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An Unlikely Analogy: How Honey Boo-Boo is a Blueprint for B2B Content Marketers

Photo courtesy of GossipDavid.com. Left, Anderson Cooper, Right, Wendy Williams

In the few short months since TLC’s hugely successful and critically panned “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo” has taken the pop cultural world by storm, the internet has been awash in content flotsam streaming from the reality-show shipwreck. “Honey Boo-Boo” is certainly not the first reality show to generate internet memes and to inspire a broad range of viewer-generated content, but for content marketers, the quirky family’s wild popularity offers more than just questionable cooking practices—it demonstrates some practical principles that hold true even in the tricky world of B2B.

That’s because the “Boo-Boo” phenomenon is not entirely accidental; rather, it’s the product of smartly integrated marketing and clever content strategy—something producers have known about all along, and B2B marketers are beginning to embrace.

By thinking like a producer, B2B content marketers can see what makes Honey Boo-

Boo so special as a non-traditional educational guide for successfully building reach

and relevance.

From Tiaras to Top Stories, The Rise of “Honey Boo-Boo”

The era of “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo” was officially ushered in on August 2012, emerging as a spin-off of TLC’s already infamous Toddlers and Tiaras about young beauty pageant contestants in the American South. But the hubbub had really begun eight months earlier, when a video clip promoting the new season of Toddlers and Tiaras showed the self-dubbed “Honey Boo-Boo Child,” Alana Thompson, consuming “Go-Go Juice,” a gasp-inducing concoction of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. Television “clip” shows and entertainment websites quickly seized on the quirky video, propelling the outspoken Thompson to TV and internet fame. [1]

Photo courtesy of the NYObserver.com

In February, several media appearances followed on day-time television, including Doctor Drew, Good Morning America and Anderson Cooper, after which the interviews were covered by newspaper and entertainment blog publishers, and additional photo content (featuring a mother-daughter make-over) were shared on influential social sharing sites, including Buzzfeed, Jezebel, The Frisky and Tosh.OSearch interest in January and February show dramatic spikes around the emerging starlet as media coverage and social conversations exploded.

Yet, the seemingly inexplicable, sustained interest in the young phenom is not quite as arbitrary as it might originally seem. Beyond shock value, “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo” taps into a recent rise in “hillbilly”-themed entertainment that includes Hillbilly Handfishin’, My Big Redneck Vacation, The Hatfields and McCoys, among dozens others. [2] These shows, some argue, tap into a cultural zeitgeist driven by the economic woes and complex dynamics of our times. [3] In other words, these shows offer something relevant that audiences are seeking.

So how can a B2B content marketer begin to make sense of the rising pop cultural tide that is “Honey Boo-Boo”?

The reality show’s initial success can be attributed in large part to smart execution of four strategies near and dear to content marketers’ hearts:

-       Integration and management of media properties and efforts.

-       Listening to audiences to uncover hot conversation topics.

-       Repurposing the most popular content.

-       Creating content that taps into relevant sentiments and newsworthy topics.

B2B content marketers looking to do the same should take the following tips to heart: 

Tip #1: Integrate your media properties.

As Honey Boo-Boo’s speedy rise to Internet fame reflects, tight integration between paid media promotions, traditional media PR, and influencer blogs/Web pages

can launch a firestorm of earned media, that is, when the content touches a nerve. B2B content marketers should do their due diligence to ensure that their paid media, PR, and corporate communications teams are tightly integrated and working in tandem with an influencer program, in order to ensure the maximum exposure for their content.

Tip #2: Be on the hunt for a good story.

For B2B content marketers, relevance is especially critical to reach new audiences and persuade existing clients. Ensure you’re communicating the right message

by employing listening tools to uncover what topics your target audience cares

about most. Then, pull in new prospects by creating content that nods to those newsworthy and relevant themes and ties them back to your company’s product/services/brand story.

Tip #3: Look for spin-off opportunities.

Just as a popular featured character on Toddlers with Tiaras led to a successful spin-off, B2B content marketers should identify what assets have been performing well—offline and online—and look for opportunities to repurpose for greater reach and extended conversation. For example, an engaging Twitter chat may inform the creation of a topical white paper; a successful white paper may inform the keynote address to an upcoming event; a popular eBook may generate a video Q&A follow-up. In short, think like a producer, always looking for your next “spin-off” of an already popular show.

