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The Weird Al Yankovic Social Media Case Study
Weird Al Owns Social Media
Content creators, social media strategists and PR professionals should fall to the feet of Weird Al and lap up his creative genius. What Yankovic pulled off this past week in the world of content publishing was amazing.
His 14th (yes, fourteenth!) studio album, Mandatory Fun, was released on July 15th, 2014. To promote it, Weird Al launched his #8videos8days project, releasing one music video per day for eight days straight, each on a different content partner’s website.
Eight. Days. Straight. Over 3700 articles were written about him last week, which generated over 3 million social media shares.
And it paid off — Mandatory Fun debuted at #1 the Billboard Top 200, a first in Weird Al’s career.
Whether you want to admit it or not, Weird Al Yankovic is a genius and has been for decades. He stays relevant in a way that rivals Kanye (but without the God complex). He is right on par with legends, yet his genre of choice has always kept him securely outside the circus ring of “real artists.”
Made For Modern Media
Weird Al has been active for over 30 years now, and he was able to keep up with the times way before the advent of social media, online media, vlogging and the like. But mix in the technology and mobile readiness of today, and you have a match that truly “Smells Like Nirvana.”
According to data pulled from BuzzSumo, there were 3,790 articles centered on him last week — that volume of headlines rivals even Britney in her heyday. It’s Weird Al, B***h!
From those 3790 articles arose 3,071,498 shares.
Shares! Those weren’t merely visitors, but visitors who chose to actively share the articles and generate traffic to his videos that were exclusively housed on his partner websites. In other words, Weird Al was the eye of the social media storm, and it wasn’t by happenstance. Hurricane Alfred, perhaps?
These are the words used most frequently in the 3,790 articles about Weird Al this week. I made this graphic with data pulled from BuzzSumo from the last 9 days.
Like A Content Surgeon
Just like any other pro who’s spent years studying his target demographics and honing his skills, 54-year-old Weird Al has his talents down to an art form. His very first “hit” was way back in 1979, with the endearing parody of “My Sharona” dubbed “My Bologna.”
Isn’t that a necessary skill for online marketers, as well? If we didn’t keep up with technology, we’d become obsolete. You have to keep learning and growing in this space. Imagine trying 1999-era SEO tactics in 2014!
Weird Al Brandscapes His Content
If you want to increase demand for your products, you need to create great content — and lots of it!
But you shouldn’t always house that content exclusively on your own properties. Instead, identify partners whose audiences are similar to your desired target audience, and collaborate with them to create a win-win. Author and marketing strategist Andrew Davis refers to this tactic as “Brandscaping.”
Weird Al does this spectacularly. Through partnerships with The Nerdist, Yahoo! Screen, College Humor, PopCrush, The Wall Street Journal, Vevo and Funny Or Die, Al was able to get his videos made (for free) in exchange for providing each publisher with exclusive content. The end result was mutually beneficial for both parties — the publishers gained traffic and ad revenue, and Weird Al received exposure and album sales.
A couple of his videos also featured guest appearances from the likes of Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Patton Oswalt and others. These high-profile celebrities shared Weird Al’s content with their own audiences, thereby providing additional exposure. Brilliant!
Weird Al’s PR/Social Media Explosion Week: #8videos8days
Pre-Campaign Buzz. On June 16, 2014, Weird Al released this teaser, “Transmission,” on his YouTube channel. During the month leading up to the album’s release on July 15, he would release 4 of these transmission videos.
Monday, July 14. Al kick-started his #8videos8days campaign with “Tacky,” a parody of Pharrell’s “Happy,” which premiered exclusively on The Nerdist. The article quickly garnered nearly half a million social media shares.
The video features Aisha Taylor, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal, Eric Stonestreet and Jack Black. It’s really a genius move on Weird Al’s part — brandscaping at its finest!
Tuesday, July 15. Mandatory Fun became available for purchase, and Al released the video for “Word Crimes,” a parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” which ridicules the poor grammar and spelling pervasive in our society today. He also participated in a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”).
Some people questioned his use of the word “spastic” in this song, pointing out that it is considered a derogatory term in UK English. Weird Al handled the issue like a PR pro via Twitter.
If you thought I didn’t know that “spastic” is considered a highly offensive slur by some people… you’re right, I didn’t. Deeply sorry.
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 20, 2014
Wednesday, July 16. This day marked the debut of “Foil,” a play on “Royals,” released exclusively on College Humor, this video co-starred the hilarious comedian, Patton Oswalt.
Thursday, July 17. On Thursday, Weird Al gave us “Handy,” a la Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” in conjunction with Yahoo! Screen.
Saturday, July 19. Al dropped “First World Problems” on Saturday, a hilarious song about the whiny nature of people who don’t appreciate quite how fortunate they are. Al partnered with Pop Crush for this video.
Sunday, July 20. This day gave us “Lame Claim to Fame,” an original composition in the style of roots rock band Southern Culture on the Skids.
Monday, July 21. The final day of the campaign saw the release of Mission Statement, an original song that pokes fun at corporate lingo (like “synergy”) in the style of Crosby, Stills & Nash. This went live on Speakeasy, an arts and entertainment blog that is part of the Wall Street Journal — a great place for content that tackles corporate lingo.
Bow Down To His Excellence
Consider this: Weird Al has enjoyed longer staying power than Madonna, LL Cool J, Metallica, MC Hammer and more. Only The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith have had longer staying power. Seriously, who else from 1979 is still relevant musically today? That really says something.
Al Yankovic Doesn’t Hold Back On Social Media Or Anywhere
Al Yankovic has been creating some of the funniest content that we’ve ever heard for almost four decades. He doesn’t stop. And he is as funny and as relevant today as he was way back in the day.
Thanks for all of the great content and thanks for the laughs, Al. Those of us in social media and content publishing can learn a thing or two from you.
This article is a follow-up to my LinkedIn post, earlier this week.
Already dreading a world where @alyankovic doesn’t release a new music video every day.
— Tim Siedell (@badbanana) July 15, 2014
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.