By Alex Benton
It's not scientific. Some will accuse you of chasing easy clicks. But the numbers don't lie. The Internet loves cats. And yes, you could spend your days trawling through a Matrix-like stream of Facebook insights, looking for the viral edge your brand desperately needs to take engagement rates to the next level. Or, you could simply enlist the help of an adorable feline and watch your problems disappear.
Look, this isn't groundbreaking news. Cats have been acting as the seductress of shares for many years now. What is surprising, perhaps, is their longevity as the Internet’s most reliable source of instant pageviews.
And it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. People search the word “cats” online more than 30 million times per month. ‘Keyboard Cat’ has over 33 million views on YouTube! And cats can help catapult a brand from relative obscurity, to international recognition.
Take British milk brand Cravendale, for example. Their ‘Cats With Thumbs’ commercial, featuring cats clicking their fingers and filing their nails, went viral. And it wasn’t merely the 7 million YouTube views where Cravendale saw results. After ‘Cats With Thumbs’ aired, Cravendale saw their brand awareness increase by 10%, sales increase 8%, and the commercial featured in the Adweek top 10 best commercials list of 2011.
So it makes sense that on Tuesday, on-demand taxi service Uber would attempt to woo the workers of New York, San Francisco and Seattle by announcing on their blog that they had partnered with the meme site, Cheezburger, and would be delivering kittens to offices for 15 minutes of snuggle time. For good measure, they were bringing cupcakes too. All you needed to do was download their app, request the “KITTENS!” option, and boom – feline frenzy! People were encouraged to use the hashtag #ICanHasUberKittens and share their content on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Unsurprisingly, the thought of having kittens frolic around your office as you consume delicious baked goods invoked Internet panic, with everybody clamoring to have their favorite Internet meme taken off the screen, and into their arms. Uber, which made the service available for only a few hours, didn't have enough kittens to go around, so to cushion the blow they sent some customers a $10 credit to put towards their next Uber journey.
Kitty promises were made and not met, and this will upset many cat lovers, but Uber's strategy was ultimately a smart one. App downloads were plentiful, brand awareness high, and for National Cat Day they obtained significant social media relevance for their smartphone app and on-demand transportation service.
When it comes to using cats as a social marketing tool, some might accuse you of taking the information superhighway high road. But stand firm. The Internet loves cats, and the Internet is always right.
Do you know any other brands that have successfully used cats in their social marketing communications? Let us know in the comments below!