“Sketti”Content:The Recipes for Social Sharing

The Boo-Boo clan’s notorious Go-Go Juice recipe may be the drink that launched a thousand tweets, but fans of the show particularly took note as “Mama June” unveiled some of her other unusual concoctions, none more widely discussed than her secret family recipe for “Sketti.” Most people cringe at the thought of dousing boiled spaghetti in butter and ketchup and calling it a meal. [4] But B2B content marketers can learn something from “Mama June”: from long-simmered stews fragrant with spices, to the jarred sauces most of us rely on, to the low-budget quick fix of a few squirts of ketchup—there are some basic ingredients that are necessary to get the job done—while the rest just “fancy up” your sauce; branded B2B content is similar. The favorite family recipe of the Boo-Boo clan reminds us that sometimes it’s necessary to improvise with what you have and rethink what’s absolutely critical, to be effective when resources are limited.

Tip #4:Be a field producer and editor.

Just like field producers, content marketers are often tasked with improvising, faced with the challenge of creating content quickly, inexpensively and often times on the fly. In both situations, limited resources and the demands for quick response and on-going content mean knowing how to edit production requirements down to only must-have ingredients that still tell a story. For successful social content, B2B brands, along with their creative and marketing teams, need to begin reassessing how their branded content looks in the social world. After all, where corporate website content should be more like gourmet restaurants in production values, social content is more like take-out. Your clients’ mood, time and “appetite” will determine where they look for content and what they expect to find.

So ask what key production ingredients does your business content absolutely need in order to look and sound like your brand? What sleek, corporate elements can you do without for the sake of efficiently producing new content? Just like Mama June’s “sketti” recipe, when you get the basic ingredients right, your social content doesn’t need to be fancy for it to “stick to the wall.”

Snacking between meals

Audiences tittering over Honey Boo-boo’s soundbytes and subtitled hijinks have taken to the internet, delighting in “snackable” versions of the show—animated .gifs, screenshots and video clips—customized with creative additions and comments. From video parodies to satirical blogs, all the way to merchandise, the memorable moments of the Honey Boo-Boo show have in many ways eclipsed the popularity of the show itself.

In other words, the long-form content that is the Honey Boo-Boo show has officially become a “meme,” thanks to these pervasive, bite-sized snippets. [5] And, much like snacks between meals, those small, customizable portions keep audiences momentarily satisfied, yet hungry for more.

 

Photo courtesy of BuzzFeed

 

Photo courtesy of Discovery.com

 

Tip #5: Always plan for teasers.

For B2B content marketers, creating bite-sized “snackable” content that

teases interest in the long-form asset is a great way to extend reach. Some

great examples of snapshot content that can drive audiences to the longer

form include:

  • Behind-the-scenes photos at a major event.
  • Screenshots of videos with captions.
  • Infographic highlighting the key statistics of your report.
  • A 30-second teaser cut of a four-minute video.
  • A free chapter to whet the appetite for the whole book.
  • Memorable quotes tweeted to promote an online discussion.
  • A short list of tips providing expert advice, to promote an in-depth white paper on the same subject.

Remember to plan for both the long form and the soundbyte/snackable form of the content you’re producing. If that’s a webcast, an event presentation, an e-Book, or a white paper, consider where your “soundbytes” will be, and how you’ll make them available to your audience.

Finding your Glitzy the Pig Moments

The second episode of Honey Boo-Boo’s inaugural season finds the Thompson family adopting a teacup pig that is promptly named “Glitzy” and declared to be a “pageant pig” fitted with his very own pageant tiara, pink blanket and painted nails.[6] With those few quick enhancements, an ordinary pig is now imbued with “personality.” As famously stated in Pulp Fiction, “Personality goes a long way…If a pig had a better personality, he’d cease to be a filthy animal.” True to this statement, Glitzy is now no ordinary pig; he is memorable, unexpected and a playful representation of the Thompson family’s quirky “brand”—a personality that is loud, over-the-top, pageant-loving and proud.  Is it therefore any surprise that Glitzy became another overnight meme sensation?

