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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.

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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 As with any fad or trend, once it’s out of style, anyone wearing or doing it looks… well, out of date and silly.

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.

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.

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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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Business Marketing

The Body Shop’s new policy is first come, first employed

(BUSINESS MARKETING) An issue that has been on a lot of peoples minds recently is fair hiring standards, be from sex, race, or age discrimination to former prisoners.

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The body shop hires prisoners

Anyone who has tried to get a job in the last decade can tell you that hiring is getting near dystopian. Everyone has heard jokes about needing 5 years of experience for an entry level job or the combined skillset of 3 positions to get one job. Things have gotten to the point where even some large companies are wondering if maybe hiring (and getting hired) shouldn’t be so complicated?

The Body Shop is making a radical change in the way they hire their retail employees this summer. They will be hiring on a first-come first-serve basis. Employees must meet three criteria to apply, but beyond that it’s open season – or “open hiring” as they are calling it.

1. Must be authorized to work in the U.S.
2. Can lift over 50lbs
3. Can stand for 8 hours

The company will not be performing drug tests or background checks for this “open hiring” round. The goal is to remove some of the barriers to entry for people seeking employment. This move will be hugely beneficial to the formerly incarcerated and people who have minor offenses on their record.

The Body Shop’s U.S. GM, Andrea Blieden, said, “When you give people access to something that they’re struggling to find, they’re very committed to working hard and keeping it.”

This isn’t the first time The Body Shop has tested out this hiring strategy. In December 2019, the company ran a pilot program at their distribution center. According to them, their employee turnover rate dropped from 43% to 16% and productivity improved.

This change could be equally beneficial to both employers and employees. According to PrisonPolicy.org, formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of 27%. To put that in perspective, that is higher than the overall national average during the Great Depression.

When established brands make big moves, people pay attention. If they continue to report success, The Body Shop’s hiring practices could be used as a case study for other businesses looking to shake up their hiring process. Perhaps in a few years, this type of hiring could become more common place among retailers.

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Business Marketing

Stay ahead by decluttering your Instagram accounts with this new feature

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Get a head start on your spring cleaning with Instagram’s newest feature. It may become your favorite way to views others accounts.

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instagram accounts

In a plot twist you weren’t expecting this week, Instagram is looking to make your life a little easier. Their newest app update includes a feature that groups accounts you follow into curated lists such as most and least interacted with or earliest followed to latest.

If you’ve ever looked at the number of people you follow on Instagram and wondered, “who the heck are these people?” then this update will make your heart sing. Instagram has been around for 10 years now, so it’s understandable that some of our follower lists have gotten a little out of control. Your friends and interests shift over time and it can be difficult to find time to actively curate your social media accounts.

Working with this new feature is simple. To access it just head on over to your Instagram profile and click “Following.” You should see a couple of categories above the list of accounts you follow. As an added bonus, you can also change the sort feature on your follower list. It can be set to show oldest accounts followed first or latest accounts firsts.

instagram accounts

For entrepreneurs and freelancers who don’t have the luxury of a full social media team (or any team at all) small features like this can be a game changer. If this feature sparks you to finally clean up your Instagram, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide who to keep and who to unfollow.

Why did you originally follow this account?

Does this account still serve your business interests?

What was your main purpose behind following this account? As a business owner you might follow an account on Instagram for any number of strategic reasons. Perhaps this account is a fellow business owner in your area, but they’ve since closed their doors. Chances are you’ll find more than one of these cases in your least interacted with group.

Were you looking for business advice or inspiration? When you’re just starting out with your business, you might have followed a few accounts that aimed to give advice to new business owners. Well, if you’ve been doing this for a few years, you probably already know the basic advice these types of accounts are pushing. It’s time to move on.

Do you know this account IRL? Maybe your business has moved locations or changed niche in the last few years. You might have made some great connections with fellow business owners back in the day, but you may no longer run in the same circles. If you know the person who runs the account IRL and you still want to stay connected there are two options. You can either go follow them on your personal account or you can continue following, but mute the account so it doesn’t clog up your Instagram feed.

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Business Marketing

2020 marketing calendar – plan this year’s marketing strategy

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Have you ever wondered when is the best time for your ad campaign, well look no further. This marketing calendar has every event listed, even weird ones.

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When you work for a small business or non-profit, marketing is one of those essential tools that can make a difference in your monthly bottom line or fundraising take. And yet it’s often a challenge for busy owners and employees to find — and take advantage of — fresh promotion opportunities.

Add this to your toolkit… a 2020 Marketing Calendar from the team at Liramail, making note of big events and days that you can use online and IRL to engage customers and donors.

February marketing calendar

Some dates are obvious… major holidays, for instance, particularly the gift-giving ones. But you can find success around other events as well. The Central Texas Food Bank uses the Super Bowl as a driver for one of their most visible annual events, the “Souper Bowl of Caring.” On a smaller scale this year, restaurants and shops around the Austin area and all over the country used January 25, Australia Day, to raise funds for bushfire relief—drawing customers into their businesses, creating community ties and doing good all at once.

This marketing calendar compiles dates both big and small, providing plenty of opportunities for tie-ins and promotions. Running a clothing boutique? Play with Fashion Week. Looking for a good cause to support? World Wildlife Day and International Women’s Day are just a few weeks away. Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day… and that’s all just in the next six weeks.

The calendar is as useful for engaging your social media audience as it is promoting IRL events. You don’t have to own a pizza place to make a post with your team celebrating International Pizza Day and quizzing your followers on their favorite topping. You don’t have to be a veterinarian to turn Love Your Pet Day into a way to engage people by encouraging them to share photos of their pets.

And if you do have a direct tie? Absolutely use it. Each March, for instance, the small Austin well-building non-profit Water to Thrive observes World Water Day with a quick Facebook fundraiser. One of the Austin-area businesses that participated in Australia Day, Bee Cave coffeehouse/boutique Runaway Luna Lifestyle, did so because of family ties there, raising several thousand dollars with an in-store event and social media promotion of a GoFundMe fundraiser.

So page through the marketing calendar, making notes of days that you can take advantage of. And don’t forget, if you’re inspired to create an in-store event or other promotion, be ready for it. Get the initial date on the calendar, and then work backwards to create a long-range plan to support your event. Check your inventory, possibly looking for related items to feature. Book your advertising, draft your newsletter, schedule your social posts. Let your audience know that something special is coming up.

Have fun with it. Add your own dates. Whether you zero in on Talk Like a Pirate Day or Make a Difference Day, you can create new opportunities for your business or non-profit and for your customers as well.

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