How to avoid social media meltdowns

Rob Gray

Social media can make or break a campaign. It can fuel a buzz or spread condemnation. In Brazil, beer brand Heineken brought a smile to people's faces with a simple but visually smart idea: every time someone Liked its Facebook page, a guy in an office blew up a green balloon. As the Likes mounted up, so too did the balloons, providing enjoyable images to share online of the man being swamped as his office became a sea of inflated rubber.

A balloon, this time a red one, also features in one of the most successful viral marketing videos to date, Metro Trains' 'Dumb ways to die' campaign. Using humour in the form of animated jelly-bean style people meeting their brutal end in a variety of brainless ways, described with unflinching jollity in an incredibly catchy song, the Melbourne transit company succeeded in turning a potentially dry public safety campaign into a social media smash. Rightly garlanded with awards internationally, 'Dumb ways to die' has been seen over 50 million times on YouTube, retweeted more than 100,000 times and drawn well over three million Likes on Facebook. It's a shining example of the upside – a demonstration of what's possible when messages are delivered in a tone that is spot-on for the target audience.