The Harlem Shake is dead. Well…at least I hope so. For the past month or so I’ve seen a multitude of companies making their own copies of this “dance craze”. Why? Well they are easy to do. All you need is a few people willing to wear some ridiculous props and a video camera or smartphone. They are also fun to make. At least I’m assuming so, otherwise there wouldn’t be literally millions of them.
Few Harlem Shake videos had any true viral reach. The biggest being the Miami Heat’s version which had over 41 million views at the time of this posting, even more than the original Harlem Shake that started the craze. Another Harlem Shake video that had a true viral reach was the Simpsons “Homer Shake” with 26 million views. The vast majority of other videos with millions of views were compilations or best of Harlem Shake videos. So what did both the Miami Heat’s and Simpsons Harlem Shake videos have in common? They were both professionally produced. Coincidence? Probably not.
What troubled me was seeing marketing agencies doing their own versions of the Harlem Shake, which begs the question “Are you a sheep or are you the shepherd?” This doesn’t just apply to the Harlem Shake but any sort of band wagon trend that is going on. As a marketing agency you are trusted to lead your client’s creative marketing efforts, they rely on you and your expertise. So how do you market yourself and set yourself apart from the herd of competition? By doing something everyone else is doing. Brilliant!
Trust me Harlem Shake videos look fun to make. I’d personally need a few adult beverages to loosen my limbs first, but I get it. The problem is that sort of “fun” should really be part of your HR marketing not your main brand marketing. Especially as an agency. It just makes you look lazy and aside from the internal company fun of creating one, what does it get you? A “bunch” of views on YouTube? Great. But were they “quality” views? In other words, how many were views that led to potential leads entering your sales funnel?
So when it comes to the next Harlem Shake, ‘Call Me Maybe’ Sing-A-Long or whatever the next craze is…do it for fun at your company. Have a blast. You could even share it as part of your HR messaging. It’s a great way to show your company culture and to build camaraderie from within. But please remember to avoid the pack mentality and be the shepherd. That is what truly will set you apart and get you noticed.