If you haven't been following the saga, April is a pregnant giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park in rural upstate New York. Back in February, the park management began running a streaming video from April's pen to monitor her maternal progression.
Since first posting the live video feed to YouTube, the "Giraffe Cam" has garnered more than half a million subscribers, has been featured on Good Morning America and has more than 100,000 viewers at any given time, all anxiously awaiting the arrival of baby giraffe. By all standards the expectant giraffe mom has become an unexpected marketing success. Here are three drivers of that success that other entrepreneurs can apply.
1. FOMO - Fear of missing out.
One of the key attractions of the "Giraffe Cam" is the fear of missing out (FOMO), and that's one of the reasons why social networks are so popular and contributes to our seeming societal addiction to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email or texting in general.
We don't want to be the last to know.
April the Giraffe creates an acute FOMO moment as individuals check in multiple times a day (as well as all hours of the overnight) to see if there has been any progress. As the calf's gestation advances, expect those page views to advance as well. The longer this goes on, the more vested individuals will become.
2. Instant global community.
This event has created a social media touch point for people across the globe, who have self-assembled into a supportive community.
Strangers from around the world gather to watch the video and interact with each other in real-time. They share comments, thoughts, memes, poems and song parodies, as well as art work from their kids. April the Giraffe is the muse of it all.
Interestingly, there does not appear to be an end in sight. It's unlikely that people will become less interested once the giraffe calf is born. On the contrary, we can anticipate a deeper connection will occur among this community.
3. Authentic momentum.
Entrepreneurs certainly should not overlook that April the Giraffe is a money-making venture that evolved out of nothing. There is a clear brand, a clear platform and a clear audience.
The video feed has 24-hour corporate sponsorship; indidivual advertisers are paying premium fees to run spots immediately before each video streaming click; there are t-shirts, tote bags and giraffe plush toys people can buy; not to mention the crowd funding page which has generated nearly 5X more than the original $50,000 goal.
While the revenue is real and significnat, it's the humble beginnings of this initiative that fueled its rapid and unprecedented success. Remember, this wasn't a savvy, multi-phase media campaign developed by an established Madison Avenue ad agency. This started as the brainchild of a small staff of hourly workers at a glorified petting zoo that's only been around for five years.
This paradoxical success was driven by unobtrusive marketing, not a high-glitz multimedia push. The quaint, endearing and unassuming appeal of April the Giraffe is the very thing that has propelled her meteoric rise. Never underestimate the marketing power of authenticity---or an expectant giraffe.
One thing we can all expect to see is the extension of this brand, platform and audience once the expected giraffe calf arrives! Marketers pregnant with their own product ideas should take note and apply these results accordingly to deliver similar results.