5 Things We Learned From #TheDress Debate

The Dress

In case you missed it, the Internet went crazy when Caitlin McNeill posted a photo of the now-famous dress, asking her Tumblr followers for help discerning if the dress was in fact blue and black or gold and white.

Hoping to settle the matter, BuzzFeed posted the photo and spurred an Internet-wide debate. Families, friends and complete strangers were arguing around the web, unable to agree on the color of a simple dress. But now that it has been confirmed as being blue and black, we can take a look at its impact and what marketers can learn from it.

1. Become part of the conversation

We learned the importance of real-time marketing with Oreo’s tweet during Super Bowl XLVII. A psychological principle known as “the mere exposure effect” states that the more familiar things are, the more we like them. While there is no exact formula for creating viral content, it can still be beneficial to your brand to create real-time content. Many brands succeeded in creating dress-related content, allowing for better brand recognition and more consumer engagement.

2. It’s important to differentiate yourself

Since the success of Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet, more and more brands are focusing on creating real-time content. This means everyone is trying to be part of the conversation, causing viral sameness. With everyone wanting a piece of the action, information is often regurgitated on several sites. We saw this frequently throughout #TheDress debate, with several brands copy-and-pasting the same story or consumer poll. If you are going to become part of the conversation, make sure you do more than just copy and paste the information; come up with content uniquely related to your brand.

3. Everyone loves a mystery

Whether it’s a puzzle or riddle, people love a good mystery. With #TheDress, we saw this desire on a much larger scale, but the result is the same: people want to be the one to solve the mystery. Pique the interest of your customers with a mystery and you will see how curiosity can affect how consumers perceive and react to a brand. Just look at the 850% increase in sales Roman has experiences since the ordeal began.

4. Transparency is more important than ever

Many people questioned the authenticity of #TheDress, thinking it was a trick or a slow-moving GIF of some sort. With fake news sites, anonymous posting and manipulated content, it’s easy for people to distrust what they see on the Internet. The dress debate taught us that consumers are more likely to trust their friends than brands, making transparency and providing sources for information you post online even more important.

5. Have fun with your digital content

If #TheDress taught us nothing else, it reminded us that digital content is and should be fun. Look at some of the most viral or trending stories online right now. Create content your audience will want to share and don’t be afraid to have some fun and add creativity to your digital offerings.

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