If you’ve been on the Internet this week, odds are, you’ve heard about a young man named Alex, who works at Target. Since Monday, the phrase #AlexFromTarget has been trending on the most popular social media sites, including Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook. And while the teenager became a meme overnight, many people have been left wondering – who is Alex, and how did he take the Internet by storm?
Sunday afternoon, one Twitter user posted a photo of an attractive teenage boy, identified only by his Target nametag that read "Alex." In just a few short hours, the tweet received thousands of retweets and favorites, causing users to post altered pictures of the teen that quickly spread among the various social networks – people on Facebook, Vine, Instagram and Tumblr jumped on board and further expanded the reach of #AlexFromTarget. The teenager has been the source of various dummy accounts, parody pictures and even garnered the attention of a few large corporations.
So how does this impact your small business? There are three important lessons #AlexFromTarget can teach you about your small business’ social media presence and just how powerful your followers can be.
1. The far-reach of fandoms
Just two days after Alex became an Internet celebrity, marketing company Breakr stepped forward and claimed responsibility for the meme, stating that it staged the tweet as part of a study of how impactful fan girls on the Internet can be. Agencies have been scrambling to verify the company’s claims, and while the information has yet to be confirmed, the general principle stands true – individual fan groups on the Internet have a substantial impact on shared content. Just look to the Tumblr community – fan sites and memes are the backbone of the site, and these groups generally have a great deal of sway over fellow fandoms on the Internet. Finding a way to break through to these crowds is incredibly important for small business owners, as they hold an impressive influence on the Internet.
2. Cross-network promotion is key
While Alex first became famous on Twitter, it was only a matter of time before he was picked up on the other sites. This cross-promotional strategy was integral for further spreading awareness of the hashtag – this uniform and far-reaching strategy boosted the teen to stardom in just a few short hours. Small business owners looking to have a similar impact on the Internet should follow the same guidelines when posting about promotions or news with a hashtag. Branching out and adopting a more comprehensive storytelling tactic is incredibly effective for reaching more potential consumers.
3. Jump on those trending bandwagons
Maybe you don’t have an #AlexFromTarget of your own, but that doesn’t mean your brand can’t jump on the bandwagon and attract some of those virtual visitors. After word of the hashtag spread to Target, the company’s Twitter immediately posted a picture of Alex’s nametag with a caption that read: "We heart Alex, too!"
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres even asked the teen to appear on her show, further illustrating the firm grasp DeGeneres has over the millennial market. While it’s important that your brand stays on top of these trending topics, it’s equally important to do your research before tweeting – many brands have been burned after improperly posting about certain hashtags.