One of the hottest topic on social media this weekend was the YouTube video by James Wright Chanel about the Patti Pie. While most of the conversation centered on whether or not we should buy the sweet potato pie from Walmart, whether or not Patti just used her celebrity status to make sales, and whether we so focus on more “important” issues, I chose to try and figure out why the video went viral in the first place. I came up with five reasons why I think it worked.
- It was silly. Whether it’s a video or a commercial on TV we like thing that make us laugh.
- James did a great Patti impersonation. He hit all the notes and even did the famous “bird move”. If he had not done a good job of singing I think the video would have still gone viral but it wouldn’t have impacted sales the way it did.
- Patti Labelle has credibility as a cook. I bought one of her cookbooks years ago.
- Timing. The video was uploaded exactly two weeks before Thanksgiving. I found a review on-line that was made September 16th. The Patti Pie had been in the stores for almost two months but most of us didn’t know about it until we saw the video. Then Walmart wasn’t able to keep them in stock.
- Tradition. Usually this time of the year I see pumpkin pie in stores. I don’t eat Pumpkin Pie. The fact that it was a sweet potato pie hit a cultural tradition.
Now I don’t think that James was trying to make millions for Walmart, I think he was just trying to get Patti’s attention. It worked. Patti not only reposted the video on her page, she called him. When I checked this morning, the Patti Pie video had been viewed 7.5 million times on Facebook and 700,000 times on YouTube. Walmart aint mad because they sold $2.3 million worth of pies in one weekend!
We can’t always predict what will go viral and what won’t. But when you see something that has obviously worked, instead of being drawn into controversy, see if there is a principle that you can adapt to your business model.