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Harlem Shake videos by businesses: please die

There are times when riding the meme train is appropriate, but the Harlem Shake video has beyond jumped the shark – here is how businesses got involved and either missed the boat or nailed it, and why you shouldn’t do a Harlem Shake video of your own.

harlem shake

harlem shake

The Harlem Shake must die

By now, you’ve probably heard about the latest Internet video craze: the Harlem Shake. This type of video is unlike the video spoofs of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me, Maybe,” and “Gangnam Style.” This craze follows a simple but specific outline: each video begins with one person wearing a helmet or mask and dancing solo to the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer for about 15 seconds amid a group of seemingly disinterested peers. But when the bass drops, the video cuts to a scene of everyone and more people who weren’t in the first scene dancing crazily with costumes and various props.

Not to be confused with the original 1981 Harlem Shake dance, Harlem Shake video memes have been blowing up on the Internet since the first meme went viral; the very first Harlem Shake meme was posted by five teenagers from Queensland, Australia on Feb. 2.

Since then, hundreds of spin-offs have been posted on YouTube, including some from the Today ShowGroupon and even the Army.

Enter real estate teams. Of course.

So, now that it’s getting all sorts of publicity, agents are trying to get in on the trend…but should they? I ask because I wonder how much good publicity comes from this meme as an agent. All of them look silly, and they’re meant to. While I’m aware that there’s “no such thing as bad publicity,” I also don’t know if making the memes is good or bad for marketing. As with any fad or trend, once it’s out of style, anyone wearing or doing it looks… well, out of date and silly.

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There’s also a bit of a generational gap in thinking – in general, younger people might be apt to hire an agent who did a Harlem Shake meme (or evena Carly Rae Jepsen parody) because it shows the agents are fun and can let loose with a good sense of humor. But older potential clients might see that more as “I didn’t hire you to film stupid videos I don’t even get and post them on the Internet. I hired you to help me and focus on me – is my house sold/have you found me a house yet?”

It is said that Whitney Pannell, an agent with Prudential A.S. de Movellan Real Estate, was the first agent to upload a Realtor version of the Harlem Shake, filmed in the Lexington, Kentucky office. But it also doesn’t really follow the format correctly – the first woman to start dancing isn’t masked, and there’s no cut to greater dramatize the split from disinterested people to crazy, dancing people (and usually, even more people appear in the room than were in the first “scene”). The meme doesn’t have the same effect when everyone just gets up and starts dancing – some basic editing needs to be involved. Nevertheless, the video is up to 2,796 at the time of this post.

However, some agents could get it right – this video from Adam Helton of The Deselms Team, a brokerage in Franklin, Tennessee, got it right AND managed to illustrate a point. The first scene where Helton is dancing, he appears to be showing a couple a home, next scene, the couple, Helton and other kids and people dance to the Harlem Shake with a “sold” sign in the front yard.

Viral memes and you:

So, in short, while taking advantage of a meme can be a fun way to connect with customers whether you’re a Realtor or any other type of professional, it can also make you look out of touch if it’s not perfect and timely. As for the Harlem Shake, it has jumped the shark so hard that if you made one over the weekend, the reception of your quirky video might be visceral and backfire on you.

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Written By

Stephanie Sims is the managing editor of Agent Publishing, which currently has online publications in Chicago, Houston and Miami. With expertise in evaluating housing markets, website content and social media strategy, and reporting information agents want to know about, Stephanie can be found at her desk with coffee that got cold or not eating lunch because she’s busy planning editorial assignments and interviews for the Agent Publishing websites.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. franklyrealty

    March 2, 2013 at 8:24 am

    This is great. No jumped shark.

  2. Bruce Lemieux

    March 2, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Yes. Die please.

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