professional reflection on your company. There have been many companies who have accidently tarnished their brand because they went too far when making the video. You have to remember that the whole point of this video is to promote your company and get more revenue from it, not create a bad reputation from it.

A good way of achieving this is to make the quality of the video as high as possible. Don’t just use a camera phone, think of it as a production and edit it correctly to achieve maximum success.

5) (Probably the most important tip): HAVE FUN! 

If you are enjoying it, so will your viewer! Be creative and have fun doing something different. Use it as a team building exercise, allow your staff to let their hair down and show the viewers that you are a fun business!

Viral videos keep your brand fresh and relevant to the market searching for your products – prospects can see you keeping up with marketing trends and putting effort into how you advertise. This can often be the difference between a potential consumer choosing you or your competition as you appear more up to date and exciting.

The modern consumer has so many options now due to technology and information available. There are so many ways in which they can purchase goods and find the products and services they need fast. If you aren’t keeping up with current marketing and advertising trends, you risk your business being overrun by your competition that are! The best way to fight this is to invest in marketing and keep your business ahead of the curve by investing a reputable, professional, digital marketing agency.