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What “Making a Murderer” Teaches Us About Viral Marketing

Prison Bars

Over the holiday season, a Netflix original series called “Making a Murderer” gripped the attention of viewers all over the country. This documentary follows the story of Steven Avery, a resident of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, and portrays his arrests and investigates the validity of the claims made against him. “Making a Murderer” has stirred controversy throughout the country due to its portrayal of the local law enforcement in charge of Avery’s case.

More importantly, it has become one of the most talked about topics on social media. In fact, the show has its own subreddit with more than 25,000 readers. But, just like every cultural phenomenon, “Making a Murderer” will soon be forgotten by the masses. This is an important lesson taught by every trending hashtag: If you aren’t taking advantage of viral topics today, you may already be too late.

Utilizing the Sudden Public Interest

The internet is a vicious double-edged sword. On one side, users can quickly find out all the information they could ever want to know about a given topic. On the other, as attention spans wane, the public’s curiosity is quickly drawn away from that topic onto something fresh. That gives you only a few weeks at best to take advantage of that interest. Your potential clients want to know more about a given topic now; don’t wait until tomorrow to deliver.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at some Google Trends. First up, “The Dress”:


View Full Report at Google Trends

In February 2015, a blue and black dress caused an internet sensation when, in certain lighting, it looked white and gold instead. It stirred an internet-wide debate, and the dress’ designer Roman Originals reaped the benefits of the color debate. Sales jumped by 2000 percent, quickly selling out. If other fashion designers had similar designs, it was time to act. Interest in “Dressgate” quickly dropped, and trying to use the incident after public interest moved on would have been an unwise move. Now, let’s look at the topic of “Making a Murderer,” Steven Avery:


View Full Report at Google Trends

If that’s not enough, just search on Twitter for #MakingAMurderer, #StevenAvery or any other related hashtag. Interest in both “Making a Murderer” and “Steven Avery” are skyrocketing right now. This is the peak time for attorneys of nearly every kind to jump on the bandwagon and produce content related to this topic. Family lawyers can look at the aspect of prison visitation for Avery’s children; bankruptcy attorneys can discuss ways Avery could have avoided going broke when hiring a lawyer. And, of course, criminal attorneys can cover any number of facets from the show.

Whatever content is created, it needs to be shareable. That means it is easy to read and easy to understand. While viewers are more interested in learning more about criminal law right now, they don’t want to be laden with jargon. Creating relevant, shareable content will drive more traffic to your site. Even if readers are not in need of an attorney at the moment, they will have you in their mind — and their search history — if the need arises.

Using Social Media as a Springboard

You’ve probably heard it before: Facebook is a platform for sharing your latest news. Twitter is a platform to quickly catch the eye of your audience. But social media can be, and needs to be, so much more. When there is relevant news in your industry, it is a springboard from which you can go viral, if you play your cards right.

Dressgate Black and Blue White and GoldTo revisit the fashion designer example, “Dressgate” was a perfect way to put their own name out there. The designer could have hosted original content on their own site. Followers begin sharing the post, and soon it’s all over social media. This draws followers onto the site and, consequently, onto the shopping side, generating revenue. Even if they were not sharing their own content, they could easily post a major news story regarding the incident and have it shared in the same way.

Of course, in the case of “Making a Murderer,” visits don’t always lead to revenue for attorneys. Nonetheless, it is crucial to share both original and viral content on social media. Posting original, insightful content on social media creates a picture of you as an industry expert, and more sources and followers are more likely to share your posts. This, in turn, leads to a greater number of clients looking for top-quality legal advice.

Perhaps the most difficult part about viral marketing, especially on social media, is knowing when to stop. Within a couple weeks — if not days — after “Dressgate” first broke, many were tired of hearing about it. Sharing related content after public opinion turned could have easily led to a sharp drop in followers. While “Making a Murderer” will likely have a much longer shelf life than “Dressgate,” it’s crucial to be wary of what is trending on social media and working off of that. Sharing posts about the show once it’s no longer a hot topic can lead to followers ignoring you, either temporarily or permanently.

Staying On Top of the News

Of course, you have a business to run and clients to keep happy. Time spent surfing the web for relevant news and posting about it on social media is time you could be selling your product or services. Instead, let the professionals at EverSpark Interactive do it for you instead. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you and how we can utilize viral marketing to boost your business.