Two weeks ago NUBI’s Facebook page had just broken 5,000 likes, built up gradually over a one and a half year period. 2 weeks later we sit at 18,000 and counting – all thanks to a re-post of someone else’s (credited) video.
The video in question is an excerpt from Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy 2015, an online-only BBC show that aired after last year’s General Election (was it really so recent?). The clip features rapper and spoken-word artist Akala talking about racism in Britain.
The video blew up overnight. We’d reached millions, and more kept pouring in. The video had been shared thousands of times. The kicker? Although we later boosted the post, the overwhelming majority of views were completely organic!
It’s down to the convergence of two things: relevance and resonance.
The video went out on 27th June as reports of post-Brexit racism were soaring. The EU Referendum had the population glued to the news channels and politics – once seen as boring – became the only topic worth talking about. Google Trends shows a sharp increase in searches for racism by UK users following the referendum:
The Akala repost came at the right time, capitalising on an upsurge in the national discussion about the topic at hand. It also had the advantage of adding something new to the discussion, owing partly to its obscure source.
Posted at any other time, it would probably have joined other everyday critiques of institutional racism as part of the background noise.
Just as important as the timing of the message is the content and how it resonates with the audience. At this point the media was dominated by stories of oppression, victimisation and negativity:
Akala’s speech offered an outlet and an explanation for why things were the way they were. It gave users a place to vent their frustrations and a way of bonding with their friends. Furthermore, it challenged the narrative of “post-Brexit racism” itself by exposing the social fault lines leading up to it. In a media sphere dominated by the voices of older politicians and establishment pundits, Akala stood out as a more “authentic” speaker.
The combination of Frankie Boyle and Akala also provided a broad, eclectic audience appeal to fans of Boyle’s comedy, followers of the UK grime scene and the Question Time crowd, along with a broader core of liberal Remain supporters and anti-racists looking for a strong voice.
That video resonated with so many people that NME even covered it as a story, and Complex UK shared the same video on their own page the next day, although theirs peaked at 2 million views (no hard feelings guys).
We know that lightning in a bottle can’t happen every week. This particular success came about thanks to swift action, an understanding of the current mood and choice of medium: if there were ever any doubt about video’s ascendancy in the world of content marketing, there won’t be anymore.
This reaffirmed our decision to supplement more of our articles with our own home-grown video content, a strategy currently driving NewUrban, our newest sister publication.