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What Marketers Can Learn From “25 Random Things”

Posted on | February 10, 2009 | No Comments

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve heard of “25 Random Things About Me.”   The idea is, you write down 25 things about yourself people may or may not know, then you tag other friends so they can see what you wrote, and write their own list to share with you and their other friends.

I have to admit, at first, I was skeptical – I resisted joining in.  But after reading lists from several of my friends, I got sucked in.  Whether you love the lists, or think they are a complete waste of time  – It’s still a fascinating case study.

See my list of “25 Random Things About Me.”

Here’s why “25 Random Things About Me” works, and how marketers can apply these techniques to their own viral/social media efforts.

  1. Built to go viral– Thanks to the Facebook technology and specific instructions at the top of every “25 Random Things” list, you “tag” 25 friends to send the list to.  Facebook’s technology makes it super easy to simply choose the friends you want to tag and click a button – instant viral-ability.  
  2. Personalization – Every list is different and designed to be the ultimate way for you to express who you really are.  (You’re not just passing along something – you’re adding your own personal stamp.)  Some of the lists get a little cheesy, but, for the most part, the lists are incredibly authentic.   Personalized authenticity is the name of the game right now.
  3. Connecting – “25 things” is all about creating connections between the people who share their lists.  Connecting is one of the top things people want to do right now. It’s a way to build relationships.  
  4. 25 items makes you actually think.   If you know anything about brainstorming – experts often say the best ideas come out after all the obvious ones have been thrown out first.   By having a list of 25 things, (rather than, say, 5 things) you’re forcing people to really think to come up with a full list. A lot of my best ideas came out in number 18-25 on my list, where I really had to think and dig deep to come up with something to add.
  5. Tapping into emotional memories.   This is, in my opinion, the most powerful reason for the success of this list- especially with women.  The exercise tends to pull out very powerful, vivid memories.   Brand managers are always looking for ways to tie their brands to these powerful emotional memories. 

If I were a brand manager right now, I’d be looking seriously at this 25 Random Things About Me phenomenon and figuring out if there’s a way to use something similar to tie in and promote my product. 

For example:  a flower company ties in a Mother’s Day Bouquet Coupon with a “10 things you didn’t know about my mom” list that people could share with each other – friends, family, and their moms.

I’ve noticed a lot of references to first cars.   Perhaps a car dealer could tap into parents’ memories of first cars in their TV commercials – ending with a scene of parents buying a first car with their daughter or son.

My pal Jeff Sexton at FutureNow suggested using this technique with clients – have the client fill out the list and use it to write really creative About Us copy.  

Bottom line – this is powerful stuff. 

Read more and see my “25 Random Things About Me” list.

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