 

Photo courtesy of  @GlitzyThePiggy on Twitter 

B2B content marketers are wise to pay attention because what memes represent is the Holy Grail of marketing—achieving volume: getting large numbers of people to see your content through organic shares, interactions and personalization.  While it may not be feasible for B2B content marketers to put a tiara on a pink piglet to attract attention, there are nonetheless some insights into what makes content share-worthy that apply even in the business world.   

Tip #6: Be a good casting agent.

Personality goes a long way. It distinguishes. It is memorable. And content written in the voice of a distinct personality is memorable content. B2B content marketers should find that distinct voice in their organization—ideally based on a real figurehead, though a brand persona could be created, as well. Whether real or fictional, that voice should sound like a person speaking to a person, turning “content” into a more natural conversation, not a disembodied brand speaking to a captive and fidgeting audience.

Tip #7: Don’t put lipstick on a pig, put a tiara on it.

It may be an obvious statement that people want to share content that is entertaining, funny, or shocking. Honey Boo-Boo can certainly capitalize on all three. But those traits have equal counterparts in B2B content when “entertaining” becomes “delight,” “funny” becomes “inspiring” and “shocking” becomes “surprising.” These elements to social sharing are critical; no one wants to share something that’s boring. B2B marketers should remember that, just because your topic may be serious, it doesn’t mean your content has to be boring. Find playful ways to communicate with your clients, by looking for opportunities to delight, surprise and inspire. If you do, more people will see, share and talk about your content.

And never fear: delight, surprise and inspiration can still be taken seriously: Delight can be the experience of content in simpler, more beautiful or more user-friendly ways. Surprise can be achieved by breaking away from expected topics, tactics and tools and weaving the unexpected themes and experiences backwards to your business’ message. Inspiration comes from tapping into emotions instead of simply relating facts and figures. Look for the story behind your services or solution and reveal the motivations that drove your fresh thinking.

 “It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist to Coupon”

As the Honey Boo-Boo series progresses, viewers are introduced to “Mama June’s” extreme couponing habit, where, in one fell swoop, the frugal shopper reduces over $100 worth of groceries into a handful of dollars at the register.

The anecdote is not only impressive, it highlights a poignant reality of the Thompson family’s world—that despite the outrageousness of their lives and the seeming glitz of pageant competition, what predominates is the real-world need for pragmatic solutions to everyday challenges. At the end of the day, the Boo-Boo clan is just a family struggling to make ends meet. They are focused on survival. For partners, clients and prospects of B2B organizations, making ends meet and surviving are familiar challenges, as well. And, like the Thompson family, they need simple, everyday ways to make those challenges a little easier to surmount.

Tip #8: Be their Coupon Queen.

If navigating the waters of story-telling and brand personality seems daunting, B2B content marketers should start simply: focus on delivering pragmatic, useful information to your clients to make a big impact. You can ensure your content is useful in three important ways:

  • Keep it simple: as Mama June suggested about coupons, clients shouldn’t have to be rocket scientists to be able to understand your content or derive value from it. Make your language concrete, simple and clear. Provide proof points. And make guidance and information easy to follow.
  • Make it easier for your clients to do their jobs: provide content that speaks to the “how-to,” rather than laboring on the “why.” Show instead of telling. Lists of tips, visually illustrated guidance, simplified reporting, easy access to experts, and free tools are all content that clients love to get—and are eager to share.
  • Rethink promotions and offers: extend B2B promotions and offers beyond the realm of product discounts and white papers. Think about what small enhancements might make your client’s experience with your company simpler, more productive and more pleasant. This could include Infographics on how to reach a customer care center, a 10-step list to easily obtaining financing, or a downloadable podcast of a white paper, so they can listen while commuting.

Transforming how you do business content doesn’t need to be an exercise in frustration and hand-wringing. Taking a page from the “Boo-Boo” content handbook means thinking like a producer when planning and executing content, speaking like a person and not a brand, and delivering on what matters most to your clients’ day-to-day reality. Find inspiration all around you. When all else fails, don’t be afraid to introduce a little “Glitzy” into the mix. And always make sure your “Sketti” sticks to the wall…


[1] http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/people/honey-boo-boo-child

[2] “Hillbilly TV shows a big hit” June 12, 2012. Newsobserver.com