That’s the trend that has driven the social web into a frenzy with viral memes and hashtags spinning out from every corner. The entire narrative on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit are now set around the most popular trend of the season.
How did we come about Area 51 and what does it have to do with your business?
Sit tight and let me take you through how the Internet became overrun by this now-viral meme and where businesses fit into the whole situation.
Breaking down area 51
Area 51 is a real place. It’s a military Air Force Base located in Southern Nevada, US, where highly secretive military engagements are carried out. As a classified military base, there are clear and unambiguous restrictions to the location, which has conveniently fueled the myth-driven attention given to Area 51.
Popular Mechanics did a very thorough piece on the myth surrounding the classified military base called Area 51 and the events, believes and rumors that have given rise to and sustained the myth. And recently, these legends (which are almost countless by the way), have also propelled the location to social media virality, one that even businesses and until recently presidential candidates have started cashing in on.
Interestingly, a Facebook event inviting people to invade the base on September 20 has been created by three people. Tagged Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop All of Us, the event already has 2 million pledged to be attending, while 1.4 million are interested.
The US Air Force has warned people not to invade the facility.
- Area 51 exists on an actual location. It is a classified Air Force base located inside Nevada Test and Training Range.
- Due to how highly classified it is, it has been associated with myths such as the existence of Aliens in the airport.
- The myth has been sustained by almost everyone close to Area 51, either by admission (the locals who claim there are sensors in the ground and the facility monitors even the ants that crawl in) or through body language (the govt.).
- It has gone viral on the Internet, particularly on social media.
Everybody is interested in Area 51
If you want people to pay attention and really get curious about something, hide it in mystery. People will go to great lengths to find out the mystery behind it. That is the case with Area 51.
Due to the overwhelming interest in Area 51, popular culture promoted it, romanticizing the idea of aliens operations being run within the facility in books, music, and movies. With celebrities promoting it through their works, the natural reaction was that the Internet would dig into it.
But would the government permit civilians poking into a classified military facility? That was how the viral memes came up.
Businesses jumped in after seeing an opportunity
With the interest of the Internet already on the subject of Area 51 and millions of hashtags and memes already taking life around the viral subject, you’d expect a few brands to want to profit off of the newly-found viral case through efficient content marketing.
Just look at the screenshot below of a single Area 51 hashtag on Instagram showing over 800k+ results. Combine this with the over a thousand possible variations of the hashtags and it’ll easily run into 10s of millions of results on Instagram alone. Not counting Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.
Given the enormous attention it has drawn, businesses rightly have every reason to jump on the trend and use creative content marketing strategies to promote their brands and products on social media.
See examples of some brands taking advantage of Area 51:
Arby’s joined the trend by promising invaders to provide food. Given that the brand is a fast-food restaurant, the message is highly contextual with its offering.
— Arby’s (@Arbys) July 25, 2019
Another brand that joined in on the campaign is Kool-Aid, who instead of saying whether they would also be invading the highly-secretive location, just recounted the number of people that have pledged to attend. Is that a nudge in acceptance to the invasion? I do not know.
Them: Wanna crash #Area51?
Me: OH YEAH!
┳ 【 𝐀𝐑𝐄𝐀 𝟓𝟏 】 ┳─┳─┳─┳─
┳┻┳┻┳┻┳┻┳ 👽 👽 ┻
┳┻ ⌌ ⏠ ┻┳ 👽 👽 👽 ┻
┳┻ ᕕ( ❛,❛ )ᕗ ┻┳ 👽 👽 ┻
┳┻ / ⌣ \ ┳┻┳ 👽 👽 👽 ┻ https://t.co/dwoadXlqwj
— Kool-Aid (@koolaid) July 12, 2019
Countless other brands have equally joined the conversation including OREO, LEGO and many others.
While brands have quickly latched onto the trend, celebrities were not left out as they also caught on to the Area 51 trend. A case in point is of celebrity TV host and comedian, Conan O’Brien who made a witty remark that he had been invited to Area 51.
Then politicians also came around, with one of the leading US Democratic Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders pledging to declassify the Area 53 and tell us about aliens if he becomes president.
Should you also jump on this trend?
In content marketing, opportunities can be created or exploited to build-up your customer-base, build customer engagement, and even make sales. So, when an opportunity in the form of a viral trend such as Area 51 presents itself to you, you should consider taking part in it.
Since the target audience for this trend and, indeed, the originators of the memes are Millenials, I asked a very close friend of mine, Adeyemi Wahab, a sophomore of Thomson Rivers University, Kamloops her own take on the whole Area 51 saga.
“The whole Area 51 situation is out of control!” she says. “I believe everybody just wants to say something about it now that it is a viral trend and gain some publicity from it. Businesses are also going all over talking about Area 51. Even businesses that have nothing to do with it,” said Wahab.
“I think it’s a very smart and effective marketing strategy if they use it right,” she admitted.
What this means for businesses is clear. Before diving head-on into the campaign, you should take a couple of factors into consideration and ensure your business is actually prepared for the type of content around the trend.
Below are what you should consider before taking the campaign as part of your content strategy.
The whole trend is meant to be funny
The first thing you need to understand about the whole Area 51 saga is that, like almost every meme that’s made to trend, there’s often the goal to derive fun or mockery at the end.
If you examine the ways the brands and celebrities that have already chipped in on the Area 51 trend, the pattern is easily noticeable. They are self-deprecating humorous and witty content designed to elicit some fun or joke. This is clearly visible with Conan O’Brien’s tweet:
Just got the Facebook invite to storm Area 51 – is anyone else bringing potato salad.— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) August 7, 2019Conan O’Brien’s Original Tweet about Area 51 on the 7th of August 2019
While O’Brien’s tweet can be easily deciphered, Bernie Sander’s, on the other hand, remains to be seen. Given it’s political, we cannot easily write Sander’s statement off as mere comical content produced just to gain more media attention. The people could really hold him to it.
Avoid going out of context
Really, a viral content strategy built on the back of a joke should not be too difficult to pull off. However, miscommunications or misunderstanding could come up if a content that’s meant to be a witty remark for comic purpose gets taken out of context.
That is why the best approach to successfully pull off a campaign on the back on a trend like this is to direct any form of jokes at yourself, without harming your brand. With video content, a product could be described in relations to how it helps the target customer (clearly the millennial) access Area 51 or glimpse the aliens of Area 51.
Focus on the right demographic
Right now, it’s easy to understand that this trend for young people. These are the millennials and any content should be aimed at them. What this also means is that the content creators should ideally speak the language of the target audience, as this would make every marketing effort very natural.
Featured image credit: Image by Javier Rodriguez from Pixabay
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