What Gangnam Style Can Teach Us About Social Media For Business

By Simon Bell, Commercial Product Manager at Sage

What Gangnam Style Can Teach Us About Social Media For BusinessI was recently at a Christmas party night and over the course of the night the resident DJ played the usual mix of Christmas songs, cheesy pop from the last 20-30 years and also the famous Gangnam Style! It got me thinking, if someone had said to me a year ago that biggest musical impression of the year would be a comedy record made by a middle aged Korean pop star I definitely would not have believed them…to some extent I still can’t! So how is it that this particular song made it so big and the thing that struck me is that this is all down to the power of social media, so what can we learn from Psy, that can be applied in a business context?

In order to understand why this was so successful / impactful we should consider the following elements that they got absolutely right!

With any social media campaign the greatest value is only ever derived if the content behind it is worth looking at / reading / listening to etc so that people will share it. So what did Psy get right? Well the content hits on the key elements that people will share, these are;

Comedy –  The comedic value of the content to the local audience in Korea helped to drive the early critical mass exposure. The song itself is essentially a parody on the lifestyles and behaviours of the self-proclaimed upper class Gangnam district. For those of us that don’t speak Korean the use of the now hallmark dance is also a really funny element that helped to spread its shareability.

Visual Appeal – the video content is of very high production value allowing for ease of consumption and also they have made use of models etc., in the video to appeal to certain demographics!

Repetition – Like a good Google Adwords campaign they have hit of the repeated use of a number of key phrases throughout the song which makes them stick in your head (even if you don’t know what they mean!)

The lesson for businesses – Keep your content interesting, blasting people with promotional messaging is very limited in terms of its effect in social channels – focus on the subtle sell.

The channel that the content is made available on is also critical to ensuring its success. Most people forget when optimising their social media activities that Youtube is the web’s second biggest search engine (it also helps that it is owned and well integrated into the search results of the biggest)  In terms of success in social choosing the appropriate channel for your business / activity is key. In this instance the only place to give the high quality content the exposure it required was via the biggest video network on the web – it simply would not have worked as an audio file share as it lacks the ability to access the content as fully. 

The lesson for businesses – don’t kill yourself trying to be on every channel, find the key one for your market and go after it with gusto.

Owning content online is a little bit like owning a cat. You nurture it and give it the tools to grow and succeed but realistically once it is out in the wild it is largely out of your control. Thus the success of content sharing on line is the provision of the appropriate tools to allow it excel. I have already outlined what they got right in terms of both the content and the channel but in terms of disseminating the message they have also got something really right in that they allowed it to grow by embracing and understanding one of the key elements of social media, and that is that you don’t own the content once its online.

The producers of the content simply made the content copyright free. This enabled people to share the content, reproduce, create parodies of it etc., without risk of litigation and the result was that the core content was far more amplified than it ever could have been in more constrictive copyright protection terms. The impact of the liberal approach was that it is estimated that the total video views of the content and derived works is in excess of two billion.

The lessons for businesses – create content that can be shared and facilitate people in doing it as it gets your message out.

If your customers are online, it is important that your business is too in the right channels.

  • Interesting comments – I was fascinated by the analysis . Does anyone
    know if I would be able to access a template a form document to fill in ?

    • Vicki Palko

      Hello anette elmore ! my colleague accessed a template TN DoR SLS 450 form with this link http://goo.gl/OcCNKj

  • You have brought up a very good points, appreciate it for the post.

  • Good Post, particularly enjoyed the simile “owning content online is like owning a cat”

    • beatricewhelan

      Yeah the cat quote is my favorite part too.

  • Love the post, dislike the song! 🙂